CT70, Z50, XR50, Z50R,Honda Nice,Honda Minitrail,Honda Mini trail,TJR Tuningparts,XR70 CRF Honda MonkeyHonda Monkeybike,Honda 50, Honda 70, Honda ST90,Honda CT70,Honda Z50,Honda Dax FAQ

Why restore an old Honda when new reproductions are on the market? 

      There are 4 main reasons and these involve: collectability, quality, parts support & legalities.

  1. The repro bikes are all Chinese knockoffs. Since these were first marketed about seven years ago, actual retail sale prices have declined, in some cases as much as 70%. We have seen Chinese Minitrail clones being retailed for less than $700. The wholesale cost is a fraction of that. Average resale values of original Honda Minitrails, while seeing some price fluctuations, especially in 2002-3,  have remained far more stable...especially for top condition/low mileage originals and high-end restorations.  During the past couple of years, resale values have more than rebounded making a classic vintage CT70/Z50 a relatively good investment for a specialty machine. More recently, we've seen prices for genuine Honda models trend sharply upward, while Chinese bikes are becoming fewer & further between. Resale prices, for the few PRC copies we've seen up for sale, have been a fraction of what a basket case Honda would bring. The market has been heading in the direction we predicted five years ago.  
  2. You get what you pay for. Late model Chinese knockoffs are built to a cost. It's not so much a matter of where something is made, but for whom it is made and more importantly, who specifies & maintains the level of quality. A bike that costs roughly the same as a cheap engine is, of necessity, going to have some serious cost-related compromises. A common practice among sellers of low-end Chinese product is a reliance on the use of surplus and odd lots for critical parts such as bearings, in an attempt to reduce costs. This is great for those who market the bikes at ever lower prices. It's not so great for a bike owner who has to replace an engine when a simple, inexpensive part fails and no replacement can be sourced anywhere. There have been horror stories of engine, transmission, bearing, electrical and gauge failures on bikes with less than 100 miles on the clock. Reports of blistering/peeling paint on new bikes have been the norm; the frames are oftentimes stored outdoors after leaving the manufacturing line, weeks or even months before they are painted. Paint applied over rust is a recipe for disaster. Just the fact that 35-year-old Hondas have survived to the present day speaks volumes about their quality, durability and parts support. The market has responded in kind and values have not only rebounded but will no doubt continue to escalate further in the future as demand outstrips supply. 2002-5 saw large numbers of original bikes parted-out reducing the supply of originals noticeably. The results of this carnage are being realized now. Some models and parts have all but disappeared. Complete bikes have become few & far between compared to just a couple of years ago. There are some silver linings. Continued demand in the face of short supply has, in some cases, lead to some formerly rare parts, such as sparkplug guards, being remade and further shoring-up the longterm value of the classic models. Today, if you can even find one,  a new Chinese repop sells for roughly the same price as an original Honda in fair-to-poor condition.  As of 2007, new repop "clone" bikes have all but disappeared and the quality of most Chinese parts offered for sale has deteriorated to the point where they are only sold through ebay for a very short time, with most sellers disappearing quickly. The last round of made-in-PRC bikes offered for sale new, were singularly awful, the crudest manufacturing we've ever seen. The problem is that the market for repop bikes is driven by price alone and that means more non-dedicated sellers looking for high volume and fast turnover. It has become an unseemly race to the bottom... in other words, "walmartization". On the flip side of things, Honda bikes & parts, while costing more initially, are still the same quality items and sold on the basis of quality. The end result are quality/price curves that are virtual mirror images for OEM Honda vs PRC copies. In the world of minitrails, as with anything else, there's no free lunch.
  3. Honda does the best job in the industry of supporting their old models with replacement parts and it is truly amazing just how many minitrail items can be ordered from your local Honda dealer. Parts support for the Chinese repro bikes ranges from spotty to nonexistent.  Most of the time it is a trick just trying to figure out which manufacturer actually produced any given bike; the names seem to change on a weekly basis. Try finding so much as an exploded diagram of a Chinese engine, we've never even heard of a Chinese repop shop manual. By the time a new bike is a year old, it's history. Both the name and parts backup will most likely be gone...if any repair parts were ever available in the first place. The reason for this is simple, most of the repop bikes and engines at the bottom of the price/quality scale are not produced by a single manufacturer. Much of the time these are assembled from Q/C reject and odd lot components.
  4. Beginning in the early `80s, registering a Minitrail started getting more difficult. Today, the older the bike, the easier it is to title and register. Pre `73 models aren't even required to have turn signals. The older bikes are one of the last safe havens for people who want the freedom to build what they want. It is already nearly impossible to register most of the Chinese clone bikes, depending upon manufacturer, importer and state in question. New EPA and NHTSA rules will make this ever more difficult in the near future, the result of which being that many, if not most, of the repop bikes will no longer be offered for sale in the US.


Do any of the newer repops offer value? 

This is another can of worms and there are both good and bad points.  Chinese bikes have been marketed under so many different names, that it's very difficult knowing who spec'd them in the first place. Of course they are all outwardly similar, but what critical parts (bearings, metal alloys, engines, brakes etc) were installed on the example in front of you? Even the engines themselves oftentimes use odd sized bearings, and the like, purchased as odd-lots. Once the supply is depleted, the design is changed and no replacements are available for repairs. We've seen low-mileage engines scrapped for want of a $5 bearing. Because of the mystery surrounding the true origins and parts content, we view even brand-new examples as used bikes. In other words, should something break six months from now, you're most likely on your own. There have been some fairly decent bikes marketed. Unfortunately, there has also been some some real junk. It's difficult trying to distinguish the good from the awful.

We check out the latest crop of repro bikes frequently and some things have remained pretty constant:

  • The marketing brand names under which these are sold rarely last more than a year.
  • You never know what name might be on the engine or bike.
  • The overall quality is lacking, compared to the genuine Hondas.
  • The welding appears crudely done and even the metal frame lugs appear to be of thinner gauge than what Honda used.
  • The finishing is typically second, or third, rate. The paint we've seen has almost always been peppered with dirt and has an orange-peel appearance. Chrome, what there is of it, has been universally awful and metalfinishing is non-existant. Parts such as triple clamps and brake backing plates that were polished on the original Hondas are given a heavy coat of dull silver paint on the repops. That thick paint is there to mask the rough surfaces; the coarse grind marks still show through.
  • Reports of a steady string of parts failures continue. Owners of these bikes liken them to used cars...constantly requiring repairs. Most, but not all, of these are minor in nature.
  • Disc brake front ends have been introduced on the repro bikes and although these aren't super heavy-duty race pieces, they are something the Honda never offered.
  • The original style folding handlebars, one of the key features when these bikes were first introduced,  that Honda discontinued in 1979, are back.
  • 12 volt electrical systems are standard. That's a major upgrade over the old 6v setup but, truth be told, the old 6v Honda electrical systems were far more consistent in the reliability department.

We're more than a little suspicious of the fact that the $1900.00 bike of 2000 was being retailed for $800 in 2006. The cost reductions didn't just happen by magic. Still, if you're willing to deal with the problems that seem to frequently accompany these new bikes, your money may buy a basic platform for future upgrades. Plus, you get to ride your purchase as soon as you put gas in it.  Eventually, you can build a pretty decent bike, albeit over an extended period of time.

The other area in which we see value in these machines is as a basis to build a CT70 clone and/or to customize as wildly as you see fit. Many parts interchange with the Honda-built bikes. Change the decals, add an engine guard and you have what appears to be an original CT70. Swap-out the engine for a big-displacement unit, upgrade the rear shocks and you have a roadable CT70 "sleeper". The frame can be media-blasted, the metalfinishing brought up to standard and the new finish made better than an OEM original Honda - in any color you like. Even where customized bikes are concerned, the Hondas will always have the greater resale value. For some people, however, having to come up with less money at the outset is the main concern.

We can perform the same restoration, repair and custom work on the Chinese reproduction bikes that we do for the hondas, upon which these are based.



Can the Original paint be color-matched? 

In a word, with few exceptions, no. Paint matching is the most complicated issue facing any restorer. Candy colors are the most challenging. Unlike other paint systems, the metalflake is not mixed with the color coat itself. Instead, a metallic silver base coat is applied, followed by 5-7 applications of transparent color. It is rather like applying layers of color-tinted cellophane from an Easter basket over aluminum foil. Color coats are applied until the desired color is developed. There are no color codes that will allow a paint supplier to duplicate the original Honda colors and the final result is more dependent upon the actual application of the specific job. NOS (new old stock) parts usually don't match either, especially after 30-35 years during which time the bike has been slowly fading. Even if you could somehow miraculously find a can of the original paint used by Honda, perfectly preserved and unaffected by three decades in storage, chances are overwhelmingly great that you still would not be able to make it match your bike. The fact is that even the original bikes and parts themselves didn't always match from one production run to another. Paint is produced in batch lots and the dyes themselves vary slightly from one lot to another. After many restorations, we have seen untouched original bikes with uneven paint, runs, leftover welding slag and even multiple complete paint jobs that came right from the factory. One customer even attempted to build a bike from NOS parts and none matched!  Even the later production solid colors are virtually match-proof.

Candy colors are incredibly difficult to apply correctly and Honda's painters weren't immune from the inherent pitfalls. It is amazing that they were able to bring these bikes to the market at relatively reasonable prices and with acceptable quality. The K0 and K1 models came in seven different candy colors. Most can be nearly duplicated, but not  always matched precisely. Honda used  basecoat/topcoat laquer. Today, laquer is virtually gone from the market. Modern urethane paints are far more durable, using a primer/base/mid/clearcoat system, but these are incompatible with the OE laquer.

Candy colors cannot be touched-up, due to the nature of this particular paint system. Generally speaking, a part must be completely repainted to repair paint damage. Non-candy colors can usually be spot-repaired and/or blended for an invisible repair.

Occasionally, one does get lucky, but this is the rare exception.  In general, the best chance of a paint match is to have all of the pieces painted at the same time with the same batch run of paint. It is possible to get extremely close if a subsequently damaged item is refinished with the paint from the same batch lot used on the rest of the bike.


Why are some paint colors so expensive?

The catalyzed urethane paint systems currently in use are nearly as durable as powdercoat in some instances. That durability comes at a price. First, surface prep is much more  critical. The 220 or 320 grit sandpaper used for final prep sanding "back in the day" just won't cut it anymore; this is especially critical with candy colors. 600 grit is the norm if you don't want a paint job that looks like it was scoured with a wire brush. Chemical cleaning is also necessary as urethanes are highly susceptible to "fish eyes", crater-like thin spots caused by surface contamination. Urethanes are difficult to "flow-out" on large parts such as tanks and frames, thus they must usually be color-sanded and polished to achieve a wet-look gloss. If you don't know what you are doing, $300-400 dollars worth of paint can be turned into a disaster, in an instant. Some colors are highly susceptible to running, bleed-through and a litany of other nasty surprises. This varies by color, since the pigments used for different colors require radically different paint formulations. Every color can be akin to reinventing the wheel. The cheaper clearcoats don't flow-out well or color-sand and polish that well. After a few days, these cheaper paints tend to become brittle, chip-prone and all but impossible to buff-out. Cheap paints also have no resistance to UV rays; UV-stable chemicals cost more. Whether color-sanded & buffed, or flow-coated, a top quality paint job requires generous application of clear, at the very least. This adds to the cost but pays off in appearance and durability. All but the deepest scratches can be rubbed out, even years later.

The material itself is expensive. Primer, base, mid and topcoats are require their own specific activators (catalyst) and thinners. That's eight separate chemical components for one paint job. These materials are also highly toxic and require the painter to wear a fresh-air supplied paint suit. EPA regs on spray facilities and paint-related chemicals are becoming ever more costly. Most paint manufacturers offer cheaper lines of paint; we do not use any of these for candy paint jobs. The trade-off in durability and final appearance are just not worth it.

The process is labor-intensive. Restoration painting of a candy color bike requires approximately 24 man-hours. Typical painting time (i.e. the amount of time required to actually spray-on the paint), by itself, is 4-5 hours,  allowing the required flashover time between each coat. Add to that roughly $400.00, or so, in material cost for the paint, excluding shop supplies, and the fact is that our paintwork is a true bargain. 


What's the big deal about body lead?

Plastic fillers, oftentimes referred to as "bondo" are far easier to work with, and when properly used can yield very good results. But, like anything else, plastic filler has it's limitations and drawbacks. It is relatively soft and can shrink/crack over time. It can react with some paint systems, under certain circumstances, sometimes months or years down the road. For deeper dents that cannot be removed and for highly stressed areas, plastic fillers lack durability and stability. Lead, on the other hand, will never shrink, crack or change over time. Swingarms, for example, frequently have metal missing due to years of chain contact. Lead is the perfect material to replace that missing metal and the relatively low heat used in it's application will not warp the part, unlike welding.

Unfortunately, body leading is a nearly lost art. A shame really, since everyone from Ford to Ferrari once used it in normal production. In fact, it was used at least into the late `70s in US domestic production cars.

Simply put, lead is the most stable body filler available.


What about powder coat?

Powder coating is one of the toughest finishes available. When properly applied, it offers a nearly chemical-proof, permanent finish. This system has it's own limitations. That very permanence becomes a liability should it ever become damaged or you change your mind. Powder coat is very dificult to remove and on some items cannot be removed, since it must be sanded or burned off. Burning will warp sheetmetal. On a CT70 frame it's a liability as it can never be removed. A dent or a chip will be permanent. Powder coated surfaces can look great on smaller items but, it's not as smooth as paint and cannot be color sanded & buffed. Bodywork is extremely limited as most fillers, including lead, cannot withstand the 400F curing  temperature. Headlight shells are plastic and will melt, thus these cannot be powder coated. Any of the smaller, removeable, easily replaceable parts (seat pan, fenders, wheels, hubs, footpegs, tank bracket, kickstart arm, shift lever) are good candidates for powder coat. Wheel hubs must be carefully masked prior to spraying the powder. On larger pieces such as CT70 frames, fenders, or conventional motorcyle tanks, Neither paint nor powdercoat will achieve complete flow-out. The resulting finish will have orange peel and most examples we've seen have been on the dull side. We've seen collector bikes ruined when powdercoat was used to replace the original painted finish on major body parts. Paint can be colorsanded & buffed to perfection, powdercoat cannot. Place two large items, one painted, the powdercoated and there's no comparison. Powdercoat is quick, less expensive and durable, yet no serious bike or car builder or restorer uses it to replqce paint except on small, usually mechanical, parts. No OEMs do either. The reason is simple, it's impractical for sheetmetal parts and the look isn't up-to-snuff. We strongly advise against powder coating any of the painted frame-related pieces including the frame itself, swingarm, chainguard, shock covers and fork parts.



What's the best engine setup?

How high is up? This is perhaps the most controversial question in the whole Minitrail scene. Everyone has their own view. Our approach is to consider what your bike building goals are. Dead stock is dead reliable; it's also a bit weak for the road, let alone competition riding.

"Speed costs money, how fast do you want to go?" An old adage, but it's the essential truth. Below is an overview of this complex issue.

  • Moving up from stock power levels are bore-up kits, bigger carbs and cams. Going this route will get you into the 50mph range with few durability issues. These are generally $200-500 upgrades, depending upon how far you complete the package.
  • Going beyond this is where things can begin adding-up. You have to push an engine hard to get big power from small displacement. As a result, engine life gets shorter and driveablitiy goes away. Engine powerbands are only so wide, to raise the power level you have to raise the revs. The base Honda engine started out life as a 50cc unit. It is fairly durable up to about 90cc and around 10,000rpm. Add a stroker crank to your 88cc big bore kit  upping displacement to 110cc and the clutch and tranny become weak points. Go beyond 12,000 rpm and stock clutches tend to explode. Aftermarket transmissions and manual clutch conversions carry four-figure price tags, just for the parts. Generally speaking, projects of this type begin around the $1000 mark and can top $2000.
  • The next level is a bigger displacement engine. These fall into three main categories: Chinese Honda copies, genuine Honda and Japanese aftermarket. The 110cc and larger motors you may see for sale are virtually all Chinese copies of Honda designs. We don't recommend most of them at this time. There have been many reports of electrical, bearing and transmission failures. During the 2006 season, broken crankshafts became all too common and we even saw some cracked cases! The 2007 season saw even more nasty surprises, including clutch failures due to rubber pucks used in place of damping springs in the clutch basket.  In our experience, the gearboxes have been balky-shifting and noisy, plus the motors themselves have a lot of vibration compared to  Honda. There are some decent Chinese units out there but with few exceptions, they're hard to identify and are no longer sold in the USA. They aren't likely to be found on ebay for less than $1500, either. Stay away from any motor with a primary-mounted (on the crankshaft) clutch on a 110 or larger engine. The only reliable units, over 90cc, with which we have dealt have the clutch on the secondary side (mounted on the transmission input shaft). These have now disappeared from the US and don't come particularly cheap, typically retailing for around $1200. The newest big-displacement (over 110cc) motors have been available for a very short time. The brand names change so quickly, that none has a filed service record...or any reliable parts support.  The main attraction of these engines is that they cost less than an aftermarket transmission for your Honda 50/72cc motor.  At 6-8hp in stock form you get about 50-60mph for about $100$-130 per hp. Good enough for a street bike and the cheapest power available. There are performance upgrades in the works, however these are even less proven than the engines themselves. The best info we have as of this time is that none of the Chinese transmissions will stand up to hard use, such as competition riding, for very long due to multiple weaknesses in the transmission components used, particularly weak metallurgy. Many of these units are assembled from odd lot and reject parts from multiple manufacturers. We consider Chinese engines to be disposable product...use it until something breaks then throw it out.
  • Japanese aftermarket engine setups are the Lamborghinis of the small bike world. These are mainly race motors and displacement is limited to about 124cc as these are based upon the original Honda design and intended for class racing. If you have $5500-$8000 burning a hole in your pocket, these are beautifully machined pieces, some even have five speed gearboxes and four-valve heads and can develop up to 17hp (good for about 75-80mph).  However, with prices starting at $300 per hp, we view these setups as expensive toys. They're becoming old news and not bargain material. Still, many of these setups are very nicely engineered and machined and new developments continue to roll out, further improving the scene for everyone.  Better performance and driveability can be had for far less. Kickstart shaft failures have been common with these, especially with high compression ratios. A few of the larger manufacturers, recognizing that their product lines have become "stale" will be introducing some ultra-expensive new products in an attempt to stay current. It will take a considerable amount of time before the value of these newest items is known. For those reasons we will not be handling many of them.
  • The middle ground is occupied by late model Honda Wave 100 and Nice 110cc engines. These run in the $850-1900 range and develop around 9.5hp in stock trim. The price is somewhat more than the Chinese copies, however these units come with wiring, cdi, regulator and carb. It is reported that carb and exhaust upgrades raise power output to around 11hp. We have one of these units, set up in this way, in the shop bike. It pulls readily to 65mph and can cruise along all day at 55mph. These engines have the best gearbox & clutch combo made, right from the factory and are smooth, quiet runners. There is a range of performance equipment that will allow displacements up to 175cc and beyond 20hp. There have been bikes clocked as fast as 87mph with a highly tuned 160cc version. With the US dollar circling the drain, it's not cheap but it'll spank the best of the high-end Japanese aftermarket at about $150 per hp. A 142cc version can put down  approximately 20hp for about $1000 less. This is the engine in the custom special bike and it's a pleasure to ride with incredible torque across the rev band. We now are the exclusive distributor for TJR tuning parts for the Honda Nice. These are unequivocally the best parts available and the only ones we use for the 142cc & larger tunes. In our view, these engines offer the highest value-to-money quotient. The cost of modifying a CT70 engine and adding modern CDI & alternator, bore-up kit, stroker crank, case machining, aftermarket clutch, HD oil pump and aftermarket transmission can easily exceed the cost of a Nice engine. The Nice already has a beefier bottom end, including electrics, in stock form. Want more details? click here
  • For 2007, we offer new new tuned versions of the Nice. These include the new 164 with superhead+r and 175cc versions. We are also developing two 127cc tunes, a budget version and a high-end version. Please inquire for details.


What's the best exhaust setup for my bike?

There are a number of excellent pipes available. Some are even made in the USA. It really comes down your preferences. Do you want a high or low mounted pipe? OEM appearance, custom or high-bling? There is only one constant, a true performance pipe will be louder than an OEM one. That can be a good thing as it isn't always necessary to have an overly loud pipe to get solid performance. In many instances, a performance pipe will have a nice, throaty, sound. The original CT70 muffler can be effectively modified for improved flow and "real bike" sound. For those who like the stock appearance, ability to ride two-up and want a mellow performance sound, we now offer the "Super Stealth" exhaust.


What sprocket combo should I be using?

This will vary depending upon engine power curve, transmission gearing, tire size, operating conditions and speed capability.  Racing, road and offroad riding may require different sprockets for the same bike setup. We will be posting a gearing table elsewhere on this site in the near future. If there is sufficient demand, we may provide a gearing calculation service or a link. The bike should be geared such that the rpm at which the motor develops peak hp occurs right at peak mph. That's as close to a universal formula as is possible without knowing the specs of a particular bike. See the tuning section for basic theory and formula for calculating speed vs gearing.


What's the best carburetor for my bike?

Again, this will depend upon your engine setup and riding conditions. In general, we recommend using the smaller carb when two sizes are recommended and in no case would we use a carb that is larger than the intake port. The larger the carburetor venturi, the harder it will be to tune, especially at lower speeds. A 26mm carburetor can support over 20hp and most of the 110/120cc engines on the market come with 18mm or 20mm carbs from the manufacturer. Install a carburetor that's too big for the motor and you'll spend all of your time trying to make in run right below redline; by the time you get that straightened out, it'll run rich at peak power. Forget  that  expensive 28mm  precision fuel leak for your 88cc bore-up motor and save yourself a lot of headaches. Flatslide carbs are difficult to tune and tend to have on/off throttle response, thus are best left for racing machines.


What's the largest tire/wheel size that will fit?

We will be dealing in 10-inch wheels only. Z50s came equipped with 8-inch rims, however, 10s will fit most of them and these offer a significant improvement in high-speed stability. Similarly, 12-inch rims will fit the CT & ST70 and available widths in the 130/140 range will fit. While 12s offer even more improvement, they are very expensive and we don't feel that the value is there, unless you are track racing. The classic CT70 10-inch wheel is 2.75" wide. This can accommodate up to a 120 section width tire. There are also aftermarket rims available in 2.75, 3.50 and 4.00 inch widths. Generally speaking, 2.75 is the widest rim that will fit the front with a disc brake, combined with a 120/70-10 tire. Up to a 3.50 width rim can be used on the front with a drum brake and/or a custom fork setup.  For the rear wheel, up to 3.50" can be used in combination with up to a 130/70-10 or 120/90-10 tire. 130 section width is the widest 10-inch tire made and 120/90-10 is the tallest. Use of a 4.00" wide rear wheel requires additional modifications, such as an aftermarket swingarm or modification of the factory pieces and offset sprockets. We will be importing 120 & 130/70-10, 120/90x10 and a few other selected sizes of street tires. Some will have up to an "M" speed rating (82mph).


What is the best front end setup?

The early CT70s, most ST70s and Z50s all had non-hydraulically-damped forks. Although innovative in their day, these are marginal for serious riding, especially above 40mph. The second design, hydraulic forks found on K1 and later CT70s and late model STs are surprisingly good and can be "tuned" by varying the weight and amount of fork oil used as well as by changing the springs. The last design, used on the 1980 & later CT70 and last ST70s, had a sweeper-style fork. These are the best of the original Honda forks. They can only be adjusted by varying the oil, but with the exception of their relatively soft springs, are quite good. All of the OE Honda front ends used drum brakes. Since these are essentially the same brakes as used on everything up to the CT110, there is a fair margin for  increased speed and passenger carrying capacity. These are capable of handling speeds up to about 55mph and about 500lbs gross vehicle weight in normal road riding. We retained this setup on the shop bike and were surprised at how well they could yank the bike down from 50mph with 350lbs of rider and passenger aboard. Four years of use resulted in no surprises or failures. However, we had heard of instances where the linings could separate from the shoes under repeated hard braking from these speeds. This could lead to wheel lockup and catastrophic results. 

This leaves most of the improvements to come from aftermarket front end assemblies. All of them use disc brakes. There are two basic styles of front forks in use today: conventional sweeper style and inverted ("upside down"). No one seems to be able to show any conclusive results as to which type is "better". We tend to prefer the inverted forks for two reasons: aesthetics and adjustability. Since the large portion of the fork legs go into the trees, they just look sturdier and some of them have adjustable spring preload giving the rider an unprecedented amount of control over damping characteristics. These also tend to be the most expensive front ends. The sweeper style front forks are available from a larger number of makers, but have no more adjustability than the OEM Honda units. However, they tend to be somewhat more road-capable than the 25-35 year old forks they replace. Whichever design is considered, it comes down to length of fork travel, springs used, internal valving and user-adjustability and, of course, price.

Adding a suitable front disc brake can significantly improve braking performance. All of the kits we have seen require the use of aftermarket wheels and hubs. While we're happy to supply high-quality Japanese aftermarket wheels, we do recognize that these don't come cheap. Thus we have developed both  conventional sweeper-style and inverted front fork/220mm disc brake kits that allow retention of the OE CT70 hubs/wheels for a fraction of the cost of other aftermarket setups. Best of all, the original speedometer drive is retained, further restraining costs. New for 2007 is our ultimate inverted front end, which can accomodate the same 3.50" wheel 130/70-10 tire as the rear of the bike; custom springs, valving and preload adjusters are available options. With 5" of suspension travel, you can have it all...on road/offroad capability, plush ride, "real bike" suspension and braking control.

What are the best rear shocks?

There are any number of quality shocks on the market that will fit a small Honda. If you're willing to spend $700 a pair you can take your choice of Ohlins, KYB (outfitted for riders over 120lbs) and others. Spending that kind of money for anything other than top competition is unnecessary, to say the least, in our view.  There are a number of excellent shocks available in 265-350mm lengths to fit nearly any Z50, CT70, ST70, CT90/110.  Pricewise, we cover the $150-350/pair range. Again, price and performance are not necessarily a mathematical equation.

What about rear disc brakes?

We're sure to annoy a lot of self-proclaimed "experts", but we don't recommend them except for extreme applications. Perhaps there is a need for a rear disc in high-speed endurance racing but, for anything else, these are an expensive bit of mechanical bling. They look very cool, but cost more than the front disc, often as much as double. Consider that 80% of stopping power comes from the front brake. The front disc setup on the shop bike has no problem slowing the bike from 65mph, even with two aboard. For those not intending to do 80mph panic-stops and GP racing, the disc/drum combo should be quite cost-effective. For the purist, we're happy to supply even custom-built setups. These do have more stopping power than the stock drums, so if cost is no object, we've got you covered. Plus, you're unlikely to encounter anyone else sporting the same brake setup. This is a high-end item.

Won't modifying my bike kill it's resale value?

The answer to this question depends upon what modifications have been done. Some models have never been very popular with collectors, so turning one of these into a custom bike is likely to boost it's value. If you're starting with a Chinese clone, then it's value will almost certainly increase as you replace factory components with top-quality pieces. As long as you don't make permanent cut & weld type modifications to the bike's frame, nearly any other type of modification can be easily reversed. You could restore a desirable model, then simply go with bolt-ons. Correctly numbered, original engines may be hard to come by, but your freshly rebuilt vintage motor will last forever if it's safely stored on a shelf while you ride your bike with a more up-to-date powerplant. As has happened with other mass-produced collector vehicles, a certain level of modification becomes acceptable, even desirable, among those enthusiasts who enjoy actually using their machines. Harley-Davidson motorcycles, classic American musclecars and even collectible motor scooters, such as Cushman and Vespa have all reached the point where modified examples, when well done, bring as much or more than  "factory chalk mark & paint overspray" restorations.  Certainly, there are a few ultra-rare examples where this won't hold true, but as far as we have seen, there are no CT70, ST70 or Z50 models rare enough for this to be much of a concern.  Outside of North America, the most expensive Honda minis are highly-modified, custom built examples. Some have sold for prices nearing the $20,000 mark.


"What's involved in fitting a Honda Nice engine to a CT70?"

Although it's a frequently asked question, there are so many possibilities that there's more than one answer. We've done enough of them to have developed a basic, systematic, approach as well as a clear concept of how to go about more involved customized installations. Before we move this topic to the FAQ folder, we'll detail a basic restomod...what we call the basic "Nice conversion".

Here are the areas which must be addressed:

  • Basic fitment
  • Carburetion
  • Footrest assembly
  • Exhaust
  • Wiring

The engine itself is a direct bolt-in, and uses the same engine mounts as any other CT70/Z50/CRF type engine. The stock engine and sparkplugs guards can be retained, though the addition of .625" spacers beneath the engine improves positioning of the bars. On some Z50 models, the top of the cylinder hear will be very close to the front tire; the best solution is to upgrade slightly longer fork legs (NOTE: upgraded forks and 10-inch wheels are popular upgrades on performance-modified Z50s).

We have found that replacing the OEM non-adjustable 18mm carburetor with a 22mm unit maximizes the  performance of a stock engine. Whichever carb is chosen, the stock manifold must be replaced with one that offsets the carb to one side. Also, an open-element airfilter must be used. The offset manifold provides the added clearance needed for the larger carb & airfilter. Typically, the carb gets moved to the LH side of the bike. The stock carb is jetted on the lean side and tuning parts are hard to find. Stock 22mm carbs tend to be on the rich side from the manufacturer and take some tuning. While we can set the pilot jet exactly, the main jet can only be tuned within one size due to variations in atmospheric conditions and differences of engine/carb interaction from one setup to another. It's usually up to the end user to do the final tweaking; with 95% of the work already done, this is pretty easy.

The larger transmission, clutch, stator and oil pump result in an engine that's about an inch-and-a half wider overall, compared to a stock CT70 motor. Thus, the stock CT70 footrest assembly is too narrow to fit. There are three basic ways to solve this problem: modify the stock CT70 footrest assembly; use a stock Honda Nice footrest unit; fabricate a full custom assembly. This is the most technically difficult element of the project and it's really not all that difficult or expensive. There's an unexpected benefit to this modification; the footpegs, kickstand and brake pedal all end up fitting perfectly. Rider comfort and the ability to park the bike on nearly any surface without worrying whether it will lean too far and fall are things you'll enjoy for years.

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rebent exhaust.png rebent exhaust detail.png muffler bracket preweld.png welded muffler bracket.png brake pedal detail 2.png
brake pedal detail.png rebent brake pedal.png rh detail muffler and brake pedal.png custom brake arm 1.pngcustom brake arm 3.png nice carb setup1.png

nice conversion rh side view1.png

Take it for a 55mph spin


The exhaust system is pretty straightforward. A CT70 pipe can be used, however, the fit isn't perfect and the muffler is restrictive, in stock form. Aftermarket performance exhausts can be, and have been, used with good results. Most use slip-collar type muffler hangers which allow more than enough adjustment to fit any engine setup, though some may require a custom link. As long as a free-flowing system is chosen, performance won't be an issue. The main disadvantages, aside from cost,  are that many have low ground clearance and nearly all of them  make it impossible to carry a passenger. They all change the overall appearance of the bike from stock in a big way. The cleanest solution for a restomod is our "Stealth Exhaust". We start with a stock type CT70 exhaust, then modify the internal baffling, enlarge the outlet and relocate the rear hanger for a perfect, stock-appearing, fit with the Nice. Since we build these to order, the tone can be tailored to your preference and the pipe can be custom-bent to accomodate a dipstick oil thermometer.

Wiring is the last area which must be addressed. It's no more involved than any other later model engine swap and unlike some other suppliers, we provide wiring schematics and tech support. Basic wiring conversion is completely straightforward and all of your OEM CT70 switches and functionality can be retained. The Nice, like all other newer engines, comes with a 12V alternator. Its output is far greater than that of any CT70, which allows for real lighting on your bike. We suggest taking advantage of this feature and upgrading to 12V bulbs &  sealed battery. Both are readily available and cost no more than the old 6V items. There's no comparison between a contemporary 12V/30W halogen headlight and the old 6V/15W unit it replaces. 



Final notes:

These are merely suggested starting points. Obviously, the sky's the limit. For the DIYer, especially, there are no limits to individual creativity. We've attempted to help you get the ball rolling.

We do recommend using quality, hardened, sprockets and the best #420 chain available. These will more than pay for themselves in extended service life. We also recommend using a dipstick oil thermometer. If your oil temperature exceeds 210F, an external oil cooler should be added. Normally, this won't be an issue unless you spend a significant amount of time cruising at 50mph or better in warm weather.

For those wanting the ultimate in custom wiring upgrades, we can supply a complete Nice wire harness and main switch control unit, which places all lighting controls (on/off, dimmer, turn signals) at your left thumb in one slick unit. The control unit plugs directly into a modular connector on the harness. The integrated Nice tail light unit is also plug & play. We can also modify your battery carrier, or fabricate a new one to fit a double-capacity, sealed, lead-acid battery. This is a good upgrade if you want your headlight wired to the battery (so it doesn't go out if you stall the engine) instead of directly to the alternator. The Nice wire harness requires some modifcation to fit a CT70 or Z50. Mostly, it's a matter of adjusting the lengths of some wire leads. It does, however come with all the factory plugs and that simplifies things if you're doing a complete re-wiring upgrade.




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