Motorcycle Mysteries Blog 3 - The Mystery Behind John Lennon and the Monkey Bike

john lennon and the monkey bike

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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. So, what exactly is this 'monkey bike'? will present this report in its own 'Psychcle' style.

Lennon's ride is Honda Z50A by company model, it is part of the brief Z50 series mini bikes Honda came up with in 1964. By March same year, the sale of this “Z” started with Z50M. A series which included the  Z50A, Z50J, Z50M, Z50R and ZB50.


Now, Ask your own psyche with a question – Why a monkey bike?

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).


Well 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 the feel of a hulking figure is sitting on it. One of the folklores, we researched, describes the reaction at the moment, when Mr. Lennon saw this bike with the test rider sitting on it, the first word that may have come out is '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 manage to spread quickly across the globe,  majority of people 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



49 cc Four stroke engine

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


Legal Street Lighting

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


In 1972, while other mini bikes were facing growing issue 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-style riding made Z50A a better option of learning bike riding, the closest experience people in India can have is by riding Honda Navi down the roads and parks.

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'.

Then it became a legend? So much So it was auctioned for a staggering £57,500 recently.


What do you think of our Small Story?

Was it the most comfortable bike that even the Legend like John Lennon was enticed by its features?


Tell us about your views on the ' Monkey bike '!

What do you think? Like our blog;  Comment Below


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