After some consultation with the incredibly valuable resource Honda S90 Yahoogroup and brushing up on my reading skills as I had previously mistakenly left out a ‘Z’ when I read the Chassis Number, it turns out I have a S90Z and not an S90 as I had thought.
So instead of this:
It will look like this (from here):
From what I gather, the S90Z is a later (’66 onward) model made in Indonesia after a company there bought reproduction rights from Honda. It is a more ‘de luxe’ model, with obviously more chrome and probably some other innovations.
Here are some ads (bottom one from here)
Horsepower 8bhp, 9,500rpm
Engine OHC Single Cylinder, air cooled, 4 stroke aluminum alloy
Transmission 4 speed
Frame t-bone pressed steel
Gasoline Tank Capacity 7 liters (1.8 US gal., 1.5 imp. gal.)
Weight 86.6 kg (191 lb.)
Ok Honesty Check
While you’d think a ‘de luxe’ model would be more desirable, I’m not too crazy about it. Why? Let me explain.
The particular bikes I like represent the very basic of their series. Honda was just about to break into the US market in the late ’50s and early ’60s, and were introducing simple bikes that fulfilled the very basic needs ie. can be maintained with basic tools and fixed under a tree if need be, as well as being economical, sturdy and reliable. This proved a winning formula which made their bikes the most popular globally.
Incidentally this is why I’m not attracted to the new Vespas, Aprillas and other modern permutations of those marques. While they carry the same name as the legendary brands they are nowhere near the same in principle. Their older cousins served as basic, economical transportation for the common man. These newer ones however are rich boy’s toys, and so therefore are as far removed from what attracts them to me as a Ferrari to a Corolla.
But back to the S90. Here, take a look at the headlight / speedometer of the early S90:
I know that’s just one part, but it blows my mind how simple, beautiful yet functional that design is. The shape is consistently round and almost futuristic, like something from a sci – fi movie. And of course it is functional, incorporating two essential parts, the headlight and speedometer / tachometer, and in one small piece, keeping it in one package to save space. I can stare at that piece alone for an hour.
Now here’s the one from the more ‘modern’ S90z:
Other than that, the S90z has more bling with a lot more chrome parts. What ‘blinging out’ says to me is that the manufacturer was merely looking for ways to re-package an older model, which may be true at the time because if this was 1966 or later that bike would have been in the market for more than 5 years and so some changes would have been necessary to keep the public interested.
You might wonder why I’d nitpick such mundane things, but it’s an integral part of the thrill. Riding something with the correct measure of history, function and appearance gives me a feeling of something truly special and worth the attention.
So What Now?
Well I’m probably going to restore it anyway.
Truth is, there aren’t a whole lot of these available for restoration anymore so I do not have the convenience of trading / selling it for an older S90. Either I stick to this or, I stick to this.
Also there is the option of making it look like the older S90 just by buying and fitting the older parts such as that speedometer I mentioned. It supposedly has the same frame so that’s a big help. There would be a small voice in my head screaming sacrilege, but I’ll get over that.
The problem with that is that I’m already having trouble understanding which parts work with what frame, and what year. Modifying that further, especially with such little information available as it is is making my head spin.
Then again that’s why I’ve given myself 4 years to do this (as long as the other bike took). By a year from now I’d probably have a good enough idea, and hopefully be near to getting it to this level (pic from here):