Honda MB5 (MB-50 SA)

This is the story of the MB5 65cc ripper that could pull power wheelies!

The first part of this story is much the same as that of the MT5/100cc Supermoto thats has its story on this site, but there are some differences, not a worry if you haven’t read the other story yet of course!

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Unlike the MT5 the MB5 was actually done quite quickly really and within 9 months it was complete enough to ride even tho I was a ‘povo student’ at the time and couldn’t afford to tax/insure it so couldn’t actually use it..

I already had built an MT5 a few months before that I salvaged as a 'spares or repair' from the Honda dealer in Portsmouth and I fitted it with an Autissa 65cc kit that I bought from Charlie Williams in Chester along with Gianelli pipe. When I tried to sell the MT5, no one wanted it tuned, so I put it back to standard and the pipe was destined to be used the MT5 when I fitted a 70cc kit (later to be swapped out for a H100 100cc engine) but the Autissa 65cc kit went on the MB, along with an OEM Sports head I picked up for a bargain £8 from Rafferty Newman when they were still located in their huge shop and did a lot of Mitsui Yamaha’s slow moving parts.

The dented and rusty tank was changed for a white one from Lytchett Minster (you can see it in the pic at the top of the page) and I spent ages sanding and painting it with cans of Holts gloss black from Halfords and then fitted the last set of decals Honda UK could lay their hands on. It all went smoothly and the paint was very resistant to fuel actually which was lucky.

Like with the MT, some of this story appeared on the now defunct MT5 website ( which I used to write for back in the day. I did a bunch of technical articles about things like adding the rev counter drive to the MT engine, how to fit the MB5 disk front end to the MT etc etc, for those that have long memories... I have found an reproduced them on this site if you wanted to do that work: Link from here: MT50/MB5 Technical articles

Rather than mess with the MT first I started on the MB5 as it was most complete I think, but I don't really know why as it was the MT that was mostly of interest to me as I had one when I was 16-18, when I lived just south of Amsterdam.

Back then the law was that you could have a moped at 16 but nothing more until you were 18, so we all had mopeds, and of course they didn't remain standard for long at all... A few guys I knew had MB5s and some were rebadged MB80s, and I did race a few away from the lights back in the day, but I had never ridden one until this one was built... One guy I knew had a set of the OEM panniers, which were very cute and like mini briefcases, I wish I could have found a set for my bike, pure class!

I started with cleaning up and painting the frame and cycleparts and then dived into the motor. In fact the engine was full of water and I just rinsed it out with fuel and then put oil in once it was dry and I never split the cases. The crank felt 'ok' but I bet it wasn't in its first flush of youth but it was fine once the engine was built, lucky I guess as I stressed it with a big bore and it was fine.

I was on a tight budget and reused a lot of parts and I think I even reused the tyres which were good quality and in good nick.

These are tough bikes and even tho it had suffered over 10 years of teenager abuse, been crashed and finally left for dead, it wasn't really a hard restoration if I am honest. Getting NOS parts was tough back then as there was no 'net, so I spent days ringing breakers yards and Honda dealers from work, ahem... big thanks IBM!

I used to buy MCN back then and one afternoon on my way back from a lecture I saw a small ad for old stock Allspeed pipes where someone was selling off seconds. I rang him up from the next call box I found and he did me a black chrome pipe for 80quid delivered, a lot of money on my student grant!

It arrived and was mint, certainly not a second at all. I think no one was buying his old stock items back then as the MB5 was long out of production, and he was pleased to be rid. I had the pipe in my flat on the mantlepiece as a trophy for months.

Next holiday I rushed home, fitted the pipe and tuned the bike with a carb, bigger manifold, racing reeds and derestricted airbox parts I got from Holland.

This meant I could ditch all the old restricted UK parts and finally had a proper induction setup using the full airbox etc. That setup was the same as the MB80, so I knew it would work fine. And yes it did! The bike would power wheelie in 1st! Mental for a small bike and meant you needed to sit forward to ride it or it would freak you out. I detuned it a little after that as I didn't want to freak people out when rode it.

I actually insured the bike TPFT the minute I got it but never MOT'd it. My plan was to earn NCB. I paid 15quid a year insurance and so got my full NCB for about 60quid while never actually riding it anywhere, a safe way to build bonus I guess.

I didn't fancy riding a peaky moped on the streets to be honest and was biding my time for getting another bigger bike for road use and in 1995 my full NCB allowed me to get my new RD350R on the road nice n cheaply. Thanks little MB50!

In 1990’ish I bought two bikes from a guy in Totton, So'ton. UK... I think I paid ‘25quid the pair...’ I placed a WTB ad in the local Portsmouth paper and his mum rang me up and offered me them as she wanted rid... she was asking £100 I think, but when I got to their house there wasn’t much left of the bikes and what was there wasn’t that usable as he left them outside and people had vandalised and plundered them, plus he also stripped bits off and either sold or lost them. His mum was stood there with folded arms saying 'just bloody take em mate’, ‘no really he doesn’t want much for em' etc. He looked a bit shell shocked that his mum was sorting out his bikes and ‘giving them away’. When I gave him the money he said he was going to put it towards a kart so he could ‘rant it up n down the high street’. I think he was about 14. I nodded, mumbled 'cool', took the bikes away and didn’t look back. He also had a mid '70s twin RD125 there as well that he offered me for cheap, but I already had a car full of bikes... Oh, yes I stripped the parts and put them both in the car! There were all sorts of his mates hanging round whilst I stripped them and I was keeping an eye on my tools to be honest. At one point he seemed mightily impressed that I was putting the bolts back in the holes where they came from, I don’t think he had ever put one back together, just taken parts off bikes and then lost interest.

I was living near P'mouth at the time and after a few phone calls I found a scrapyard down in Lytchett Minster, between Poole and Bournemouth, who said they had a bunch of MB and MTs so I had a day trip down there and picked up a bunch of parts for something like £80. It was one of those places where you remove the parts yourself and all their stuff was in old shipping containers to keep it dry. It was probably originally tidy but by the time a few punters had been through them the bike parts were piled high in various dangerous stacks inside the containers and oil was all over the rotting wooden floors. To make it worse people had ripped bits off the bikes and dumped the bits they didn’t want on the floor or chucked it towards the back not caring if it was any good or if they damaged anything else in the process... It was mental, really quite dangerous and hard work... and worse still; the doors kept blowing shut! Being in the dark in that environment was 'interesting' to say the least. Luckily for me the MTs and MB's he had were mostly complete and he had enough bikes for me to get most of what I wanted. I got a better MB tank and loads of stuff like engine parts, switches, dashes and such like, plus their main shop sold me some aftermarket parts like ignition switches etc.

So, after all that I had mostly the two bikes I needed... I wanted to build an MB5 and an MT5 from the original wreckage from Totton... Little did I know that I would cart these bikes all over the UK as I moved about for work and keep these bikes for 'basically forever' and only sold them when I moved to Australia in 2005. Of course, I should have kept them really, they were with me longer than almost anything else i’ve owned...

Here is the haul all laid out on the lawn of my tiny rented house with no garage...

The bike became a fixture at my folks place and plenty of people (mostly my various girlfriends of the time) learnt to ride on it. In the end my Dad said it had to go as he wanted to put his car in the garage one winter and so he wanted to clean out the junk etc so I stripped it and took it home as by then I had a house with a garage. I cleaned it up as I reassembled it so it was mint again. It sort of lived as a museum piece after that along with my MT100 SM, as I had a bunch of bikes from KTM Enduros and SMs to R1 etc so never rode it much after that.

In the end I sold it to a chap from somewhere like Rotherham, who had a business making carbon fiber silencers for bikes, that was when I was living in Swindon in 2005. He bought my MT5/H100 supermoto as well. I also sold him all my boxes of MB/MT spares as I knew I wouldn’t need them anymore once the bikes were gone... it was a really sad day seeing his van drive away...

I hope he still has the bikes and has enjoyed them... would be nice if they turned up at a show sometime as i’d like to see they were still in one piece. JPH148V if you ever see it....

When it was almost done I had to head back to uni for my final year so ripped it all apart, bundled it in the car and took it to my folks place to live in their garage. On the way back to my rented flat I visited Deeside breakers and found a fairing complete with brackets! In my student flat I spent ages repairing the cracks and painting it up and my dad took the aftermarket smoked screen to work and had the boffins there clean up the melted and paint ridden surface. They did an ok job and I eventually finished it up by polishing when I was home for the hols, it looked fine and was an OEM fairing which was impossible to find even back then.

Over the years I added a few NOS parts as I bought a few expensive-but-necessary parts from Honda like the special bolt for the tool/oil compartment in front of the fuel tank and other small parts, but eventually found David Silver who supplied all sorts of goodies like new forks (£25 each) and shocks (10quid a side!). I also bought new wheels from them and should have bought a NOS seat, but I had already recovered the one it had and cash was short. I also found a NOS front mudguard but it was red, no black ones ever came up at Silvers back then, and I prepped and then painted it with plastic undercoat and the same Holts paint as the tank and it was great, didn’t chip at all. phew!

UPDATE! Fast forward to November 2014 and I get an email from a chap who’s found this site when he typed the registration number of the bike he’d just bought into Google. Yep you guessed it, he had found JPH 148V.

A bit of ‘net sleuthing and I found the ebay ad and the pics. It seems he bought it from the guy I sold it to, even tho the ad said the company had got it in a trade on 6months prior. All good I guess, as there are a billion white lies told on ebay daily.

Below I’ve reproduced the ebay ad:

From the photos it appears not to have been used much at all. I sold it at 28970.0 miles and it now shows 28972.9. The tyres are still the same 25+ year old set and the tax disk holder still has the paper insert that they were sold with, not a tax disk, and even the key still has the blue keychain.

While it looks to have not had much love during the years and it does appear to have been left to gather dust, it has to be said that it’s obviously not been mistreated as the paintwork still shines, not bad for a spray job from a can and a lot of polishing! Sadly, it’s said the wheels are rusty which is a shame, they were new. The Gibson Allspeed pipe looks mottled too and that black chrome finish is hard to redo.

The buyer intends to show it which is cool. There were a lot of new or NOS or very rare things on this bike, it even has an original ‘oil fill info’ cardboard label on the oil tank... assuming its still there under the cover!

Hopefully in the future the new owner will send some pics of the bike at a show.