24
Jun

2014

Honda’s Briefcase Motorcycle – The MotoCompo

Post by Nicholas Chu

The super miniature Motocompo scooter next to HONDACITY subcompact hatchback. Image from Wikipedia.

As more and more of the human population migrates to cities, the need for intelligent urban transport solutions grows ever more urgent. And perhaps as a response to these circumstances, Honda was responsible for developing a very simple, ingenious and cutting-edge solution (at least in the 1980s) to the dreaded urban commute.



The Motocompo, a super miniature scooter, has been aptly nicknamed by its cult-like followers as a “briefcase motorcycle” or a “bike in a box”. First launched in 1981, buyers of the Honda City or Honda Today had the option of adding on a Motocompo to their purchase for only $350. The scooter with its side handles and collapsable steering shafts allows it to be easily transported and stored almost anywhere. Unfortunately, these units were not available to most consumers as they were only sold domestically in Japan.

Motocompo stored in trunk when not in use. Image from Wikipedia.

And for the cramped and dense metropolises of the rising sun where living space comes at a premium, the Motocompo’s space-savviness appeared to be an ideal solution.

Makers optimistically estimated that they would sell 10,000 each month but in reality, only 53,000 units were bought over the course of 2 years until Honda pulled the plug in 1983.

Due to its rarity, its status today is merely relegated to a collector’s item where one can cost you upwards of $10,000 USD! It’s not entirely clear why the Motocompo never caught on but Honda has certainly not forgotten about this concept.

As personal portable mobility demands will likely intensify with growing urban populations, an eco-friendly and compact scooter with great mileage (100 mpg) may finally find its niche amongst the billions of city dwellers. In fact, the automaker completely redesigned the scooter and unveiled it in 2011 as the Motor Compo. However, a few years down the line, there’s little word if or when the first of these vehicles will ever hit the road.

If history provides any lessons, for the Motor Compo to have any chance of success they may need to do some work on their previous somewhat funny, yet incredibly corny advertisement.



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