Honda turned many heads when it announced the beginner-friendly Navi for the North American market in 2021. Traveling habits called for more urban mobility solutions in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Team Red hoped to recruit more riders with the scooter-inspired moto. The Navi isn’t Honda’s first crack at converting younger customers to the riding ranks, though.
In 1991, the brand introduced the Cub EZ90 to the world. If the name didn’t give it away, the EZ90 aimed to ease the barrier to entry with futuristic moto styling and tried-and-true scooter practicality. Honda’s stout steel frame, 90cc single-cylinder engine, and automatic transmission catered to beginners, but it’s what the EZ90 didn’t have that set it apart.
Gallery: 1994 Honda Cub EZ90
The baby Cub did away with the shift pedal and clutch lever to simplify operation, and an electric starter opened the doors to non-gearheads. The sealed final chain drive also added another layer of security, suiting the package to safety-conscious customers that were still curious about two wheels. Honda believed that off-road environments would be the ideal venue for that introduction, and the EZ90 sports era-appropriate bodywork as a result.
Equal parts scooter and ‘90s Dakar Rally bike, the Cub’s styling delivered motorcycle panache with twist-and-go ease of use. From the long travel suspension to the handguards, from the skid plate to the semi-knobbies, the EZ90 took its off-roading roots seriously. The 3.9 inches of travel up front and 4.3 inches of travel out back may not encourage full-send trail attacks, but it’s more than enough to putt along fire roads.
Beginners aren’t the only ones that turned to the Cub EZ90 either. Unlike the road-going Navi, the mini moto was frequently used as a trail or pit bike. Similar to the Navi, though, the EZ90 also boasted a storage compartment for riders to stow away small personal items. While the Cub EZ90 blazed trails, Honda also based the Cub EZ-Snow on the same platform for tackling the winter months.
Unfortunately, Honda only offered the scooter-influenced trail bike from 1991 to 1996. Of course, the EZ90 is the spiritual predecessor to the Navi, but hopefully, the newest miniMOTO enjoys a longer run.
Sources: Silodrome, Bike-Curious