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JDM Pack Mule: 1982 Honda CT50 Motra

“A reliable bike that lets you ride through the fields and mountains like a 4WD. If you go by Motra, the earth will quickly turn into an interesting land.” It goes on, “I want to act light, but I also want to carry as much luggage as possible.” So says a brochure touting the rugged utility of the 1982 Honda CT50 Motra. The seller has it listed here on eBay in North Hollywood, California and they’re asking $5,750.

I can attest to the fact that the front and rear racks are incredibly hefty, as is the tubular frame and almost everything else about this “motorcycle truck”, one of its nicknames, and possibly the origin of the name Motra. They are really, really cool and you won’t see another one at almost any vintage motorcycle show this side of Tokyo. A few of you may remember me yammering about my ’83 Motra, bought from a reader who commented on this story here on Barn Finds back in 2017. Here’s a size comparison between the Motra, the Rokon, and my Motocompo. I could probably carry my Rokon on the front or rear rack and go almost anywhere the Rokon can go. Almost, as the Rokon is 2WD and the Motra is rear-wheel drive, but with a two-speed gear reduction shift that takes it to another level.

They were only made for the Japanese domestic market and only for 1982 and 1983. Honda thought they had a mega-hit on their hands and planned on selling 45,000 of them a year, but it was clear that it wasn’t working and production stopped the following year, in 1983. They’re incredibly hard to find today, and they came in both an “army green” type color and this bright yellow. This one has a bit over 7,000 miles! Can you imagine riding this for 7,000 miles?

This example appears to be in nice condition with mostly unchipped paint and that’s no small task for a utility motorcycle made for hauling things and rough use. There’s a compartment under the recovered seat that houses the gas filler and the battery and can be used for tools or other small, locked storage needs. The “70” you see on the speedometer is kilometers, of course, but even 43 mph is a stretch.

The engine is Honda’s 49-cc four-stroke single with 4.5 horsepower. It sends power through a three-speed semi-automatic transmission with a two-stage level for selecting a lower gear when you’re hauling or climbing up a hill. At around 170 pounds, they weigh about as much as my Rokon does compared to the 90 pounds of my Mototocompo, so they aren’t light for their small size, that just means they’re built for heavy-duty use. It’s said to run well but some lights aren’t working for some reason. Have any of you seen a Honda Motra?

Comments

  1. Avatar photo Terrry

    Seems like they are Honda’s version of a Rokon without two wheel drive. This one will be bought by a collector, not a rider.

    Like 5
  2. Avatar photo HoA Member

    Don’t you just enjoy how the author ends the posts, “ever seen one”? I can almost guarantee, if Scotty posted it, we probably have never seen one. While the Rokon was more for trail blazin’, where no man has gone before, and the 2wd can get you into trouble, btw, this is more for riding down a pre-existing trail, and probably does a good job. I can attest to the motor being bomb proof, at least what I did to one, and can only imagine the rest of the bike is the same. I’m contemplating buying some sort of ATV to pull behind the Jeep, as there are some beautiful spots back in the hills, but the roads, if you can call them that, are so rough, I’m afraid to take the Jeep back there. This would be able to gain access to those spots, but my 2 wheel days are over. The non-working lights could mean a faulty lighting coil, of which NONE exist today. Neat find.

    Like 6
    • Avatar photo Rick

      “Have any of you seen a Honda Motra?”

      This one in the ad is the first time I’ve been aware of the existence of the Honda Motra.

      Like 6
  3. Avatar photo Jolly Joe

    Looks like a Honda Rukus to me.

    Like 1
    • Avatar photo SubGothius

      This did likely inspire the 50cc Ruckus (aka Zoomer abroad) to some extent, and more obviously the 250cc Big Ruckus, which featured exposed frame tubing available in a similar gold-yellow color (or silver).

      Like 0
  4. Avatar photo rustylink

    These were never imported to the US – they are extremely rare and the pricing seems to be on the mark.

    Like 3
  5. Avatar photo Sam61

    Godzilla versus Mortal! Cool find!

    Like 6
  6. Avatar photo jim

    No title I wonder how hard that would be with paper work when no one knows what it is from Japan

    Like 1
  7. Avatar photo Jack Quantrill

    Looks like a two-wheel lawnmower!

    Like 2
  8. Avatar photo Rob

    This motor is only good for 6 hp. If you put a typical fat American on it, and then add on gear, plus 2 WD, you’re going to move at a crawl.

    Like 2
  9. Avatar photo Elmo

    Now we’re talking. If you have a place to ride this you’d have more fun than a barrel of monkeys.

    Like 1
  10. Avatar photo Mike

    Have I seen a Honda Motra? Yes, about 4 days ago on YouTube. Youtuber The Bearded Mechanic helped his friend try to get one running. I’d post a link, but BF seems to delete any comment with a link. Cool bikes.

    Like 5
    • Avatar photo NovaTom

      That friend was Sean from the Bikes and Beards Youtube channel.

      Like 4
      • Avatar photo Tony B.

        Yep. I was going to reply, then saw you all had already done so. His is an olive drab version, with a no-start issue. I’ll have to watch that episode tonight. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GY-Xgnm1jbU

        Like 0
  11. Avatar photo Mark Manners

    Is this legal, if lights are all working, on CA low speed roads?

    Like 1
  12. Avatar photo RacerDave

    Interesting Bike, never seen one. My Honda 50 never broke down. I Like my CT70H, 4-speed, burnt orange, also have a lime green one but it needs some parts. Never rode a Rokon.

    Like 1

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