Honda Monkey Business

Alright. My apologies for being quiet lately. And as you might notice – for the change in focus that will happen with this blog starting with this very post. And for covering the upcoming topics in english henceforth. We start talking about Monkeys. Honda Monkeys to be precise. And the buisness of refurbishing them … aehm at least one. Mine. I’m sure there will be some monkey business along the way.

How the Honda Monkey business all started

Honda Monkey Z50A K2 from 1970/71 Example picture, not my particular bike of these days
Not the particular bike I owned, but the same model, same color.
And mine wasn’t in this perfect condition, still in a very good shape.

My very first motobike was a Honda Monkey Z50A K2 from 1970/71. I was fifthteen and eager to hit the road. At that time in Germany the only motorisied vehicle you could drive with 15 (besides tractors) where mofas. Pedals like a bike, engine like a motorbike and it could be ridden without any driving licence. We are talking of the 1980s – things changed meanwhile, just in case you wonder). When an auctioning in our village was publicly announced and two mofas were amongst the listed items, I knew I had to get one of those! Auctions are always a good chance for a bargain and this one was even round the corner.

Turned out the mofas were two of the a.m. hardtail Honda Monkeys. One in red without any keys and papers and one in blue. At least with keys, still no papers. Unexperienced as I was I would go for the one with at least one item of hassle less. I won the bid for it for the pocket money friendly amount of 150 or 160 DM (Deutsche Mark). I can’t even remember the exact figure – but it was extremely cheap. Which would translate into about the same amount in Euro in todays money (or approx. 20.000 KES for my Kenyan audience).

The monkey business of miscalculation

What I had to learn was: those weren’t mofas at all, but mokicks (because of the kick starter). Meant I had to get me a driving licence at the age of 16. Which was the minimum age to be allowed driving such. First Honda Monkey business. Good news though: it would allow me to travel at 40 km/h instead of just 25 km/h which was the max. for mofas. I used the year in between to get the paperwork done (a story in itself). And to practice (illegally) my riding skills in the woods behind my parents house.

Of course I needed some upgrades for the bike. My bicycle of that time which I used for my school commute already had all bells and whistles. My motorbike shouldn’t stand back. The two things I needed desperately included flashers and a luggage rack. As I said: I had to carry a school back and only primary school kids had backbacks. And indicating with handsignals was up to bicycle riders, not to motor people.

First steps into a biker career

Still I had no real clue what I bought. I learned all the basics about braking, shifting, handle the clutch in the driving school. I tried to apply my new knowledge to my Monkey, but it refused. A closer look discovered my mistake. The “clutch” lever wasn’t such, but another way to engage the rear brake besides the normal foot pedal on the right. So where was the clutch? With no internet for research I could figure out that the Monkey was semi-automatic. Other than that the 3 gears where shifted as usual. First down, two and three upwards and a centrifugal clutch would do the magic of seamless shifting. Which I was happy to have – I wasn’t to precise with clutch on the driving school bike.

Once I got familiar with all quirks of the bike and was officially allowed to hit the road. Not a day later than my 16th birthday I could eventually start my bikers career. Besides my daily commutes I also started using the Monkey for errands and short stints to the local public pool. At one point I went for a “big” journey of 200, 250 km all around the hills of Westerwald. A real adventure for a 16 year old!

Supply and demand regulate the price

When my cousin offered me his Yamaha DT 50 – still a mokick, but a full-sized enduro – I got tempted. I started announcing the Honda for 500 DM and shortly after it was sold for 400 DM to some guys who seemed to be familiar with that very model. I concluded of their response to my changes and the uncommon full fledged papers I got for it. Man, was I happy to make that money! Still I can admit I had no clue. That very model at that time was already worth at least twice of what I got paid. Those guys buying must have taken me for a complete idiot selling this cheap.

With todays knowledge I would have bought both the red and the blue one and just kept them. Today vintage Honda Monkeys are traded (depending on model year and condition) in a range of 3.000 to 6.000 €. This is the most Honda Monkey business I encountered so far.

There for it was a rather easy decision to buy the one that was lately offered on, though it already looked very poor on the pictures of the advert. Nevertheless I saw some potential in it.

I am still sure that a bit of love (and of course money) could turn this in to it’s old glory:

What we are talking of is a 1976 softtail Honda Monkey in “papaw green”. Quite an unusual color which for example wasn’t sold in US at all. Other colors of that model year are a clear white (also rare) and a bright yellow (the major color you’ll find on the market).

Next episode will be about an assessment for the bike to get an idea about the upcoming work.

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