John Lennon and the Monkey Bike

john lennon and the monkey bike

Tabloids are running amok with news that legendary Beatles frontman, John Lennon's 'Monkey Bike' has been auctioned for a staggering £57,500. The mystery around this glossy red mini-bike has people going gaga over it. What exactly is this 'monkey bike'?

Motopsychcle.com will present this report in its own 'Psychcle' style.

JOhn Lennon, The LEGENDARY FRONTMAN OF THE WORLD'S BIGGEST BAND, had a fondness for Bikes. He owned a Honda Z50A model, it was a part of the brief Z50 series mini bikes Honda came up with in 1964. By March of same year, the sale of the “Z” started with Z50M. A series which included the  Z50A, Z50J, Z50M, Z50R and ZB50. It was one of the most comfortable bikes around, even a Legend like John Lennon was enticed by its features.

Okay, a superstar owned a Honda mini bike, it became famous due his name. You must be thinking, Why was his Honda Mini Bike called a "Monkey Bike" for some Reason? 

If you give a quick look at the mini bike, you will find nothing that gives you the idea of its nomenclature (Wordy! Please bear with me).

Strange Enough, answer to this weird name lies in the sitting posture of the rider. When a rider sits on the bike, grabs the throttle, the posture gives a feel of a hulking figure sitting on it. One of the folklores, we researched, describes the reaction during the moment, Mr. Lennon saw this bike with the test rider sitting on it, the first words which may have come out of his mouth were 'Oi! That's a monkey bike, mate!'. 

Due to the popularity of Mr Lennon( The Beatles) of course, a popular notion got attached to this mini bike. The Name quickly spread across the globe, fans of the legendary singer started calling it a 'monkey bike', while others escalated the mania by naming it a 'Gorilla Bike'.

 

What was special about the Bike? A brief history

The original model was produced as a children's ride at a Japanese amusement park. (Obviously, when adults would sit on this teeny- weeny ride, no doubt it would be like a 'Gorilla on a unicycle').

With Z50A, Honda released the second generation of the Z50 series of mini bikes. Though its predecessor, the Z50M, was available in Europe and Japan by 1967, the Z50A-KO nicknamed 'Hard Tail' or sometimes referred to as the 'High bar' or the 'Slant-guard', was the first of the Z50 series to be released in the American Market. 

 

Upon its release, this mini bike was acknowledged to be a significant leap in technology of bike parts in comparison to other bikes on the market at the time. Details are given below:

 

Honda Z50A's Technological Leap

 

BIKE ENGINE

49 cc Four stroke engine

The bike was designed with new head cam engine with semi-automatic transmission.

 LIGHTING

Legal Street Lighting

The one fitted with long distance street lighting and lowered bars.

 

In 1972, while other mini bikes were facing growing issues of frame cracking, Honda came up with a revolutionary way by incorporating rear suspension on the bike. This enabled riders to have a never felt before comfort and rest to their hip bones. One could just wear their motorcycle gloves, put on their riding jackets and vroom around in ecstasy! 

With the rising demand of the mini bike, Honda produced more versions like ZK1 'Short tail', K2 'Long Tail' and more. By 1978, it got replaced by Z50R in American market and was renamed as Z50J in European and Japanese Market in 1973.

Its comfort-driven riding position made Z50A a fantastic option on which one could learn to ride a bike, the closest experience people in India can have is by riding Honda Navi.

The Motorbike got attached to John Lennon, He was pictured riding the bike with his son Julian sitting behind him at the Surrey Estate, maybe singing him ' Roll up. Roll up. for the magical mystery tour'.

As the time passed, After John Lennon's Death, it became a legend? So much So, it was auctioned for a staggering £57,500 recently.

What do you think of our Small Story? Tell us about your views on the ' Monkey bike '!

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