HONDA Z series, a model that universally promoted the use of the motorcycle
Updated: Aug 10
In 1964, HONDA launched the Z series, which in its different versions received the commercial designations of Mini Trail, Monkey or Gorilla due to the ridiculous driving position that its dimensions required. This model was a commercial success that in its various versions was in production until 2017. In addition to the enormous popularity achieved, or for that reason, this model had the merit of being, for many people, the first approach to motorcycling by unlikely users. Its design and toy appearance facilitated access to motorcycling even for those who had to overcome parental resistance in this matter!
HONDA Z50M, 1967
During the period in which. in its various versions, it was produced, underwent metamorphoses that went through the initial versions without suspension to the introduction of a front suspension and, later, rear. In genesis, the idea was to produce a small, light and easy model to transport in a car, which is why, in addition to its small dimensions, it had a folding handlebar. In the 50 version, it was equipped with a 4T single-cylinder engine with 49cc capacity, single overhead cam distribution and developing 4.5hp.
Initially it was equipped with a 3-speed gearbox and centrifugal clutch which in some cases was replaced by a 3- or 4-speed gearbox with a manual clutch.
HONDA Z50 Mini Trail
The Mini Trail version was very popular in Portugal in the 70s. The "returnees" brought this model from the ex-colonies and in this way contributed to creating a "soft" image of motorcycling and the motorcyclist that contributed positively to the development of the market for this means of transport.
Although I was not able to certify documents, I have the idea that, in the 70's, it was said that, in the former colonies, HONDA would have carried out a campaign to promote its small car N360/600 since in the purchase of the same it offered as a gift a HONDA Z50 that came stowed in the trunk!
HONDA N360, at left, N600 at right
Being a very successful model, Monkey inspired other brands to produce mini-bikes and, for about 25 years now, it has been widely copied by several Chinese manufacturers who have taken advantage of the popularity of this series to produce replicas, often of quality. doubtful!