Gone Outdoors

Honda Three Wheeler History

by Contributing Writer

In the late 1960s, American Honda wanted to create a vehicle that could be marketed during the months when motorcycle sales lagged. The idea for the new vehicle came from a type of "motorcycle" used by Japanese farmers. The creation became a three-wheeled vehicle that is used for both work and recreation.

The First Three-Wheeler

Honda's US90 was the worlds first all-terrain vehicle. The US90, which was later called the All-Terrain Cycle 90 (ATC), was sold for the first first time in the United States in 1971. The US90 retailed for $595.

Power Plant and Transmission

The US90 had a 89cc four-stroke engine with a single cylinder. The US90 put out seven horsepower and used an automatic clutch and a gearbox that featured four speeds.

The Reason for Creation

Honda engineer Osamu Takeuchi was in charge of the group that created the US90. Takeuchi's group began work on an all-terrain vehicle in 1967.

Top Uses

According to a November 2004 Honda press release, in the 1980s ATV utility and racing usage surged. According to Honda: "This multi-purpose usage grew from 30 percent of total usage in 1985 to approximately 80." Because of this, Honda introduced the ATC185 in 1980 and the ATC200E or "Big Red" in 1982 for utility. The ATC250R was introduced in 1981 for racing enthusiasts.

Safety Concerns

In the 1980s the United States government raised safety concerned for riders of three-wheeled ATVs. In 1988, production of three-wheelers stopped. In response, the industry set safety standards and programs for ATVs and riders.