The little Honda Z50 Monkey is a bike loved by riders of all ages for how fun they are. They’re also a great platform for custom builds, as we’ve seen with the Virtual Steering Monkey. Another kind of custom Monkey has come up for sale and this one is a certifiable deathtrap. This 1973 Honda Monkey has the beating four cylinder heart of a Honda CB350F and it could take you faster than any tiny motorcycle should go.
The existence of the Honda Monkey is nearly an accident, Silodrome notes. Honda originally produced Z series minibikes for use at amusement parks. As it turned out, it wasn’t just kids who loved them, but adults did, too. And those adults looked like circus animals while riding them. So in 1967 Honda gave the gift of the Z50 “Monkey” to the world. The bike was so beloved that it remained in production until 2017, just for it to be released again as a sibling of the Honda Grom.
A regular Honda Z50 is a simple machine. You get a 49cc single with a built-in transmission. Seat height was under two-feet and the rider experienced a ravenous 4.5 horses. The Z50 was so simple, in fact, that the first of them didn’t have a suspension. Yep, your tires were all of the ride comfort you got. Many daring riders over the years have decided that the little 49cc engine just isn’t good enough and added a healthy dose of power. That’s sort of what we’re looking at here today.
But this isn’t a dose of power, it’s a shot of adrenaline straight into your veins.
Gone is the cute factory engine and in its place is the 350cc inline-four from a Honda CB350F. This engine is good for 34 horses and when attached to a CB350, is good for a top speed of around 100 mph.
It is not said how fast the Monkey is in this configuration, but whatever speeds it can hit are probably way too fast for something with what appears to be 8-inch wheels.
The ad on Mecum doesn’t give any real details about the build, but has the ominous warning that work needs to be done to it. Let’s look closely at what’s going on.
The frame was definitely modified to fit the much bigger engine and the job looks pretty well-done. If you didn’t know any better, you might even think that this was the work of a mad motorcycle manufacturer.
The engine’s four carburetors have also been reduced down to just two. This saves on space and should make maintenance a bit easier. The carbs don’t have filters attached to them.
Braking and suspension are handled by, not much.
Up front has some limited suspension action that probably wasn’t great for the bike in its stock form, and is certainly useless now. There’s nothing out back, but I doubt anyone is going to ride it long enough for that to matter.
Braking is handled by diminutive drums front and rear, and it appears that the rear drum isn’t hooked up. Even if it were, I’m sure the Ever Given could stop faster than this could.
Looking a bit deeper, you can see what other parts may need sorting out. If you follow the clutch cable, for example, you’ll find it not connected to anything, instead hanging next to the kickstarter.
The seat also looks pretty goofy, looking like it was mounted with just a single bolt with nowhere else to put the other bolt. The bars also look pretty incomplete without a headlight to speak of.
Considering the lack of brakes and the disconnected clutch cable, I have to wonder if this was ever ridden or was it just an abandoned project. I wouldn’t normally recommend taking on a project of this caliber, but finished, this thing would have to be both the most exciting motorcycle you’ll ever ride...and the last.
This wacky machine rolls across the Mecum Auctions block in Las Vegas on January 27th. I’d probably recommend bringing a trailer and some good life insurance.