Common Tread

For sale: Craigslist Honda trike good enough for James Bond

Jan 07, 2018

I need you to buy this Honda ATC90 so I can't even think about it.

Here in Philadelphia, we're still reeling from the wintry "bomb cyclone" (whatever that means) that dropped snow and temperatures into the Less-Fun Zone. Against my better judgment, I thought I'd "just look" around Craigslist for something fun to run in the snow. Who was I kidding? I knew what would happen. From the doldrums of dead Chinese scooters and titleless, engineless ZX-6Rs would emerge some diamond in the rough, and sure enough, one did. It might fit in my bedroom, if I just got rid of the bed…

This All Terrain Cycle 90 isn’t just a gem waiting to be polished. Diamonds actually made the model famous. Specifically, "Diamonds Are Forever," the 1971 Bond film featuring — wait for it — an ATC90 chase scene. When Sean Connery’s cover as a lab worker is blown, he makes a getaway in a lunar buggy off the set of a faked moon landing, then ditches the rover and hijacks an enemy ATC90. The trike carries Bond to a getaway Mustang and keeps going after he jumps off, presumably still roaming the desert to this day.

The ATC90's legacy goes far beyond its film role. Launched in 1969 as the US90, Honda’s three-wheeled oddity has been called the first modern ATV. Large wheels, light weight, and thumb throttles are still characteristics of ATVs today. Its designer, Osamu Takeuchi, was tasked with creating a product to sell in the United States during the winter months. After a series of prototypes, Takeuchi and his team arrived at a conventional trike layout that combined existing Honda inventory (engine, transmission, controls) with key specialized parts. This kept costs low while introducing a new vehicle to their lineup.

Honda would build on the US/ATC legacy for decades, until three-wheelers fell out of favor. Younger riders might not know this, but new off-road trikes disappeared from the United States around 1987 after concerns were raised about the instability of trikes. They were even called "The Most Dangerous Vehicle," though trike enthusiasts will tell a very different story. Quads began to take over, and that was it for ATCs.

This fearsome three-wheeler conquers any terrain with six blistering horsepower. Its horizontal SOHC engine is the ancestor to the lovable 125 cc engine in the Grom, though the platform has come a long way since the 1960s. That means a carburetor and no electric start, but who cares? This is a Spartan’s machine. Like the Grom, an ATC90 is tiny. Almost toy-like in its tininess. Look at Bond squatting on his getaway trike, and you know his knees are wishing they were back in the moon buggy.

The little Grom engine shares plenty with the ATC90 and other classic Honda singles. 2014 Honda Grom. Honda photo.

You get a four-speed, dual-range transmission with semi-automatic shifting, like a CT90 of the same era. Suspension? No need. Those colossal balloon tires ensured you might be shaken, not stirred.

I spoke with the seller, and he says it currently runs. The front fender is damaged, but eBay has replacements. The rear tires hold air for a week, then get low. You could maybe fix that with about 15 gallons of Slime and some Shoe Goo. Alternatively, get some adapters and run a more conventional wheel setup. New Honda balloon tires are seriously expensive, so you’ll either want to take good care of the repaired originals or retrofit a different wheel/tire combo.

Maybe best of all: you'll probably be the only one of your friends with a real James Bond vehicle. Aston Martin DB10? $3.3 million. A 1964 DB5? $1.1 million. On the lower end, a 1977 Lotus Esprit S1? $22,000. Even the 2012 CRF250R from Skyfall will run you around $3,500. But you can thumb your nose and your throttle at the world by bringing home Bond on a budget for $750. To offset the cost of such an undertaking, Common Tread will offer $100 ZillaCash to the purchaser of this Honda trike. Before you start dialing, make sure you read the stipulations:

Terms and conditions of the Craigslist Honda ATC90 $100 ZillaCash reward

  1. You must be the actual purchaser of the Craigslist trike in question. You must provide a photo of yourself shaking hands with the seller after a done deal. I now pronounce you man and trike. Send that photo to andy.greaser@revzilla.com, and we’ll go from there.
  2. You must provide a photo of yourself dressed as James Bond on the ATC90 at some point, preferably with at least one wheel in the air.
  3. To collect the ZillaCash, you need to have a RevZilla account I can apply it to. If you don’t have an account, we can always set one up for you. No, ZillaCash cannot be substituted for other forms of payment, including regular cash, U-Haul rentals, or money towards existing Craigslist projects you need funds for.
  4. You might receive an email from me at some point asking about a follow-up article, because I want to see it.
  5. You understand that you are buying an old Honda trike, and that the author does not express or imply any guarantee that this is a sound financial decision. The author takes no responsibility for your mechanical abilities, riding abilities, or inevitable scouring-the-internet-for-parts abilities. The author takes no responsibility for any consequences of this purchase, including spousal outrage or a sudden compulsion to drink vodka martinis.

Author’s note: Please be respectful of Mike and his ATC90. If you’re serious about saving this beauty, give the man a call and see where it goes. We strive to give nothing less than an excellent experience to everyone we encounter here at Common Tread, and ask you to do the same. If you’re not sure about adding an ATC90 to your life, don’t hesitate to email me.