History Of The Honda Monkey
Monkey bikes, also known more professionally as the Honda Z series, are a set of minibikes created by Honda. They have a long year of fascinating history behind them, which has been painstakingly put together herein.
It all started in 1961 with the first of the series called the Honda Z100, which came with a 50cc four-stroke engine, five-inch tires, and no suspension. It was initially designed for Tama tech park, an amusement park owned by Honda in the 1960s. Visitors came around and were amused by this revolutionary technology that was fun and weird-looking at the same time. The crouchy simian posture that the bike enforces on riders makes one look like a monkey when riding, and as such, the name monkey bikes by Honda was prompted.
The monkey bikes started gaining popularity in Japan, and Honda thought it a better idea to produce them en masse for use on roads. So, they came up with the CZ100 model in 1963, which was an upgrade to the initial Z100.
Sequel to the Z100 and CZ100, Honda came up with another design in 1966 called the Z50M. We are not entirely sure why the number dropped, but the “50” has stuck to the Z model ever since. They were only available for sale to markets in Australia, Europe, and Canada in 1967. This model was a better upgrade and was equipped with tail lights, headlights, a mirror, rear brake light, and a horn, all of these were added so that they could be registered and pass regulatory laws for on-road use in most countries.
In 1968, the Honda monkey bikes finally touched down in America with a new name and an upgraded design. This model of Z series mini bikes was called the Z50A and was nicknamed Mini trail. It was meant for off-road purposes because it lacked the essential gear and equipment needed to pass regulatory laws on US soil.
In 1973, Honda released another line of minibikes called the Z50J to replace the Z50A in the American market. Still, it was not until 1978 before the Z50A was eventually phased out of the American motorcycle lineup.
Both the Z50A and Z50J were not street legal in the US, so Honda decided to bring out another model of monkey bikes that will pass street regulations, and hence, the ZB50 was born. It was designed in 1986 and came into US, Canadian and European markets in 1988.
As a result of the massive demand for mini dirt bikes, Honda came up with the Z50R model, which was intended to be used on tracks, compared to the previous conventional monkey bikes built for leisure.
Monkey bikes have been around for a while but were eventually taken off-market. Productions finally came to a halt in 2017 when Japan introduced regulatory emission policies that were practically impossible for the small-displacement engines of minibikes to meet.
Although out of production, the monkey bikes are a testament to Honda’s long history of serving the minibike community. Just like Honda, we at Zecycles have a proven track record of putting the customer’s needs first and serving to the best of our capacity. We offer excellent deals on Honda monkey bikes and mini bikes of all types, shapes, and sizes at the click of a button.
Honda Monkey Bikes: Designs And Models
All monkey bikes have a characteristic peculiarity; they are effectively small, have foldable handlebars, and boasts of impressive firmly-strapped five-inch diameter wheels, and a unique chrome tank.
All Honda monkey bikes come with an overhead cam four-stroke engine with a cubic capacity of 50ccs. Some come with a semi-automatic transmission, featuring a standard manual foot-shift lever and a centrifugal clutch. In contrast, others come with a traditional manual clutch and a four-speed gearbox.
They are powered by a 4.5 horsepower single horizontal cylinder four-stroke engine and a seat height not greater than 22 inches.
Initial monkey bikes did not come with any suspension. It wasn’t until much later that front fork suspensions were incorporated into the Honda monkey bikes. Later on, in 1974, both front and rear suspensions were added to the monkey bike series, with the Z50J being the first.
Despite the similar features they possess, Honda monkey bikes come in different models that have been tweaked and upgraded over the years to meet regulations or satisfy customer demand.
Over the years, the Honda monkey bikes have morphed from the pioneering Z100 model originally meant for kids in amusement parks, to the iconic Z50R that took over the dirt bike community of minibikes.
Features Of The Honda Monkey Bikes
There are seven different official models of the Honda monkey bike series, and they are the Z100, CZ100, Z50M, Z50A, Z50J, Z50R, ZB50 in that order. Each has the conventionality of the standard monkey bikes but are peculiar in their way.
The Z100 and CZ100 models are more or less alike. The CZ100 was only an upgrade of the Z100 that was only suited for amusement parks and not practical for on and off-road purposes. They both don a bright red frame look with tiny white fuel tanks and are powered by a super cub motor. The CZ100 particularly comes with a three-speed transmission clutch and has a maximum power of 9,500 RPM.
As far as specifications go, the Z50 is powered by a three-speed manual gearbox with a centrifugal clutch. They are equipped with front fork suspensions consisting of telescopic springs. The Z50dry weighs 115 pounds and stands at 26 inches tall. It is 51 inches long and has a wheelbase of 43.8 inches.
The Z50A is a 50cc OHC single cylinder minibike that can reach speeds of up to 25 mph. It comes in two iconic colors; candy red and bright yellow and has a three-speed transmission with an automatic clutch. There are several versions of this model starting from the Z50A-KO popularly known as the “Hard Tail” to the 1969 version nicknamed “Short Tail,” and then lastly, the “Long Tail” which came out in 1972.
The Z50J is not significantly different from the Z50A. They both have similar characteristics, only that the former comes in black and red. Another variation that separates the Z50J from the rest is that some of them do not come with foldable handlebars, 6-volt lighting, and indicators as other monkey bikes do.
The Z50R is the model in the Honda monkey bikes series specifically built for dirt bike racing based on popular demand. It is an Air-cooled, four-stroke, single-cylinder OHC engine with a maximum output of 8500 RPM and a maximum torque of 4500RPM. It weighs just 110 pounds, 32 inches long, and 23.8 inches high. The engine system is equipped with a sequential gearbox and a dry type clutch, which are suited for the agility and flexibility of an off-road track.
The peculiarity of the ZB50 is more evident in its look. It dons this miniature sporty bike look as a result of the twin perimeter spar frame. It is a more law-abiding version of the monkey bike series. It is 59 inches long, 36 inches high, and weighs 157 pounds. It also features a semi-automatic transmission and a telescopic front fork suspension and a swingarm rear fork suspension, making it easier to handle and maneuver.
Aftermath-The Honda Grom
The production run of the Honda Z series monkey bikes was finally shut down in 2017 after several years of back and forth tug of court cases between Honda and the Japanese government. Still, before they completely packed up their monkey bike enterprise, they improvised in a bid to get around the regulations by coming up with the Honda MSX125 in 2014.
The MSX125, also known as the Grom, is based on the Z series’ original monkey bike structure. It has a cubic capacity of 125 ccs, unlike that of the Z series, which only has a cubic capacity of 50 ccs.
The Grom was initially off to a rocky start, as there were potential safety issues in the initial production run, most of which were recalled, but the Grom has since taken the minibike market by storm.
In conclusion, most minibike lovers almost always go for Honda monkey bikes because it is relatively inexpensive, easy to use, and simple to maintain.
However, much sadly, most do not know where to go to get one, and that is where ZeCycles come in. We are a certified online motorcycle showroom dedicated to bringing amazing deals on all types and models of bikes – both used and new. As a result of this, we thereby eliminate the painstaking experience you would typically go through getting your choicest motorbike in a conventional motorcycle showroom.