One Honda Chaly CF70; on a plus note it turns over, there are no other pluses

Strangest Salvation – Honda Chaly Challenge Part 1

I have a bad feeling about the forks luckily they don’t carry oil, just rustWith winter approaching, the search was on for another resto to help ease through the darker days; what could be more appropriate for a couple of ‘grease monkeys’ than a CF70 Honda Chaly. Cries of ‘are you mad’ & ‘why bother’?? Are now ringing in my ears! Because we get bored quickly and it will be fun…hopefully. Although not strictly from the Monkey Bike/DAX family, over the decades its 10 inch rims and 5.5 hp single four stroke has bundled the Chaly under the same banner; certainly in parts of Asia. Slightly taller frame / seat height than its famous diminutive cousin our automatic (three speed) wonder enjoys that extra 20cc’s over the early DAX models plus the facility for those over 4ft to enjoy as a daily driver. You see, no self-respecting youth can be without one of Honda’s ‘taller transporter for the masses’ in parts of Thailand and Malaysia and these kids do know how to modify! Their aftermarket potential is massive, lowered street cruisers or minimalistic speed machines, to off road quad types, the options are endless. Many ‘home-builds’ are brilliant whilst just as many are terrible…we hope to get somewhere in-between. A quick Google images reveals some phenomenal engineering including an all chrome finished example; the whole bike! Their cult following is certainly extraordinary and it all started with a lady’s shopper.

History Lesson

Spiders, old grease, mud and rust it’s not a concours lookIn the early 1970’s not only had music lost its way…Dana with ‘All kinds of everything’ and Clive Dunn’s offering Grandad (you had to have been there) are just examples. Motorcycling too was on a downward spiral, especially for the Japanese home market. Biking had earnt a reputation for ‘the rebel’ and whilst the UK mods and rockers were still enjoying fisticuffs by the seaside Stateside gangs had progressed to weapons with drug dealing, all of which reflected on the motorbike. Small cars were cheap and becoming ever more desirable and so Honda’s two wheeled management realised something had to change. A step-through version of the DAX, for the mini skirted younger lady who wanted to maintain some dignity boarding her machine, was conceived in 1969 and introduced to our roads by 1973. The CF70K2 Chaly arrived in 1978 and this little beauty was one of the last sold as Honda evidently de-listed the UK model in 1980; although, the majority of examples displayed on line seem to be from this era. So, the bike that began life as a city shopper for girls, complete with basket, has become a must for the average testosterone filled male in parts of Asia; oh and two old idiots in Sussex.

We’ll Meet Again

The speedo bought it before it could reach 3747 miles, can we fix it NoThe market for modified mopeds is enjoying a prosperous period at the moment, some of the designs created around quite ordinary machines such as the NSU Quickly and C90 Cub’s are most impressive. We were looking in that direction until a friend reminded me of the Chaly rusting away in his lockup. There is history with this actual machine, it was our paddock bike when we raced saloon cars around the UK in the 90s. It never failed to start, was ridden without consideration and never ever checked for oil or in fact enjoy any maintenance at all, beyond air and fuel. Thrown into the corner of the garage or the back of a van it offered the team nothing but total reliability whilst we rarely offered it a passing glance. ‘Do you fancy having a go at that old Chaly?’ I was asked ‘it hasn’t the basket attached, lost that years ago’ as if that would raise the price. The answer came without any thought installed at all ‘sure’. The old Honda arrived courtesy of delivery within Ian Owen’s trusty Transit. Our new project was registered in 1982 with two previous owners in the book and it looks like a bike last road ridden around 20 years ago, (the final time it enjoyed a tax disc) certainly much rougher than I remember. Saying that she’s complete and the 72cc piston moves up and down inside the barrel and its automatic, a three speed (CF70C model) and unlike most Chaly’s the wiring enjoys 12 volts. The oil in the motor is darker than deep space and the fuel tank contains a liquid with a pungent odour I can’t really describe; anyway its off. It fairs little better with the seat, paint and chrome whilst the instrument panel has lost a fight with a breeze block, the exhaust is in two parts, the front section end remains alone, stuck in the head.

A Home for the Winter

Bought a new welder, lucky old Alan knows how they workOne thing we are desperate to avoid this resto is working through the cold months on a tiled floor surrounded by bits of broken Honda, I therefore had a cunning plan. Take one old work bench on wheels and using my newly acquired Sealey Mig-Mate non-gas welder (very good machine) construct a frame to attach the monkey for that near perfect working height. We are both getting on a bit, if Alan was a dog he’d be 420 (honest) but he is still first to the table for a fry up. Age doesn’t slow his mastery of the Mig-mate and with the able assistance of the wife our Chaly was lifted into place and secured; he then installed the parts washer in the perfect place right under the bike. Now we plan to work outside on the pleasant autumn days and stay snug over the worst of the winter….as you get older these things become important. You know it’s going to be a long job when removing the old exhaust and centre stand requires an angle grinder but the biggest dilemma remains, what style or look are we trying to achieve? We have just assumed that because the Chaly is Honda built it will work, ‘probably just needs a carb clean’ I tell myself with confidence. One thing is certain, we will not be letting the chaps of the Far East down with a ‘back to original’ rebuild, no this time we are looking to the dark side and the art of modification; we want to show them young guns a thing or two. So, now I have opened my mouth and promptly shot myself in the foot, we discuss the options as the old CF70 slowly comes apart. Fighting every nut and bolt with or without lashings of WD40 becomes boring after a while so I sneak of and delve into some of those famous Thai websites! You know the sort…certificate 18 with loads of bling for the Monkey Bike pervert.

Split Rims

Split rims and water combine to produce rusty inner tubes and long hoursOnce mounted securely upon our new bike bench the first parts to remove are the wheels and whilst the bearings seem to offer little movement the forks offer too much sideways shuffle at the base. The brakes are operated from the handlebars on the automatic version so there is footbrake to consider and the cables seem to just require a light oil. The tyres are shot but removing them is a doddle as Monkey bikes enjoy a variety of rim sizes but common amongst all is the ability to split, provided the fastenings are not seized. Nine bolts hold the rims together including those securing the three spoke hub/centres which house the drum brakes, speedo drive etc. and sprocket to the rear. Lashings of lube and my 18 bolts released, the rims detach from the tyres reluctantly as the corrosion sticks onto the rubber. Water trapped between the inner tube and steel can rot them out from the inside, we got lucky, finding only surface rust and a quick trip to the blaster brings pleasing results. While I am on a roll, grey primer is lavished where the inner tube will return, whilst a white finish is applied on the exterior; this will allow for a light coloured finish should we choose. Removing all the easy bits first the next to release its 35-year-old grip is the shocking seat unit and after years with a torn cover the foam followed suit and split in sympathy but we were already planning a reduction in the seat height with an alternative covering. The original foam can be cut back once peeled from the base (more signs of water ingress) whilst the beige cover is bin fodder; the base will obviously need a severe de-rust and re paint. The fuel tank is drained and removed with no problems and the rear light/number plate holder just fell off. So, pleased with our days labour we enjoy ‘beer-o’clock’ as always; although it does seem to be getting earlier as we get older. Chatting over a cold one there may be plenty to raise concern, not least the parts issue but now there is no going back, so in about 30 days’ time the Chaly challenge continues here at

Classic Honda CF50-CF70 BrochureNext time:

We strip down (the Chaly) in the last of the year’s sunshine

Smelly seat gets the chop, well its foam does whilst the base enjoys a de-rust

And a fight with a pair of forks breaks out on my driveway