Balloon Tire 3-Wheeler: 1970 Honda US90

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Big deal, five extra tires, that’s what the internet is for, right? Just do a quick search and buy some new balloon tires, badda-bing. Wait, there aren’t any? I believe that the ribbed front tire is the one to hoard, they can be harder to find than politicians who actually “reach across the aisle” after the election. This 1970 Honda US90 has five extra tires, including one front tire, included with the sale.

Honda made the US90 – the first generation of their famous/infamous ATC90 – from 1970 to 1973, and arguably the most contentious feature was and still is that rimless and hubless vulnerable front tire. A lot of you have owned these three-wheelers and if you’ve gathered a front tire or two over the decades, you could make a tidy sum on selling them today. Sadly, the extra tires are in rough condition, and the seller says they don’t hold air as they are now, but still…

Honda followed up the US90 with the ATC90 in 1974, that’s the one that most of us are familiar with. Our own Jeff Lavery showed us a nice example of this early blue US90 a half-dozen years ago here on Barn Finds, and as always, most of the comments focused on how dangerous they were, and still are.

This example looks a bit rough around the edges as a lot of them do. They say it’s in original condition and as an early example, it has handlebars that detach and other features that can transform this one into a package small enough to be carried in the trunk of a car, back when humans still drove cars instead of SUVs or pickups. I’ve mentioned that I own a real oddball three-wheeler, something called a Commuter Industries TE-380, and there’s almost no information on them anywhere, unlike the Honda US90/ATC90.

There aren’t any overall engine photos here, but this one should have Honda’s 89.5-cc OHV single-cylinder with around 7 horsepower. It sends power through a four-speed transmission with an automatic clutch to the rear wheels and as always, wear a helmet and go easy on a three-wheeler, but still ride them. The seller has this one listed here on eBay in Chicago, Illinois, there is no reserve, and the current bid is $960. Let’s hear those three-wheeler stories!

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Comments

  1. Big Toy

    This beast shortened many lives at the ER.

    Hopefully it will end up in a museum and shelved.

    GLWS..

    Like 1
  2. Big C

    Put her through a fence, with a girl on the back, at a party, in the dark. Good times!

    Like 12
  3. Mike

    There’s a few of these things in the Bond movie Diamonds Are Forever. The Hondas looked a little too small for the people that were on them.

    Like 5
  4. HoA HoAMember

    Don’t put your foot down, a knee jerk reaction to tipping, and the cause of many injuries. If there ever was a vehicle that commanded, no, DEMANDED common sense, it was the 3 wheeler. It seemed many that claimed they could handle it, lost all sense when holding the bars, and found out quick what not to do. Never intended for the abuse an American teenager was willing to dish out, it became the poster child for lawsuits, many unfounded. Clearly, this one had nobody to destroy it, and was used for its original intent, saving steps and mending fences in the lower 40, and such. I still question parts on aging Asian vehicles, but shouldn’t need anything, just don’t let the kid nephew from the city get a hold of it.

    Like 13
    • HoA HoAMember

      Now, don’t let the “kid nephew” thing upset you, and here’s why. Many moons ago, I lived in the country, and had a snowmobile. My “kid nephew” from the city came out, and begged me to let him drive it. I sternly warned him to go easy, which he agreed. I started the machine, he hops on, the FIRST THING, he puts the throttle to the bar, and wipes out. True story,

      Like 12
      • connbackroads

        Had a very similar situation, with a niece, two summers ago on a Polaris Sportsman 6×6.

        She was slow & safe the first two tours in the woods. Third time around, she went WOT, then used a tree to stop. Fortunately her only damage was a broken wrist. The 6×6 was not so lucky.

        Like 4
  5. Cobraboy

    As a museum piece? Maybe.

    To ride? Those three-wheelers were death or paralysis traps.

    I know directly of two kids killed, and one who spent his life in a wheelchair from three-wheelers.

    Like 5
    • Cav

      One of my neighbors bought a three wheeler like this for his 14 year old boy. The kid did good with it, even pulled a sled around in winter with other kids on it. Everyone had fun.

      That is, until he flipped it. Had over a year experience on it, was pretty darned safe and prudent in my opinion, Dead at 14.

      Like 1
  6. 2002tii

    My brother still rides his 1984 ATC250R regularly. Is it scary? Oh, yeah. Is it fun? It’s an absolute riot. If you floor the throttle it’s like trying to ride a tornado.

    Like 6
  7. Mike

    shoulda been built with FULL FLOORBOARDS. Bad thing about riding these is you leave home riding it and before long, it’s riding YOU. Human instinct is to put a foot down in a corner, when it feels like it’s tipping or whatever, wrong move on a 3-wheeler, now that back tire crawls up your leg and peels you off in a millisecond. ouch!!

    Like 2
  8. Mark R

    They are only stable going straight. I tried to cross a flooded stream on one. With those tires, it floated and we were washed downstream. My right leg got caught between the engine and a good sized log. The bone was not broken but there was a lot of damage. I had to push the damned thing a half mile back to the house to get to my car to go to the doctor.
    It was fun on slick surfaces and in snow since it would not tip over.

    Like 2
  9. Tony B.

    Grew up riding these! Yes, they were trickier than 2 wheels to ride, but the worst I ever got, was thrown off by turning too quick, or dropping my foot and having it scuff up my boot. My cousin was killed on the “much safer” 4 wheeler that replaced these. Every month around here, we have a person or two killed on 4-wheelers and side-by-sides… The 3 wheels forced you to have some common sense, and if you didn’t-then it spanked you…but, rarely killed.

    Like 6
  10. Bunky

    Late freind of mine collected up 65 of these in various states of disrepair. Then he bought out the local Honda dealers obsolete inventory of parts. He rebuilt several. Used them around his cherry orchard. Also made trailers for them and went on literal wilderness expeditions with them. They proved to be dependable and amazingly durable. (and quirky, and dangerous for the careless rider)
    RIP Butch.

    Like 3
  11. Budster

    Yes these are dangerous vehicles. I was fortunate after a few failures, including the leg under the rear tire syndrome. I used to be an accomplished dirt biker. My girlfriend had one. While camping the first day, it whipped me. Second day after breakfast, I stared at it. Thinking am I going to let this thing whip me? I came back smiling, I tamed that little 90cc beast. They should have sold these with snow ski binders so no matter what your feet never leave the floorboard. Ride it like a 2 wheel relying completely on that front wheel for steering no matter what. I too know of many people damaged by these. Oh to be be young again!

    Like 1
  12. chrlsful

    fergeddid. Wont get into it – dont get 1, if U have plez dont loan, no detail today, thas it.

    Like 1
    • Jake

      What???

      Like 6
  13. Bad Brad

    10 stitches in my head from riding one of these of my buddy’s when I was about 18.
    No helmet of course. Damn thing took right off on me and bounced off the road.

    Like 1
  14. Jeff Szalkowski

    You guys dont know how to ride. I had the 1969 and rode it for years as a 12 year old boy. It would float and I would ride it across ponds. In 1983 my dad bought me Honda 250R… I raced it and won often. I never once got hurt. Those two 3 wheelers and other motorcycles I had made my childhood spectacular. Dont feel to bad Barbra Walters does not know how to ride either…lol

    Like 5
  15. HoA HoAMember

    I just want to say, a post like this is bound to generate horror stories, and I’m sorry to hear them, but like I said, many of the lawsuits were dismissed as “operator error”. For many “city slickers”, this may have been the 1st motorized contraption they rode, not understanding the risks, it was fun, for a while. An “upset” usually spelled 2 things. Either they got up, dusted themselves off, bent the handlebars back, and took off again, OR, scared the heck out of them, never to attempt one again. People can get killed on a bicycle, so again, its not the machines fault. Be that as it may, 3 wheelers almost instantly fell out of favor, and 4 wheels solved a lot of problems, but the poor 3 wheeler got a bad rap. I think they were a lot of fun. You only hear of the bad, but I read, by 1984, Honda alone had sold over 370,000 3 wheelers. That figure should dispel most injury reports.

    Like 3
  16. douglas hunt

    yep, they are notorious for sure …..I had a couple friends that had them, both let people ride them that ended up in crashes that bent the frontends

    Like 0
  17. CVPantherMember

    I understand President Lincoln and JFK were both killed on one of these.

    Like 2
  18. Scotty GilbertsonAuthor

    Auction update: this one sold for an eye-watering $2,326! Wow! Did those five extra tires make that much difference? They must have.

    Like 0

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