A LITTLE ABOUT ME:
I love travel and adventure. Meeting new people, experiencing new places and yes motorcycles. Motorcycles of any kind. Basically anything with two wheels and a source of power. My spontaneity involving motorcycles has been both a blessing and a curse at times.
About 4 weeks ago I was involved in a very bad accident involving a barbed wire fence that some sick f*%$ had run across the trail that I frequently ride and train on with my KTM enduro bike. Thankfully I always wear all the gear including a neck brace, which I am convinced saved my life. After the last month being laid up and depressed I decided I needed something to do so...
I woke up and thought: why don't I take a ride on the Honda 90. I'm almost fully recovered and feeling pretty good. Why not?
To ride the little Honda 90%-100% off road from Santa Theresa, NM through El Paso, TX all the way up to the highest peak in Cloudcroft, NM. Cloudcroft sits at about 8,600ft and just outside of town where camp will be setup is at around 9,600ft. I am curious to see how the little Honda all loaded down is going to do in this elevation.
An all original untouched 1970 Honda CT90 with no modifications other than a set of chrome shocks for asthetics. It currently has 7,013 miles on it. I recently installed new wheel bearings and seals, tires, tubes, rim strips, cables, a few gaskets to stop the leaks, chain and sprockets and an updated headlamp that you can actually change the bulb out on. Is it the fastest, definitely not. The most practical, nope. Is it capable of traveling farther than the outskirts of the town I currently live in, we will soon find out.
I have many bikes but at the moment the Honda is the only one I can manage with my hand still being mangled from the accident. I think to many people these days over analyze what bike, what gear, what spare tools etc... that they never actually get out and experience what they think it is they wanted to do in the first place.
That's why I am posting this here. To hopefully inspire others to get out and live life a little. Even if its just a little more. Get out of your "comfort zone" and see what awaits...
I will do my best to document the entire trip with video and photos.
I WILL BE TAKING THE FOLLOWING WITH IN A DRYBAG STRAPPED TO THE RACK:
Go pro batteries
Tent (First Ascent Stargazer 2)
Sleeping pad (NeoAir)
Sleeping bag (First Ascent synthetic 20 degree)
Camp chair (REI)
Camp pillow (unknown brand that packs tight and light)
I will strap an extra 1 gallon Rotopax to the rear rack under the dry bag.
IN THE FRONT WOLFMAN PANNIERS I HAVE:
I removed these prior to departing, stored items in the dry bag and ditched the MSR bottle.
20oz MSR fuel bottle
A few tools
Spare tire tube
Master chain link
An MRE (food)
I WILL BE WEARING:
BMW Rallye jacket, with hydration system in place
Cell phone in pocket
Cell phone backup battery pack in pocket (hopefully this combination will last at least a few days?)
Wallet in pocket
BMW Rallye pants
Spare underwear in side pocket
BMW Rallye gloves
Alpinestars tech 2 boots
Jitsie Trials Helmet with Oakley Sunglasses
I hope you guys will join in on this post for the adventure. I won't have anything except for my cell phone to communicate with so updates may have to wait until I actually get back.
WISH ME LUCK!
Hello everyone I am back!
So the trip didn't go quite as planed but was still a great time. I started off riding about a mile down the road and then back to the garage thinking I could fit the contents of the front bags in my dry bag. I was correct so I removed them and fitted a small tank bag for my gopro equipment and ball cap at the same time. This also kept additional weight off the front end (in my test run the day before it really didn't have any affect on the steering or the crappy, undersprung pogostick forks).
The first section of the trip was far more pavement than I hoped for but it brought me to some neat places. There is a scenic mountain drive that skirts the upper part of the mountain overlooking the east side of the city. This picture is from the top of it. You can see the giant X on the left hand side. Everything out there is Mexico. Sorry for the perspective as I couldn't back up to take a better photo in fear of being ran over:
I made my way through the busy city streets and all the way to the FAR east side where I stopped for coffee and fuel one last time. There were about 20 more miles heading East on pavement before I could get onto the dirt road/trail that leads North.
About 17 miles in my back tire locked up solid on Hwy 62. I directed the skidding bike to the side of the road. The first thought I had was maybe the rear brake was jammed but I pushed the pedal and pulled the lever and all was well.
Then I tried to kick it over to restart it. Nothing, the kick start pedal wouldn't even budge. Not even a little. I thought maybe I ran it to hard and it seized up? In the mean time I checked the oil level. Perfect as I always pre-measure and then dump oil in when changing. Still within spec I put the dipstick back in and got back on the bike. I could see or smell nothing wrong. I proceeded to kick it again still nothing. I sat stumped for a few minuets and the tried again. This time it was tight and slow and then let loose. I kicked it a few more times and it started up as if nothing happened. A little paranoid at this point I kept on going but took it a little slower (how much slower can you go on a CT90?)
I made it to the dirt road and was heading North. Semi trucks were hauling what I think must have been feed or some kind of winter crop down the road. Dust so thick I had to pull over and stop because I couldn't see a thing. A few of the truck drivers were nice enough to stop before I reached their cloud and waved me on through. Luckily this didn't last long as they pulled off the road heading in another direction.
The big trucks were definitely not doing the road or me any more favors. Washboard roads and a CT90 are not a good combination. A lot of this section was leading slightly uphill. The CT90 struggled to hold speed with the roads being so rough and I struggled to keep the bike on the road.
I had hit a very large washed out pothole that launched me and the bike into the air. The rear end swung sideways and landed hard. I probably looked like a cross between Jeremy McGrath laying down his signature (back in the day) tail whip and maybe superman as I landed with no feet on the pegs. I held it together and didn't go down. The forks hit so hard when I landed I remember them making a very distinct pounding sound three times as I bounced trying to keep it together.
After my near death experience I stopped on the side of the road and inspected the little 90. The bike was fine and I was a bit shaken and my hand hurt and sore from the accident a month earlier.
I took a rest, opened my MRE, ate a package of cranberries, drank some water from my camelback and was back on the bike. A few more miles down the road the terrain became much more smooth.
Just as I achieved a reasonable pace and comfortable with the smoother dirt road the back tire locked up again and the bike stalled. I was now about 76 miles total into the journey. Same as before check check and recheck. Everything seemed to be in order. Was it maybe the clutch overheating? The motor? Ugggg frustration...
At this point I really needed to make a decision and it was not an easy one. Do I keep on going in the wrong direction with the risk of being stranded farther away from civilization (part of the adventure) and possibly doing serious damage to the bikeor do I turn back and hope I can make it at least close to the edge of town?
After letting the bike sit for about 10 minutes it once again started in the same manner as before and I turned back.
This happened 2 more times before I got back to the paved road and both times produced the same results as before. After about 152 miles I was back to my starting point. Somewhere along the way my blinkers and any other electrical switch I used started to short out the motor so I stopped using them. I noticed while sitting in traffic the neutral light becoming very dim and at times was non existent. At this point I am limping the bike home but didn't have any further issues with it locking up.
Back at the garage I drained the oil and started the tear down. I pulled out the clutch for inspection. PS: the phillips head bolts really suck. Everything looked great and clean how it should. I then took the oil screen out. WOW was it clogged. I held it up to the sun and you could barely see through it at all. Now I had not cleaned it because the previous owner told me that he had just done it. When I brought the bike home I changed the oil straight away before even riding it and took his word about the screen. Since I only put on about 100 miles since then I assumed (never to do again) that it was alright.
I then cleaned off the screen and re-assembled the bike. See before and after photos below.
After I reassembled the bike and added the proper amount of new oil and noticed as i turned on the key that the neutral light was still out. I proceeded to remove the battery cover and saw just as it came off so did the ground wire that was attached to the battery tray. I screwed it back on and there was my light, as bright as it could be! (This also solved the issue of the blinkers and lights not working and killing the motor) I kicked it over and she fired off like always. I put on my helmet and rode down to the car wash to hose off the days dust.
For now everything seems as it should be and it runs great.
My final thoughts about traveling on the CT90:
Although I didn't make it to my destination I still has a great time. The bike broke and revived itself a number of times and didn't fail to get me back home.
These bikes are phenomenal. Like little tiny under powered two wheeled lawn mowers that will put a smile on your face and everyone elses face at the same time.
They are simple and simple to work on. They are not fast and they are not meant to be ridden fast. They will carry your weight and the weight of any gear that you want to stack on them. The only limiting factor here would be the capacity limits of the tires. Remember though, the more weight the slower it will go.
The only thing holding this bike back from serious (slow) adventure in my opinion would be the suspension. Again focusing on slow. I personally felt like I had pushed the machine to its limit and maybe beyond. The main key here is to SLOW things down. Enjoy the scenery and terrain.
I come from a desert riding/racing, enduro and adventure touring backround and ride everything from a KTM enduro bike, Speedbrain Rally bike and everything in between. This made it hard for me to go that slow because mentally I am not used to it. I had to keep reminding myself that this is not a racing machine.
In the end even at those slower speeds the adventure was just as good on this small displacement bike.
I think for someone looking for a budget bike wanting to bop around town or ride at a reasonable pace on trails there likely isn't a better beginner machine out there. Seriously. Its easy to ride, no clutch twist the throttle and go system makes this bike just a touch more technical than a scooter due to having to actually shift gears but a hair less complex than a motorcycle with a clutch.
I had a blast on the CT90 and I think anyone, beginner or expert, who swings a low leg over one definitely will to!