I am vengeance! I am the night! I make 3.9 horsepower!
One of my favorite things about how pop culture has become such a global interchange over time is seeing stuff like this glorious 1995 Honda Magna 50. At a recent media event hosted by Red Baron Media, organizers pulled together a collection of Japanese motorcycles that are all currently out of production. Japanese publication Young Machine was on hand to check out the bikes and take them for rides, because of course they want to see what these bikes are like in 2020. We’re betting you do, too, which is why we’re sharing this video!
Zooming back in on the Magna 50, it’s a miniature refraction of American cruisers. Sure, there are plenty of full-sized Japanese cruisers, and there have been for years. The Magna 50 was even meant more as a miniaturized homage to Honda’s own Magna 500, but as you can plainly see, that’s no V4 inside. Instead, it’s a four-stroke, air-cooled, single-cylinder engine that allegedly produced a heart-pounding 3.9 horsepower at 8,000 rpm when new. With a disc brake up front, a drum in the rear, and a split three-spoke wheel design that reminds me not unpleasantly of a 7-inch record adapter, this bike is clearly no mere imitator.
No, it’s a commentary. By this point, Honda took American cruiser designs and refracted them so far that they were scalable. In the U.S., we mostly like our cruisers big and bigger. Even Harley-Davidson's attempts at scaled-down bikes with cruiser styling haven’t gone over extremely well here (hello, Street 750). Heck, Sportsters are still fairly hefty bikes, and yet Sportster riders are routinely mocked for riding something that isn’t a Big Twin. Just imagine if it was the Motor Company that put out a little 50cc thumper like this in 1995!
Except that wouldn’t happen, because that’s simply not something the Bar and Shield would do. Honda, on the other hand, seems to have a very particular sense of humor about itself, and we totally appreciate it. How else would you explain the Honda Monkey Baja Africa? It’s part of what makes Honda what Honda is, and it’s that personality that has drawn Team Red enthusiasts to that winged embrace for decades. It’s unclear what kind of numbers the Honda Magna 50 sold in, but someone apparently thought enough of it that Japanese model-maker Tamiya issued an official Honda Magna 50 model kit back in the day.