All our mini bikes were powered by small 50cc single cylinder engines at the start, 2 or 4 stroke depending on the make, and with gears to change. Some could even be folded up a bit to take up less space when you want to transport them.
Today, some have gone back to 125cc to make it accessible to everyone, even with their driving license.
The monkey at the origin of everything
Before it was called the Monkey, this little machine was the Honda Z100. Monkey, which means monkey in English, was just a nickname. We are at the very beginning of 1960. The engine is a small 4-stroke 49 cm3 that will later be found on the Dax. It was equipped with a 3-speed semi-automatic before being offered in a 4-speed manual.
The first models had folding handles so they could be easily transported. They were spare machines.
From 2018, Honda offers us its Monkey 125. The engine is bigger, as a result, but we still have 4 speeds with a manual clutch like on almost every motorcycle.
There are modern things like LED lighting, digital dashboard, ABS and of course injection to go beyond the standards and spend as little as possible with this small 5.6 liter tank.
Whether in its shape or its colors, the brand has maintained a very successful vintage style. We can regret that it is only available for one person: no passenger can be accommodated, this pleasure cannot be shared.
Dax, the most famous of the mini bikes
Dax is undoubtedly the most famous of all and perhaps the most copied by many Chinese brands. The ST of its real name, arrived at the very end of the 60s with two engines to choose from: the 49 cm3 ST50 that we already had on the Monkey, but also the 72 cm2 for the ST70. At the start there were only 3 speeds.
Its special feature was the tin frame in the shape of the letter T, which we recognize at first glance. The steering wheel is collapsible for easy storage in the trunk of a motorhome or car trunk.
Before it came back this year with the stylish Dax 125, and even before the return of the 125cc Monkey, Honda launched the MSX 125 somewhat in the same spirit, that is, a small bike that is easy to transport, but with a fairly modern design. 2022 therefore marks the return of the Dax to Honda, 125cc, and with the same engine and the same number of reports (4) as the Monkey.
MSX is no longer cataloged even if it can be found occasionally. There are only Monkey and Dax with a big advantage for the latter as you can carry a passenger!
Honda Chaly, Yamaha Chappy: return in sight?
These two small motorcycles look similar, but they no longer exist today. Honda had the same 4-stroke engine as the Monkey and Dax, while Yamaha chose a 2-stroke engine for its Chappy, which did not survive the new anti-pollution standards.
For now, it appears that these two machines have no descendants with the modern 125 engine. But let’s remember that when the MSX 125 was launched, which had no real vintage inspiration, Honda swore we’d never see a modern monkey again, let alone a Dax. In 2022, these two models are in the catalog.
Why is only Honda betting on these small bikes? It remains a mystery. In any case, Monkey and Dax don’t just share an engine, their prices are strictly identical. All that remains is to choose.