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1980’s & 90`s Reinvention

From the introduction through the mid `70s, the little bikes kept getting better and better, with numerous small running changes.
Although the production for the European ST70 and ST50 ended in 1980, a Japanese version of the Dax, called the ST70M, was sold in 1979. This Dax had a very distinct appearance with its megaphone muffler, 4-speed trans, 3 spoke rims, lowered front fender and a chopper-style seat with luggage rack.

 

For the U.S. market, Honda kept producing CT70. By 1980 it bore relatively little resemblance to the earlier model CT70s or the ST70, although parts such as the frame and engine were always the same. To better suit off-road riding, as well as further reduce costs, the fenders were made of plastic beginning with the 1980 model and mounted much higher on the fork. This was also the first year for another new fork design with sweeper-style seals and internal springs. Along with the new fork, a new, more softly padded seat and better rear shocks were introduced. The 1980-82 models had the nicest ride quality (as well as the longest suspension travel) of the CT70s produced up to that time. The ignition lock was moved from the LH side of the frame to the triple tree and the speedometer had a redesigned face. The future series of the CT70 type were based on this model and produced by Honda until US model production ceased at the end of 1982. Tahitian red would be the only color offered on CT70s.

 

Honda re-launched the Dax in 1986 with a few but significant technical improvements and designated it the AB23 instead of ST70. Now it had a 12V engine with camshaft ball bearings, a hydraulic front fork and a chrome rear fender, with a plastic mud flap The upswept muffler was painted black and the heat shield had round holes the same as the CT70. The turn signals were replaced by bigger, square, plastic units on flexible stalks, replacing the better-looking-but-damage-prone chrome ones found on the earlier bikes. This model was issued in 3 colors: candy ruby red. Candy sapphire blue and silver. The 70cc version was only sold in France.

 

Introduced in 1987 were the Honda Monkey ZB and Monkey R/RT, a new type of bike with an all-new aluminum frame and monoshock rear suspension. These were based on bigger motorcycles of the day for reasons of both aesthetics and performance. They were equipped with 8-inch wheels, but the bike appears bigger than the Z50J Monkey. The Honda Monkey ZB and  R models came in black/red and white/red, the RT version in metallic blue.

 

The U.S. model CT70 was reintroduced in 1991. It is virtually the same as the 1982 model except that the seat has a new latching mechanism that also allows the seat to be locked, and the wheels were painted white instead of the “cloud silver” that had been the norm since 1969. The tank decals were also new. In 1991 the first AB23 Dax was finally updated. This time a black painted engine, black muffler, painted fenders, white rims, and again new decals. It appeared in the colors Italian red, Shasta White and black. The red version was similar in appearance to the US market CT70 of the same era. The main difference being the low -mounted fender and original-style folding handlebars on the Dax. The two models which had evolved into distinctly different bikes, had finally come full circle at the end of their production runs. In august 1991, at the age of 85, Soichiro Honda died in Tokyo.

 

There is some debate as to whether 1994 or 1996 was the last year for CT70 production. (There is also disagreement over whether `90 or `91 was the year that they were reintroduced, however, we have a 1990 model in the shop as this is written) In 1996 the third and last generation of the AB23 was launched with some retro style improvements. It was once again equipped with chrome fenders, silver engine and rims, a black muffler & chrome heat shield. The colors are classic candy ruby red and candy sapphire blue.. This model was produced until 1999 for the European market. During this time, the Japanese market had it's own version, the AB26 Dax.

 

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