AMB5 Tiddler Rock Star: It likes Eight Grand.

The Coveted 1982 Honda MB5 is quite simply like the glitter below Danielle’s necklace in the 49cc motorcycle arena.    Honda imported the MB5 (also called the MB50) to America in only 1982 but exported it for sale internationally from 1979 to 1988.  In the USA it was initially sold for $798.  Even better Honda allegedly discounted the leftover 1982 models in 1983 to poultry $398.  A bargain of performance and value (more on that below).  Recent eBay searches have shown runners in poor and good condition for $900 and $1400.

General Specifications of the American model:

  • Top speed stock around 50mph on flat ground with no wind.  I have consistently run 55mph with mine after only removing the air cleaner and replacing it with a K&N like pod and a small main jet increase.  My top speed is over 62mph downhill with tail wind!
  • Actual hydraulically actuated Front disk brake / drum rear.  The brakes are good enough to haul the MB5 under 200 lb beast to a safe stop with a maxed out rider of around 220 lbs.
  • Speedometer and just like the big bikes; a Tachometer too!  Also, just like the big bikes are the Com-Star –ish rims.  cooool!   Ya, I know Com-Star rims on most Honda’s have five spokes and the MB5 has only three spokes.   But the rivets are still tight and this is my article.
  • Tyres are both 2.5x18 with my front tyre still the original with a new heavy duty tube.  Do you think it is unsafe running a 30 plus year old tyre?  Maybe, but I like living on the wild side baby!  Transmission is an awesome 5 speed and final drive is 420 chain.   Clutch is same as the early 80’s CR80 minus a plate.  And Ya, you can upgrade the MB5 clutch to CR80 specs!
  • Huge 16mm carburetor, manual choke and modern Capacitive Discharge Ignition results in a red line quivering 10,500 rpms and just over 7 horsepower.  That, as Honda said in their advertisements is “More Horse Power per liter than a CBX”!  All this and I consistently get 75+ mpg.
  • Brilliant 12 volt charging system.  Optimistically like 60 watts at 5,000 rpm.  Maybe 2 watts at idle.  Barely enough to run a winker (Yes, Honda officially calls the blinkers “winkers” on this model). . Of note:  The head light bulb is proprietary to this Honda model (WHY?) and no longer available.  When I discovered my head light was burnt, I replaced the socket with another that accepts a more common and slightly brighter 35w bulb.  And as with most two strokes you need to keep a battery in the bike or it will blow every light bulb.  Speaking of batteries,  guess what other part is discontinued from Honda?  The battery cover and mine is missing.  Anyone have one for sale?
  • Suspension.  There is some.  That 220 lb weight limit might be a little exaggerated.  Those race inspired lay down rear shocks with 5 spring pre-load settings provide a marginal 3+ inches of travel.  Coupled with the more than 4 inches of hydraulic front forks you had better keep that rider weight as low as possible.    

The competition:
Yamaha’s  Yamahopper, Suzuki’s FA50 Shuttle and Honda’s Express are just moped’s without peddles.   All with a top speed of 20mph less than an MB5, no shift lever, and just aren’t worthy of being called motorcycles so they won’t be discussed.

Kawasaki sold the AR50 for a couple years in the early 80s here in America and is pretty similar.   I would love to own one.  Dear Reader, contact me if you have one or know of one for sale.  

Yamaha’s YSR 50 mini repli-racer sold from 1987-1992 or pocket rocket is a bit more modern and more expensive due to the complete body work gets honorable mention because it is street legal.   I believe about a tenth of a horse power more than an MB5.  eBay says $3,000 gets you a pretty and clean version.

Honda’s European version of the MB5 was detuned to comply with their Euro laws.  Two restrictor plates: one in front of the carburetor and another in the exhaust ensured top speed was limited to less than 30mph and gumption to something like 3.4 hp.  They did offer cool clip on handle bars and a further slowing fairing.

Friendly Impressions:  
My first MB5 ride was just a few years ago on a friends.  I marveled at his pit bike MB5 while at Heartland Park.   He said go ahead and ride it and that it liked Eight Grand.   Being confident I jumped on it, still in full leathers and kicked the beast to life.  Ya baby.  A few 4,000 rpm twists of the wrists and ….  I killed it and didn’t even move my feet.  Second try and I rev it to 6,000 rpm and I slowly release the clutch to Aurgh!  Ok, We all know this is coming:  8,000 Friggin RPM and maybe making  5 HP.  I ease the clutch out and away we go.  A half second later at Ten-Five redline the Rev-limiter is Rev-Limiting and time to shift.  A Second later I am in third and it’s time to shift.  Simple:  Redline/shift/redline/shift. Got it.

Riding my MB5 is pretty much the same and is my go to bike when I need something small from the Grocery/Hardware store.  Easy first or second kick start.  Redline/Shift etc.  It keeps up with traffic. Maintains 35mph in a headwind, turns well, brakes pretty good, looks way cooler than a Razz or Breeze scooter.  If my shopping fits in my back pack, I will take the MB5.  It sure would be neat to have the only option I am aware of for the little Honda which is a luggage rack and I dearly want one.  Again dear Reader, let me know if you have one for sale.

A few good reference websites are: