Honda Trail Ct 90 On and Off Road
It was the early 60’s, and the lure of the open road was beginning its siren call to the adventurous. Motorbikes were seen as the transportation choice of the unruly, but were slowly being introduced as a tool for outdoor enthusiasts who wanted an easy way to get around while hunting or fishing. The world was beginning to change – and transportation was changing right along with it.
The early 1960’s saw a rise in the market for off-road mini bikes. Relatively new to the motorcycle market, these smaller bikes – referred to as trail bikes or dirt bikes – were being sold to outdoorsmen who wanted an easy way to maneuver through the rugged woods. Slick marketing campaigns, along with a flux of users who quickly found the bikes met their needs propelled the Honda mini-bike to becoming one of the best sold off-road vehicles. One of the early models of mini-bike models included the Honda Trail 90 (sometimes designated as the CT90) was in production for over 13 years.
These small bikes were perfectly suited to the trails of backwoods. Weighing in less than 200 pounds, the suspension made them ideal for using on rugged terrain. A single seat with a cargo area that would allow the driver to strap on needed gear, it was perfect for getting to remote locations and maneuvering through narrow trails.
The small size of these bikes and the durability of the rugged framing also make them attractive as a roadworthy vehicle. With a top speed of 55 miles per hour, the Trail 90 had excellent gas mileage – around 100 miles per gallon. For a commuter within cities, the ease and simplicity of these bikes made them extremely appealing.
The classic Trail 90 had a few modifications from its predecessors. It increased the engine size – the Honda CT90 boasted 87 cc over the previous 54 cc available. Handlebars were adjustable steel tubes, instead of the pressed-steel fixed handlebars that had been used previously. With the arrival of the CT90, Honda was offering a faster, heavier and bigger bike. Their efforts paid off – it became one of the most popular bikes offered and can still be seen both in collections and on the streets today.
The crossover of a bike rugged enough to handle the rough terrain of off-roading, yet responsive enough to be used on the city streets is still a viable market share. Any given weekend will still find people gathered around a dirt track, racing these Trail Bikes for entertainment and fun. The newer models, though, are still essentially the same classic designs that the early dirt bike users were using. While many of the racers will load their dirt bikes into the back of pick-up truck or trailer, the classic Honda Trail 90 riders can simply ride off the dirt road right onto the highway and head for home.
More than a nostalgic nod to the past, these hard working bikes are a testimony to the durability and vision of a good idea.