Say the word ‘boxer,’ and it means different things to different people. There’s the lovable dog, of course, as well as the athletes punching each other in the ring. In car world, the first thing that comes to mind might be Subaru, and in bike world, perhaps BMW.
There’s also the long-lived Honda Gold Wing to consider, but did you know that there’s another boxer branch on the Honda family tree? Just four years after Honda changed motorcycle history forever with the introduction of the Super Cub, it moved on to taking a crack at a boxer scooter in two displacements—the Juno M80 and M85.
Introduced in 1962, the Juno Ms were Honda’s second-ever scooters—but were the first to be outfitted with air-cooled, boxer twin engines. The M80 offered 125cc of displacement, while the M85 bumped it up to 169cc. The M85 made a claimed 12 horsepower at 7,600 rpm, along with 9.69 pound-feet of torque at 5,700 rpm. Top speed was 100 kilometers per hour, or approximately 62 miles per hour. Vehicular curb weight was 157 kilograms—or about 346 pounds, which isn’t surprising when you consider the steel monocoque construction.
The Juno M-series scooters didn’t last very long, and weren’t particularly popular at the time they were introduced. When new, they were only ever sold in Japan, and were not offered elsewhere. MSRP in 1962 was ¥169,000, which, when adjusted for inflation, equates to approximately ¥859,893.65. That’s about $6,409.60 in December, 2022, which wouldn’t be cheap for a small-displacement scooter, even now.
This video was posted on YouTube by the owner of a 1964 Honda Juno M85, and gives us a good look at some of its features, such as the small door on the side where you get to the pull-start. It has both a side and a center stand. If you take the exhausts off, and disconnect just the right things, it’s apparently possible to simply roll the front wheel and steel body away from the powertrain, swingarm, and rear wheel assembly if you need to work on it. It’s cool to see, and it also seems like some pretty thoughtful packaging (I say, as I contemplate the deeply unthoughtful 1985 VF500F sitting in the garage).
If the Honda Juno M80 and M85 were Honda’s second scooters, what was Honda’s first scooter, you may ask? It was the Juno Type K, introduced in 1954—a full four years before Honda set itself a brand-new path with the introduction of the Super Cub.
Although elaborate, swoopy steel bodywork that reads like a proto-Gold Wing was the order of the day, the original Juno Type K was powered by a single-cylinder engine—not a boxer. Its 189cc mill made a claimed 6.4 horsepower at 4,800 rpm, as well as 10.3 pound-feet of torque at 3,500 rpm. Vehicle weight was 170 kilograms, or about 374.7 pounds, and top speed was 70 kph, or about 43.4 mph.
This was shortly followed by the Juno KA, also released in 1954. This time around, the single-cylinder engine was a 220cc unit, making a claimed 8.8 horsepower. Vehicle weight was 195 kilograms, or about 430 pounds. By the time the Juno M-series scoots rolled around, Honda’s design language had simplified quite a bit. Gone were the massive windscreens and swooping, curvaceous lines. Here, instead, was a more conventional-looking (for the time, anyway) scooter—but with a boxer engine configuration that seemingly came out of nowhere.
If you’re in Japan, and you happen to visit the Honda Collection Hall, you can see one proudly on display. Heck, if you’re outside Japan, and you do the virtual tour of the Honda Collection Hall, you can see it on display—if not from as many angles, and also obviously not in person. Juno M-series scooters occasionally pop up from time to time in collector auctions outside of Japan, as well, and there are a surprising number of videos you can sift through on YouTube if you want to see and hear more of them in action.