’68 Honda Z50 Mini Trail
We’ve all seen Honda Trail 90’s, SL100’s or classic old Honda step thru’s hanging off the front bumper of a motorhome bound for somewhere more interesting than where you and I are going. But how often do we wonder what might be stuffed in the trunk of that Buick Le Sabre with a roof box that’s covered with stickers from 36 out of the 50 states here in the good ‘ol USA. Sure we could play the ‘what if’ game…”what if that old couple in the car just knocked off a bank in Kingman and they have the witness tied up in the trunk..” or, “what if that guy in the Buick had finally had enough of his mother in law and…”, we don’t want to think about that one…but I’m pretty sure we don’t think it could be a motorcycle in that trunk. Actually, it could be very easily.
I have written before that the best selling motorcycle of all time is the Honda 350. Believe it or not, I could be wrong. The little Honda ‘Monkey Bike’ also known as the ‘Mini Trail’, might actually the best seller…in it’s various guises. Honda brought out the ‘Z50 Mini Trail’ in 1968 thinking that it would be a good bike for getting around the woods on a camping trip, maybe some light exploring in the desert, or teaching little Throckmorton how to ride a motorbike. Honda doesn’t generally bring out a bike they don’t think will sell well, but in the Z50’s case, I don’t think they were prepared for it to sell over 70,000 units its first year out!! Everybody loves the Mini Trail.
And what’s not to love about the little ‘Mini Trail’. The little bike is easy to ride (automatic clutch transmission), small enough for kids and grandma to ride around (hey, it’s only got a couple of horsepower), you can fold in the handlebars (yes, they do fold inwards and downwards for compactness) so it can be stuffed into the trunk of a Buick or easily slid into a small trailer full of race bikes and gear (the mini trail is a great pit bike or campground get around) and lastly…the Honda Monkey Bike is a real chick magnet! It’s true. Any guy riding around on a childs / grandma’s bike has got to be very secure.
The Mini Trail is so popular that there are copies of the bike being made in China, Taiwan, Korea and Tijuana. OK, I’m kidding about Tijuana, I think…? There is a whole aftermarket for these little scoots. Bigger motors, suspension upgrades, it really has become a cult bike. The cool factor is very high with the little Z50. There are Z50 choppers, Z50 racers (yes, they do race these little bikes… as a side here, let’s be honest, people who like to race will race anything, heck, I race my lawn tractor, so why not a Monkey Bike??), and the coolest thing is to make a cafe racer out of one. How to make them street legal is my first question?
So, I found this really nice little Monkey bike on ebay today. It’s a ’68 model in really good condition. It’s almost great but it’s got a couple of hiccups like the airbox is missing (no big deal, really), the tires are old (another no big deal), and it sits…alot (it only has 20 miles on it ?! How do you only put 20 miles on any thing with two wheels in over 50 years??!!). This little Z50 runs, looks great and will take nothing to be running around the neighborhood with Grandma at the controls terrorizing all her Bingo friends. Or, better yet, hang it on the bumper of your RV and head to where the sun is shining. Click on the pic’s below for more info and more pictures. This is a great little bike that does nothing more than give you miles of smiles and increase in value every year.