Red Right Hand of Moto thinks inside the box…
The Honda Z series, better known as the Monkey, remains one of the most iconic and beloved motorcycles of all time. Introduced in the early 1960s, the bike was based on a children’s ride at a Japanese theme park. Most Z50 Mini Trail models featured a 49cc four-stroke OHV engine, a semi-automatic or manual transmission, and collapsible handlebars.
“The Z50 wasn’t just a minibike. It was (and is) an institution, a chunk of motorized nirvana on the scale of the Schwinn Sting Ray, and a machine that focused the attention of young boys (and some girls, no doubt) in a way that nothing else on earth could.” —Motorcyclist
Enter our friend Mike Schroeder from Montana’s Red Right Hand of Moto, whose “DirtyXL” Sportster and Honda CB650 we’ve previously featured. Mike splits his time between riding and building, based on the seasons:
“Living in Montana, I ride in the summer and build in the winter. It’s kind of the perfect scenario.”
Mike never had a Monkey or other bike as a young kid, so he decided it was time to rectify things. His buddy Morto helped him find a ’73 Z50 Monkey, and Mike got to work modifying the bike to his tastes:
“I love flat track racing so that’s the overall vibe of the build.”
He outfitted the bike with flat track-style bodywork, rebuilt the engine, fabbed up a high pipe with laser-engraved RRH logo, and more.
“After building the bike, it felt like it needed something more. The z50 is so tiny, it felt like a toy, so I figured, why not make it a life-size toy? Inspired by die-cast toys I used to love, I built a box, designed the wrap, and made the box.”
The result is one dreamy two-wheeled toy, which we got to see displayed at The One Moto 2022. Below, we talk to Mike for the story on this “FTZ50 Toy Box.”
Honda FTZ50: Builder Interview
• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.
Slightly obsessed with motorcycles, which I blame on my dad. I work at dealership so if I’m not selling them, I’m riding or building one in my small shop. Living in Montana, I ride in the summer and build in the winter. It’s kind of the perfect scenario.
• What’s the make, model, and year of the donor bike?
1973 Honda z50 Monkey.
• Why was this bike built?
It’s a personal project. I didn’t have a motorcycle as a young kid, so I decided it was time to get one.
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
There is just something awesome about small bikes and the Monkey is the ultimate mini. My buddy Morto tracked one down for me and I threw it in my work bench and got to work. I love flat track racing so that’s the overall vibe of the build.
After building the bike, it felt like it needed something more. The z50 is so tiny, it felt like a toy, so I figured, why not make it a life size toy? Inspired by die-cast toys I used to love, I built a box, designed the wrap, and made the box.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
FT style rear fender, seat, and number plate. Converted to standard-style handlebars and risers. High pipe with laser-engraved RRH logo. Tall piggyback shocks and lots of paint and powder coat. Rebuilt engine. Handmade toy box with vinyl wrap and Plexi windows.
• Does the bike have a nickname?
FTz50 Toy Box.
• Can you tell us what it’s like to ride this bike?
All smiles and fun as hell!
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
The box design and build process. I designed the wrap at home with inspiration from old die-cast toys. I’m no graphic artist but I dabble enough with Illustrator so I got it done. My smokin’ hot wife helped with the wrap install, which was trickier than expected, but the end result is perfect. It truly feels life a full-scale toy.