Friday, October 12, 2007

Small size, big fun: The Honda Dream 50.

Edited for size from Motorcycle

"It might be a bit hard to find a class to race Honda's Dream 50. Or is it an old 50? No matter, as Honda expects most Dream 50 owners will use the $5499 bikes for nostalgic or display purchases, not for race duty.

Too bad, as the Dream is is fun to ride even if its limits are a bit lower. Imagine taking a mountain bike with a narrow handlebar and shrinking it down one-third in size and you're pretty close to what a Dream ride feels like. Add in a double-overhead-cam, HRC-built 50cc screamer that revs to 14,500 rpm and you've got one fun mountain bike!

The Dream was built to commemorate Honda's early racing history that began in the 50cc class. The factory RC110 debuted in 1962, and it spawned the commercially available Cub Racing CR110. The single-cylinder CR featured gear-driven double-overhead cams, a dry clutch and an 8-speed gearbox. The new Dream uses lower-tech chains to drive its cams, yet it is able to rev 1000 rpm higher than the 13,500-rpm CR110 and directs power through a 6-speed gearbox.

The Dream has been offered for sale in Japan for several years, and an entire cottage industry has been built around it. HRC has built a huge list of go-fast parts for the Dream since Asian enthusiasts seem willing to throw everything they can get at their racebikes.

But even in stock condition, the Dream impresses with its pure racebike design and trick bits. A lovely oil catch tank created out of aluminum contains crankcase blow-by, and aluminum fenders are used front and rear. Despite the use of a period-spec steel frame, Honda claims the lithe Dream weighs just 157 pounds dry. The Dream is a product of HRC, and they've been kind enough to pre-drill the oil drain bolt to satisfy racing regulations for lockwiring critical fasteners.

You won't find a convenient kickstart lever on the Dream, let alone a wussy electric starter. Cranking it over is via the Hailwood method of bump-starting, usually quite easy on the Dream despite the big 11.7:1 compression ratio. Acceleration is as limp as a scuba diver's Kleenex until the revs climb into the five-digit range. It starts pulling at 12,500 rpm before falling off 2000 revs later. Honda claims 7 horsepower at 13,500 from the 49cc engine, but it sounds like much more when the giant open velocity stack ravenously sucks in air for the open 20mm carb as the 40mm piston goes up and down 240 times each second.

The beauty of racing a tiddler like the Dream is that the rate things happen for the rider is much easier to digest than on a more powerful bike. As a result, extracting the maximum from the bike, and especially the engine, is more gratifying in a way than something like turning the throttle to the stop of a CBR1000RR for a few seconds before having to frantically grab the brakes to scrub off the 100 mph you just piled on.

The Dream handles like nothing else I've ridden. Honda didn't provide rake and trail numbers, but it will suffice to say you've never ridden a motorcycle that turns with less effort. Genuine Showa suspension does a reasonably good job at damping wheel movement, and 2.50-18-inch Bridgestone Battlax BT39SS tires are used at both ends. With the seat's classic bum-stop coming up a few inches shorter than the Dream's 70.5-inch overall length, there's actually enough room for a full-scale adult to fit.

A combination of a strong front disc brake and a super-skinny tire is my excuse for testing the Dream's crash worthiness. Entering one of the corners at Apex and grabbing the brake lever with the finesse of a steroid-injected bodybuilder put me on the ground faster than you could say Ruben Xaus.

Thankfully, damage to our frail little bodies was limited to a bent triple clamp and bruised shoulder, and both of us were back in action in no time. A similar spill in, let's say, Turn 1 at Willow Springs, would've been much more painful to both steel and tissue, underlining the relative safety of mini racing.

The danger levels of mini racing may be reduced from full-sized racing, but not the fun factor. As is the case with racing 50cc dirt bikes, all you need for laugh-out-loud giggles is another rider on a similar bike."


richardtatts said...

My Dream 50 Cafe racer

Hristo Yanev said...

Hi guys,
Thank you so much for this wonderful article really!
If someone want to know more about the Dreamracer I think this is the right place for you!