Original 1985 Honda ATC 125M Trike

I will not buy this, I will not buy this, I will not buy this. I hope that works. We’ve seen quite a few ATCs roll through here on Barn Finds over the years, some of them were up on two wheels due to a few comments about them not being the safest vehicles ever produced. This 1985 Honda ACT 125M is listed here on eBay in Parkesburg, Pennsylvania and the current bid is $1,900. I. Will. Not. Buy. This.

Although, I admit that this one is very, very tempting. I’ve never owned a three-wheeler of any sort, not even a trike as a kid. I’ve never had an ATC of any variety, at least one with three tires. (two tires are another story) This 125M was two years into Honda’s four-year run for this model and it’s the second and last year for the horizontal engine.

I need to buy this thing. This model came out in 1984 and in 1986 there were engineering changes for the last two years of 1986 and 1987. Coincidentally, 1987 was the last year that Honda was in the ATC market. Going back to the Barn Finds readers’ comments relating to their wide variety of experiences with every type of vehicle ever made, there are always some fantastic comments on ATCs, some of them with helpful dos and don’ts. There were more don’ts for Honda as well as lawsuits so in 1987 they pulled out of the market.

Some paint chipping on the gas tank valve is one of the very few flaws that I see on this three-wheeler. It’s nice to see such a complete one with an original tool kit. There’s some damage to the plastic front fender but there are videos on YouTube showing how to fix things like that. What isn’t on YouTube?! Here’s a photo of this Honda in its birthday suit, it looks pretty nice underneath the skin, eh? You can see some surface rust and the battery for the electric starter. Fancy. Out of all of my motorcycles, I only have two with electric start. This Honda also has a pull-starter on the left side of the engine.

Here’s the “horizontal” engine that I mentioned previously. As you can imagine, the vertical engine is, well, vertical, looking like what most of us picture when we think of a motorcycle engine. This is Honda’s 124 cc air-cooled single which has a 4-speed auto-clutch dual-range transmission as compared to the 1986/1987 model with a 5-speed auto-clutch. This one runs perfectly and everything is original other than the front tire and carburetor. Let’s hear those stories!

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Comments

  1. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry Member

    Cute, fun and dangerous. People did get seriously hurt or killed on these things, but more often than not it was operator error. A toy like this is a luxury that I can do without.
    God bless America

    Like 13
    • Gary

      Dangerous is not a strong enough word for these. I drove a few that friends owned, keeping that front wheel on the ground was not possible. I am much too old today to even consider riding something like this, but I love my humble (low powered) UTV that we use on our property. Like these, UTVs were originally designed for farmers and others as low speed utility vehicles. Then the irresponsible companies hot ridded them for irresponsible customers. My sister used to work in an emergency room. She told horror stories about what happened to people on off road toys, esp bad stories when booze is thrown into the mix (or young kids, or idiot teenagers.) None of the doctors or nurses she worked with would allow their families to be exposed to this stuff. Used responsibly, things like this can be fun and practical, but unfortunately, often they are not.

      Like 5
  2. angliagt angliagt Member

    I bought one new ( I think it was 1975).Not a lot of power,but maybe that stopped me from killing myself.
    It was a lot of fun powersliding through the snow around Kalispell,Montana,and slogging through the mud at the Hangtown motoX,
    out of Sacramento.
    It was fun,but I have no desire to ever buy another one.

    Like 6
  3. Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

    Buy. It. Scotty. 🙂

    Like 5
    • Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      Ha, dang you, Jamie! You’re still storing one of my Barn Finds purchases. Would you mind picking this one up and storing it for a while (a while = 5 years)…

      Like 5
    • Howard A Member

      Don’t worry, Jamie, you know how many times I’ve heard that from Scotty? He’s a weak, weak man,,,in that regard, anyway. You should see the vintage lawn mower this guy is buying.( oops, I’ve said too much already) You guys need to do a story just on him!!

      Like 1
  4. Cadmanls Member

    Hey these are quite capable and fun, here is the biggest fault, the rider. So common sense usually went out the window They handle different than anything I have ever ridden. You have to be cautious of your capabilities as well of the trike. Too many people hurt not doing that or worse yet putting a child on one. End of my rant.

    Like 5
  5. Gary Rhodes

    Overblown b.s. on safety. I’ve owned,ridden,raced all sorts of off road bikes including hi powered three wheelers. You put a idiot or a kid that has never ridden a minibike on one and guess what, they are gonna get hurt. I rode a water cooled 250R, racing engine, extended swingarm, flat track tires, wide open on flattracks hanging off the side with my butt on the heel of my boot many times and it’s a rush. The things we did on these things would make a millennial curl up and cry like a baby from fear.

    Like 23
    • Lothar... of the Hill People

      Gary Rhodes I tend to agree but the ATCs create a false sense of security because when you start out riding them, you have 3 wheels flat on the ground, like a car. Some people can’t adjust to riding them, kinda like a snowmobile but w/ a little more leaning, when you take turns at speed. Those people shouldn’t ride them. Those people crash and tip over and sue others and that eventually ends the fun for the people that know what they are doing and are willing to take some risks. It’s a nation of litigation.

      Like 5
      • Gary Rhodes

        Lothar, you are right. They are like riding a bike with a side car, you have to learn. I’ve crashed them but anytime you are offroading that can and will happen. We are a sue happy nation for sure

        Like 3
      • Terrry

        and that’s the problem. More lawyers than people with common sense.

        Like 2
    • Frank

      I guess its just like the gun laws. Machines are not the problem people are!

      Like 5
    • David Harold

      I got a new KTC 110 for my 10th birthday…upgraded to a Tri-Z 125 at 12yrs old and then a 200X at 15. These were easy to ride, not at all dangerous. I had some hospital visits because of my BMX bike, never the 3-wheeler. You were either a good rider or a bad rider…like anything…motorcycles, cars, boats, etc.

      Like 1
  6. Geebee

    My dad bought one of these new, with the notion of using it on elk hunting trips. Most places he wanted to hunt, however, wouldn’t let you use things like this. He wouldn’t have cared about going fast, and the dual range transmission could have made it useful, for packing meat out.
    I rode it a few times, and it’s lack of speed and power probably helped me not flip it over. Mostly, it just sat in his shop for a few years, until he realized he didn’t have any real use for it, and sold it.

    Like 2
  7. Robert Eddins

    Had 185S,s had so much fun. Never had any accidents. Just never put your foot down or the rear knocked will grab it and pull it under the trike. Really, way more fun than my quads.

    Like 5
  8. Dave

    If you want to see these things in action then watch the video for “Everybody Wants To Rule The World”. I was about a half mile from home yesterday when some kid rode one of these things across the street in front of me.

    Like 3
  9. Howard A Member

    These postings always make old injuries ache once again, and there were plenty, almost like badge of honor, they are. As if to say, “We survived the 3 wheeler craze”. We’ve been over this and over this, so there’s no need to list it’s shortcomings. This is an earlier model without the rear tire guards, which helped some. Biggest problem is driver was accustomed to putting their feet down and they got sucked under the tire. These were created to save farmers some steps while mending fences, and such, they were never designed for the abuse most were subjected to. I think it’s a great find ,,,for what it is.

    Like 4
  10. James Cobb

    These always needed bigger floor boards. Human nature causes one to try to put a foot down when turning, you can get away with that on a motorcycle but not these things! Better than walking sure, realize you have to use your body to steer, move forward, move back, shifting right or left, sit or stand as required, DO NOT put a foot down or that back wheel will peel you off that thing in the blink of an eye, now what you were riding is riding you!

    Like 4
    • Gary Rhodes

      Ha,ha tide a Dunecycle, a born to hurt you machine. Bucket seat just off the ground with foot pegs positioned with your feet straight out in front. Foot comes off the peg you came off the ATV. God, my childhood was a fricken blast!

      Like 2
  11. rancher

    I love my 185 for herding horses & hauling VW parts. A new $16 carburetor has it starting first pull again! https://i.imgur.com/nTs0RfJ.jpg

    Like 3
  12. Howie Mueler

    $2,050 now. Very clean.

  13. Tampabaybob

    When these first came out circa 1971, as a 90cc I bought one from a local dealer. Fun? You bet. But ended up with the front whell facing the sky several times. One day my brother-in-law wanted to ride it, I said sure no problem, take it easy though. He shot across the street and up a small hill. Never made it up to the top and it was him, the bike, him, the bike all the way down. He was ok but I laughed my ass off !

    Like 1
  14. Frank

    These death traps have a big following. Great for putting your mother-in-law on and Nader convinced the USG the Convair was a death trap!

    Like 1
  15. AZVanman

    Life is a death trap. This is a vehicle. Use your brain.

    Like 6
  16. Mark396

    These are very dangerous, even for experienced riders. All it takes is for a split second of inattention or doing something silly or worse, stupid.

  17. BigBlocksRock

    I broke 2 ribs on the 250R version of one of these at Oregon dunes I
    1985 . Operator error(what else?) Couldn’t wait to heal up & climb back on it. These things are a blast!

    Like 2
  18. DayDreamBeliever Member

    Rode a friend’s 110 in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, blasting around a reservoir area. Zoomed over a hill, only to find a tree trunk, as big in diameter as the front wheel, down directly ahead. No stopping before impact was possible.
    I popped a wheelie and gunned it. The ATV shot up and over, really cleanly… except… I came down on the tank. Out of commission for 15 minutes.
    The thing that is most counterintuitive with the 3-wheelers like this is that you lean OUT to turn. With the solid axle, you have to unload the inside rear tire, otherwise, you go straight.

    • Lothar... of the Hill People

      DayDreamBeliever-
      Glad you survived the crash… you probably sang soprano for a while though. I think you lean to the outside on low-speed turns but the inside for high, otherwise you tip over. Correct?
      ~Lothar

      Like 2
      • DayDreamBeliever Member

        Lothar… of the Hill People

        Generally speaking, the techniques you mention work for motorcycles. But on vehicles like these, and go-karts, which have solid rear axles…. If you don’t reduce traction on the inside rear tire, you don’t turn. On loose surfaces, like gravel, you can lean in at high speed, because both rears are sliding.

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