Christmas Special: 1986 Honda Z50RD

Lately, there seems to be a spike in interest (and values) of vintage mini trails bikes, particularly those made by Honda. I’ve recently gotten neck-deep in a stash of Honda CT70s, CT90s, Z50s and more as part of the collection in Georgia I’m helping to sell off, and the interest has been staggering in these classic off-roaders. This 1986 Honda Z50RD is not only an impressive survivor but a limited edition model known as the “Christmas Special” that was awarded to high-volume dealerships and featured chrome-plated steel parts. Find it here on eBay with bids to over $7K and no reserve.

In general, the interest in these old school bikes shouldn’t come as any surprise. They’re stylish, in a way that only vintage Japanese machinery can be, and extremely capable by the standards of the day. From most accounts, they’re also a hoot to ride, even if their size may limit the scale of trails you can attack. After being ignored for years by collectors, the wide variety of vintage trail bikes made by Honda have come into their own, with nostalgia playing a powerful role as the next generation of collectors recall riding such bikes (and likely abusing the hell out of them) in their childhood years.

The Christmas Edition Z50RD is truly a novel machine, both due to its limited offering and liberal helpings of chrome plating. Other unique details compared to garden-variety Z50s included red grips and a red seat, and white number plates in addition to the chrome pieces. The seller of this bike mentions that he’s used for garage art in recent years, and that even before he put it on static display, the Honda was used sparingly. The condition certainly seems to support the seller’s claims, as the chrome pieces show no discoloration or tarnishing. Of course, the downside is I’d be scared to use an example in such fine shape.

In general, outside of limited-production models like this Christmas Special, Honda sold a ton of Z50s. They were wildly popular, with ahead-of-its-time features like an automatic clutch three-speed, and could easily outpace less advanced trail bikes on rough terrain. Nostalgia is a powerful drug, and I suspect we’re seeing a sudden spike in popularity for vintage bikes like these because they’ve gotten surprisingly hard to find in good condition. Factor in the absurd rarity of the Christmas Special and it’s no surprise to see it attracting such strong bids.


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    I knew a local guy who had a Christmas special for years. He was a Honda tech at the local dealer. It came in damaged in the crate. Tank was dented. It was given to him.

    In the summer months for years you would see him riding it around the the hood with the front wheel in the air. Only thing missing was a clown suite. He sold it ten years ago for $2000. to someone seeing him on it who knew what it was. Awesome investment. Some things are right under your nose.

    I had to take a turn on my sons Z 50 too. Simply the best cycle ever.

  2. Matthew Member

    Honda minis are probably the best bikes you can buy. Very simple and reliable. I own a 1980 ct70 that sat from 1984 to last spring when i got it and got it running. Slow, but still the most fun i have ever had on 2 wheels. Me and my buddies ride that bike like its a full size dirt bike, so it takes a beating…anytime i take it anywhere, people always talk about growing up on one and ask to ride it (of course i let them). A friend of mine has a 1977 YZ250, and i would rather ride my ct70….

    Like 2
  3. sourpwr Member

    I’d rather buy a Harley and save some money.

    Like 2
    • AMCFAN

      What you mean to say is buy a Harley and LOOSE some money!

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