Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Bike in a suitcase: 1982 Honda Motocompo

The Tokyo Metropolitan area is the most populous metropolitan area in the world, with a population of 2,600 people per square kilometer.  As you can imagine, finding a place to park your car is a bit of a challenge, and once you find a spot, you wouldn't want to lose it.  Leave it to Honda to come up with a trunk bike for your Kei car, so you can keep your parking space.  Find this 1982 Honda Motocompo for sale in Kirkland, WA for $3,250 via craigslist.

The Motocompo was developed by Honda in the early 80's as a collapsible scooter that would fit into the trunk of their Honda City Kei-class car.  It was powered by a 49cc aircooled two stroke engine producing around two-and-a-half horsies.  Its claim to fame was that the seat, handlebars and foot pegs would fold into a rectangular body with hand grips that you could wrestle into the trunk of your car.  It weighed in at about 100 lbs wet, so depending on who you are and if you ate your Wheaties, it might be an even match.

Not a lot of details in the CL ad on the specific bike, like how did it get here (trunk of a car?), title, registration, etc.  It looks a little scratched up on the "down" side from riding around in a trunk no doubt.  They made about 50,000 of them for the JDM and used western themes to hawk them.  Check out the cool Japanese brochure for the Motocompo featuring the U.K. Ska Band Madness.

The Mighty Car Mods guys just did an episode on the Motocompo, but I never expected to find one in my local List o' Craig.  

See a better way to get a hundred miles from yesterday night? email us here: tips@dailyturismo.com

Gianni is Daily Turismo's Pacific Northwest correspondent.


  1. Nice one G! I happen to have a Motocompo myself. It's apart for a rebuild and cosmetic restoration right now. Will write it up for DT soon...

    1. Cool. Love to hear about it. They look like fun (but maybe not $3,000 fun...)

    2. I completely agree. I've got a brace of doodlebug pit bikes for $500 on my local CL. While they're nowhere near as civilized or useful as a Motocompo, they do take 6.5hp $100 harbor freight engines rather well, and I guarantee they'd rip a Motocompo in a drag race, and carry a higher top speed to boot.

      The real problem is that you have to register this as a motorcycle in Ohio if you want to use it on the street, so something like this makes a much better argument for itself for a smaller outlay: http://dayton.craigslist.org/mcy/5905453961.html

    3. Yeah the Motocompo was never fast, but it sure is quirky and fun. Got mine as a hand-me-down from my high school physics teacher after it had been donated "in the name of science." We ran several experiments including in-motion rocket launches via Estes launch rod and blast shield affixed to the handlebars at about 20 degrees from horizontal. This is when I learned that model rockets do not like to fly in any direction but up. Imagine kids doing that on high school grounds today - there would be an immediate Homeland Security lockdown and you'd never hear from me again.

      As you could probably imagine, a lifetime of tomfoolery was hard on this little bike. So earlier this year I scored a ton of very nice replacement parts through a friend that was on work assignment in Japan. Currently I need to de-rust the spindly little tube frame and repaint it, then start reassembly.

    4. I'd love to put one in my stable (in the trunk of something, probably) but if the price point on this one is typical of the market, I don't think it's happening.

      Maybe I should homebrew a suitcase bike...

    5. Market price for these is pretty ridiculous in the states, even clapped-out examples. In Japan the prices are just as high, but everything's expensive there, so I think it's actually a better value in the home market. Plus the fact that the average 30 year old motorcycle in Japan would be classed as mint condition here in the states - they take much better care of their physical possessions there.

      It wouldn't be too hard to build your own suitcase bike. Disassembling a Motocompo, you can see what Honda did was mostly parts bin engineering. They started with an existing step-thru Scooter engine/drivetrain/swingarm combo (it has a CVT and an encased drive; the whole thing swings on one mounting bolt, including the engine). Throw away the step-thru frame and fabricate a mini spaceframe out of thin-wall steel tube, no bigger than about 1/2" OD except for the head. Shorten the forks, swap on smaller wheels, repackage all the mechanical & electrical gubbins inside the new frame. The seat's on a simple scissor lift style linkage to raise and lower it. Handlebars have a long tie bolt that runs down into the fork top clamps, and the bars and clamps both have 4 chunky dogs for engagement. The tie bolt's connected to the big plastic knob on top of the handlebar for tightening and loosening. Plastic body was bespoke but you could make a wooden buck and lay up some fiberglass to make a similar design.

  2. How about the RD400 in the background?
    Ring-a-ding-ding, baby!

  3. I love me some Motocompo action (first thing I thought of was the Mighty Car Mods bit on the motocompo), but this price is approaching Honda Grom territory.

  4. Was shopping for a Honda 500 Interceptor and found one the owner had 2 of these Honda suitcases he also had a shorty VW van and a few other toys.


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