The 1980s saw many of us now middle aged motorcyclists first take to two wheels, and it was a golden era for tiddler motorcycles.
Many of us started of on mopeds, then once we hit our 17th birthday the 125cc became the object of our desires. Most sporty 125s were artificially restricted to 12bhp, although there was no end of performance parts on the market that offered you illegal speed on your L plates. However, there was a stepping stone between the 50cc moped and the 125cc motorcycle, and that was the 80cc.
Although a relic from the past these days, sports 80s were commonplace in the 80s, being favoured in some countries due to licencing laws. There was even an 80cc Grand Prix world championship from 1984 to 1989, but in the UK these bikes were mostly overlooked, notable mainly for having lower insurance premiums than 125s – making them attractive to learners on a tight budget.
The most memorable model in the UK was, perhaps, the Kawasaki AR80. Despite looking identical to the AR50 moped, the 80cc version packed a bigger punch with a genuine 10bhp from standard. It didn’t stop there, inside that air cooled engine lived a six speed box of cogs, perfect for draining every mph from the two stroke engine. A larger carb and different exhaust completed the power up kit. Sadly many AR80s were raided for these premium parts after they’d been crashed or the engines had blown up!
The six speed gearbox drops straight in the AR50 cases. If you want a trip down memory lane on an AR80 your biggest issue could be actually finding one for sale. Projects are more common than fully restored machines, but if you can stretch to the price premium a rebuilt bike commands it’s probably the wisest route to take. At £2,995 this immaculate AR80 is without a doubt the best example on the market at the moment, and is up for sale at a classic car dealership in Peterborough.
Finished in Polar White it does look pretty darn good. The AR50 and 80 shared tech from further up the Kawasaki range, and the Uni Trak rear suspension in particular gave the bikes a nice clean looking rear end. Restoring bikes isn’t just about locking yourself away in the shed and shovelling cash into your box of bits, it’s also a game of cat and mouse trying to hunt down those hard to find parts, to confirm that this is a top notch rebuild the new old stock mirrors were sourced from the USA!
How cool is that!
What to look for when buying an AR80.
- Not everyone wants a standard rebuild, if there are non standard parts fitted always ask if the original parts are available.
- More and more bikes are arriving here from Europe, always check that the bike comes with the NOVA certificate, if it doesn’t leave it alone because it will make registering it in the UK nigh on impossible.
- The bikini fairing is one of the hardest parts to find, if it isn’t present deduct a good few quid.
See this pristine example up for sale at: https://rover.ebay.com/rover/0/0/0?mpre=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.ebay.co.uk%2Fulk%2Fitm%2F282874912518