Foldable Flyer: 1973 Honda CL100 Suitcase Cycle

070516 Barn Finds - 1973 Honda CL-100- 1

Here’s a bike that some of you may not have heard of before. This is a 1973 Honda CL100 Suitcase Cycle! It now lives with a collector in Port Orange, Florida who has an amazing collection of small (some would say, mini) bikes, and is listed on eBay with a current bid of $760, but the reserve isn’t met. This is a rare bike and would raise a few eyebrows at any local, or even national, motorcycle show. I have never seen one in person, have any of you?

070516 Barn Finds - 1973 Honda CL-100- 2

Suitcase Cycles was located at what is now an empty lot at the Santa Monica, California airport. April Fool’s Day of 1970 is when the company got off the ground, so to speak, at their Santa Monica Airport manufacturing facility after starting in the founder’s garage in Westchester, California. They remained in business until 1974 and in that short time they converted around 1,000 Hondas, Suzukis, and one Yamaha 360 into folding, packable, flight-friendly transportation units. Larry Shapiro, a 37-year veteran pilot with United Airlines, logged over 35,000 hours (!!) in his career flying passenger planes, but he often flew his own small plane for vacations. Once he got to his vacation destinations he found that there was more often than not no way to get around with no rental cars or anything, so the Suitcase Cycles idea was hatched. It was a genius idea and he was the epitome of the classic entrepreneur, find a need and fill it. 

070516 Barn Finds - 1973 Honda CL-100- 3

The photos in the ad are iffy at best, they’re all zoomed in too closely and most of them are at odd angles. The seller has a fantastic little collection (no pun intended) and I would have hoped for better photos. But, as they say, it is what it is. Suitcase Cycles converted mostly Hondas: the 50, 55, C70, C70M, C90, CT90, CL100, SL125, and only one Honda 175. They also did the Suzuki Honcho, Blazer, and Sierra, and one Yamaha 360. The Honda CT90 was the most popular model, as you can probably imagine, it was probably the best all-around bike for such a project. It took a few steps to put them together once you got to your destination, but the company had it down to a science.

070516 Barn Finds - 1973 Honda CL-100- 4

The motorcycle itself is a Honda CL100, a 99 cc, four-stroke motorcycle with a 5-speed transmission that was made from 1970 to 1973. “CL” in Honda speak means that it’s a scrambler, or on/off bike, with a modicum of off-road capability; perfect when you’re flying to some remote island without a lot of manicured roads. The CL100 had 11.5 hp and could do 55 mph at the high end, depending on how many coconuts and bananas are on the trail.. I think that this would be a great, unusual, much-talked-about piece for anyone’s motorcycle collection. Have you ever heard of Suitcase Cycles? Or, on a long shot, have any of you ridden or owned one?

WANT ADS

WANTED 1964 Ford Fairlane 500 2 dr HT I need both rear quarters Contact

WANTED 1969 Ford Mustang Mach 1 Solid, complete rust free car, $45K budget. Contact

WANTED 1972 Ford Ranchero GT Ready to go 4 speed, no restoration project, preferably white in Midwest Contact

WANTED 1990 Jaguar XJ40 aka XJ6 Museum-Quality! Located in Phoenix, Az. $15,000 4802784449 Contact

WANTED 1958-76 Lambretta Any This is a motor scooter all metal Contact

Submit Your Want Ad

Comments

  1. 70 king

    but this one does not fold up right?

  2. Capt Doug

    An old yacht I was on here in the Caribbean had 2 suitcase bikes on board a long time ago – I remember them as very small cc’s bikes but not what kind – they used them mostly to grocery shop and they were only useful here on flat ground – not enough power for the hills in St Thomas to explore much with them.

  3. wynkin

    Yanks must have big suitcases!

  4. ed the welder

    “The photos in the ad are iffy at best, they’re all zoomed in too closely and most of them are at odd angles.” holy photo snob , batman , that bike is beautiful and the photos are just fine compared to so , so many barn find posts … and almost 6000 miles on it …look at that chrome …holy cow i would love to own this bike…

  5. Kent Pearson

    Well, if I wasn’t in the middle of packing up my house I’d hutle down there and snap that beauty up.

    • whippeteer

      But it packs up small… ;-)

  6. JW454

    You know what they say. “Riding a moped is like dating a fat girl. They’re lots of fun till your friends see you”. This isn’t too far from a moped.
    This one looks to be in nice condition.

    • Woodie Man

      That’s too funny

    • Sembilan

      The punchline I know is “They are a lot of fun to ride until your friends see you on one..”

  7. Cookie

    I have a ’73 Honda CL100 in gold, but not a “suitcase cycle”. I haven’t seen that before. Super cute and fun bike.

  8. NickF

    From the ebay pics it appears the handlebars disconnect, and the cables would easily disconnect at the lever perches. Pics also show a wire connector for the harness near the speedo. Rear axle appears to have a quick release and I suppose the front does as well. The seller says 8 disconnect points .. that’s six … seat and tank? It’s like packing it back in the crate that Honda shipped it in from Japan.

  9. Larry Collins

    This seems very odd because I had one of these and put over 20K miles on it so I am VERY familiar with it. I can’t see ANY difference between this one and the one I had as a kid. There is nothing here that will fold.

  10. Larry Collins

    OK, I see… You can take it apart… Well, I can tell you that that would not be a 5 minute job, and it would still be a full size M/C. Oh well.

  11. Gerry

    My first motorcycle was a ’73 CB-100. Damn near bulletproof little motorcycle. It cost me $400. Well, $405 with taxes. Great little motorcycle for a 15 year old.

  12. Chuck Foster Chuck F 55chevy

    I just recently heard of one, a guy had a Honda Trail 70 for sale, and when I talked to him he also mentioned he had a suitcase Honda, I was thinking he said a 125cc but maybe not, I never did go and look at them, I have one 6 cyl KZ1300 project too many.

  13. Jeff Hamilton

    Cute bike, I really do like it and it’s condition ! It’s a pity that they lost the “suitcase” though….oh well.

    cheers….JeffH

  14. Kevin Member

    Just the idea of breaking down a full size bike and putting into 5+ ‘suitcases’ is completely absurd. Back then you could buy a true suitcase bike that unfolded into a limited use mini-bike.

    If this is what you say it is then why are there no pictures of it in the suitcases? Good grief.

  15. Gregory Shapiro

    My brother and I built that Suitcase Cycle many decades ago. Sold about 1000 units

    Like 1
    • Mike dietzel

      Dear Greg recently found one of your dad’s cl100 suitcase Cycles. Would like to talk to you about the possibility of getting any original add assembly materials. Please contact me at your convenience

      Like 1
      • Gregory Shapiro

        Hi: Not sure what I would have of value. Assembly instructions might be available in storage boxes but take a while to retrieve. One of the most sought after items were the PVC tray that the main frameset in as it was a catch pan for any oil, dirt or gas. Next time I am at the storage locker I will look for instructions.

        Like 1
      • david morrison

        Hi Mike. I’m also working on getting a CL 125 Suitcase cycle up and running. I’d love to chat and compare notes. And Greg – please let me know if you find any literature, parts, etc. I’d scan the literature to share, and I’d love to have parts to assemble another suitcase cycle. You have my direct email address already as I emailed you directly. thank you.

        Like 1
  16. Wade

    Got a motorcycle from a family member turns out it’s a suitcase cycle-72 Trail 90.

    Like 1
  17. Mike Dietzel

    Thanks so much for getting back to me!Got the bike running ,tore it down repainted the frame and did complete service and tune up.What an amazing and ingenious machine! I am obviously thrilled at my good fortune I found it in a garage in Mojave Ca. I am only 65 miles north of LA so please keep me posted.

    U

  18. Tim Jones

    If Gregg or others have a transport tray for the center section of the CT90 available I would love to buy one. I just completed a total restoration on a 1973 model that I retrieved from a junkyard.

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks.

Become a member to add images to your comments.

*

Notify me of new comments via email. Or subscribe without commenting.