Maxi Mini: 1970 Heathkit GT-18 Boonie-Bike

It sounds like this rare 1970 Heathkit GT-18 Boonie-Bike has been in storage since the early-1970s and it has zero hours on it, it’s basically never been used. It can be found here on eBay with bids of over $3,000 as I write this and, believe it or not, the reserve isn’t met! It’s located in Novi, Michigan.

The first photo shows the rare front ski option which was $16.95 and there can’t be many of them left today in any condition, but in like-new condition, this is probably the only one. Heathkit started out in the late-1920s selling light aircraft kits and after WWII they started selling surplus electronic kits that customers could put together to make various things like oscilloscopes. In 1968, they started offering mini bikes. The information that I found says that the GT-18 Boonie-Bike was only made in 1968 and 1969 so this could be a case where one was purchased and squirreled away, which is what it sounds like, although they have the VIN listed as a 1970.

The seller says that this Boonie-Bike was donated to a school in the early-70s and put into storage for years. They say that it has zero hours on it and is about as close to new condition as possible. I can see some chipped or worn paint on some of the edges but overall, yeah, it looks great! A very nice original is usually better than a restored one, and that goes for anything. That’s just my opinion, though.

The Boonie-Bike was meant to be an all-terrain, year-round mini bike, hence the front ski attachment. This one also has the optional battery charger which would have added $6.95 to the price. It also has the horn and lights kit which was $29.95 extra. I believe that the only other option would have been a spark-arresting muffler at $9.95. The condition of this bike is amazing, at least in appearance.

There are no engine-specific photos but you can see the 5-hp Briggs & Stratton in a few of the photos and I’m not really sure about the operating condition but I’m assuming that it works great and they were good for speeds up to 30 mph. They seller says that it is or was minimally ridden for demonstration reasons only. It has a unique 2-speed centrifugal clutch which fed to a jackshaft. There are two sets of chains running to the jackshaft and two gears in the clutch, a fairly complicated system for a mini bike in the late-1960s. Unfortunately, you can’t shift while you’re moving or it’ll snap the jackshaft spring and you’ll be stuck in 1st gear going 15 mph at the most. I know that there are vintage mini bike fanatics out there, any thoughts on this Heathkit GT-18 Boonie-Bike?

 

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Comments

  1. Ken Carney

    I knew Heathkit made CB radios, but never a minibike! It looks very over
    engineered like their radios too. Any thing you bought from them was top
    notch through and through. Too bad
    they can’t make decent products like
    this today.

    9
  2. Dan

    It’s neat, seems reasonably priced, and is pretty close to me. But since I couldn’t legally use it as a commuter, it’s a pass for me.

    1
  3. BobinBexley Bob in Bexley Member

    Comes with ‘Twin Peaks’ flooring ! Can you hear the music ???

    1
  4. Rube Goldberg

    Yeah, Heathkit was big, into all kinds of stuff, a friend had a Heathkit weather station he built. I had seen these before, in my dirt bike days, there was always some kid with one, the operating controls are pretty straight forward, I had a friend with a Rupp minibike that had a 2 speed like that. It worked rather well. Fun to see this stuff, when simple was good enough.

    9
  5. jmolsn Member

    Wow! Talk about memories!! My Dad bought me one when I was 10 or 11. Have many memories of tearing around the property. We also built many electronic projects over the years.

    7
  6. Robert E Pietrafesa

    Bought one of these in 1968 – with money saved from a paper route. Ran like the wind and the 2 speed was unique!

    1
  7. geomechs geomechs Member

    I don’t know where you find these, Scotty, but your features are unique. I saw a lot of variations on minibikes but this one escaped me. Looks like something fun to ride just the same. It reminds me of the Fox Trailbug we had many years ago. If I still had a lot at the lake resort I would look a little closer at something like this.

    3
  8. rod444

    My dad built a Heathkit stereo and we had “hifi” sound when everyone was still thinking “monaural” was good enough. Very old school indeed.

    I lusted after this minibike for years as a kid. Wanted one so bad I could taste it. My folks always said ‘no’. And then what happens? As soon as I turned 16, my father goes and buys a sport bike. At least he let me ride it.

    1
  9. Cattoo Member

    I recall something a bit larger as being advertised in the back of magazines such as popular mechanics, to haul out game after the hunt was over. Think I may have even been front wheel drive via a chain drive.

    1
    • Scotty Gilbertson Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      Cattoo, a two-wheel-drive Rokon maybe?

      1
  10. Phinias

    Heathkit had a LOT of great kits. My dad built an incredible stereo system designed and sold by Heathkit. It was a very good system back in the day. He could make all the windows rattle in the house when the volume was cranked up!
    I built a shortwave kit of theirs as a kid. It was great stuff!

  11. Beel

    I had one of these, too. Dad bought it for me and we assembled it together. Living in northern Ohio, we also had the front ski. Didn’t have the light kit. It was a great bike and much less expensive than the neighbor kids’ Honda bikes. I eventually pulled the engine to put on my go-kart and never rode it after that.

  12. Jim Norton

    This is a older restore . None of the cables are correct. The throttle handle is not correct should be chrome. The motor, fenders ect all white parts have been repainted except the wheels were not painted they do not match the much whiter paint. I have seen a lot of boonies and never saw one that has been crashed hard enough to bend both foot pegs back so it has been crashed hard on both sides. The rubber hand grips are not correct. The brake light switch is not correct. If i could post a picture of mine you would see a nice one.

  13. treg forsyth

    The frame sure looks like a Bonanza, no Bonanza tag or plate where it would attach bettween the front forks, I have two Bonanzas, and the prices are climbing just like all that cool stuff that we had as kids.

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