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Honda CT90 Trail “Suitcase Cycle”-1970
Off-road motorcycling exploded in popularity in the early 1960s, with many riders modifying existing designs into trail-ready bikes known as scramblers. In 1962, Honda introduced their factory-built light duty trail bike, the CT, or Cub Trail series. The recipe was simple: take the Cub’s engine and semi-automatic gearbox (no clutch) and place them in a heavy-duty step through frame, a high-mounted exhaust and air intake, off-road tires and, by 1969, a telescopic front fork. Early CTs had a dual rear sprocket, which created a lower gear range for steep terrain. To shift to low range, the rider had to stop and clip a short additional section onto the chain, which then would allow it to go around the larger rear sprocket. Starting in August 1967, this cumbersome arrangement was replaced by a two-range sub-transmission, which could be set by simply moving a small lever while the bike was in neutral and idling. CT Trail bikes remained popular throughout the 1970s and 80s. In 2020, Honda released the CT’s spiritual successor, the CT125 Trail.
The model seen here is a CT Trail 90, and was converted into a “Suitcase Cycle” for use in light aircraft by Bill Krause’s Motorcycle Department Store in Inglewood, California. Inventor and pilot Larry Shapiro created a way for small motorcycles, mostly Honda CT90s, to be disassembled without tools and collapse down to a small size that could fit in most aircraft luggage compartments. The conversion on this motorcycle was completed from a do-it-yourself kit that Suitcase Cycle offered known as the Skyfarer. The Skyfarer kit included quick disconnects for the frame, electrical wiring, seat and luggage rack, as well as quick disconnects for the rear wheel, muffler and throttle cable, and four folding foot-pegs and folding brake lever. A wheeled fiberglass tray was included to ease loading and protect the bike.
Manufacturer: Honda Motor Co. Ltd. (break-apart kit by S&K Suitcase Cycles, Ltd)
Country of Origin: Japan
Engine: Air-cooled, 90cc, four-stroke, SOHC, single cylinder
Transmission: Dual-range, 4 speed semi-automatic
Top Speed: 55 miles per hour
Years of Production: 1966-79 (CT90) 1967-1974 (Suitcase Cycles)
Number Produced: 1,000 Suitcase Cycles
Original Cost: $350 USD (CT90)