Creating a Useful Bike for Developing Countries

Equipping HDA took place with help and advice from local associates.

<< 1. The Shocking State of Motorcycles in Developing Countries
<< 2. Engine concepts drawn up overnight
<< 3. Creating a Useful Bike for Developing Countries
<< 4. Fulfilling the Expectations of a Growing Region
<< 5. From Belgium to Brazil
<< 6. The Decision to Build in Manaus
<< 7. The First Factory Manager-34 Years Old
<< 8. High Inflation: The Challenge of a Crisis

With the basic concept of the engine established,-in March 1974-the development team got down to the real task of making the project work. The challenge was to develop a model exclusively for developing countries in which knockdown production was also possible. The project was given a one-year period for full development. Still, several conditions had to be met, among which were the following:

1. The motorcycle had to have a four-cycle OHV engine with excellent gas mileage and rugged durability.
2. There must be two levels of engine displacement- 110cc and 125cc-using the inline cylinder.
3. The exterior design must be sporty and fun.
4. It must be designed with an emphasis on practical, daily use, with easy maintenance being a key feature.

"I chose an inline OHV engine, because I wanted to completely change the image evoked by the S110," Inagaki recalled. "I wanted to revive Honda's image as a maker of sporty motorcycles. But at that time, the purchase of a motorcycle would have been only a dream for most people in developing countries; a real status symbol for the common citizen. A motorcycle was a treasured possession that one could finally acquire after having saved enough money. So, of course it would have to last a long time."

The OHV engine successfully answered the question of durability, employing a lightweight, short pushrod for higher performance and easier maintenance. It would also enhance productivity by sharing the same processing line with the OHC engine.

Two types of motorcycle frames and bodies were developed for the project: a steelplate-press specification suitable for mass production at Kumamoto Factory, and a pipe specification for knockdown production in various countries. The pipe specification did not require large, expensive presses or dies, facilitating production with only a minimal investment. Moreover, it complied with the golden rule of overseas factory development: that to borrow a time-honored Japanese saying the company could "give birth to a small child and raise it to be a big grown up." To ensure that the bike could handle the anticipated load placed on it by two to four riders, its diamond frame would be enhanced considerably.

Two types of gas tanks were developed, making the top flat so that a child could sit on it. To ensure successful sales in each of these countries, during the previous stage of planning several colors and stripes were prepared. Further, two seat designs had been developed simultaneously: a long seat for multiple riders and a seat with a cargo carrier that would accommodate the expected degree of overloading.

The air-cleaner element was changed to washable Styrofoam urethane, to withstand repeated cleanings. This design employed Honda's first dual-element structure. The outer cylinder featured a large-mesh grid, acting as a primary filter, while the inner cylinder completely filtered out dust particles greater than 20 microns in diameter. Moreover, any dust smaller than 20 microns would be completely removed by the oil impregnated within the element. This would prolong engine life and significantly improve its reliability.

Several other innovations in mechanical design, specification, and manufacturing technology were incorporated into the new motorcycle, each with the goal of making it maintenance-free, durable, and easy to produce. A great deal of consideration went into developing a motorcycle that people in developing countries would find easy to use and easy to own.
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