Saigon is full of scooters and motorbikes. The bike you see the most is the Honda Wave and motorcycle enthusiasts gotta know that this is the “son” of the Honda 50 Cub – the cheap urban bike. It triggered the eventual domination of the world motorcycle market by the Japanese, and hence contributed greatly to the rise of their car industry. More than 50 million Honda 50s have been sold worldwide, primarily in Asia, although there were considerable numbers in Europe as well. The model is still in production almost 50 years later.
There are many good reasons why it sold so well:
* Available at a low price compared with other motorcycles. (New: approx. USD$1200)
* Easy to ride because of the automatic centrifugal clutch, making it great for beginners to learn riding a motorcycle.
* Very low fuel consumption (up to 146 km per liter as of this writing: 2006 Super Cub).
* Capable of carrying heavy loads. In developing countries especially in Asia, people use Honda Cubs to carry their agricultural harvests and livestock or their entire family.
* Easy to weave through heavy traffic during heavy traffic jams.
* Cheap maintenance and abundance of spare parts.
* The usage of 4-stroke engines enable the Honda Super Cub to surpass strict emission standards.
* Extremely durable, all weather bike.
* Regularly achieves very high mileages logged before any breakage or replacement of parts is necessary.
In Vietnam, the Super Cub used to be so popular that people still call every kind of motorcycle “xe Honda”. In 2006 the Discovery Channel, in a fast-wheeling documentary on motorcycles, rating the best in a top-ten system, deemed the Honda Super Cub “Number One”, declaring it “the greatest ever motorcycle”. The Honda Wave series or other plastic-bodied designs, it should be noted, were not mentioned in the list.
In a city without subways and efficient public transport, motorbikes are actually an enviromentally friendly way of transportation looking at the fuel consumption only. If you replace the Hondas by cars, then you have a new Shanghai and then forget about a breath of fresh air.