The Monkey Bike is an accident of history; a vehicle that was never meant to exist. Developed by Honda in the 1960s as something kids could ride around a new testing circuit at Suzuka, the bikes were a cheap afterthought. But then something funny happened: the world fell in love with them.
Faced with a chronic lack of space in the inner city, Tokyo residents began using these tiny 50cc bikes as a way to get around. And since no-one really wanted to ride a child's bike, people began modifying and customising them. Honda meanwhile, realised what was going on and started developing models aimed at a young inner city market.
40-something years later, monkey bikes are experiencing an international resurgence. While they’ve long been popular on the streets of Tokyo – and you’ll see ridiculous mods – the increasing density of European and US cities has seen a burgeoning export market. That same market has been killed locally as of February 1st due to federal intervention.
Because the Australian Attorney-General doesn’t trust any of us to sit the right way round on a toilet – let alone drive a kids motorbike – Monkey Bikes have now been banned in the country. Apparently they’re “dangerous for riders, pedestrians, other vehicles on the road and other people using parks and open spaces." And all we wanted to do was see how many buses we could jump in one of these things while being on fire… no fair.
Shake your fist and read the sadness