SMALL-BORE SPEEDER: HONDA MB5 LAND SPEED RACER

SMALL-BORE SPEEDER: HONDA MB5 LAND SPEED RACER

Tim Klostermann of Economy Chopper sets out to beat the M-AG 50cc land speed record…

For one year only (1982), the US market received the Honda MB5, a 50cc reed-valve two-stroke with a five-speed gearbox, oil injection, CDI ignition, counterbalancer, and a maximum output of 7 horsepower at 6000 rpm. The bike was essentially the US version of the Euro-spec MB50, available from 1979-88 — a surprisingly modern machine whose sophistication belied its small displacement:

“The MB5 was outfitted with all the equipment of a full-size motorcycle, including matching speedometer and tachometer, dashboard warning lights, and a full set of lights and turn signals. The result was a fully featured miniature masterpiece.” —Motorcycle Classics

Earlier this month at The One Moto Show, we came across this stunning MB5. It’s the work of Tim Klostermann of Economy Chopper, whose love affair with two wheels goes back to his teenage years:

“When I was about fifteen I asked my parents if I could get a motorcycle when I got my license. I was informed that was not going to happen. It pretty much sealed the deal for me.”

As soon as Tim was out of his parents’ house, he bought himself a ’72 Yamaha R5 — the predecessor of the RD350 — and acquired several more bikes over the years, though he didn’t start building them until 2013. When it came to this ’82 MB5, he had one clear goal in mind:

“I built the bike to race at Bonneville and attempt to beat the current AMA land speed record in the M-AG 50cc class.”

Keeping as much of the 80s style as possible, Tim set out to streamline and de-clutter the small-bore smoker. He detabbed the frame and had it nickel-plated, mounted a longer aftermarket swingarm, internally lowered the forks, and fabricated a whole host of new componentry: rearsets, swingarm struts, chain guard, brake/shifter linkage, and more.

Then there’s the engine:

“The engine has an inner rotor ignition, lightened crank, shaved head, cylinder porting, adjustable CDI, slightly larger than stock bore Dellorto carb, and some reed valve trickery.”

Tim will be hitting the Bonneville Salt Flats at the end of August, where he hopes to beat the M-AG 50cc class record of 70.314 mph. Good luck, Tim! Below, we get the full details on the project from Tim himself, as well as more gorgeous shots from photographer Teresa K (@teresakphoto).

Honda MB5 LSR: Builder Interview

• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.

My name is Tim Klostermann and my shop is Economy Chopper. When I was about fifteen I asked my parents if I could get a motorcycle when I got my license. I was informed that was not going to happen. It pretty much sealed the deal for me. As soon as I was out of the house at eighteen, I bought my first motorcycle — a 1972 Yamaha R5. Since then I’ve acquired a few more but didn’t start building them until 2013.

• What’s the make, model, and year of the door bike?

The bike is a 1982 Honda MB5.

• Why was this bike built?

I built the bike to race at Bonneville and attempt to beat the current AMA land speed record in the M-AG 50cc class.

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• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?

The bike is VERY 80’s looking to begin with. I wanted to keep that look but streamline it. I wanted it lower, longer, and with minimal clutter. Race bikes should look fast, even if they aren’t, lol! I also wanted to retain some age. The tank, wheels and fork lowers all have original paint. I like seeing some history in an old bike.

• What custom work was done to the bike?

The frame has been detabbed and nickel plated. It has an aftermarket swingarm (slightly longer). The forks have been internally lowered. I built the rearset brackets, swingarm struts, chain guard and brackets, the brake and shifter linkage, rear axle spacers, front wheel speedo drive delete/axle spacer, kickstart delete plug, tach drive delete plug, and steering damper frame mount. The top tree bar mounts have been machined off and now I’m running clip-ons.

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The engine has an inner rotor ignition, lightened crank, shaved head, cylinder porting, adjustable CDI, slightly larger than stock bore Dellorto carb, and some reed valve trickery.

• Does the bike have a nickname?

It does not have a nickname as of yet.

• Can you tell us what it’s like to ride this bike?

As you might have noticed, the bike has no seat. I had no intention of putting one on the bike when I started the build. Its main purpose is run in a straight line for a couple miles on a fairly smooth surface. I figured I didn’t need one. That said, it does have a fairly awkward riding position.

• Any upcoming plans to race it? Have you got a target speed in mind?

Yeah, I’m planning on heading for Bonneville the end of August. The current record for the class is 70.314mph. So anything above that would be nice!

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