The motorcycle division of the Honda Motor Company has achieved what many manufacturers could only dream of. Its Super Cub is the best-selling motor vehicle of all time selling to non-riders and bicycle riders. Its Gold Wing is the touring standard for countless riders. Sometimes Honda comes up with something sort of innovative like the CT50 Motra. This bike is a compact ripper designed to conquer the trails while carrying all of your crap.
Honda’s history is chock-full of weird projects that other motorcycle manufacturers wouldn’t dare to attempt. The PC800 was designed to attract non-riders into the motorcycling fray with low maintenance and by hiding the motorcycle’s dirty bits under layers of plastic. Honda’s NM4 was a feet-forward, DCT-equipped beast that looks like the bike from Akira. But perhaps the coolest projects to come out of Honda are the small displacement efforts. I’m talking about machines like the ADV150 off-road scooter and the Honda Cub EZ90.
The CT50 Motra is another, and it’s a shame that seemingly so few of them exist.
History on how this motorcycle came to be is pretty thin, but as Silodrome notes, Honda planned on moving 45,000 of these a year. The Motra was introduced in 1982 and was discontinued just a year later. It’s unclear how many of them were made, but they’re certainly rare. They infrequently show up all over the world.
I found just a few currently for sale, with what appears to be the best example available in France.
The CT50 Motra is in essence what happens when you cross a minibike with a scooter. It’s tiny like the Coleman minibikes you ride around your neighborhood, but features a lot of trick features.
The CT50 Motra is built on a simple tube frame and mounted to it are rugged steel racks for you to attach all sorts of gear to.
Honda made sure to mount the lights nice and low so that whatever you piled up on the bike didn’t hamper your ability to see at night. Just a single seat was provided and the rider commanded 49cc single-cylinder, air-cooled four-stroke making 4.5 horses.
That engine fed power into a three-speed gearbox with a second stage. You could ride it on the road with the second stage in its higher ratio for higher speed or with it set in its low ratio to provide as much of those 4.5 ponies as possible for climbing. Honda has used low ranges in a number of bikes, including the CB900C, but not in a configuration exactly like this.
Honda says that this could climb a hill as steep as 23 degrees, not bad for something with so little power.
The motorcycle came with a suspension, too, so you didn’t get entirely beaten while riding.
And dry, the CT50 Motra came in at just 167 pounds, making it easier to get out of sticky situations or to load inside of a truck.
But my favorite feature of this motorcycle has to be the center stand. It was positioned in such a way that when you were riding it provided protection for that tiny engine.
If you’re looking for a super minibike, one of them can be had for the equivalent of $4,272 from a store in France. Buying it will be the easy part. Getting it here without losing your pants on shipping is another story. Motorcycles aren’t just rolled onto ships like cars are, so you’d have to get space in an expensive container.
Regardless of how many of them were built, I’m happy that Honda did it and continues to experiment with motorcycles. The world always needs more concepts like this.