In May 1974, in order to conduct thorough research in actual markets under real-world conditions, Takeshi Inagaki, who was in charge of creating motorcycles for developing countries, and Einosuke Miyachi, the man in charge of design, left Japan from Haneda International Airport. They spent a month watching motorcycle users in major cities throughout Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Iran, and Pakistan. What they saw, though, was beyond anything they could have imagined.
"It was normal to see a child on the tank and the wife at the back, with two to four people riding together," Inagaki recalled. "And some people loaded vegetables, chickens, and pigs onto their motorcycles. I even saw motorcycles towing loaded carts."
The dealer situation, too, was completely different from that found in Japan. At the time, the dealer's primary responsibility was to disassemble and repair motorcycles that were not in working condition. Customers typically brought their motorcycles in only when they had stopped running. Therefore, the concept of routine maintenance was completely foreign to the dealers and customers.
"They continued to use oil even after it had turned into goo," Inagaki said, "and the paper filter elements in the air cleaners would become solid as a dirt wall from all the dust. The drive chains would be stretched out to their maximum adjustable lengths, and were worn and torn from hitting the chain case. The examples of such abuse went on and on.
One after another, we saw spectacles we'd never even imagined possible from our home base in Japan."
It was thus apparent that due to their complex structure the four-cycle, OHC motorcycles could not perform to their true potential in developing countries, where people subjected their bikes in the harshest conditions and the dealers were unable to provide sufficient service.
Following such market research it was concluded that Honda should develop a motorcycle that was above all practical and durable; and that it should have an engine with a maintenance-free, four-cycle design.
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.
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.
Source: Honda Worldwide | History | CG125 / 1975