The Forerunner of Family Bikes
Mikihiro Koyama, one of the team members, was a veteran in the development of small family bikes like the second-generation Cub and Dax. He had also acted as manager of development for the Chaly, launched in 1972. Following the Super Cub, Honda had made several attempts to develop new markets with new models, and the Chaly was one such trial product. However, prior to the development of the Chaly, Koyama and his team had found that although 20 percent of women were licensed to ride motorcycles, fewer than 10 percent of them actually did so. Their goal was to attract these users.
Koyama and his associates invited female employees to take test rides on the Cub to gather research data, and found that most of the employees were not pleased with it. Major complaints included, "The stand is too difficult to extend," "its difficult to kick-start it," and "I can't ride it while wearing a skirt."
Reflecting these findings, several plans were developed to ensure user-friendly operation and a sense of safety. To satisfy such requirements, the weight of the bike had to be reduced. However, there was no time to pursue further weight reductions, because the key development objective was to release the new model as soon as possible, using the Cub engine to save time. Said Koyama of the Chaly's release, "We were not satisﬁed, but nevertheless we managed to convince ourselves that it was a step-through version of the Dax."
A product of speedy development, taking just six months from planning to launch, the Chaly achieved its original objective of winning female users (the number of women owners was significantly larger than with other models), which had heretofore been considered difficult to achieve. Still, there were many problems, including the kick starter and shift pedal.
"In developing the Chaly," Koyama said, "we discovered the depth of our market of female users. Because of our blind faith in the almighty Cub, we had neglected a sincere effort to developing this market," says Koyama.