Honda’s Super Cub step-through motorbike is the most successful motor vehicle ever built and a staggering number – over 100 million – have been sold. I am now the proud owner of a slightly tatty one made in 1978.
Having sold my modern Vespa GTS300 I was on the look out for an inexpensive run-about and started to look for an older bike. Initially I thought I might fulfil a boyhood dream and get one of the bikes I yearned after as a yoof: a Suzuki GT 250. In the late 1970s, 2 stroke 250cc bikes were cool and some of them could do 100mph, which was was very cool indeed.
Sadly it turns out I am not the first old duffer to look forward to pretending to be Barry Sheene on a vintage Suzuki 250 and legions of my fellow nostalgic oldies have snapped up most of the survivors. Kawasaki and Yamaha also made cracking bikes of this displacement but It is now hard to find unrestored 250s of any make from this era, and the few that remain tend to command a high price (and are increasing in value rapidly).
A new (cheaper) plan was needed. Despite my youthful interest in nippy 250s I have always preferred scooters to “proper” bikes and before long I settled on the idea of getting an old Honda C90. The C90 is an undisputed classic and – unlike most other vintage bikes – low mileage examples can still be found for under a £1000. Given the massive numbers sold, I blithely assumed good used ones would be two-a-penny but it seems many of them have been ridden into the ground or have rusted to pieces and – where they have survived – there is a small but enthusiastic group of c90 fans ready to snap them up.
After much patient hunting I was lucky enough to find a low mileage 1978 C90 locally. It did run for a bit during the test run, but conked out after about half a mile on the way home so I pushed it the remainder of the way (6 miles!). Not an auspicious start, but I had already been warned that it had been stored unused for the best part of a year and it was thus likely the fuel had gone bad (this problem is apparently far more common with modern fuel containing ethanol, and any lengthy period of storage can gum up the carburettor).
There are lots of instructions on how to dismantle and clean a carburettor on the web, so I did as instructed and also cleaned out the fuel tank and charged the battery. Much to my surprise it ran! An oil change and a bit of work on the points, brakes followed and before long it was running reasonably well.
Apart from very basic maintenance tasks on cars and bikes, I have never done any automotive mechanical work and I am basically clueless on how bikes actually work, so this was exciting stuff! Emboldened by my early success, I decided to attempt a complete restoration. Let’s see how it goes!