RTW on a Honda C90???
I have been thinking of doing a RTW, or at least a “blooming long way” trip, for several years. Now I am being made redundant I have finally decided to do it! I have been riding big bikes for 13 years now and have had everything from a Honda 350 to a ZX10, Currently I have a GPZ500, and I have never done less than 15000 miles per annum for the past ten years. Having mentioned my trip idea to the cronies down the pub the conversation turned to the choice of machine and one joker quipped about doing it on a C90! I had a C90 ten years ago and it was a super little machine and so despite massive P*$s taking I have concluded that it my be viable to do this on a C90.
I though I would throw myself to the lions and put a post on. I have detailed what I consider to be the pros and cons, what do you lot think???
Fuel Economy 120+ MPG enough said!
General Economy Tax and insurance dirt cheap, Spares very very cheap.
Familiarity Honda sold 21 million of these babies so they are a common sight worldwide even loaded up, viewed with less suspicion by locals, officials and nasty people.
Low seat height I am a bit of a dwarf!
Repairs Simple engine and cycle parts should ensure that if mechanical work is needed then any mechanic could tackle the job with spares available locally (or certainly within that country) C90 still produced under licence in 11 countries and has sold more units than any other internal combustion engine vehicle in history! I would wager that most mechanics have worked on one in the past (cannot say that about a KTM!)
Efficiency of combustion Honda designed the C90 to run on the lowest fuel grades as it was primarily designed for non first world economies. Low or no maintenance design spec as standard (fully enclosed chain etc)
Lightweight can be picked up and lifted easily.
Reliability Absolute bullet proof motor capable of withstanding massive mileages and abuse.
Slow 55 MPH is about top speed.
Not very cool looking (but less appealing to thieves)
Luggage capacity by this I mean sheer space not the machines capability to cope with being under load (you ever taken your granny, 2 kids, a pig and half a dozen chickens to market on a BMW?)
Misc Weedy lights, indicators & horn.
Fuel range only 90 miles between “fill-ups”
Pulling Power It is not going to get the local lasses all excited (unless I have brought them a chicken!)
Motorways Not able to go on motorways (but who wants to anyway)
What do you think??
go for it. You've been riding enough to have no illusions. You know it will be slow. 55mph might be rather optomistic uphill into the wind fully loaded....
Reliability, ease of maintainence and cheapness, it can't be beaten IMHO
You'll have to travel light. you should be able to mod the fuel tank to be a bit bigger. at least only 1 extra gallon will give you 100 miles.
And for the cost of 1 touratech'd gs, you should be able to buy about 15 of them (in mint condition!). thats before you hit running costs.
Personally... too slow for me.
(all this from someone who's not actually gone yet! (4 weeks and counting every day) BUT i have been riding and working on bikes for teh past 15 years!)
I once did the elephant rally in Germany on a c50. 30mph was a good top speed and some of the longer uphill mountain bits were 10 - 15 mph. ok the c90 is a fair bit faster (!) but it was way too slow for me.
Found it a bit fragile as well when loaded up - spokes broke, suspension couldn't cope (it weaved badly flat out downhill) and brakes were not up to some hilly bits.
I just borrowed it from my mum, loaded it up and went. If you put in some preparation time the 90 might be a lot better - but for me something like a CG125 would be a better bet.
People cycle round the world on push bikes so it's got to be possible.
Getting spares, like you say, would be easy and not something to be underestimated. When my original chain got irreperably damaged I couldn't get a chain suitable for a bike bigger than about 125cc while in Eastern Turkey recently. My Xt600 snapped the damn thing after about 400km causing me a 13km push to the nearest village, of a fully loaded bike in blistering heat with virtually no water! Not fun!
I guess if you have lots of time on your hands it might be doable. However, if you really fancy doing it on a wee bike, personally I'd go with one of the slightly larger agri-bikes or 125 town commuters by Yamaha or Honda that you see everywhere. The extra little bit of oomph might be useful!
Apropos of not much this brings back pleasant memories of my very first true motorcycle voyage during the summer of 1964 which happened to involve a Honda 90. This was the "touring model" which did resemble a genuine motorcycle and my route took me up into the Laurentian mountains of Quebec. I recall a great feeling of freedom and adventure and that sense of possibility that comes with hitting the road, something I've been striving to recapture for over 40 years. The mere mention of the number 90 gets the juices flowing.
I also recall that the seat was hard as a rock. Hopefully, they've improved since then.
RTW has been done before on a C90, so you certainly could do it too.
Personally I would be worried about it being too slow. With a max cruising speed of 85 KPH, you're not going to be able to use motorways - and while you may want to avoid motorways, in some places you'll have no choice.
I like small bikes - but a 90 is a little too small for me!
Thanks for he posts guys I appreciate the time you have taken. I am a great believer in collective wisdom and all comments are very welcome, I believe that this trip is very do-able, I note the comments about the fragility of the wheels, this has also crossed my mind and I think that the first modification would be to get the wheels rebuilt using beefier spokes, not sure how to go about upgrading the suspension though as they are those funny leading link forks (if anyone knows a firm, or some general hints, that can help with this issue please let me know) maybe just getting a new pair of forks would be the best option as they are pretty cheap. Anyone who has toured on small machines and has experience of what modifications would be worthwhile doing I would appreciate their comments.
A CG125 would certainly have more oomph but one of the driving forces behind the choice of a C90 is spares availability and the fact that this machine is so easy to work on and reliable. I have no idea if the CG was a global seller or just a European market machine anyone know?
I think the general consensus is that the C90 is a little bit too slow for the job, this is true, however all choices of machine come down to a compromise somewhere down the line, it is a pretty big compromise I must admit but do the pros outweigh the cons?
Motorways are a necessary evil in this day and age however I think with careful preparation they can be avoided entirely, I am not working to any timescale and can take as long as I like (money permitting of course)
Once again thanks for the posts, some food for thought…more comments appreciated please.
I suppose it depends where you are going but on a recent trip through Eastern Europe, Turkey and Iran the most common bikes by miles, that I saw, were 125cc Yamaha commuter bikes with cast wheels. In Iran, these were replaced by 125 Hondas. I'm sorry, I don't know the model names.
In India, apart from the ubiquitous Bullets, Hero/Honda 125s did again seem to be the most common mount. I don't think parts availability would ever be a problem!
I actually have a long term plan to go out to Iran again some time (flying this time!) and hire one of these little 125s to ride around the country at the locals pace. I reckon it would be great fun!
Check out this dude!-
What about a CT110
The other alternative is the Honda CT110...a farm bike in some countries, a postie bike here in Oz (the Post Office uses them for urban mail deliveries, and I use a 2nd hand one for morning newspaper deliveries).
I have heard stories of people doing around Oz and Oz to Europe on them (although I don;t have any names or dates). In Oz there is an annual charity bike ride where they do approx 3000 km in 10 days through the outback (e.g. Brisbane to Adelaide via back tracks) on them. Do a google search on "postie bike challenge" for the web site. The site includes details of the minor modifications they do before the ride.
Spare parts would be relatively easy to come by as they are the standard Honda 110 engine. Top speed would be more than adequate for Third World traffic and roads, albeit a bit slow on main developed countries roads and too slow for freeways. They are almost bullet-proof (you should see some of the loads I put on the bike, in addition to my own 110 kg).
Whatever you choose, remember to keep the rubber-side down.
Honda 90 RTW
Just to let you know, here in outer montana USA you can find honda 90 parts and service. We have the CT90 CT110 version and even tho they haven't been sold new since 1986 there are still a lot of them around. I could send you a set of telescopic forks and wheels off a CT90 free but I'm afraid the postage would be a bit much. Keep oil in them and they run and run and run.
You meet the nicest people on a Honda
Last year me and a mate rode from Anchorage, Alaska to Ushuaia on Honda 90´s (www.honda50.cc). It was excellent!
Check the webpage for pictures and. There are some pictures of the preparation of our bikes too.
The only thing I can say about the C90 is: buy a good one, don´t mess around with it, eg. add extra stuff that is not original like lights, horns etc., change the oil regularly, adjust the valves every now and again and they will go anywhere. Honda didn´t call them the 'go anywhere bike' for nothing when they came out ;)
Don´t worry about the strenght of the spokes, the brightness of the headlight, the maximum speed. Those are all things that people on 'real' bikes have to worry about. Just don´t take too much crap and the bike will be fine. Our C90´s didn´t have any major breakdowns during the 8 month 22.000 mile trip, why would yours?
The fact that you are considering the C90 makes me think that you are a down to earth guy, with a down to earth itinerary. Of course a C90 will not off road like a DR350, but it works fine on gravel and sand. Of course you can´t do 1000 miles a day on a C90, but seeing things along the way is the whole point of taking the trip anyway isn´t it? Plus you will not stick out like a sore toe when you ride into town on your beat up C90 in a faraway place where the biggest bike around is an ancient XL 250, as you would on your fully Touratech-d GS with flashy alu paniers and GPS.
Send me a PM if you want to know more about my C90, the setup of the bike (mine carries 3 gallons of fuel, giving it a range of more then 350 miles) and long distance travelling with a C90 in general.
A couple of parts prices, just for fun:
- Chain and sprocket set US 10,- (Argentina, not original HONDA)
- Chain and sprocket set US 40,- (USA, original HONDA, lasted 18.000 miles!)
- Brake shoes set US 3,80 (Ecuador, from a XL 185 fit perfectly)
- Knobly rear tire US 10,- (Vancouver, Canada)
- Front wheel bearings set US 5,- (Ecuador)
- Rear wheel rim and spokes US 30,- + 6 pack of beer (Costa Rica, after pothole in rain)
Oh yeah and I forgot about the shipping! Shipped mine to the Netherlands from Buenos Aires for US 300,- all in. Could have been cheaper if I had bothered to take it apart (takes 3 hours) and shipped it as parts!
That's a nice post. I can't see your site though?
Hope this helps. (address supplied needed bracket removing).
Thanks for the new posts to this thread, Had a look at the CT110 and to my eye it’s practically the same as the C90 (a bit beefier) and it looks up to the job however they are not a common sight in the UK (if they were I might be tempted) thanks Bill for the offer of the forks, what a nice chap you are, maybe I can pick them up in person when doing the states! I agree that the costs for postage would be expensive. Getting a set of Ebay may be an option, but still very kind of you.
Great post and super website Dirk, What a trip! I would be very interested to get a bit more detail about the prep work done to the bikes and what you consider to be the most important aspects of touring in this manner. I would be especially interested in the expansion of the fuel tank to give increased range, unfortunately I cannot sent a private message as I do not have the required amount of posts (only been using this site for a couple of days!) when I do I will message you.
Keep the comments coming.:cool4:
when are u planning on taking off? sounds like i'm doing the same sort of trip as u. but i have decided on the postie bike (CT 110). started off as a joke one day with my mum and now i'm going through with it. i'm leaving OZ in jan 07 riding to london (IOM for the TT races end of may) through southeast asia, india, eastern europe etc. then if that goes well, who knows. its Me vs The World! probably head down through africa. would love some company if ur up 4 it!
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