Honda Trail 90 - 1969-1979

A perfect choice for transportation after the apocalypse

Used Bike

Price Range: $150-$1,200

Forty years ago the state of the art in off-road travel was entirely different from what we experience today, and the easy-to-ride Honda CT90 was at the top of the field. Equipped with an automatic clutch and a super-dependable four-stroke engine, the Honda Trail 90 taught a whole generation of riders that the fun begins where the pavement stops. Perhaps its most distinctive feature was the eight-speed, high/low-range transmission, which gave the little 89cc engine incredible pulling power. Production began in 1963 but refinements came quickly, and models made from '69-'79 are most desirable today. Honda produced tens of millions of these street-legal fun bikes worldwide, and they're easy to find locally from private sellers at prices often below $500. By the way, if you're looking for transportation after the apocalypse, the Honda Trail 90 is a perfect choice. The later CT110 models (1980-1986) use a modern electronic ignition, so stick with the earlier points and condenser version for maximum resistance to an EMP strike.

Target Rider

  • One ride on the original Honda Trail 90 will have you grinning like a crazy person. Two rides will make you appreciate how far technology has come in 40 years. But every garage still needs a Trail 90! Buyer Beware

  • Carefully check the rubber cushions in the rear hub by trying to rotate the sprocket while the wheel is blocked. Loose cushions will break the hub, which cannot be replaced.

  • Due to age all rubber parts may need to be replaced. This includes the fork and engine seals as well as the fuel lines.
  • Trail 90s require a battery to start, so consider taking a new battery with you when you shop for a bike.

Commonsense Mods

  • The tires may look good after 40 years, but make sure to replace the inner tubes since old ones are more prone to cracks and punctures.
  • A fold-down handlebar lock on the top clamp allows you to pivot the bars 90 degrees when transporting the Honda Trail 90, but you'll get a much tighter feel on the controls if you overtighten the castle nut and defeat this feature.
  • Engine mods? Don't worry about it, but if you're going to replace the piston, there are some 108cc kits available that cost no more than a stock top end. Otherwise, stock is always best.
  • Learn to adjust the points and set the timing yourself. It makes a huge difference in performance. A full tune-up with valve adjustment can be done in 20 minutes.
  • Install some inline fuel filters since the steel fuel tank will sneeze out some rust chips every time you ride. Main and reserve feeds each have their own fuel lines.
  • Trail 90 parts are still widely available, but owning a spare bike to cannibalize will save you 50 trips to the dealership.