Honda runs the game. End of story. Whether you're talking motorcycles, powersports, lawn equipment, or cars, Honda has established itself as the front-runner in reliability, performance, and quality throughout the industries. Since its humble beginnings in the late 1940s, Honda has become the world's largest motorcycle manufacturer, and a leader in manufacture of engines and automobiles worldwide. The success of this company is owed not only to the brilliant engineering and superior quality of its products, but also its understanding of the market and the impact this has on product design and advertising.
Take, for example, the Honda C70 Passport. This 70cc, 3 speed semi-automatic machine broke ground in the states in the early 60s. Honda exported these bikes on a huge scale worldwide, and accompanied the machines with the marketing campaign "You meet the nicest people on a Honda"
These friendly little machines appealed to a new demographic of potential motorcyclists. At the time, your stereotypical "biker" was thought of a crusty, macho-man in a black leather jacket, raising hell while riding from bar to bar on a Harley Davidson or Indian motorcycle. While that sounds like some kinda good time to me, the stigma associated with bikers kept potential young and casual riders away from purchasing a motorcycle. The Passport featured an easily operated semi-automatic transmission, a full leg shield to protect riders from debris, and a number of covers and fairings that hid just about every mechanical part or system from the rider. These novice-friendly features, along with an incredibly effective marketing campaign, and the best-in-industry reliability and performance, made the Passport an incredibly popular vehicle domestically and worldwide - ultimately becoming the best-selling motorcycle of all time. Honda produced its 60-millionth "Super Cub" in 2008.
Whats this got to do with the Ruckus? Well, Honda pulled a similar feat with the release of the Ruckus scooter in 2003 - a new addition to join the Metropolitan in Honda's modern 49cc scooter offerings. While their marketing approach may have been less pronounced, the design and styling of the Ruckus went a long way to grow the popularity of that machine. In the early 2000s, mopeds and scooters still carried, quite strongly, a stigma associated with being marginalized, diminutive, and even "girly". This leftover sentiment from the 80s and 90s is all too familiar to a modern scooterist - having insults and perhaps even frozen beverages hurled at them from passing traffic, just for scooting around on the road.
In the US, the Honda Ruckus entered the market and changed the way the public looked at scooters. The Ruckus looked like no other scooter before it - it lacked the fairings common on many scooters, giving it an edgy, more mechanical aesthetic. The scooter-sized tires feature knobby, deep tread that look more aggressive, and allow riders for short runs in rough terrain. The dual headlights and protective wire mesh go even further to solidify the "cool factor" of the Ruckus. All of these features made it so that anybody - frat bros, retired dads, high school kiddos, and the rest - not only felt comfortable having their friends see them on the scooter, but actually felt cool! In our little seacoast town of Portsmouth, NH, we've seen an incredible boost in the amount of Ruckuses on the road, and coming through the shop for service, and we have a feeling they'll be continuing with solid sales success for years to come.
Why so much talk about a scooter that we don't even carry? I guess we're just huge fans of Honda motorcycles, mopeds, and scooters. You can take it from me - if you've got the budget, there is no better option for your modern scooterist than a Honda machine. Port City Mopeds does carry a wide variety of new and use scooters - from used Honda Ruckuses and Metropolitans, to restored Tomos Sprint mopeds, to no-name brand Chinese scooters. We love em all and they all have their place in today's moped/scooter market. Check out our stock at www.portcitypeds.com/shop