Area51 Project - Steve's Mini 70 ATC:


Machine Specs:


1982 Honda Mini 70 ATC

70cc Single Cylinder Four Stroke (stock)

4 Speed Manual - Auto Clutch

Chain Drive

New: Lifan 125cc 4 speed with auto clutch

Piranha Stainless Exhaust

16x8x7 CarlisleTires

Drum Brakes Rear

No Front or Rear Suspension

Douglas Racing 1-piece Polished Aluminum Wheels

White Fenders, Blue Seat

Honda 50 Chrome Headlight


Project from the Great White North, submitted by Steve Smith, NWT.


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   December 24, 2017, 2017


Then & Now


Quick Snapshot of the progress of Steve's awesome Honda ATC Mini70 restoration.



I have been on the hunt for a 80ís Honda ATC 70 for a while now. I already have the big brother, a 1985 Honda ATC 250 ES ĎBig Redí which I stumbled across the fall of 2014.  This story begins with the sighting of an ATC 70 in the community I am working in the Northwest Territories. I saw it whipping down the road and about a week later I finally found the owner. A deal was struck and I dragged it home. The good: Itís a 1982 Honda ATC 70 and it runs, I actually rode it prior to buying it. It is complete, the only OE part missing was the seat cover ( the foam was still there) and rear grab handle. The bad: This thing is in rough shape. In order to do this right, it would need to be stripped to the frame and rebuilt from the ground up. Although all of the OE parts are there, all the bearings were loose, chain was slack and rusty, brakes were non-existent, the tires were literally held together with plugs and so on.

I have read a ton about these mini trikes and knew they were pretty simple to work on. There is not a lot to them and you can work on them in a relatively small space, which is convenient as my 11'x13' workshop doubles as storage for 2 quads.


My first work day on Project Mini Trike started with a once over and then I began stripping it down to determine just what parts would have to be ordered. I came armed with cardboard boxes, zip lock bags of all sizes, zip ties, sharpies and my camera to take photos as I went to ensure it all goes back together correctly, and of course document the process.


The good: The bike is in excellent shape. For a machine that is 33 years old, the frame, fork, engine and drive train are all in good shape. There are no bends or dents in the frame and surprisingly enough, the skid plate is still there and intact; just a few small dents to hammer out.


The bad: As with many projects from the North, people do not always have access to the proper parts, tools and supplies needed to repair a project when things break. Project Mini Trike was no exception to this. I pulled the rear wheels off and noted that someone had lost one of the castle nuts and opted to use a vehicle lug nut in its place. The down side is that it messed up the threads pretty bad on the axle. The frame and axles are 2 of the hardest parts to replace on these mini trikes as they are becoming harder and harder to find, especially in good shape. I will have to inspect just how bad the damage is and see if I can salvage the axle. The wheels on these mini trikes are a 2 piece wheel bolted together with a gasket in between. The rear wheel that also had the axel nut issue had some serious wear issues on the lug holes, it appears someone let the lugs go loose and it caused the holes to wear quite badly. I will definitely have to replace one wheel. All the tires need to be replaced, which I was expecting.  After pulling the entire rear end apart, I discovered the reason why the brakes did not work; no brake pads! The drum was still there and appeared to be in decent shape; lots of wear left and no signs of stress cracks.  The rear axle bearing has seen better days and will also be replaced. The brake cable is stiff, so I will inspect it closer later and determine if it is salvageable or not.


With the engine pulled, everything is looking pretty good. The chain was quite slack; it seems someone decided not to adjust the chain tensioner which over time caused the chain to put some pretty good dents in the chain case cover. On a positive note, the sprockets are all in good shape and the tensioner is not seized. Up at the front end, I pulled the front wheel off and decided that the front wheel bearing and fork bearings will be replaced. The grips have seen better days and will also be replaced. The throttle cable seems to be in good shape and is free moving. Unfortunately the rear fenders on this ATC are cracked and both the front and rear have been painted poorly. The tank was also painted and will need to be refinished. With the mini trike now stripped to the frame, I moved on to the motor. I pulled the recoil assembly and found that there is just one single tooth left to catch when pulling it over. The recoil will definitely be a priority item and need to be either rebuilt or replaced.

The direction I want to go with on Project Mini Trike is completely different than the original. The ATC 70 was first introduced in 1971 and was made for 14 years ending in 1985. During that time over 22 million were manufactured for sale world-wide. With that in mind, the aftermarket is huge for these little guys. In the 1980ís many of Hondaís ĎRí line of racing bikes had red or black painted frames, white fenders, blue and red decals and gold wheels. There were many chrome or polished aluminum accessories as well.

This is the look I wanted for my 70 so I began my search for parts and found a great Canadian website located in Brantford, Ontario. They specialize in parts for all Honda minis and have a great selection of new old stock (NOS) Honda parts and custom aftermarket parts. The owner Dennis is a great source for information and fantastic to deal with. In speaking with Dennis, I ended up going with some upgrades which will make Project Mini Trike a lot different from when it rolled off the assembly line in 1982.

I've searched eBay for OE wheels and found that a wheel in decent shape shipped can be pretty costly. Dennis offers Douglas Racing polished aluminum 1-piece wheels and Carlisle Ďholeshotí style tires which are a very nice upgrade to the OE 2 piece Honda wheel. Given the unique look I want to go with, I ordered 3 wheels and tires. To replace the cracked and poorly painted factory plastics, I ordered a full set of white plastics that are designed to fit over the Douglas Racing wheels and larger tires. These are not factory but are the top of the line aftermarket fender kit for the ATC 70ís. Dennis offers decal kits which match the original 1982 Honda stickers, so a set of these will be coming as well. For the seat Dennis has a lot of choices, I decided to go with a smooth finish blue seat. This will accent the new blue decals and pull together the 80ís ĎRí look I am going for.

I mentioned previously that the grab handle that mounts behind the seat was missing. Well, Dennis carries an aftermarket replacement which is made of heavier tube stock and is triple chrome plated. This will be a nice looking piece that will function perfectly.


With the first order of parts on their way, I went to work on stripping the frame down for paint. The frame was in excellent shape, no dents or bends and very minimal surface rust. The frame came from the factory all black but I wanted to switch this to red. Honda is iconic for its bright red colour and I wanted to keep this a part of the build. I used wire brushes, sandpaper, picks and tooth brushes to clean all the dirt and grease from the frame. After that, I switched to wire wheels, sand paper, files and steel wool to get the surface down to pretty well all bare metal. I did the same with the chain guard cover and drum brake cover, then used a series of body work hammers and mauls to knock out the dents in each.

In speaking with my brother, he had been using Dupli-Color paints from Canadian Tire with success. I made a trip into Yellowknife and was able to score enough primer, colour and clear coat to finish the frame and tins. Back at the shop, I finished prepping the frame and tins and completely masked off/covered everything in the shop. I suspended the frame from the ceiling and began spraying primer. I used Dupli-Colour etching primer for a total of 4 coats to give a nice solid base, doing a light sanding between each coat.


I let this harden for a couple of days and then started on the colour coats which was Dupli-Color Perfect Match ĎVictory Redí which was a close match to the Honda factory red, but with just a little more pop. I did 4 coats of colour and again did light sanding between each coat. I also picked up some tack cloths which work great ensuring the surface is free of dust before painting.


With the colour coats completed and hardened, I switched to clear. As with the primer and colour coats, I did a total of 4. The only difference was I did heavier coats and allowed a longer drying/hardening time between each coat. Once the 4th coat was completed, I allowed the frame and tins to harden for 5 days before taking them down. The paint is nice and hard and should be quite durable.

While I was in the midst of painting the frame, an order of parts arrived! This included: 3 Douglas Racing alloy wheels, tires, brake & throttle cables, chain, brake pads, kill switch and rear grab handle. The All Balls bearing kits also showed up, as I said before, these kits are excellent quality and will hopefully last another 33 years!


With parts starting to arrive and the frame and tins painted, I switched my focus to the front fork. I delayed working on the fork as I wasnít sure just exactly what was included in the new fork bearing kit (as I decided to switch to a tapered fork bearing) and wanted to be sure I did not need to utilize any of the OE bearing races. With a test of the new tapered bearings complete, I pounded out the old bearings and started stripping paint. The fork will also be painted the same red as the rest of the frame. It sounds like a lot of red, but with the silver engine, white plastics and tank and blue seat, I am confident it will look sharp.


In between stripping the fork, I also had to get the rear axle sleeves and hubs cleaned up for paint. Again, these are in excellent shape and simply required some elbow grease to clean up. These will be painted matte silver, nothing fancy on the business end of Project Mini Trike.

In between prepping the frame and picking up paint, I ordered a bunch of hardware to replace some of the tired OE nuts and bolts. Many were hodged podged over the years, some too long or too short and/or had bad/worn threads. I also ordered some new grips, air filter element, fuel filter, and numerous nuts, bolts, washers & pins. I also ordered the front and rear bearing kits and the fork stem bearings from a company called All Balls Racing out of the U.S. They make a great product and make kits for pretty well every make and model going back to the early 70ís. Mike and I have both used their kits on past projects and have been very satisfied with the quality, fit and finish of the products; easily as good as OE if not better.


With some help from a buddy, we cleaned and prepped the frame and fork for the new tapered fork bearings. I used a Dremel tool to clean out any paint over spray then finished it off with sandpaper and some steel wool. With everything prepped, we pressed the new race into the frame with no issues. I then packed the new tapered bearing with grease and pressed it onto the fork. This went surprisingly well as I had read a few reviews on the tapered bearings with people having issues installing them. I was definitely lucky and am certainly not going to complain; and having an extra pair of hands around makes a big difference!


Reassembly begins! Itís always a motivating time in a project when you finally get to take all the parts you have been cleaning, painting & stock piling and start putting the pieces back together and make your vision a reality. For me, that started today! I began by pressing the rear axle bearings and axle sleeve into the frame. I made sure to pack grease into the bearing before installing it, then followed with the dust seal.

With the axle bearing installed, I put on the recently cleaned brake hardware and new pads. Everything is smooth and free and went together with ease. With the brakes on, I installed the axle and slid on the drum brake. I painted this with high heat black calliper paint to freshen it up. It will be covered by a dust cover, but itís good to take the time and protect it from the elements down the road. Next up was the rear sprocket,  axle sleeves, drum dust cover, and hubs.


With the hubs on and held together with some new hardware, I bolted on the shiny new Douglas Racing alloy wheels. Against the red frame, they really stand out, I am incredibly happy with the look so far. To make lifting Project Mini Trike around the shop a little easier (and to add some bling), I installed the new triple plated chrome grab bar. This is a nice quality piece which is definitely a step up from the original. With time running short, I decided to leave the fork install for tomorrow. I did press in the new front wheel bearings, axle sleeve and dust seals before calling it a day.


Next, it was time to put the fork back together. It all went together with ease and the new tapered bearings on the fork are super smooth, no more play! With the fork reassembled, I moved onto the front wheel and hub. I bolted the hub to the wheel and then installed the axle and finished it off with a shiny new castle nut.

With this done, I now have a full rolling frame! Itís great to see the project coming together.


With the frame rolling, I moved it to the side and brought the motor out. I set up a 'sort of' bench on my ATV jack. I began simply by cleaning it with wire brushes and scrapers and then removing the carburetor and air cleaner assembly. With my pictures taken and the parts in their own labelled bags, I continued to clean the engine and gear box to prepare them for paint.


Today the new fenders, seat and recoil assembly arrived. All of these are quality parts, the fenders are very nice and designed to fit over the taller aftermarket wheels and tires. The recoil assembly is sort of a custom piece in that its from a TRX 90 mini quad and customized to work on the 80ís ATC 70ís. This recoil is still Honda OE, just made stronger than the discontinued 70 recoil. The seat is very nice, it includes a new bottom plate, hardware and quality vinyl cover. With the new parts here, I couldnít wait to test fit them on Project Mini Trike to see if it looked as good as I imagined! I mounted the seat to the rear fender and laid it on the frame.



I think it looks great, and really does look like an 80ís Honda X model with the red frame, white fenders and blue seat which inspired the design of my build.

Gas Tank Restoration:

The original gas tank at first glance looked a little rough with quite a few dents, but because it's in the North it was rust free.





Stripping the tank to bare metal let Steve see the severity of the dents and made sure there was no additional damage hiding under filler, this tank was original and untouched!









Lots of hours were spent filling, blocking, priming and sanding some more to get a great smooth finish.







Finally a coat of pristine white paint to match the theme of the build!




This bike is really coming together now!



In between coats of paint Steve took the time to wet sand and polish many of the aluminum pieces of the bike including the handle bar clamps and brake lever making these pieces even better looking than new!









With a lot of the hard work done but still waiting on the new Lifan engine Steve got transferred further North so the Mini 70 was prepared for transport.


April 8, 2017 Update

Its been awhile since the last update, partly waiting on the exact parts Steve wanted and not compromising on something different but readily available, and also because Steve & Kailee moved last summer which as many of you know takes a heck of a lot of time! However the ATC made some major progress this month as the new engine, exhaust, carb etc finally arrived in the north all the way from the guys at



The new engine is a Lifan 125cc four stroke, 4 speed manual with auto clutch. Lifan is an aftermarket company that supplies OEM parts to Honda so this engine is built to Honda Spec unlike other knock off products on the market. The new engine should make this a lot of fun to ride, the original 70cc motor will be put aside in case Steve ever decides to return the bike to stock spec.



Along with the engine Steve ordered one of's recoil starter kit which is a modified OEM recoil from a Honda 90.





A beautiful Piranha Stainless steel exhaust and a brand new Mikuni carburetor rounds out the package.





May 24, 2017 Update:

The mini 70 project is finally coming into the finishing stages, all that's left is a list of items to complete, the first one tackled this week was installing the chain.



Normally not an overly difficult task but without a proper chain tool nor an ATV dealer/repair shop within 100 miles Steve got creative and made up his own chain tool with the help of his bench vice and got the job done.



The next item on the list was creating a mounting bracket for the Lifan 125 CDI unit. Some people choose to tuck it up under the fender but Steve wanted something much tidier, sturdy and therefore reliable.



He located 2 bolts on the frame that would work and made a paper template that would hold the CDI via its included strap and mount using the OEM bolt holes.





Once mocked up he transferred the design to sheet metal.







A quick coat of paint and the piece was complete and factory in appearance!







Next up was the throttle lever/ start-stop block. The previous owner must have had the throttle lever apart and incorrectly reassembled as it simply wasn't working right.



After some Googling Steve finally came across a microfiche with an exploded view of the throttle block and found the return spring bent and installed incorrectly. With the spring fixed and properly installed the throttle now works perfectly. A quick coat of paint and the piece will look good as new.


July 26, 2017










Fall 2017:  Its been awhile since the last update but Steve has been busy finishing off the ATC 70 and picking up his next project! This summer the 70 received a Kreem plastic fuel tank liner treatment which turned out to be quite a job! this will prevent the tank from developing pin hole leaks in the future.

The front of the bike looked a little plain, like something was missing so Steve ordered up an aftermarket Honda 50 Dirtbike headlight and installed it on the 70.



The 70 ATC never came with a headlight so Steve cleverly made up his own mounting brackets and painted them red to match the frame.



The 125 Lifan motor came with a lighting coil so Steve and Dad made up and installed a wiring harness to power the new headlight.



Over the summer Steve spent a lot of time polishing parts to really complete the clean look of this bike.


Factory cast marks were filed off, the piece wet sanded, then finished with a cotton wheel and polishing compound to a mirror shine!


Cheers, STEVE

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Copyright © 2011 Michael Smith