Original Tires: 1971 Honda ATC90 3-Wheeler

When looking at this Honda 3-wheeler, the first thing that caught my attention was those huge tires! My first thought was that they must be an addition made by a creative owner but it turns out that they are original. And when I say original, I mean the tires originally installed by the factory in 1971. Find this little off-roader here on eBay where bidding is ending soon!

They look really good too! This 3-wheeler was purchased from the original owner who used it to cruise around their 40-acre farm. Either they didn’t drive it much or the dirt was very soft on that farm! There isn’t any noticeable cracking but you might still want to replace them before getting too wild. Just be sure to keep the originals as a conversation piece.

That rear body section was made of fiberglass rather than plastic. That explains the chips there on the back. The stickers have been removed from the fenders but the sticky residue is still visible. These were powered by the same single-piston engine used in the Honda Trail 90. Unfortunately, these cool machines were eventually killed off by more stable four-wheelers.

The ATC was Honda’s answer to slow winter sales. ATC stood for All Terrian Cycle and those huge tires enabled it to traverse sand, trails, and snow. It reminds me of the new trend in fat tires bicycles. The big aggressive tires really do work on rough and slick surfaces. I’m sure this thing would be an absolute blast if you have a little land to ride around on. Have any of you owned one of these puppies?

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Comments

  1. Dual Jetfire

    Death trap. Give it too much gas and the front tire flips over backwards and crushes you. They got sued so much that they took it off the market.

    Like 15
    • Bry593

      The big tires are there because the suspension is not.

      Yes, dangerous for most people. Honda should have thought twice about it, at least should have differentialled the drive axle.

    • vintagehotrods

      I owned several of these balloon tired three wheelers and had a blast riding them. I had one as nice as this one for my wife and I’ve always regretted selling it. I worked in several Honda dealerships and motorcycle shops from 1975 to 1981. I worked on, rode and raced them, from the early balloon tired versions like this to the last watercooled ATC250R’s, until they stopped making them in 1986 due to the stupidity of the people riding them. If you knew how to ride one, learned their quirks and respected them, they weren’t any more dangerous than a dirt bike. The trouble was that any idiot could get on one and go wide open without knowing how to turn, stop or negotiate rough terrain. Many stupid parents bought them for their kids and turned them loose with no supervision and wondered why Johnnie crashed his brains out and got hurt. Of course, in America it couldn’t be their fault, so they called their lawyer and sued Honda. This country was very anti-Japanese at the time due to their superior technology and quality, so the government got involved and banned them. Quads replaced them and they are equally dangerous. Just like when Consumer Reports smeared the Suzuki Samurai which led to its demise. I raced a modified 1985 ATC200X and a modified 1985 watercooled ATC250R with suspension mods, special smaller, stiffer rear tires and wider chromemoly rear axles, special fuel tanks and triple trees for a tighter turn radius, so you could slide it harder without spinning it out. The preferred way to turn it when going fast was to slide it, just like a sprint car. And yes, you didn’t take your feet off the pegs. I always wore good motorcross boots and knee guards so if my foot did come off the peg (and they did many times), and I never injured my legs. I never got hurt on one, but then I always wore full protective gear whether I was racing in a national event or just riding with friends. I loved riding them, and racing them everywhere, from the sand dunes to TT tracks, and even ice racing them with specially studded tires. I suffered a lot more when crashing racing motocross and flat track on a bike.

      Like 7
  2. Chris

    We had a couple growing up. Great machines! Honda reliability. Safe, if you weren’t an idiot. And fun!

    Like 38
    • AZVanMan

      Exactly! Ride within the limits of the machine and yourself and have fun.

      Like 1
  3. Mike

    Aren’t these things really small? I remember watching Diamonds Are Forever and the security guards going after Bond in the desert were on these. They looked a couple of sizes too small and a little sketchy. Even Bond looked a little ridiculous on it.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TLSMhNMN9DA
    (skip to 2:05)

    Like 10
  4. CJinSD

    Are there still tires available for 3.5 inch rims? The ATC110 already had a much more conventional set of wheels, so I’m not sure this can be enjoyed in its original configuration after the current tires fail. These were incredibly entertaining when there was maintenance parts support.

    Like 2
  5. On and On On and On Member

    These kept emergency rooms busy back when……………they flipped, flopped, and rolled over on inclines and turns.

    Like 9
  6. David Sanborn

    I wonder if Kawasaki got upset at having their signature green being co-opted by Honda?

    Like 3
    • Bobby

      I have an old Kawasaki 3 wheeler that is red

      Like 5
    • Robert Eddins

      I owned one and it was red and the tires were smaller. Does not look original to me. They were a blast, rode for years on these and 185S models.
      Finally sold when to many drunks on sand rails took over the Yuma sand dunes. Never got hurt and tipped it back many times, just hold on the bars. Dirt bikes though hurt me and I just stopped it all.

      Like 2
      • Brian Cady

        I had a ‘78 ATC growing up in Yuma. It was a blast on the dunes or riding in the desert. I never had any serious accidents, but I knew a few people who did. Usually from a collision with another vehicle. I remember seeing a handful over the years with those tires, but never in that color.

  7. Louie

    There’s a 69 just like it on EBay in Maine with bidding starting at $3500

    Like 1
    • David Font

      The first 1969nmodels had a hand clutch. Honda switched to a centrifical clutch after that. ATC racers watched for the hand clutch and would pay a premium since they could rev the engine and get a head start on the centrifical clutch guys.

      Like 1
  8. Ray L.

    “Unfortunately”? These were horribly dangerous. People who bought them did so for that thrill, I do understand that, but the ERs were full of their victims, those and the morgues. I did drive a few for short distances. Fun at slow speeds on a level straight road, but any sudden flick of the wrist and the fun ended quickly. I never bought one after looking into it. My wife was glad I came to my senses so quickly.

    Like 3
  9. RDB

    Last I saw and it’s been years ago original tires like that were bringing $2000+ each whenever they came up for sale, which too was almost never.

    Like 3
  10. Troy s

    Climbed off my beaten ’77 YZ 125 after a fun ride at Superstition down in the desert, hopped on mom’s slugy ATC110 with the flotation suspension and preceded to beat myself senseless at relatively slow speeds compared to the YZ! Ha, I couldn’t stand that thing! Over the whups….bang,,,pow,,,urrg. Tried to steer it around a small bush and when straight into it, not realizing you had to really lean to turn it and, yeah, I put my foot down out of habit in the turns. Duh!
    They can be lots of fun if you’re not crazy, people get hurt offroading all the time regardless of how many wheels, believe me I know this a little. Amazing condition as most of these were used up traded off, or just plain forgotten about. Quads can be dangerous too, bikes, buggies, you name it.

    Like 7
  11. Phil B.

    I got one of these brand new when I was 15, but in red. They came in red, yellow, blue and green. The tires are one piece rubber over the rim made by Ohtsu, and from what I’m told, are no longer available. This one is an amazing well preserved example. They had a hi lo range transmission, but the 90 cc engine was only 6 hp. Later, my father and mother got some and we rode with another family that had four,summer and winter back before houses covered every green space in suburbia. I can’t stand when people blather on how dangerous they were. They probably never even rode one. Only dangerous if yer dumb. I wore mine out and sold it for parts in a couple boxes.

    Like 12
  12. PaulG

    The relationship of your ankles to the rear wheels is one of the main reasons people were hurt on these. Once you realize that the other 20 reasons come into play…

    Like 2
  13. Howard A Member

    I’ve found, people with little experience get on these things, and FULL THROTTLE, and just accept what happens next. These were never intended for hangin’ the tail out on corners or jumping 5 garbage cans, they were an alternative to walking for ranches and farms, and saved a lot of steps. It wasn’t until the cousin from the big city came to the farm, with little riding sense, and got hurt.
    And for the record, about poor winter sales, Honda did indeed make a prototype snowmobile, The “White Fox”, a corny thing, that showed some promise, but Honda chose not to market it. It was made in Greenfield, Wis.
    https://www.pinterest.com/pin/509188301618544350/

    Like 5
    • Ray L.

      Howard, you are amazing. I have not thought of those in years. Your brain must push out of your ears because it is so big.

      Like 2
    • CJinSD

      That ATCs had solid rear axles that prevented them from turning without breaking traction of at least one rear tire suggests that they were meant for “hangin’ the tail out.” It was ALWAYS the timid people that I saw struggling with ATCs because they drove them slowly and turned the handle bars expecting something to happen.

      Like 7
  14. Autoworker

    My brother had one of these in the ’90s. If I recall, super low tire pressure was required…designed to run in sand.

    Like 1
  15. randyS

    Those tires are $1000 ea if you can find them as no longer made

    Like 1
  16. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    Sold,

    Like 1
  17. rancher

    Our 185 Honda works fine in our field with its custom trailer usually! https://i.imgur.com/Uy6WsE3.jpg

    Like 2
  18. BigBlocksRock

    Broke 2 ribs riding the 250 two stroke version. Don’t know what Honda was thinking in those days other than trying to decrease the surface population.

  19. Rob

    As others have mentioned, the tires are impossible to get and, even being 49 yo, are worth thousands.

  20. Scott

    We had two when I was a kid. Father and I had great fun riding. Was a little tricky at first, as there was no differential in rear end. So to turn, the driver had to shift weight to the outside wheel to let the inside wheel skid – very counter intuitive.
    Allegedly, if you over inflated the tires, it would float. Never tested that.

  21. Dave Mathers

    Three wheelers were EVIL!!! And 50 year old tires will be a safety hazard as they will probably be rotten.

  22. Paul N.

    I grew up on a Honda XL100 but my good neighbor friend has one of these. We’d take turns sharing. As with anything with wheels; it’s only as dangerous as the driver makes it. I thought they were a blast

    Like 5
  23. angliagt angliagt Member

    I bought one new in 1975,I think I paid $425 for it.
    I took it to the Hangtown National AMA motocross.It was
    so muddy that it was one of the fastest ways to get around.
    I also took it to Kaispell,Montana where we went to
    the Big Mountain ski area.It was fun sliding through the snow!

    Like 1
  24. Steve

    These things are a blast ! Had 4 different Honda 3 wheelers growing up . I Still have a 250sx today and ride ! Just don’t ride like an idiot ! Safety 1st ! not 3rd !

    Like 2
  25. Guardstang

    These things were a subject of 60 Minutes back in the 80’s, I’ve seen the segment on line. Those things were not killed off by 4 wheelers they were replaced–Honda paid a lot of cash in lawsuits.

    Like 1
  26. chrlsful

    there were a death (maime regularly) traps that created a law (against them). Suspension’s in those balloons underneath them. Put ur foot dwn ridin’n end up underneath…
    ‘S OK to own (U can C I would never again) BUT, certainly do not lend to a friend. They can get hurt…
    Yes – – tires still available but gotta go ona search~

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