24 October 2015

Funky, Folding Portable 'Suitcase' Motorcycles:

I find most all vehicles interesting somehow -historically, artistically, or the technology- but was always more of a 'car guy' than into bikes. I've ridden a little but never actually owned a street bike of any sort.

So forgive me if I'm out-of-it but I never even heard of the 1981-83 'Honda Motocompo' portable motorcycle until last week, just stumbled across it on the net. 

Seems to have quite a following, and the dandy lil' 50cc scooter-ish thing was meant to be ordered along with new cars (in Japan) too, where it could be purchased as an option- it fit neatly right in the trunk of even the smallest Honda hatchback. 

In fact, the luggage compartment of the then-new microcar 'Honda City' was built specifically around the dimensions of the Motocompo when folded, and they intended for the new product to represent an entire new category of 'trunk bikes'. 

The design is really quite clever, with the large rubber strip running down both sides so it could just be leaned against a wall -or whatever:

Ad campaign featured British ska band 'Madness'

1982 Honda Motocompo

And you thought the Japanese black-burger thing was new!

Here is a modernized Motocompo by 'Rough Crafts' in Taiwan-
I really wouldn't mind one like this:

Since a majority of the 53K produced are still in Japan 
-a country that can make a craze out of anything-
many a customized Motocompo can be found in Tokyo. 

The only came in red, yellow, and white, 
so the military/khaki theme below is custom too- 
this one came out really nice, note the details with 
SuperTrapp-type exhaust, brakes, modern lighting, etc. 
Not sure if the stainless tank is for extended-range fuel 
or nitrous... never know with them over there:

I dunno if this is real but here's a 'Police Package' Motocompo alongside it's Honda City mother-ship... I could see how the cops would find the combo useful in crowded Japanese cities, certainly- and they look cool in

Four years ago in 2011, Honda built and showed a new electric Motocompo concept prototype- I'm not much for the Star Wars/camera look, but the tech and materials look interesting:

This gasoline prototype also popped-about about the same time, 
a better proposition but didn't make production:

But Honda isn't the only one -nor the first- to have marketed such a product. One could argue that the briefcase-bike concept was better represented by the Valmobile from obsucure-bizarrist French automaker Bouffort... in fact the portable bike was said to be the companies' only really commercial success, with over 100,000 built in transport-starved postwar France + export markets:

Bouffort actually sourced them from Japan and retailed the Valmobile worldwide- the idea of a 75lb portable scooter was inspired by various military transport designed for paratroopers in WWII.

Bouffort thought an easily stored scooter would sell well in urban markets and he was right- even if not going in the trunk of your car, it could be handily rolled into a closet. With no front suspension and little power, the ride was likely challenging for anything longer than a brief jaunt around town.

But this one actually did fold-away into the case- neat:

Also available with side-car!

These days the Swiss make an eco-electric moped that folds, nice design, 
but lacks the charm and versatility of internal-combustion bikes- 
and there are other similar things out there in 2015:

Portland, OR based BOXX is producing this electric one, 
clearly inspired by Motocompo but lacking most of it's charm... 
looks like a Panasonic cassette tape player from 1973:

Bonus bike: 1960 Centaur was designed specifically for airline pilots!!!

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