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BIKE OF THE WEEK

HONDA ST70 DAX.



Or CT70, or Trail70, or Dax-hund, or ST50 or ST90...are all basically the same thing - and that thing is the most charming little bike ever made.  How can you fail when you make a dinky motorcycle that looks a bit like the loveliest good doggie in the world? Exactly! So Honda were onto a winner straight away in 1969 when the first models were unveiled to a public holding up one paw in pleading anticipation.

Monkey business

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We already had the Z50 Monkeybike and C50/70/90 range, and the other little Hondas with manual box and clutch like the early SS50 and CD90Z - so all they had to do is make a lower version of the pressed steel frame and lob some small wheels at the parts bin, and 'Magia Potagia' a star was born!

As hinted at there, the almost universal Honda 2 bolt engine mounts (beware S90, CD90 though...) mean that today any pitbike or Chinese clone engine can be shoe-horned in, but more of that later.

I'd imagine virtually every motorcyclist has at some point ridden a bike with a variation of the Honda 4 stroke horizontal cylinder engine in it, whizzing away reliably down there forever. The Dax, to ride, is as you would guess - like a C70 with tiny wheels, or, if you like, a child's scooter with massive wheels.

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Nobody has yet won a TT race on a Daxhonda. And until they change their biased rules nobody ever will, but they are entirely excellent for bombing to work on ( I assume you sensibly work close to home), and do about 1000mpg (!), so frugal that you are outraged if you ever have to put petrol in it. You get out of the habit.

A bit of Factual stuff for you now

Made 1969-2000 with a few breaks, in 50/70/90cc forms, the famously reliable 4 stroke 2 valve OHC engines wheezed out 4 or 6hp/9000rpm initially, although by 1995 the 50cc variant only managed a very polite 2.6hp.. the 47x41.4mm oversquare 70 making 5.2hp, and 47mph on the flat, as we small bike riders say.
Most were the same 3 speed semi auto (crunch as they are sometimes known) gearbox, and weighing in at around 75kg filled up and ready to go, the Dax need not daunt the flimsiest of our species, and the turning circle is 1.6m, try doing that on your superbike!

Its svelte proportions mean that a space can always be found for it indoors next to the tumble drier, or squashed up at the end of the garage. (The handlebars fold down out of the way, that's what those plastic thingys are for).

Small but perfectly formed

The C70 had a seat height of 30 inches, the Dax's is 27, so not overly cramped, but small. Aftermarket sites sell a storage box for the bike, in the form of a wicker basket with a stinky old hairy blanket. I made that one up.
I've owned quite a few different bikes based around this engine, and I can only add my voice to all the others and say that it is completely reliable and built like a precision watch. If it does ever go wrong, just keep it warm and put a huge plastic cone around it's headstock for a week.

The bike is still made today, in a sharp-edged, quickly rusting, bolt heads shearing off sort of way, in China. But they can benefit from a 125 engine, electric starter and disc brake which perhaps makes up for material quality issues. But then if our own Greek/German Prince Phillip is seen riding one, does that mean that these Chinese clones are almost “By Royal Appointment”? They have chosen not to advertise the fact, understandably.

The Honda engine is served by a myriad of Japanese tuning firms, selling all kinds of high priced exotica for your favourite pet- Takegawa being the best known, hold your breath when reading the prices..
Another popular way to get more bark out of your Dax (or C90 etc) is to bolt in a Chinese pitbike engine like a Lifan 140 or YX160 - over 20bhp this is entirely possible and it won't break the bank.
Given the short wheelbase and rear heavy weight distribution, these buggies aren't easy to control once the front wheel climbs skyward- just a heads up!

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Beauty and the Beast

The 10 inch wheels and short swingarm can be changed for larger/longer items for added stability, and just about any kind of modification you can think of has already been done, and you can usually buy it off the shelf, more or less. You really could easily end up accidentally spending thousands on your pride and joy..
All these small Hondas seem to lend themselves to quirky individualisation and there are tons of examples on the web of amazing beautiful and hideous creations based on the Dax and Chaly, its flattened sister.
I'm going on Dragon's Den next month with my idea for a new motorcycle range based on other fashionable dogs, the Labradoodle is going to be a 250 version with bad hips.

So, in summary then, unaccustomed as I am to Public Speaking, it behooves me to say that the Daxhonda will draw a crowd of happy admirers wherever it goes, and the Harley by it's side will be ignored and cast in a metaphorical shade, and that shows how great humans are, because we love good doggies.

Any thoughts good people - email us at news@wemoto.com
Posted by Jerry Rulf
for Wemoto News on 26 February 2014 in Features

Edited By: Daisy Cordell

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