by Alex Vanover
Honda isn’t a car company… it never really has been. When asked to define what kind of company Honda is, company representatives bill the multinational firm as an engineering company. It is a company that strives to engineer products in a variety of different sectors of the highest quality. And it is also an innovative company that looks for problems in the world and then engineers solutions to those problems. And that’s exactly what the company has been focusing on lately in the world of motorcycles.
Honda has been making and selling a motorcycle called the Cub for decades. Mostly sold in emerging markets around the world as an urban commuter, the Cub is a very small motorcycle with an equally small engine. While technically a motorcycle, it kind of resembles a cross between a motorcycle and a scooter. It is a bike that is not designed to be pretty or go fast. It is designed for one thing only: to get its rider from point A to point B reliably and safely at low speeds while sipping gas.
But with so much attention being given to the issues of pollution and climate change, Honda knows the writing is on the wall for the internal combustion engine. It’s time for a paradigm shift in the way we all travel. It’s time to begin the transition from the internal combustion engine to vehicles powered by electrons.
Although the Cub has been a strong seller for many years, Honda is not a company known to leave well enough alone. The company just recently revealed a new iteration of the venerable design: the EV-Cub, an all-electric motorcycle that could revolutionize the motorcycle industry.
Like the classic Cub the EV-Cub is based on, it is a very small bike that was designed primarily for commuting at low speeds in the concrete jungle of suburbia. It is a bike that will probably never catch the attention or envy of riders of Harley-Davidson, Indian or others who enjoy riding the large cruisers. That’s not what the EV-Cub is about. It’s not an image bike. It’s a practical commuter. And Honda is perfectly fine with this.
Honda has yet to release performance specs for the motorcycle, so we don’t know how far it will be able to travel on a full charge. What we do know is that the motorcycle was designed with two-wheel drive. Yes, you read that correctly. There is a motor in each wheel. And since the motorcycle was designed to be direct drive, there is no transmission. Official pictures of the motorcycle that Honda has released also show a very futuristic-looking digital display in place of the usual analog gauges that give you such information as charge remaining, how fast you are traveling, and perhaps other information as well.
Honda is also developing a very interesting communications system for EV Cub riders. Honda calls it the LOOP. It is a solar-powered portable communications device for rider-to-rider or rider-to-passenger communications. And since the EV Cub will be near-silent in operation, talking to another rider or a passenger should be a very easy thing to do.
When can we expect the EV Cub to be available for purchase? Not until 2020 at the earliest. That’s the date that Honda says it will be available.
Will it be available in the United States? Almost certainly. The original Cub and the Super Cub have both been available for purchase in the United States for decades. It’s not a stretch at all to predict the EV Cub will be available stateside as well.
Alex Vanover is an avid motorcycle enthusiast and advocate for renewable energy. His writing focuses on automotive technology, renewable energy, and matters of sustainability in business. He is also the purveyor of Motorcycle Trading Post.