Whenever a group of program advisers visit the Phoenix, Ariz., campus of the Motorcycle Mechanics Institute, Jim Wagnon, the school's education manager, says that they inevitably start off their first day by going around the room and asking what everyone's first motorcycle was. More often than not, says Wagnon, the answer is the same: the 1966 Honda Trail 90, a bike that he says was relatively unremarkable technologically, but was simply one that parents allowed their kids to have.
A big factor that made parents of kids growing up in the 1960s comfortable with letting their children have a motorcycle was the company's iconic advertising campaign, "You Meet the Nicest People on a Honda," which was an antidote to the slightly dangerous, outlaw image many had toward motorcycling [sources: Wagnon, Honda]. In fact, Wagnon says that the Honda Trail 90 is a big reason motorcycles are so popular today. "It probably grew the motorcycle customer base more than any one motorcycle," he says. "It grew people into bigger, full-size motorcycles and some might argue it's the reason baby boomers are so heavy into motorcycling." Because so many people got their start riding a Honda, there remains significant affection toward some of the brand's vintage models, including the Honda CB350 and the Honda CB750. It also doesn't hurt that Elvis Presley was known to ride a Honda, along with a number of other brands [source: Cerilli].
Read on to find out about a brand that once rivaled Harley-Davidson.