Honda Z series
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The Honda Z series is a line of minibikes manufactured by Honda Motorcycles. Though Honda's official model designations are typically Z50A, Z50J, Z50M, Z50R, and ZB50, they are more commonly referred to as the "Monkey" or "Gorilla" because of the way people are said to look when riding one of such bikes. Sales of the bike began in March 1964 with the Z50M model.
Most Z-series bikes are small, light, collapsible motorcycles made for convenience and ease of transportation. Their outstanding feature is a 50 cc (3.1 cu in) four-stroke engine with an overhead cam. Some have a centrifugal clutch and a three-gear manual transmission, while others have conventional manual clutch and a three- or four-speed gearbox.
The original model of the Honda Z-series was originally produced as a children's ride at a Japanese amusement park, but was eventually refined and put into mass production, hitting the European market in 1967.
Since then, Honda has produced a wide variety of Honda Z-series minibikes, with annual model updates still in effect. Starting from 2008, the well-known 50-cc engine will be adapted and fitted with an injection kit instead of carburetor. Today, cheaper replica versions of this bike are being manufactured in China.
Monkey bike is the name given by Honda to one of their small, low-powered motorcycles introduced in the 1960s. The first Honda Monkey was the 1961 Z100. Later Monkeys were designated Z50, such as the Z50A(US), J, M, R(US) and Z.
These vehicles all had a 4.5-horsepower (3.4 kW), 49-cubic-centimetre (3.0 cu in), single horizontal cylinder, four-stroke engine, and a seat height less than 22 in (560 mm). The first Monkey bikes did not have any suspension, but the front forks were soon added. By 1974, when the Z50J was introduced (US 1972 Z50AK3), suspension had been added to the rear, as well. The first Monkey bikes had 3.5-by-5-inch (89 mm × 127 mm) wheels, but later models had 3.5-by-8-inch (89 mm × 203 mm) wheels.
The Z series Mini Trails are still highly popular, decades after the end of production, often selling for several times their original price. Refurbishment and upgrade parts are available from a variety of sources and vendors.
The low power of the 49cc engine used in the Mini Trail and Super Cub has resulted in numerous upgrade possibilities, including replacement with larger and newer Honda horizontal engines.
Similar and Derivative Designs
Numerous similar designs antedate the Honda model, notably the World War II Welbike motorcycle used by parachutists. However, this type of design did not become commonplace until the introduction of the Z series.
The Honda Dax model (the ST series in the North American market) is generally not considered a Monkey, but rather a bigger, two-seat variant, with larger 10-inch (250 mm) wheels and usually a larger engine. The Dax models have a monocoque stamped sheet-metal frame. This also houses the fuel tank, battery, and wiring loom.
In 2018, Honda introduced the Honda Monkey (as the 2019 model year). While actually based on the Honda Grom, the model name, styling and paint scheme are directly inspired by the early Z series.
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