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By some criteria, the type of motorcycle the Super Cub falls into is difficult to classify, landing somewhere between a scooter and a motorcycle, The plastic fairing ran from below the handlebars and under the footpegs, protecting the rider's legs from wind and road debris, as well as hiding the engine from view.
This design was like the full enclosure of a scooter, but unlike a scooter the engine and gearbox unit was not fixed to the rear axle. It moved the engine down and away from the seat, detaching the rear swingarm motion from the drivetrain for lower unsprung weight.
A small, high-performance motorcycle was central to his plans.
Upwardly mobile consumers in postwar Europe typically went from a bicycle to a clip-on engine, then bought a scooter, then a bubble car, and then a small car and onwards.
The low compression ratio meant the engine could consume inexpensive and commonly available low octane fuel, as well as minimizing the effort to kick start the engine, making the extra weight and expense of an electric starter an unnecessary creature comfort.
Though some of the many Super Cub variations came with both kick and electric start, the majority sold well without it.
Honda would have to establish its own overseas subsidiary to provide the necessary service and spare parts distribution in a large country like the United States.
The 17 inch wheels, in comparison to the typical 10 inch wheels of a scooter, were more stable, particularly on rough roads, and psychologically made the motorcycle more familiar, having an appearance closer to a bicycle than a small-wheel scooter.
The pushrod overhead valve (OHV) air-cooled four stroke single cylinder engine had a 40-by-39-millimetre (1.6 in × 1.5 in) bore × stroke, displacing 49 cubic centimetres (3.0 cu in), and could produce 3.4 kilowatts (4.5 hp) at 9,500 rpm, for maximum speed of 69 km/h (43 mph), under favorable conditions.
The Super Cub's US advertising campaign, You meet the nicest people on a Honda, had a lasting impact on Honda's image and on American attitudes to motorcycling, and is often used as a marketing case study.
The idea for a new 50-cubic-centimetre (3.1 cu in) motorcycle was conceived in 1956, when Honda Motor's Soichiro Honda and Takeo Fujisawa toured Germany and witnessed the popularity of mopeds and lightweight motorcycles.