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So Honda attacked with niceness. Honda’s larger Dream and Benly bikes couldn’t compete against the British alternatives, but the Super Cub (called the Honda 50 in America in deference to Piper Aircraft’s trademarks), faced little competition.

With its step-through design and molded plastic body panels, the Honda 50 looked too toylike to attract the socially maladjusted. Its quiet 49 cc (that’s three cubic inches) four-stroke engine claimed a modest output of 4.5-horsepower.

It was a product for which Honda could recruit dealers; by 1961 there were 500 across the country selling the $249 bike. And Honda backed them with a clever ad campaign built around the slogan “You meet the nicest people on a Honda.” Suddenly motorcycling was a hip and happy thing to do instead of a menacing ride along society’s margins.

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