10 Exciting Honda Motorcycle Concepts (and What Became of Them)

Honda Bulldog Concept 42 photos
Photo: Honda
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If you are a human living in this world, then there's a big chance that at least once in your life you came across a concept vehicle of some sort. Whether it was a car, a bus, or a spaceship, it most definitely was meant to preview a design cue of the future, some forward-thinking piece of technology, and in some cases, perhaps even a new way of life. But even if you are a human living in this world, chances are you probably didn't stumble all that often upon a motorcycle concept.
For one reason or another motorcycle makers are not all that into making concepts. Maybe it's that the design of two-wheeled vehicles can't really be improved to such an extent as to appear extravagant, and there are only so many pieces of technology they can think of that can't already be sent into production.

Whatever the motive, outside of renderings born from the minds of imaginative people there are not that many concepts in the portfolio of major motorcycle makers to be worth the trouble. But there is one exception: Honda.

The Japanese have been around making motorcycles since 1946, and just 13 years later they climbed to the top of the sales charts, a position they haven't left since – Honda is presently holding in its grasp about a third of the global motorcycle market.

With such a high-profile image and the role of leader, Honda can afford from time to time to go off the rails and present motorcycle concepts. Some never go beyond that concept stage, others move to become prototypes and die there, while others make it into production – the natural life of any kind of concept in this world.

Because of their scarcity, we thought it would be best to bring motorcycle concepts under the spotlight for a while. And we'll start, naturally, with what Honda has to offer. This is not only because the company is the largest of its kind in the world, or because it has developed many concepts over the years, but first and foremost because some of these designs are utterly wacky and deserve to be remembered forever.

1. Honda E-Canopy (2011)

Honda E\-Canopy
Photo: Honda
Motorcycles and scooters usually come with only two wheels, but there are times when bikemakers and other players offer three-wheelers in a bid to satisfy the needs of those with a more precarious balance. And the Honda E-Canopy is something that was specifically designed for this task.

Shown in 2011 at the Tokyo Motor Show, the three-wheeled scooter tried to bring the stability of delivery scooters into the hands of civilian users for leisure activities. On top of it all, it also added a canopy as a sort of protection from the elements, adding an extra alluring feature to it.

The canopy also acted as a windscreen and protected the rider from the bottom of their feet to the tops of their heads. It was made from a transparent material, so it didn't interfere with visibility in any way.

As the E in the name says, the Honda scooter was electric, but no one ever bothered to give the complete details of the powertrain.

Designed as a ride for women, mostly, the scooter concept was in part inspired by the Honda Gyro Canopy, a model that was introduced in the 1980s and can still be had in several countries on this planet. In itself, the concept didn't really spawn a revolution in the segment.

2. Honda Wonder Walk (2015)

Honda Wonder Walk Concept
Photo: Honda
2015 was a very lucrative year for Honda on the concept's front, as it unveiled no less than seven of them at the Tokyo Motor Show. One of the designs shown there was something called the Wonder Walk.

You see, Honda is in the business of making more than just cars and motorcycles. It also produces more niche mobility solutions, and the Wonder Walk is exactly such a thing.

It was designed as a four-wheeled mobility device for a single person that probably uses a battery and motor electric powertrain to go about its business. I say probably because the Japanese didn't go out of their way to detail the project beyond its simple presentation in Tokyo.

We do know the thing would have been capable of turning in place to 90 degrees, making it suitable for use in crowded places.

Even from back in 2015 Honda saw the potential of smartphone integration with such vehicles, so the Wonder Walk came equipped with a rather large screen that displayed both details about the ride and a sort of phone mirroring. The Wonder Walk rode (because it didn't actually walk) on rubber wheels and was small enough to be able to board elevators or pass through ticket gates.

Like many of the concepts shown in 2015 (and in other years as well), the Honda Wonder Walk remains only a concept, and nothing really came of it.

3. Honda City Adventure (2015)

Honda City Adventure Concept
Photo: Honda
The same year Honda introduced the Bulldog concept in Japan, it brought over to Italy, where one of the industry's largest motorcycle shows takes place each year, something called the City Adventure. And the thing immediately became an EICMA sensation. And that was because of a little trick Honda pulled.

You see, a year earlier, at the same event, the Japanese brought with them something called the True Adventure prototype. That matured into the then-new Africa Twin, which was brought over on European soil in 2015.

Alongside it sat the City Adventure concept, a motorcycle meant to provide onlookers with "a totally new interpretation of the idea of motorcycling adventure." In a nutshell, the bike was meant to bring "to the heart of the city" all the things the Africa Twin was capable of doing elsewhere.

The specs of the concept were not revealed at the time, but the City Adventure would come to be known to riders, in production form, as the X-ADV. It's not exactly a motorcycle, but rather a large-capacity scooter. It's not available in the U.S., but riders over in Europe say it's better than KTM and BMW machines.

4. Honda Riding Assist-e (2017)

Honda Ride Assist concept
Photo: Honda
The Honda Riding Assist-e is not as much of a motorcycle concept but more of a technology demonstrator. And the technology it was meant to demonstrate was the self-balancing one.

You all know how one of the hardest things to do for a newbie motorcycle rider (and at times for experienced ones as well) is to maintain their balance.

That's exactly what this experimental motorcycle model was meant to address by "applying proprietary balance control technologies Honda amassed through its research in the field of robotics."

What Honda did was find a way to modulate the angle of the fork and apply continuous input to the steering angle. This was done with the help of motors that sprung into action and performed the required corrections whenever the speed dropped below three mph (4.8 kph).

After showing the Riding Assist tech for the first time at CES 2017, Honda didn't say anything more about the concept, and to our knowledge the tech itself didn't really make it into the world either. There was talk sometime last year about the Japanese bike maker planning to incorporate it, in a modified and kind of toned-down form, into the Gold Wing.

5. Honda Neo Sports Café (2017)

Honda Neo Sports Café
Photo: Honda
In some parts of this world café racer motorcycles are very appreciated rides. Born in the 1960s in private garages in the UK as a means for the young riders of the Rocker subculture to travel fast between cafes in their cities, the style has grown so popular that established companies quickly embraced it.

Honda, as one of the favorite engine suppliers for street-built café racers, did that too, and one of the most exciting Japanese naked with café racer styling you can get your hands on today is the CB1000R. A subtle retro-styling and a 143 hp 998cc engine make it a very alluring proposition.

Back in 2017, the same year it presented the Riding Assist-e, Honda revealed at the Tokyo Motor Show another take on the genre with the Neo Sports Café concept. It was a minimalistic bike that blended sport bike cues with "a new-generation motorcycle package."

Unlike most of the concepts on our list, the Neo Sports Café did turn into a production bike, which we all know today as the CB650R. The model, now described as a versatile street bike, sells in the U.S. for just $9,399, making it one of the most enticing propositions on the market.

6. Honda CB-F (2020)

Honda CB\-F concept
Photo: Honda
Closer to our time, in 2020, the Japanese introduced the CB-F concept into the world. The bike was meant to be a preview of future CB motorcycles, while at the same time paying tribute to the past generations of the model.

The ride was built around a lightweight chassis with a high-tensile steel mono-backbone structure and packed in the frame a 998cc water-cooled inline 4-cylinder DOHC engine, tied to a six-speed transmission.

The bike and the way it presented itself in an online unveiling prompted by the coronavirus pandemic made it an instant hit among Honda fans, especially given how it looked just like what the doctor ordered for trips on both city and more challenging roads.

The design cues presented on the concept four years ago can already be seen on some bikes from the CB family today. Depending on which one you favor, you'll need to pay anywhere from $5,149 for the standard CB300R and up to $12,999 for the CB1000R Black Edition.

7. Honda SFA 150 (2014)

Honda SFA 150 concept
Photo: Honda
The little-known (to us) Indonesia Motorcycle Show brought along back in 2014 the SFA 150, a streetfighter bike that was meant to draw in more people to the brand. And it certainly had the looks to do that.

Not the same can be said about capabilities because Honda didn't bother all that much to inform the world about all the hardware that makes the ride tick. We do know a liquid-cooled single-cylinder 150cc engine powered the thing, probably a derivation of the one already in use back then on the CB150R offered locally.

The bike was quite well received in Indonesia, so the Japanese took it the following year to the Osaka Motorcycle Show, the same place where the Bulldog was shown. To some, that was a clear sign Honda was pondering the idea of having the streetfighter made.

Sadly for those looking forward to riding this thing, a production version of the SFA 150 was never made, not even on a local level, let alone for the larger global markets.

8. Honda 150SS Racer (2017)

Honda 150SS Racer
Photo: Honda
Oftentimes, there are things in the motorcycle industry taking place in faraway locations they kind of make you wonder if you overslept and missed an important piece of news. Like the introduction of the Honda 150SS Racer at the 2017 Bangkok Motor Show.

Thailand is one of the most motorcycle-friendly countries in the world, with some 22 million registered bikes traveling the country's roads. The perfect place, then, for Honda to present concepts that may or may not make it into production.

The 150SS Racer is one of these concepts. It was intended for the local market, but with styling so impressive we have no problem seeing it turn heads elsewhere. That's because it looks short from end to end, tall from the ground up, and mean all over.

Like it usually does when it shows concepts in Asian countries, Honda did not go to the trouble of making the exact specs of the bike public. We do know it was powered by a liquid-cooled single-cylinder 150cc engine just like the one in the SFA 150.

What strikes the most about this concept are the carbon fiber disc wheels. They not only give the ride a distinct look, but also contribute to keeping the weight down.

Unlike the SFA, which eventually made it to Japan, the 150SS was only shown in Thailand, meaning the bike maker never truly considered turning it into a production version.

9. Honda Motor Compo (2011)

Honda Motor Compo
Photo: Honda
In the early 1980s, as if previewing the dire need for last-mile transportation solutions, Honda launched a weird-looking folding scooter called Motocompo. It was only around for a couple of years back then, but it managed to make such an impression the Japanese never really let it go.

Its successor, the Motocompacto, was launched into the world at the end of last year, and despite it looking a lot like a heating radiator on wheels, people seem to dig it, and a bunch of them have already paid the tiny sum of $995 to get their hands on it.

The Motocompacto was somewhat previewed 12 years before it made its debut, in 2011, by a concept called Motor Compo. Just like the old and the new ones, it too was foldable to some degree, and it looked just as weird as the other iterations.

The concept's wheels, unlike the ones seen on the current Motocompacto, were fully exposed to the elements, and the bodywork a tad softer on the eye and not as industrial-looking. It was small enough to be stored in the back of a car or inside the house (the steering and steps could be folded), and it was electric, although its powertrain and capabilities were never detailed. We do know the battery was removable for easier charging.

The Motor Compo was described at the time as more of an appliance than a vehicle and if you ask me its successor pretty much looks the same way.

10. Honda Bulldog (2015)

Honda Bulldog Concept
Photo: Honda
For one reason or another, Bulldog is not exactly a name I would expect in Honda's motorcycle lineup. And yet it was used by the Japanese for a concept they showed back in 2015 at the Osaka Motorcycle Show in their home country.

The Bulldog was unveiled as an exhibition model, one that was largely based on the CB400F. It was meant to promote "a new world of leisure with motorcycles," and it was intended to be a small, lovable touring bike.

Propped on 15-inch wheels and rocking a seat height of just 730 mm, the motorcycle was powered by a liquid-cooled four-stroke engine that rocked two cylinders and a displacement of 399cc. A six-speed transmission handled the "powerful, yet easy" (and undisclosed) output.

Because it was meant to be a touring ride, the bike was equipped with a carrier and accessory storage on the sides of the fuel tank. That kind of made it look like it was wrapped in some sort of garment, a quirkiness further enhanced by the dual headlights at the front.

Shortly after its presentation almost a decade ago, there was talk of the Bulldog making it into production, but that never happened (at least not in this form and under this name).
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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