Exploring the Unknown

Exploring the Unknown

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Welcome Home Darwin - My 1976 Honda CT70!

Meet The New & Improved Darwin
My 1976 Honda CT70
Admittedly, it was tales of Percy Hart's quest to ride that put these small monkey bikes on my radar back in 2013. Whilst I had always noticed them it never occurred to me to actually buy one until recently. Having purchased Darwin, my '76 Honda CT70 back in January of this year from a former student of mine, I am happy to report that Mr. Antoine Noel has successfully completed his motorcycle course with Sur 2 Roues this spring with the money he received for the little CT70. 😎 Whilst Antoine has been studying hard and learning the basics on how to ride a motorcycle safely on Quebec roads (if you can call them roads), Darwin has spent the last four months at L'Amis Denis being restored back to health by a group of classic bike enthusiasts. To say that the little CT70 was worse for wear would be an understatement. However, the certified technicians at L'Amis Denis worked their magic and now Darwin is riding as well as can be expected for a motorcycle in need of an entirely new carburetor. 😏 *sigh

A Little Patina Goes A Long Way
Suffice it to say it wouldn't be an adventure if your newly restored CT70 still didn't have some gremlins lurking about. In fact, I could tell by Jennifer's face that she wasn't all that convinced Darwin would get me back home. "Nonsense", I thought to myself. It's only 7 km (4.34 miles) away! Famous last words if ever there were any. Though the technicians at the shop had gone over Darwin from top to bottom, they were open and honest and stated that the carburetor was done and dusted, but they did say they thought it should be fine to get me home. That rolled up piece of paper you see attached to Darwin's handlebars was an eBay listing for a newly refurbished carburetor and another for a complete carburetor rebuild kit. "Buy the refurbished one!" they told me. It's cheaper than the rebuild kit. Now if you are wondering why they didn't just order it themselves and later, charge me, who knows. At this point, I had my bike mojo on and I just wanted to ride. 

Mr. Antoine Noel & his Artistic Creation for My Course
Zen & The Art of Motorcycle Studies
(click to view more pictures)
No sooner did I confidently tell Jen that all would be well and that she could go home with Rhonda, our Kia Rondo, then I found myself stranded just outside Todd Beck's old tattoo shop in Lennoxville. It seems to be a part of the experience of motorcycle riding regardless of age or brand. It's inescapable and for good reason. It teaches us, if nothing else, that these machines are as finicky as they are fun to ride. As I found myself walking Darwin back towards L'Amis Denis, following the same motions that I have become all too acquainted with over my lifetime of walking bikes back to some destination, it gave me a chance to reflect on my love of motorcycles, be they old or new.  Two scooters rode by honking and making fun of me. "Little Fuckers", I thought. I was grateful that Darwin weighed so little, having sat on him and with my left leg, used him as a quasi skateboard at times to alleviate the effects of the unusually warm weather we were having on Friday. The silver lining was the thought, if not hope that Antoine had really used the money to get his motorcycle license. Some good must come of this. 😛

You Really Do Meet the Nicest People on A Honda
Peter's Honda CL350 - My Heroes!
The lads at L'Amis Denis seemed genuinely surprised to see me back so soon after just having left, albeit sweatier and slightly worse for wear compared to when I first arrived that morning. They managed to get Darwin running properly again, blaming the carburetor for the embarrassing mishap. As they were playing around with the carburetor, a very nice gentleman by the name of Peter approached me admiring Darwin. An avid bike restorer, he was telling me more about the little CT70 and like so many people who come across these little time capsules, I could see him reminiscing of happier yesteryears on one. After chatting and realizing that I was genuinely trying to have the little CT70 that could restored to its former glory, I could see him deciding that I was "good people". He proceeded to offer to follow me home on his Honda CL350, a bike that is a beautiful example of his attention to detail and desire to keep them as original as possible.

Lovely and Rare Scrambler Exhaust
Whilst uncertain if Darwin would make it home or not, I accepted his offer with the promise of an introduction to my lovely Bella and Bambi! Peter seemed quite happy to ride the short trip and probably would have done so even if I was riding a unicycle as the thought of seeing a Moto Guzzi V7 and a SYM Wolf (a curiosity to him) was too tempting an offer to pass up. Though he couldn't recall the encounter, I met Peter a year ago at a gas station in Lennoxville. He was filling up his CL350 and naturally, bikes are what draws most people to conversation with a complete stranger. He restores bikes on a regular basis and has been building cafe racers for forty years. A generous man, he's already stated that once he gets to know me better he'll happily invite me over to see the rest of his collection and maybe even show me how to weld. Best described as a dying breed a la Burt Munro, I found myself wishing I had a photographic memory. 

Darwin Made It Home In One Piece! 😅
As for Darwin, I am happy to report that he made it all the way home! Peter tells me that he sounded well and that no smoke was coming out of his exhaust. He seemed pleased with the little bike overall. As for myself, I have to confess that despite the initial comical start, Darwin was a blast to ride! Admittedly, I kept getting confused with regards to gearing and inevitably nearly popped a wheelie more than once, albeit unintentionally. Whilst his progress up hill is not unlike the dismal performance of Mr. T, my former Yamaha TW200, the little CT70 wasn't built for the kind of performance that one expects from even a Honda Grom. His maximum speed was roughly 40 to 50 kph (24 to 31 mph). Whilst not stellar, its perfect for in and around town. I found the little bike to be as every bit as forgiving and comfortable as the reviews said it would be. Despite my initial disappointment with having to get a new carburetor, admittedly the ride home convinced me that it would be worth it. There is something about riding a classic motorcycle that its contemporaries just can't compete with. If nothing else, its because of this classic little fella that I had the opportunity to meet Peter and his Honda CL350. It just goes to show that you really do meet the nicest people on a Honda!

Looking To Have Your Bike Serviced or Restored?
John Létourneau
L'Amis Denis Sherbrooke, 
294 Queen St, Sherbrooke, 
QC J1M 1K6 
Phone : (819) 565-1376


  1. What's the phrase, nothing worth having comes easy? I dunno. Love that lil thang, one could say the journey is half the fun. No more cliche's, look forward to more installments, Bro.