Monkey bikes, also known as the Honda Z series, are a set of almost toy-like minibikes created by Honda. They have a fascinating history behind them, which began in 1961 with the first of the series. The Honda Z100 was initially designed for Tama Tech, an amusement park owned by Honda in the 1960s, and for Honda’s Suzuka circuit. Sporting a white fuel tank over a diminutive red frame, 5-inch wheels and powered by a 50cc four-stroke engine, the Z100 became popular with park visitors. Because riders resembled monkeys while hunched over the little Z100, the nickname ‘monkey bike’ was coined.
Monkey bikes started gaining popularity in Japan, and Honda began producing them en masse for use on roads in 1963 with the CZ100, an upgrade of the Z100. The Honda Z50J began production in 1973 for the European and Japanese markets. In its first few years of production, it was the same as its American counterpart, the Honda Z50A, but in 1978 Honda dropped the Z50A from its American motorcycle line-up. The European Z50J, however, continued to evolve until 1999.