Weighing in at 86 pounds and priced at under $200, the new little Honda QA-50 is one of the best buys in off-the-road equipment that I've seen in some time.
Tucked beneath its rugged tubularsteel frame is a new 49cc pushrod engine - not an overhead-cam unit like the one used in the Honda MiniTrail. The change in engines is one way Honda brought the price down. Another price-cutting technique was a switch in gearing. The MiniTrail had a three-speed foot shift, automatically clutched. The QA-50 uses a centrifugal two-speed automatic transmission. The front forks are spring-loaded, but soft tires, a soft seat, and your own flexing legs provide the rear suspension. I tried the Honda recently on an expedition into the California back country. Its light weight made it easy to load and unload. And to make the bike even more portable, its handlebars disconnect (just turn a small knob at their base). I stowed mine aboard a small boat with no trouble at all.
Rugged 49cc pushrod engine (above) drives through a two-speed, centrifugal-type automatic transmission, giving the 170-pound rider at right a real run through the rough. Eliminating OHC helped to keep bike's cost down.
Mileage from the 1.2-gallon tank is well over 100 miles, so the QA-50 will get you -and your gear- into some of those real out-of-the-way spots. Knobby 4.00-5 tires at the front and rear help you through the rough stuff. Brakes on the little bike are excellent. They'll hold you on anything short of a sheer cliff. And they're both handlebar-mounted so your legs are free for balancing if you stall when the going gets rough. The QA-50 is made up of timetested components, so there should be no teething problems. With its light weight and attractive price, the bike has a lot going for it.
Front forks are sprung, but rear suspension is solid. Twisting knob on
handlebars disconnects them for carrying the bike.
By Jim Davis, Popular Science - April 1971