Davin and the crew in the Redline Rebuild garage love a giant project, but they love a tiny one, too. Especially since even their small-scale projects are pretty involved. The latest full rebuild to begin is also the first to be finished. That’s right, the 1973 Honda CT70 is done. Might have something to do with the number of parts … Or maybe the fact that Davin used his phone as much as he did the wrenches.
The CT70 is better known at the Trail 70 and served as a literal and figurative jumping-off point for the lifelong passion of many gearheads. Honda introduced the little trail machine in 1969 and produced it until 1981 without changing much. With a lay-down, single-cylinder four-stroke engine, the CT70 is easy to maintain and has enough power to scoot around most adults, although with slightly less vigor that it would a lightweight kid. The easy-to-use, clutchless three-speed gearbox most models featured meant that just about anyone could operate one—and get hooked on the fun of two wheels.
Davin enjoys a motorcycle ride as much as the next guy, but the shop is his happy place. He didn’t hesitate for a second when this bright orange model popped up for sale in the Traverse City, Michigan, area. It was more than a little tired, but the pint-sized bike was complete. “It was really a perfect restoration candidate,” Davin says, sitting atop the finished bike in the Redline Garage. “Everything was there, and it hadn’t been cut up or really abused.”
That made for a quick teardown that left only the bare stamped-steel frame on the workbench. Davin then realized this machine was a little bit outside his normal piston-powered projects. Out came the phone and soon on the other end of the line was Trail Buddy Inc in Zeeland, Michigan. The crew there served as the expert resource for Davin throughout the Trail 70 restoration process. In fact, it was Trail Buddy that helped rebuild the front forks and sprayed the frame with three-stage orange-candy paint.
The 700cc thumper was all Davin, though. “A little engine like this is great for beginners to learn, and really fun for experienced folks, too. There aren’t a lot of parts but they all work just the same as they would in a bigger and more complicated engine,” says Davin. Add in that most, if not all, parts you will need for a rebuild are available and fairly affordable, and you have a great project candidate.
The paint was not the only item for which Davin called in the experts. From the final cam-chain tension adjustment to his dad stopping in to re-cover the seat, this project evolved into a serious group effort. Davin admits the process was more involved than he expected, but he’s still adamant about telling folks to undertake similar projects themselves. “There is nothing wrong with phoning the experts or reaching out in-person to someone who knows more than you do. No one knows everything, and the friends you will make in those conversations can last a lifetime.”
With any luck, this Honda CT70 will last just as long. Where will Davin take this little adventure-ready bike? We don’t even know, but if you want to find out, and discover what is next for the other projects in the Redline Rebuild garage, subscribe to the Hagerty Youtube channel and wait for the weekly updates like the rest of us. We promise it’ll be worth the wait. — Kyle Smith
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