The Honda Z50J Monkey Baja Africa is an exceedingly rare motorcycle, in fact none of them were ever built by the Honda factory. Instead the bike was built by Honda Monkey owners using an official kit that could be bought from Honda.
The kit itself was relatively simple (see the image below), however it transformed the Honda Monkey into a miniature version of the much-loved Honda Africa Twin – an adventure bike that won the Paris-Dakar Rally four times in succession from 1986 to 1989.
Fast Facts – The Honda Monkey Baja Africa
- The Baja Africa kit was developed to celebrate the four consecutive Paris-Dakar victories taken by the Honda Africa Twin in the mid-to-late 1980s.
- The kit could be bolted onto any Honda Z50 Baja motorcycle, a dual-sport version of the Japanese company’s venerable Monkey Bike.
- The Africa bodykit was built in 1992 for the Japanese market only in limited numbers. In the years since many have been exported and they make popular collector’s items.
Honda Z50 – Good Things Come In Small Packages
The Honda Monkey Bike was the first motorcycle owned by many, the small and inexpensive 50cc minibikes were ideally suited for children learning to ride for the first time.
That said, they have long been a favorite of adults too, in fact it’s the posture of an adult riding the bike that gave it its nickname – with their knees up, they back hunched over and their arms and shoulders up in the air, they look like monkeys when viewed from behind.
Honda originally developed the motorcycle that would become the Monkey Bike back in the 1960s as a fairground ride. The little motorcycles proved wildly popular, taking Honda executives by surprise, and they decided to create a production version.
Over the following decades Honda would sell countless Monkey bikes around the world in a vast array of different configurations. The most common was the Z50 series that is typically characterized by their 49cc OHC single-cylinder, air-cooled engine with a 3-speed semi-automatic transmission to ensure that it was easy to rider for children and novice adults.
The Honda Z50 series would stay in production from 1968 until 2017 including the sub-designations Z50A, Z50M, Z50J, and Z50R.
In 2018 Honda delighted the motorcycling world by debuting a brand new Monkey bike, an all-new model based on the small Honda Grom with classic styling and a 125cc single-cylinder engine with a 4-speed manual transmission.
The Honda Z50J Monkey Baja Africa
The Honda Z50J Monkey Baja Africa was built in very limited numbers by enthusiasts using a kit developed by Honda. This kit was a very simple affair, the fuel tank (cover), seat, side covers, and rear cowl were all a single moulded unit, and it came with a bash plate, a front fender, and the decal kit.
It’s not known exactly how many of these kits were sold or how many ended up being built, we do know that the bike is very rare and almost unseen outside of Japan.
The surge in popularity currently being enjoyed by adventure bikes combined with the fact that Honda recently launched new versions of both the Honda Africa Twin and the Honda Monkey have resulted in increased interest in the original Honda Z50J Monkey Baja Africa.
The example you see here is due to roll across the auction block with Bonhams on the 10th of October at The Zoute Sale. The price guide is €17,000 – €20,000 which works out to $20,200 – $23,700 USD. If you’d like to read more about it or register to bid you can click here to visit the listing.
Images courtesy of Bonhams
Articles that Ben has written have been covered on CNN, Popular Mechanics, Smithsonian Magazine, Road & Track Magazine, the official Pinterest blog, the official eBay Motors blog, BuzzFeed, Autoweek Magazine, Wired Magazine, Autoblog, Gear Patrol, Jalopnik, The Verge, and many more.
Silodrome was founded by Ben back in 2010, in the years since the site has grown to become a world leader in the alternative and vintage motoring sector, with well over a million monthly readers from around the world and many hundreds of thousands of followers on social media.