The Long Awaited Hanoi Motorcycle Post!

Well, long awaited by myself mostly.

I’m a vintage scooter / motorcycle geek, and Vietnam is scooter heaven. Here I’ll compile some of the interesting ones I found during our short stay in the Old Quarters, Ha Long Bay and the trip going there.

Let’s start with the most amazing find ever, an actual ‘i never thought i’d see one in my lifetime‘, Mobylette.

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These are French mopeds made from 1949 to 1997, with above looking like it was from the 60’s or 70s. I found it at a hotel lobby used as a display. It is an absolute peach and very rare, although I’m sure I can find a few more as it’s a former French colony after all.

The second no less special find is an actual Russian M1nskIMG_9177_374 IMG_9291_472 IMG_9292_473 IMG_9293_474
IMG_9294_475This is probably the ’73 MMB3-3. They are from Belarus and Vietnam was its biggest export market where it is loved due to its simplicity and reliability. Richard Hammond of Top Gear rode one during their Vietnam special and that’s where I first heard about them. I only saw this one during my trip there though, although I may have missed a few in the crowd of thousands here.

Ok now for the next batch of pics, it’s important to show my own bike, a ’96 Honda EX3 known as a ‘C70’ at Vietnam. I call it Leslie.

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I’ve been restoring this for 5 years (I like to take my time). It’s getting harder and harder to find these at Manila although you can still find a few, probably doing hard labor as an auto supply or vulcanizing shop delivery vehicle, you know, glamorous stuff like that.

I like it because of what it represents: practicality, low cost, high efficiency and complete reliability – I store it away for months and it starts with just a few kicks. I like things like that and I find them of more value than flashier more expensive models (which is maybe another way to say I cannot afford flashier and more expensive models).

Seriously, it’s part of the Honda Cub family of which which are scattered all over Asia and Europe and only up to the 80’s in the US I think. There have been over 60 million units made and it’s received many awards, such as Discovery Channel’s The Greatest Ever series, and a show where it was banged around, thrown off a two story building and had its oil changed with cooking oil, and it still worked – to prove how excellent it is.

Anyway, I’ve found a few of its cousins.

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Above is a 70’s model 50cc with a removable passenger seat. Absolutely nice, found a few streets away from our hotel. The owner was nearby so I took this pic quickly I wasn’t sure if he’d approve.IMG_9329_509

The above 50cc red one is confusing me because it looks brand new and has modern specs. I’ve been scouring the net wondering if someone is still making these models there but no go. It would be exciting to find out if someone was still making them new.

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Here are a couple of Cubs probably a decade apart. Couldn’t get a better pic of the yellow one but you can get a better view of the slight differences between the two. The older one is more rounded and shapelier, while the newer one has more angles, and has more plastic. The older one is made almost entirely of metal.

Below is a CD 90 that like the red cub above, looks absolutely new.

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Either there’s a market here that still makes these new using the same specs as the older models, or they just take care of their motorcycles over here very very well.

Below is one of unknown origin, although it looks like a Honda S90, another beauty. For a comparison of how nice one looks check here.

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I am listing above as my ‘wish I could buy it, take it apart in our hotel room and bring it home in boxes‘ street find. If it IS an S90 I can still find parts at Caloocan or Cainta.IMG_9289_470Above white one is similar to mine, with only one seat.IMG_91z75Above is also same as mine with a full seat too.

The biggest find is probably a Honda Benly, except the only pic I have is of it covered. The Benly is the early model of Honda’s ‘sport’ bikes from which the larger, popular CBs came from and they are sought after classics.

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I’ll end the finds with the biggest, literally, find, a 60’s VW.

IMG_9150_349 IMG_9149_348 IMG_9148_347Of the 5 days I saw it it never moved from that spot but it looks pretty straight and at worst was missing a right front hubcap. We share almost exactly the same models of cars here, and this is the only vintage car I saw during the whole trip (not counting the tanks and such at the war museum of course). I highly suspect that cars like these are taxed heavily at Vietnam, possibly to discourage people from using ‘clunkers’ and force them to buy new, safer cars.

Given the affordable cost of everything here, if you are looking to restore a VW like above it might make better financial sense to go to Hanoi, buy this thing, and find a cheap way to ship it home than restore one you find here. A similar vintage unrestored bug in the Phils. can fetch around P300k, while I bet I can buy this thing for less than half of that.

Of course since I was in Honda Cub heaven I bought a few things!

Basically I went to a mechanic’s store and showed them pics of Leslie, and pointed to parts of a similar model nearby. He then pointed out Pho Hue street on my map which turned out to be a good hour’s walk from where I was.

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But it was well worth it. Here’s my haul:

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A new carburetor (mine is leaky).IMG_9374_551Nice retro style side mirrors and stainless brackets for the center and for a front basket. Overall I did not spend more than P1,400.00.

That’s it! If you’re impressed by the number of pics I took in just Old Quarters Hanoi imagine if we also went to Ho Chi Minh. I can talk and take pics of cars and bikes all day clearly.

UPDATE!! As I wrote this, I came upon this link of a Vietnamese auto website which in a lists a store that sells Cubs and Super Cubs as brand new!! I don’t know if they’re brand new or restored, but it’s probably brand new, as they have electric starters. A Little Cub is listed as 14,000,000.00 dong (around P30k). MAN did I miss that! And the store is at Hanoi!

 

One thought on “The Long Awaited Hanoi Motorcycle Post!

  1. Sonny

    Do you know of any motorcycle shops in ho chi minh that sells honda cub/C70 parts and accessories? I’m planning to go there this may.

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