Mexico on a CT-90

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Mexico on a CT-90

Postby redharen » Fri May 15, 2009 2:06 am

Lonely night on the 'Flag while I'm supposed to be writing a long paper due in the morning, and no one else around except these idiots:

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So here's a great story I read on the Honda CT-90 Page (http://www.ct90.net). I own a 1971 CT-90, also known as the Trail 90, which is a small off-road bike that I use as my daily driver around the Boston metro. I'm thinking about taking a trip on it sometime similar to what this guy describes. Not bad for a bike that tops out at only about 55 miles per hour -- and that's on straight, flat, smooth pavement, sitting all the way back on the luggage rack, feet on the back pegs, head between the handlebars, etc. I almost hit 60 once going downhill. Anyway, this dude started in northern California, went all the way down Baja and back, and then through Mexico into Belize. A strange trip but wholly, I think, within the spirit of the BFC.

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In Reply to: new buyer, new rider posted by Trevor on June 30, 1999 at 12:23:40:

Ahoy

Nothing naive about that fantasy. I made that trip, thirty years ago. My wife and I rode two Honda trail 90s from Northern California to Belize. Great time. Great country. Great bikes. Putted along for a year. Somehow put on 42,000 miles. Still started on the first kick, every time.

Here's our thinking, and why we took the 90s:

We didn't have a lot of bucks, and we wanted to go for as long as we could. Trail 90s meant we could camp the whole way, all down California, Down Baja, across the continent, and down through Yucatan.

We were going to be gone a while, so we needed to carry some stuff. The CT90 is the only bike ever made with a rack bolted smack onto the frame of the bike with four big bolts. Heavy sheet metal frame. No cantilevered flimsy chrome rack, either; this was a monster. You could lift the bike by it or sit a rider on it.

This was before they had built a road down Baja. So we were going through the naked desert for a long way. Riding over broiling boulders, you come to appreciate the two-ended shift on the CT90. You didn't have to hook your toe under the lever to shift up. You just kicked down with your heel for upshift, down with your toe for downshift. So you don't smash your foot on that rock. The Trail 90 also had a centrifugal clutch. This means that you have no clutch lever. So you have both front and rear brakes on the handlebars. This came in handy on some precipitous slopes. Standing on the pegs, it can be hard to work the rear brake with your toe. No problem with the CT90, where you just grabbed both handles.

A simple lever on the side of the crankcase threw in a countershaft, so that you had four road speeds and four trail speeds. And compound low was low low low. Man, we got up some unbelievable slopes.

Mexico has some very high places. With the CT90, you have a push-pull thing on the side of the carb, sort of a choke-looking thing. Pop it out, and you get a mountain jet for high altitudes! Pop it in, and you're ready for the tropical lowlands. Easy as that!

The CT90s ran on 40 octane Mexican gas that had been sitting in a barrel in the desert for three months before we got there, and was happy.

Cast iron cylinders and aluminum pistons meant that, because the cast iron swelled faster than the aluminum, when it got hot, it actually ran looser. Impossible to sieze this engine. And we ran them hot!

100 mpg in road gear, 50 mpg in trail gear. That didn't hurt our budget. The CT90 came with a spare gas jug that clamped onto the rear fender, under the tank. Later models had a water jug on the other side. Was this bike practical, or what?

Last but not least, the bike was set up like a girl's bicycle, tank under the seat, not between your legs. When you hit a big rock in the desert, you didn't smash your nuts. On a long ride, you could prop your feet in there.

Think of all the beautiful campsites between Canada and Mexico. And the Mexicans have a great country, too. In many ways, they live a happier life than we do. I am the kind of guy who likes to sit up all night talking with an Indian under the stars about the meaning of life.

Hey, you are just the right age for an adventure. Screw the future. You'll get responsibilities soon enough. So go to the map store right now, today, this minute. Go get some maps to daydream with. Start drawing lines on them. Post them on the wall. Think fantasy, but plan practical. Save some bucks. Then, GO!

Aloha

7/03/99
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Re: Mexico on a CT-90

Postby redharen » Fri May 15, 2009 2:09 am

Mine is nearly identical to the yellow one, though I don't think it's ever been fitted out like either of these:

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Re: Mexico on a CT-90

Postby Woodsman » Fri May 15, 2009 2:40 am

Cool! How old is yours?
Life is short. Eat, Drink & Be Merry!
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Re: Mexico on a CT-90

Postby redharen » Fri May 15, 2009 2:45 am

Mine's a 1971. But it's in great shape -- just about mint except for the duct tape covering a rip in the seat. Its hardest use, my wife's grandfather tells me, was when he used it to drive into the mountains in Wyoming and drive back out with a dead deer on the luggage rack.
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