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1970 Honda Z50A "Rat Rod"

1970 Honda Z50 Mini Trail

 

             This project started out as a truck load of Honda mini trail parts I purchased from a middle aged gentleman who was “done” with Honda mini trails. I, myself can’t fathom such a mindset; his loss, my gain. The frame I decided to use for this project (1 of 3 from the lot) was missing the taillight mount as well as a few other imperfections here and there. Not being a good candidate for a meticulous 100 point restoration, I decided to “Rat Rod” it. I gathered inspiration while perusing endless mini trail build up threads on the internet. A few in particular stuck in my mind with white wall tires, red wheels, flat black paint and chopper style bars. I knew this was what I wanted for this particular build and was determined to make it happen.

             As with all my projects, the frame as well as the fork uppers, triple clamps, wheels etc. were all stripped and sandblasted. For the frame, fork and fuel tank I choose the flattest flat black available for powder coat “Tuscan Matte Black”. I also powder coated the rim halves and hubs, this particular red colour was simply called “Red” (makes sense). Rat Rod Z50 mini trail

             The bike was starting to take shape and looking like a ‘50’s style rat rod, but I was missing some key components, handlebars and a seat. I really lucked out and found the handlebars bolted to a twisted up old bicycle destined for the landfill, to my surprise the bars were straight! Although a little rusty, some steel wool and generous amounts of WD-40 and scrubbing made them come out shiny enough for a rat rod. Then came the seat.  This fine specimen of ass comfort engineering was given to me by an acquaintance that caught wind of this project and took the seat off his wife’s dust collecting stationary bike. He was quite sure she would no longer need it as she was now clearly at the peak of physical conditioning.

             The engine is a bit of a Frankenstein creation, in that the bottom end is a 1970’s Honda Z50, but the top end and crank are from a 12 volt Lifan 86cc pitbike engine.  Everything was pretty straight foreword to convert the old Honda 49cc 3 speed 6volt engine to a modern 86cc 12 volt powerhouse. The vintage engine cases on the ignition side did have to be ground a bit to fit the 12 volt ignition trigger, I hate to grind things away that can’t be rebuilt but at least this way I can run a modern reliable ignition and easily obtainable 12 volt electronics.

            Rat Rod Z50 Suicide ShifterTaking a step back and looking at how the bike was evolving I noticed a slight lack of “bad ass-ness”.  The idea of a suicide (jockey) shifter came to mind. I used a piece of the old shifter, some 5/16” rod and some pivot joints to make the shifter mechanism along with a chrome skull to top it off.  It took a bit of experimenting to get the leverage ratios correct to give a positive strong shift feel. With no rear suspension it does get a little hairy trying to shift one handed on any terrain rougher then a paved parking lot, but if it wasn’t dangerous it wouldn’t be called a suicide shift right?Rat Rod Z50 Exhaust

             All in all there are a few more things to button up on this bad boy, but at least it’s ride-able and looks decent enough to show off a little. Judging by the response to the bike by the local mini bike crowd it looks like I achieved what I wanted to out of the project. I got a bike that captures the old rat rod era of the 1950’s, gets a few oooh’s and ahhh’s along the way, and will hopefully be a long time member in my collection for years to come.

 

 

Finished for Now

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Honda Rat Rod Z50

Honda Z50 Rat Rod