Barn Find: Resurrecting An Abandoned Honda CT90 Trail Bike

Whatever you did on your 22nd birthday, it probably wasn’t as ambitious as what hard enduro rider Matt Spears chose for himself. Instead of the traditional indulgences, the young Idahoan unearthed a 1971 Honda CT90 from the depths of Facebook Marketplace. It was a non-runner of course, and buried in a half-collapsed barn, because taking the easy route is simply not this guy’s style.

After all, we’ve already seen him ride “Piggy,” a 2006 1800cc Honda Gold Wing that weighs nearly 1000 pounds on single track in the mountains with his Sherco enduro bike strapped to the back seat. The same Wing has been in a hillclimb competition, surfed sand dunes wearing a custom paddle tire and crossed the Idaho BDR with Matt’s girlfriend Kelby riding pillion. More recently, the thrill seeker has been documented off-roading and sand-riding a salvaged Suzuki Hayabusa.

Resurrecting An Abandoned Honda CT90 Trail Bike
The bike had been left in a half-collapsed barn and hadn’t been started in over 10 years. It was listed for $1200 but Matt was able to negotiate it down to $700.

After tearing up the trails on that knobby-equipped super sportbike that puts out almost 200 horsepower, it’s a big leap across the spectrum to a ’71 CT90 that in new condition produced a claimed 8 horsepower. 

When we asked Matt why the CT90 he said it wasn’t a spur of the moment thing. In fact, he’d had his eye out for one since his early teens. Around his birthday he spotted a likely candidate on Facebook Marketplace, which he calls “a treasure trove for unique finds,” and headed over to Eastern Washington to check it out. “It was listed for $1200, but upon inspection it didn’t match the description, so I negotiated it down to $700 and still thought I might have overpaid.”

Resurrecting An Abandoned Honda CT90 Trail Bike

And how can you blame him? The little soldier, which hadn’t run in over 10 years, looks pretty pathetic when we first spy it in Matt’s latest YouTube video being strategically off-loaded in a dirt parking lot next to an auto parts store. “We are going to see if we can get this baby running with what’s in O’Reilly’s and the Walmart behind us.” 

Resurrecting An Abandoned Honda CT90 Trail Bike
Matt and Michael’s CT90 resurrection is finished off with a good dose of Marvel Mystery Oil.

We meet Matt’s doppelgänger brother Michael, owner of North West Powersports Repair in Coeur d’Alene, as the two load up on carb cleaner, a fuel filter, fuel line and a battery for the little bike, as well as a massive jug of — what else? — Marvel Mystery Oil.

After checking the plug had spark they had a look at the airbox and carb, which revealed rust in the bowl, clogged jets and a stuck float needle. Of course, having the carb off presented the temptation to spray a bunch of carb cleaner directly into the engine to see if it would catch, and of course these two jumped right on the unorthodox opportunity. Amazingly, the little Honda fires right up on the first kick and is pretty much raring to go. 

Resurrecting An Abandoned Honda CT90 Trail Bike
Fresh from being resurrected, Matt starts his testing trying to conquer a boulder on the little CT90 to compare it to his Sherco enduro bike.

Matt’s videos are always entertaining, but this one, with its closeups of the mechanical carb being cleaned and its jets reamed ahead of the parking lot rebuild really hits old school mechanics in the feels. You can almost smell the carb cleaner. 

Once whole again, there’s a little spin around the parking lot on the now “certified ripper” before we’re suddenly transported to a snowy mountainside where the little CT90 is about to get the Matt Spear’s treatment. Girlfriend Kelby takes over camera duties and follows Matt on his Sherco as he puts the tiny Honda through its paces. 

Resurrecting An Abandoned Honda CT90 Trail Bike
Resurrecting An Abandoned Honda CT90 Trail Bike

The rest of the video is a series of obstacles including rock hops, creek jumps and hillclimbs, on the latter of which Matt flogs the little red trail bike within an inch of its life, revealing near the top that he hasn’t even checked out the brakes for the descent, and we’re not surprised. 

Matt Spear’s fans know the riding portion of the video will provide a bunch of laughs, with plenty of awkward crash scenes left in for our enjoyment. It’s a load of silly fun and we’re totally here for it. To highlight the spectacle of the CT90’s efforts, the young racer, who’s currently taking a break from the AMA US Hard Enduro series, repeats the exercises on his Sherco, demonstrating his technical off-road skills. 

Resurrecting An Abandoned Honda CT90 Trail Bike
The trusty CT90 starting the challenging ascent to the summit.

When we talked to Matt about his plan for the CT90, he let us know that since the video’s release he’s already “overhauled the forks, rebuilt the brakes and even crafted a new seat.” He also let us know the CT is “currently chilling, parked next to Piggy.”  

As for future uses: “I envision leisurely rides around town, maybe some light off-roading.” Meanwhile, Matt tells us he’s currently “knee-deep” in the construction of an electric car he’ll use to explore abandoned railroad tracks. 

Resurrecting An Abandoned Honda CT90 Trail Bike

“I had a test run yesterday, and while it didn’t go entirely as planned [Matt-speak for there was a big crash], it’s all part of the learning process. Once I’ve fine-tuned the car’s performance on rails, I might just transform the CT into a rail bike.” 

Whatever’s in store, we know it’s going to be worth watching. If you want to keep up with the fun, be sure to follow Matt’s YouTube channel.  

Author: Jamie Elvidge

Jamie has been a motorcycle journalist for more than 30 years, testing the entire range of bikes for the major print magazines and specializing in adventure-travel related stories. To date she’s written and supplied photography for articles describing what it’s like to ride in all 50 states and 43 foreign countries, receiving two Lowell Thomas Society of American Travel Writer’s Awards along the way. Her most-challenging adventure yet has been riding in the 2018 GS Trophy in Mongolia as Team AusAmerica’s embedded journalist.

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