Honda look set to build the barking Bulldog

Published: 22 September 2015

In an era when every new bike seems to be battling to pack more high-tech gadgets and gizmos than its rivals, Honda’s Bulldog concept is a refreshingly utilitarian beast, and the latest patents suggest it could be heading for production.

Revealed in March this year at the Osaka Motorcycle Show, the Bulldog was inexplicably tagged by Honda as a “Lovable Touring Partner” but – silly name aside – it wasn’t short of appeal. Sporting the sort of rugged ugliness that has worked so well for generations of BMW GSs, it was based on the
Japanese-market CB400F, a sleeved-down version of the CB500F sold here.

Using a stock frame, suspension and engine, the Bulldog’s innovation came from its styling – with 15in wheels and tough metal frames around all its vulnerable parts, it’s effectively a scaled-up version of the Zoomer and Big Ruckus scooters. Yes, it’s got some sensible ideas despite the mad looks, like large luggage lockers on either side of the fuel tank.

Given the number of production components in the bike, from day one it looked like it stood a decent chance of reaching showrooms, and the latest pictures show subtle differences that make it even closer to a viable production machine. It’s a complete-looking machine, with just a couple of indications that it’s not quite ready – the front ABS sensor doesn’t line up, and the tyres are still handmade one-offs.