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Backroad Ramblings August 2010

Tuesday, August 31, 2010
No Threat to Land Speed Records Anywhere

“How fast would you say it goes?”

I ignored the question at first, instead devoting my attention to the arduous task of lining up not one or two planks/makeshift ramps, but three to the tailgate of the pickup truck.
Kawasaki Tecate
After Mike invested his time and energy bringing back to life the 1985 Kawasaki Tecate-3; The Honda 200X restoration project was handed over to me. (1986 Tecate-3 pictured)

“I mean like top of fifth gear, wide open. Just estimate how fast you think it would go.”

The interview was coming from a friendly neighbor of mine who, as if drawn to the presence of another off-road vehicle being unloaded in my driveway, decided this would be a good time to stroll over and discuss top-speed stats.

“Well,” I began with a sigh, “with me in the saddle, nowhere near Thanksgiving dinner, on the Bonneville Salt Flats, wind to my tail, skin-tight Lycra body suit, fresh tires all around and the moon’s gravitational pull on the planet at its absolute maximum, I would say it’s easily good for 43 mph.”

He was already on his way back across the street by the time the farthest left plank slipped off and landed on my wife’s foot. Had I known unimposing top-speed figures were such an effective tool at sending him packing, I would have been discussing my riding lawnmower’s performance years ago. Slippery, dew-covered planks and nosey neighbors notwithstanding, the unloading of my latest acquisition was fairly uneventful under the clear July moonlight.

In my ever-curious rotation of cycles, ATVs and dirt bikes, this latest member of the brood has the distinction of being both the oldest current entry and the least premeditated of all time. Additionally, it represents one of only two inner-family transactions to have taken place between my relatives, which happens to consist of nearly a dozen riders of various disciplines. Interestingly and purely coincidentally, both cash transactions were for the acquisition/departure of three-wheelers of all things.

The specimen in question that yanked my neighbor off the couch was one well-used 1984 Honda 200X that had been in the stewardship of my cousin, Mike, for the past two years during which he managed to amass a whopping six minutes of saddle time.

He picked the machine up in a fit of nostalgia with intentions of restoring the ATC to factory freshness amidst countless other restorations, motocross racing, full time jobs, house remodeling and a whole host of similar distractions. The lowly Honda sat quietly in the corner of his garage while awaiting its well-deserved massage. And the time had nearly arrived when a 1985 Kawasaki Tecate 3 came along in the form of a tantalizing Craigslist ad, but that would also end up putting the final nail in the coffin for the Honda 200X restoration project.

Honda ATC200X
An initial inspection on the Honda 200X revealed not too difficult repairs like a fork rebuild, a rear shock replacement and new rear brake assembly. (1986 200X pictured)
After several months of showering the Tecate with affection and pricey bling, Mike has himself a machine that outperforms the limitations of the three-wheeler each and every time he rides it. Having fulfilled his ambition to resuscitate an archaic three-wheeler, the Honda’s time for departure had arrived. All Mike needed now was a fool with a little bit of cash, a powerful imagination, and a sympathetic heart when it comes to honest equipment in need of a little TLC. Enter yours truly.

Looking only to recoup the $300 he invested initially in the ATC, he presented his case to me this past Tuesday evening. Saturday night I was lining up three wheels to three planks; hardly enough time for me to conduct my usual pre-purchase ceremony of incisively poring over old magazine articles, Googling every possible related search string, and scrutinizing eBay for part-support. Instead, I handed over the three bills, unloaded the machine (which fired up in only three-kicks by the way) and parked it under a tarp to await potential restoration.

Truthfully though, it really shouldn’t be all that taxing of a project. Initial analysis reveals a 26-year-old machine requiring only a fork rebuild, a rear shock replacement, adjustment of some noisy valves and a whole new rear brake assembly (which, if Internet rumors are to be believed, can be accomplished with more readily available Honda CR85 brake components).

It’s certainly been a while since I’ve had an opportunity to test my skills on three-wheels but I’m looking forward to the occasion with a strange sense of patience that only comes with the satisfaction of fine tuning a project such as this. If all goes well, it would make for an interesting conversation piece not to mention a decent loaner machine for our ever-increasing popular weekend trail rides. And who knows, with a little finesse, 45 mph may well be a possibility. Just don’t tell my neighbor.
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Bob Darrby -1983 200x Owner  October 1, 2010 07:40 PM
63 mph factory speedometer.
Xpress -3/4 ass racer  September 30, 2010 10:00 AM
LOL at the first comment. That's a 200X, a 1986. Madfoxx: It's an 86, but the 83-84 also had tank shrouds. Look it up.
wild200x -oh also  September 1, 2010 03:20 PM
i have had an 85 200x up to 59 mph on a straight flat surface. checked it twice to make sure. did it by using the max speed set up on my gps.
wild200x -trike identification.  September 1, 2010 03:17 PM
the Kaw above is an 86-87 model. the Honda is an 86 200X. i am also a member and a moderator on 3wheeler.org. trike enthusiasts should check out the site.
NINJA -wrong machines  September 1, 2010 08:09 AM
Just wanted to point out that the two machines pictured are not the ones you write about. The Kawasaki Tecate 3 you have pictured is an 86-87 model and is a completely different machine. The Honda 200X you have pictured is a 1986 and is also a completely different machine than the one you own. Nice article though and good luck with the restoration. There's a fantastic three-wheeler site on the net called 3wheeler.org. That's how I found this article, somebody posted a link. Come check it out sometime.
Brian -200X  September 1, 2010 04:51 AM
Growing up, my neighbor had an '85 200X. That was the bike I learned how to use a clutch on. I was just a kid but I can remember how smooth the ride was on that bike. He also had a Yamaha 225DX with shaft drive.
Darin. -Dbiker71  August 31, 2010 07:14 PM
Um.. I usually try to avoid pointless debates at all costs but in this case I will make an exception. The pic shown of the Honda is in fact an atc 200x. A. It is printed on a sticker(which appears to be factory)on the rear fender. B.It's a 4 stroke and the 250r was a 2stroke. C. I also owned one of each.
Pokie Okie -I miss mine... :(  August 31, 2010 01:40 PM
Grew up riding a 200X on the Pismo dunes. It was indestructible. Wide axle and SuperTrapp exhaust, it carved the bowls beautifully. And yes, it surpassed 45mph. I was 100lbs soaking wet though.
Madfoxx -Ex-racer  August 31, 2010 01:37 PM
The photo is an 86 200X, I know, I owned one. You can tell by the shrouds on the gas tank, 84-85 didn't have them. 86 was the best year for them, better engine, suspension.
Cap'n -Whoa  August 31, 2010 01:03 PM
My dad had a 200x when I was little. I used to kickstart it by putting it into neutral, holding the clutch in, standing on the kickstart lever (all my weight), then hopping up and down a little to get it to plunge... I weighed just little enough that it could support me unless I shoved. We had a ton of fun on that thing until Dad broke his collar bone on it.
Drunkula -what timing  August 31, 2010 09:49 AM
Everyday on my way home from work I pass by a pawn shop. Occasionally I see a 200X parked out front. I actually contemplated getting it. Oh yeah I don't have a truck anymore. :(
MCUSA -Re: Not a 200X  August 31, 2010 09:08 AM
Hey brian thanks for the catch. It has been a pretty long time since we've rode a 3-wheeler and we forgot what the 200X looked like!
Brian -Honda photo is not of a 200x  August 31, 2010 05:07 AM
That photo is of an ATC250R, legendary in the world of ATVs, not an ATC200X.