Home » This Honda Monkey Is A Fun-Size Harley Electra Glide And It’s The Cutest Thing You’ll See This Week

This Honda Monkey Is A Fun-Size Harley Electra Glide And It’s The Cutest Thing You’ll See This Week

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Back in the 1960s, Honda created something fun and silly. The Z50 “Monkey” was an amusement park toy turned into a real tiny motorcycle that eventually took the hearts of motorcyclists around the world. It’s a street-legal minibike you can put in the back of a hatchback. You can even buy them new today, but none of Honda’s own Monkeys have come as a Harley-like cruiser. Don’t worry, though, because if an Indian Challenger is just too big for you, there’s always a Monkey wearing a Kijima Mon-Davi cruiser kit, like this wonderful unit up for grabs at Iconic Motorbike Auctions.

If you couldn’t tell, ridiculous Japanese motorcycles are on my mind today. Yamaha seems to think you want a motorcycle as a pet or jogging buddy, which is still making me giggle. You can’t buy that motorcycle, but you can buy this one, and I have a feeling riding this Monkey is going to be so silly you’ll be crying in your helmet. At the very least, I’m sure I would be. It’s also bidding at just $1,600 with about two days to go, so it’s an affordable joke!

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

All Fun And Games

Honda Z50 Mondavi 142 X3

Today, when you go to Honda Powersports’ website, you’ll find its line of miniMOTO small motorcycles. These scaled-down machines offer concentrated motorcycling fun for prices that don’t break the bank. The Honda Navi can be an incredible learning tool for just $1,807 while the $3,899 Super Cub C125 is the latest iteration of the best-selling vehicle of all time. Meanwhile, you can get your wheelie shenanigans at slow speeds on the $3,599 Grom and hit the trails on the $3,999 Trail 125.

Then you have the Monkey ABS, below, which gives you that minibike experience with vintage looks for $4,299. Honda is on a roll with its pocket rockets and the seeds were planted decades ago.

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21 Honda Monkey Abs
21 Honda Monkey ABS

The Monkey owes its existence to an amusement park. Starting in 1961, Honda had an amusement park called the Tama Technical Center. Park visitors could ride the ferris wheel or strap into the park’s rollercoaster. Motorsports were also a huge part of the park. Visitors aged 6 to 60 were invited to try all sorts of experimental Honda vehicles at Motorland. Driving activities included kid-size hot rod cars and three-wheeled vehicles. Motorland also had midget car races, scaled-down passenger cars, driving saucers, and even group activities such as five-person bicycle rides.

Some of the most popular attractions at the park were the motorcycle challenges, which put visitors on Honda motorcycles and then sent those riders up steep inclines and technical terrain.

Tamatech

According to the Pacific Stars & Stripes newspaper in a 1962 issue, each day at Tama Tech involved the sounds of roaring engines and people of all ages having a ball fully sending vehicles around the park. Apparently, the best part was the fact that there weren’t any police officers or speed limits there, so the only thing stopping you from finding the top speed of one of the Honda toys was your own bravery.

Tama Tech was exceedingly popular as well. In 2002, the park brought in over 1 million visitors, the highest it would ever record. Going into the late 2000s, the park went into a decline with fewer visitors showing up each year. Only 620,000 people showed up in 2007 and ultimately, Honda decided to close Tama Tech at the end of 2009 after an impressive 48-year run.

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Anyway, one of the rides at Tama Tech was the 49cc Z100 motorcycle. The tiny motorcycle was intended to be a learning tool to teach visitors the joys of riding.

1961 Honda Z100, Deutsches Zweir
DEUTSCHES MOTORRAD MUSEUM

Visitors ended up having a ton of fun with the Z100 and Honda discovered a huge interest across a large swath of age groups who wanted their own Z100 from the park. Honda worked quickly and in 1964, the manufacturer started selling the CZ100 in European and Asian countries. America would have to wait until 1968 to get its own variant, the Z50A. While the motorcycles were officially some combination of Z and a number, the bikes earned the nickname of “Monkey” as a reference to how riders looked perched on top of them.

Those first American Z50As had 8-inch wheels, knobby tires, an adjustable seat, and folding handlebars. The compact size meant the bike could be stuffed in a car and brought somewhere for riding fun. Honda had a great formula but kept improving it.

1968 Honda Z50a Mini Trail Scree (1)
Bring a Trailer Seller

The 1969 and 1970 Z50A had a headlight and taillight, expanding the motorcycle’s capabilities to night rides. Many Monkeys also got mirrors, allowing them to be used on the road in many countries. By 1972, the Z50A had dual rear shocks.

Incredibly, Honda was able to keep this tiny bike in production for 50 years until emissions regulations in Europe and Japan made the baby dinosaur extinct. But, Honda recognized that demand was still there and in response, brought the Monkey back in the modern iteration we know today.

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This 1996 Honda Z50J Gorilla

Honda Z50 Mondavi 135 X3 (1)

 

This motorcycle started life as a normal Honda Z50J Gorilla. The first Z50Js of the early 1970s were similar to their American counterparts but featured speedometers, turn signals, a horn, and other equipment to make them road-legal. The Z50J was one of the more enduring models of the Z50. Honda changed the designation to AB27, but the bike was still virtually identical to the Z50J well into the 2010s. The Gorilla specification of this particular Monkey means it has a 2.37-gallon fuel tank, nearly double the capacity of a normal Z50J.

The highlight of this Monkey is its Kijima Mon-Davi cruiser kit. Kijima is a motorcycle parts supplier in Japan with its own line of custom accessories. The supplier isn’t huge, but it’s been around for more than 50 years and for the most part, sells parts to maintain or improve a motorcycle. One of Kijima’s custom kits was the Mon-Davi cruiser kit, which made a Honda Monkey resemble a Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Ultra Limited. Apparently, the Electra Glide is a status symbol in Japan, so some Monkey owners might want to ape the look. Kijima first sold the kit in 2011, then brought it back as the MON x DAVI kit in 2019 for the new Monkey. Sadly, the kit has since been discontinued, so you would likely have a hard time finding the kit by itself.

Honda Z50 Mondavi 64 X3

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Honda Z50 Mondavi 87 X3

The kit is pretty comprehensive and includes a batwing fairing, cases, white wall tires, and a pair of distinctive exhaust pipes. The cases also appear to have extra lights, to cap off that American highway tourer look. Iconic Motorbike Auctions says the motorcycle came to the auction platform from a collection in Japan. It’s in great condition, probably owing to the fact that there’s the equivalent of just 452 miles on its odometer. Thankfully, the nearly new tires have 2021 date codes on them and the tank is clean.

The motorcycle is currently located in Santa Monica, California, but since it’s an import, it lacks the necessary compliance and emissions stickers that would make the motorcycle legal in the state. So, this is best as a 49-state steed. If you’re still interested, the motorcycle is just $1,600 with about two days to go at Iconic Motorbike Auctions.

In 1996, the Z50J made all of 4.5 horses from its 49cc engine. Expect a top speed pretty close to 35 mph from this roughly 150-pound motorcycle, so this isn’t a hog you’re riding to Sturgis next year. But please do trailer it out and park it next to all of the big boy Harleys. I hope you have as much fun riding the little guy around as I would!

Honda Z50 Mondavi 38 X3

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Honda Z50 Mondavi 107 X3

(Images: Iconic Motorbike Auctions, unless otherwise noted.)

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David Burgenmeyer
David Burgenmeyer
7 months ago

That mini bike is just cheesy n goddy as well! Should have left it original!

MaximillianMeen
MaximillianMeen
8 months ago

People should learn to heed Peter Gabriel…

You can ape the ape
I know about that

There is one thing you must be sure of
I can’t take any more
Darling, don’t you monkey with the monkey!

Scott Ross
Scott Ross
8 months ago

I love amusement park history so this article was great. Mini Honda bikes never cease to amaze me. Ive been playing with a Chinese grom clone. Half the fun is fixing it

Carbon Fiber Sasquatch
Carbon Fiber Sasquatch
8 months ago

It could have been ugly as hell I still would have loved because it’s called “monkey”. I need it

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
8 months ago

The suave mfer in the lead picture is a chimp, not a monkey.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
8 months ago

I respect that. It’s an excellent solution.

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
8 months ago

Not so suave now that we know the backstory. How he prefers his yams.

Shop-Teacher
Shop-Teacher
8 months ago

That’s adorable! I love it!

Dodsworth
Dodsworth
8 months ago

Cute as all get out! I would love to rip off that ugly travel trunk, though.

Jimmy7
Jimmy7
8 months ago

Dealer markup has completely screwed up Honda’s plans for the entry-level Navi. I couldn’t find a dealer that was selling one at list.

Rockymountainhigh
Rockymountainhigh
8 months ago

My gf and I ordered then bought a pair of matching Navi’s in 2022. $1,807 was accurate then delivery fees which were way more than Honda stated, dealer fees, a small extended warranty (optional but we bought it), and some other fees they threw in for fun and we were out the door at just a hair under $3k each. With that being said, Worth It bcz they are a BlAsT and we love them and ride them every chance we get. They get a bit janky above 40+ mph so we tool around town and backroads around 37 mph which I feel is their sweet spot. Love them and they are actually bigger than in pics. But again, just a total blast to ride and have a good time .

Way more than $1,807? Yes
Worth it though? Yes 🙂
Dealer fees that are bs? Also yes

Last edited 8 months ago by Rockymountainhigh
Stig's Cousin
Stig's Cousin
8 months ago
Reply to  Jimmy7

Have you tried ordering one from a dealer? I haven’t tried to buy a Navi, but I had a similar experience trying to buy a Monkey a few years ago. It took a few months for my bike to arrive after I ordered it, but the dealer had no problem selling it to me at MSRP with no dealer fees (dealers at the time were adding $1,000+ in fees for bikes currently in inventory). The dealer presumably gave me a fair deal with the goal of selling me a much more expensive bike later.

Last edited 8 months ago by Stig's Cousin
Widgetsltd
Widgetsltd
8 months ago

Dear God, that thing is heinous! It’s powerfully ugly!

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