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The Honda Way for 2000

10 September 1999

The Honda Way for 2000 - Engineering, Performance, Leadership Motorcycle Division Unveils 9 New Models at New Orleans Convention
    NEW ORLEANS, Sept. 8 -- Honda's Motorcycle Division unveiled
nine new 2000 models today in the first wave of a three-year product strategy
designed to send the competition back to the drawing boards.
    Excited Honda dealers, assembled at the New Orleans Convention Center for
their annual product show, got their first look at two new sport bikes, a
street rod performance custom, an aluminum-framed big-bore dirt bike, and five
new all terrain vehicles (ATVs).  Included was a prototype 2001 ATV called the
Foreman Rubicon that features a revolutionary, maintenance-free, beltless
automatic transmission.
    "We are innovators," Sr. Vice President John Petas told the dealers, "the
creators of categories and the machines that dominate them.  These exciting
new products will start us on a three-year path to market domination of the
category segments in which we compete."
    Echoing the same theme was Vice President Motohide Sudo.  "Three key
principles guide our company.  They are engineering, performance, and
leadership.  All three are vital to the Honda Way.  They capture the essence
of the philosophy upon which the founders of this company, Mr. Soichiro Honda
and Mr. Takeo Fujisawa, built a world-class enterprise."
    Industry sales of motorcycles and ATVs are up dramatically for the second
year in a row, increasing in 1999 at a rate of nearly 30%, according to the
Motorcycle Industry Council in Irvine, California.
    "The industry is on fire and we're going to get the lion's share of the
growth by building the right machines at the right time for the right people,"
Honda's Ray Blank, VP of Sales and Operations, told the enthusiastic group.
"We'll do it with engineering, performance, and leadership on the track, off
road, and in the showroom."
    Many industry observers have wondered how Honda would respond to the
increasing competition it now faces from traditional rivals and new start-ups.
    Blank spoke directly of the competition, saying, "We realize that Yamaha,
Polaris, and Harley-Davidson have closed the gap in categories that we once
dominated, and I want each of you to know that their encroachment has not gone
unnoticed.  Nor will it go unanswered."
    Since Honda, the world's largest motorcycle company, competes in almost
every product segment of the powersports industry, its bold posture was
welcomed by the dealers.  To back up the straight talk, Honda unveiled new
models bristling with features designed by its legendary R&D group.

    Leading the charge is the all-new CBR929RR, a motorcycle designed to
maintain Honda's title of best open-class sport bike, a category recently
challenged by Kawasaki and Yamaha.  Digging deeply into Honda's bag of
power-producing-tricks, the engineers fashioned a fuel-injected four cylinder
engine that produces over 160 bhp/liter in a chassis that weighs just 374 lbs.
dry, giving the 929 the best power-to-weight ratio of any production
motorcycle ever.

    Another breathtaking machine is Honda's new Superbike racing platform, the
RC51.  The V-twin, fuel-injected 1000cc four-stroke engine produces immense
torque and over 130 bhp in stock trim.  Most impressive is the RC51's price,
just $9999.00 (MSRP) for the machine that will be the backbone of the Honda
Racing Corporation's world-wide Superbike racing effort for 2000 and beyond.
With the most affordable Superbike platform in the class -- thousands less
than the nearest competitor -- Honda is hoping the low price of the RC51 will
rekindle the grass-roots racing effort that has been absent from Superbike
racing in recent years, fostering the development of tomorrow's racing stars
and strengthening the sport.

    Shadow Sabre(TM)
    In the ever-popular cruiser category, Honda introduced the Shadow Sabre, a
performance custom with street rod styling.  Following the obvious performance
theme of the show, the Sabre's 1100cc V-twin engine may not be the largest
displacement V-twin cruiser on the market, but the company's engineers claim
it outperforms cruisers in almost any displacement class.  With Honda now
boosting overall performance in its V-twin cruiser lineup, future models
should prove equally exciting.

    Honda also showed its dealers the all-new XR650R, an aluminum-framed,
liquid-cooled, four-stroke single cylinder off-road bike that replaces the
legendary XR600R, a motorcycle that captured nine AMA off road championships
and seven Baja victories in its ten-year life cycle.  The new XR650R features
Honda's tough, yet exotic aluminum frame technology, pioneered on the CR250R
in the crucible of tortuous Supercross competition.  With an incredibly
powerful engine, the XR650R will further establish Honda's reputation as a
builder of innovative, high-performance motorcycles that are exceptionally

    Honda introduced four new ATVs to their dealers, each bearing the Rancher
name.  Available in both two and four wheel drive, and conventional and
Electric Shift Program (ESP(TM)) models, the 350-class Rancher series are
full-sized ATVs with extraordinary versatility and Honda's well-earned
reputation for toughness.
    ATV sales are booming, outpacing even motorcycle sales in both rate and
volume.  In the predominant multiple-use ATV segment -- which encompasses
farming, ranching, industrial, commercial, utility, and recreational uses --
the Ranchers will find eager buyers.  Among them will be the legions of riders
who developed their Honda loyalty after years of trouble-free service with
Honda's FourTrax 300 and FourTrax 300 4x4 -- ATVs that collectively sold over
530,000 units since their introduction in 1988.

    Foreman Rubicon(TM)
    Perhaps the greatest surprise of the show was Honda's new 2001 Foreman
Rubicon, a liquid-cooled 500cc single-cylinder, four-stroke ATV that features
the Hondamatic transmission.  With over 100 patents pending, the Hondamatic
transmission is unlike any transmission ever offered on an ATV -- or any other
motor vehicle, for that matter.  Utilizing a hydromechanical design that
Soichiro Honda first introduced on the Juno M85 scooter in 1962, the
Hondamatic is compact, quiet, rugged, maintenance-free, impervious to external
contaminants, and features engine braking -- qualities that existing
belt-drive ATV transmissions lack.  Displayed as a 2001 prototype, the Rubicon
will be available in spring of 2000.

    About Honda
    American Honda Motor Co., Inc. is the sole distributor of Honda
motorcycles, ATVs, and scooters in the U.S.  American Honda's Motorcycle
Division conducts the sales, marketing, and operational activities for these
products through approximately 1200 Honda authorized dealers.  For further
information about Honda products, racing teams, programs, and dealer
locations, visit the Honda web site at:

    Customer inquiries: 310-532-9811
    Media inquiries: 310-783-3745