Dax and Monkey – Honda’s little racers

1968 ST 50 DAX

In France and England, CZ and Z models were already present in the mid-sixties. The German Teenie-Magazine “Bravo” and the TV youth programme “Hallo Freunde” presented Honda’s tiny bike, but rather conservatively as “Pfiffikus”. The breakthrough definitely came in this country with the ST 50 and 70 Dax: a successful concept, with two seats and a sporty touch.

While the SS 50 made its debut as the successor to the C 110 as early as autumn 1964, Honda began work on a prototype of a larger version of the Monkey minibike in 1968. The new version was also to be designed for two-person operation.

In addition, a 70 cc engine was built to meet customer demands for more power in terms of off-road riding and more speed over longer distances. For this purpose, the new 50 cc ohc engine was bored from 39 to 47 mm – unlike the C 65 unit, which with a 44 mm bore only reached full power at 10,000 rpm.

The first prototype that emerged was very similar to the first series produced, which came onto the market in 1969. The only differences were a smaller headlight and a small, initially round speedometer. The seat, which was clearly designed for a second passenger, had a kind of adapter to which the exhaust was attached.

The holes in the heat shield were punched in a horizontal striped pattern. Directly on the front fork was the front mudguard. There were no side emblems, instead two Honda logos pressed from aluminium were bolted directly to the frame – between the front fork and the seat.

The Keihin round slide carburettor had a larger passage than the Monkey component, the intake manifold had a 90-degree angle – unlike on the SS 50, where the air filter had to be hidden in the frame and did not sit in a funny cylinder box with chrome caps.

A rev counter was also dispensed with on the prototype. As on the Monkey Z 50, the two handlebar halves were fixed by hard rubber toggles in V-shaped recesses in the upper triple clamp – and opened and folded down in an instant so that the mini bike could be easily stowed in the boot or fit on the back seat. For export, the newcomer was given the nickname Dax (derived from dachshund).

The ST 70 got its name because of its elongated T-shape in the frame, the rear of which also concealed the small tank – analogous to the Super Cub under the seat. Thus the entire chassis looked quite similar to the physique of this dog breed. The ST 70 Z model was equipped with the usual foot-shifted three-speed gearbox, automatic centrifugal clutch and a sporty camshaft.

The production versions received a larger headlight and a triangular speedometer. Especially for the US market, Honda built a second model in the same year, which – based on the ST 70 – was called Trail CT 70. This model was built mainly for the purpose of riding on unpaved country roads and rougher terrain.

At the same time, Honda also produced the Dax for the European market – which admittedly took some time, as each country in Europe had different legislation and registration regulations.

In 1970, the first European Dax machines were sold and bore the name KI. Initially, the STs were sold in Europe in two versions. In addition to the ST 70 – especially for the German market – there was a throttled 50 cc version called ST 50 GE (= General Export) from 1973.

1969 ST 70 DAX

The ST 50 was sold as a mokick with an insurance plate, the ST 70 as a motorbike (from the age of 18, it could only be purchased with the then class 1 driving licence). This version officially ran only 40 km/h, had a flywheel with centrifugal ignition adjustment as a throttle, a smaller carburettor and a cylinder head with a smaller intake, but still a standard camshaft.

Besides the usual ST 70, Honda produced a special edition called the “White Dax” or “Lady Dax”. It was white with white, black and green decals and a seat that had a green flower pattern on top. This model – like the US variant CT 70 with manual clutch and four-speed gearbox, by the way – is one of the sought-after variants today and is rarely found in its original condition.

In 1972, the ST 90 made a brief appearance on the market. It was the big brother of the Dax and was therefore also called “Mighty Dax” – which fitted perfectly into the new US advertising strategy “From Mighty to Mini. We have it all”. For the drive, Honda had used the 90 cc engine – to refine the CT 90 trail series, which sold magnificently for light terrain. Its 14-inch wheels earned the ST 90 the nickname “Fat Harry” – unfortunately, it was only offered in the USA and was only on sale there for three years.

In Great Britain, on the other hand, a version in candy brown with yellow, black and white stripe decoration was also offered. The last ST 50 and ST 70 models for Europe were followed by the CY 50 (international designation: “Naughty Dax”), a different vehicle concept with an upright cylinder head, plastic mudguards, thicker tyres – this was intended to make the successor suitable for salt water and use on the beach.

However, Honda continued to produce the CT 70 for the USA. It was already equipped with a hydraulic front fork (KI version) in 1972. There were small changes in each model year: a separate speedometer, different rear lights, plastic mudguards, different décor, a black exhaust and different heat shields.

In 1973, Honda ended production of the CT 70 KII (H-series) with manual clutch and four-speed transmission, but continued to offer the three-speed semi-automatic variant of the CT 70.

More on the history of the small Honda models in:

Gerfried Vogt-Möbs, Little Honda – The legendary small motorbikes Super Cub, Dax, Monkey.
1st edition 2021
ISBN: 978-3-667-11678-9
Delius Klasing

Text Delius Klasing Photos Honda Motor Company

Author: Delius Klasing

Delius Klasing is one of the leading special interest publishers in Europe. Founded in Berlin in 1911, the company with the current headquarters in Bielefeld can look back on more than a century of publishing history. The available program includes around 1300 book titles, with around 120 new publications added every year.

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