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Barn Find: 1971 Suzuki MT50 Trailhopper

I bet that a lot of you had a small bike like this 1971 Suzuki MT50 Trailhopper when you were growing up and learning how to ride motorcycles. Honda stole the show but there’s something fun and interesting about the MT50. The seller has this one listed here on eBay in Sacramento, California and they’re asking $1,750 or you can make an offer.

Caution: I have this same motorcycle but in much nicer condition – although, it’s not a showpiece by any means. If that is in any way an insult to any of you or the owner/seller of this bike, it’s 100% unintentional. It’s natural for people, even those of us who fumble through our posts for Barn Finds, to gravitate towards vehicles that they own so hopefully this one won’t spiral out of control if I mention my MT50 Trailhopper a few times. Decals are still available, by the way. The left grip is for the rear brake and the right grip is for the front brake and the shifter is on the left side, using a three-speed automatic clutch transmission. Here is a fun article from the fall of 1970 from Cycle World Magazine about the MT50.

Yes, my seat cover is nicer but it was $45 on eBay so big deal, that’s an easy change. This bike looks mostly complete other than the missing right side cover and front fender and there are usually some parts on eBay so hopefully, the next owner can find what they need to bring this one back. They are really cool, fun little bikes, even for adult riders trying to relive their youth. The seller says that this one could use a new battery and new tires. My tires were a bear to get off, I finally had to bring the bike into a shop and they literally had to cut them off to put on new tires. The handlebars fold in to make it easier to throw in your trunk or the back seat of your car if you want to. Here’s a vintage ad showing some of the reasons why kids wanted one of these things.

The MT50 Trailhopper was made for three short years, 1971, 1972, and 1973. The 1971 models were orange with silver fenders, the 1972s were blue with body-colored fenders and white strips on the body, and the 1973 Trailhoppers were green with white stripes. They’re easy to tell apart by the color as there was only one color available each year. I don’t know if the speedometers are restorable, at least without worrying about breaking the plastic case. My gauge dial/face is also in need of restoration but I hate to try cracking it apart. Metal gauges are no problem but plastic ones can be a problem. Have any of you restored a plastic motorcycle gauge/gauges? If so, do you have any tips?

The seller says that this one is a barn find and it was starting on the first kick but recently has become hard to start. The engine is Suzuki’s 49 cc two-stroke single with 3-horsepower and I know from experience that the oil injection pumps can drip, aren’t rebuildable, and can be tough to find. I need one to stop an oil drip on mine and I don’t see any spots under this one so hopefully it’s still tight. This looks like a nice project bike and you can see that the key is still there, in the forward “black dot”. If those fall out, good luck finding another one. The engine looks super clean and nice and I’d bet that any Barn Finds reader could have this one humming again in no time. NADA is at $1,615 for a very good condition bike, just for the record. Have any of you owned a Suzuki MT50 Trailhopper?

Comments

  1. Beaner

    Early 70s. Neighbor bought one of these for his kid. Had it a few weeks then ran it full bore into the side of a tree on my property. Kid broke an arm and a leg. Idiot father yelled at me saying my tree was too close to the road. Have nothing against Suzuki, but I do draw the line on inbreeding.

    Like 13
    • Rick Earl

      Beaner, your story reminded me of an incident that happened to me when I was a kid. My dad had rebuilt a mini bike for me, being that we lived in a community, I had to ride the bike in a circle around the house from the back yard to the front yard & so forth. Anyway a class mate of mine stopped by one day and wanted to ride it, I asked him if he was sure he could handle it (we were in the third grade)? Anyway I gave in and told him he could ride it three times around the house & then it would be my turn again. On his first ride around the house he barely kept the bike in the boundary of the property. The second go around he went into our neighbors yard halve way between the boundary and our neighbor’s house. The third go around, well you guessed it, he plowed right into our neighbor’s house, it bent the forks all the way back to the engine. I don’t know who was more upset, me being mad as hell at my classmate or my mother being mad as hell at me for letting him ride it. The kid did suffer a mild concussion but fortunately that was all. As for the bike, months later my dad straightened out the forks & I swore nobody would ride it other than me.

      Like 4
  2. Terrry

    That 80 mph speedo is slightly optimistic. The shifting and braking remind me of a Willier mini bike I had as a kid. Lots of fun!

    Like 7
  3. cyclemikey

    I’m just putting the finishing touches on the restoration of a ’72 (blue) one. Didn’t really need restoring, but I wanted it perfect. I got it because I had one just like it back in the day, along with an orange ’71. Fun little putt-arounds, great pit bikes.

    That missing side cover on the bike on offer here will be tough to find. Also, what’s going on with the rear fender – bobbed?

    Like 2
  4. Brad460 Member

    Scotty, no need to go out of the way pre-apologizing for your thoughts because some commenter is overly sensitive. I saw the prior post that led to your comments, but don’t think you needed to go out of your way to not hurt someone’s feelings. In any case, this looks like a fun little putt putt. Hopefully someone with the time and appreciation for this will make it back into the gem it could be.

    Like 1
    • Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      That’s darn nice of you to say, Brad460, thanks.

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