Monday, January 30, 2012
Motorcycle Throwback - The 1947 Honda A
Honda motorcycles may be one of the biggest names in the poswersports industry today, but it definitely wasn't always that way. While many countries were pumping out motorcycles by the hundreds, the Second World War put a huge damper on Japanese history during the early to mid 1900's and motorcycle production made little advancement. But as Japan recovered from the losses they felt from the war, the economy continued to suck, jobs were few and far between and the everyday consumer was hurting for some inexpensive and efficient transportation. Of course, bicycles became the go to mode, but it didn't take long for motorcycles to start popping up on the streets of Japan.
One of the men to take hold of this necessity brought on by the economic challenges was Soichiro Honda. Born to a blacksmith and a weaver, Honda soon quickly found a love of anything motorized and spent most of his early life learning the trades of automobile and motorcycle repair.
Late in the summer of 1946, Honda found himself a building and hung a sign stating that it was the Honda Technical Research Institute. For the next year, Honda experimented with auxiliary engines much like Ducati's Cucciolo that could easily attach to a bicycle as well as other engine types.
After a lot of failed attempts at unique ideas, the fist legitimate Honda motorcycle hit the market. The 1947 Honda A-Type was a tiny little thing and had just a mere 50cc two-stroke engine and came with pedals to help it out. But its smallness gave it the advantage of being light with a dry weight of just 62.5kg and had a few differences that made it stand out comparatively. Instead of piston valves, the intake assembly had rotary disk valves that attached to the side of the crankcase. Of course, this meant that the carburetor was also attached to the crankcase instead of next to the cylinder. It was revolutionary and it didn't stop there.
Honda refused to make his motorcycles with anything but the best quality manufacturing techniques. Most companies were forced to use the sand casting method to make their metals, but Honda had his mind set on die casting. More expensive and more prone to manufacturing in bulk, the ambition to only forge with die casting showed that Honda had high hopes for his company. Hopes that wouldn't be let down.
Over the following years, Honda continued to produce and sell motorcycles of fine quality with great advances in the technology. The 1947 Honda A-Type was just the beginning of it all.