The wonder and terror of barn finds as a category is that you often don’t know what you’re going to get. In some cases, a bike or other vehicle may have been kept out of the elements because it’s been living in that barn for who knows how long—but it’s still in terrible shape. Occasionally, though, you get incredibly lucky—like this 1987 Honda Big Red 250 three-wheeler that 2 Vintage just found.
As he understands it, it was languishing in a barn along with a UTV (which he also bought) and some other vehicles for untold years. The house on the property had flooded, and the previous owners just kind of left everything where it was when they sold it to the new owners. The new owner went through, decided that they didn’t want to keep much else other than a camper that was also left sitting in the yard, and opted to sell everything else off.
That’s how 2 Vintage came to pick up the Big Red and the side-by-side—both of which had been gathering years of dirt and grime. As you’ll see in the video, it was raining when he picked them up—and the rain quickly revealed that the Big Red, at least, was in better shape than previously believed.
By the time he got it back to the workshop, the rain had washed away most of the grime and revealed a pretty mint-looking Honda Big Red ATV underneath. The seat, barring some moldy spots, seemed to be in pretty good shape. Amazingly, the plastics weren’t all broken, scratched, or sun-faded, despite its age. Due to these facts and more as he dove further into this machine, 2 Vintage surmised that it’s probably a pretty low-mile unit.
If you’ve ever purchased a used bike or related vehicle before, you know that moto archaeology can be interesting at times. A quick look inside the trunk of this Big Red, for example, yielded a plastic bag full of old registration cards for the thing. Underneath the bag was a complete Honda factory tool kit that probably came with it when it was new, along with a bonus screwdriver and set of pliers, as well as a headlamp and a dirty towel.
Further Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources ATV vehicle stickers were later removed from the side panel with a heat gun. Together with the registration cards, it seems that the last time this thing had been out exploring was likely in or around 2009 or so, after which point It was left sitting in that barn for over a decade.
Naturally, 2V got right to work doing standard checks to see the condition of the trike and engine before attempting to fire it up for the first time. It has both an electric and a kick start, so he kicked it over a few times to see if it would turn over—and it did. Checking the spark plug in the machine showed that the carbon buildup wasn’t bad—and further testing showed that it had spark. Next, it was time for a compression test—and indeed, the little single-cylinder engine appeared to be quite healthy in that regard as well.
The carburetor wasn’t too bad inside, and only required a little bit of jet cleaning before putting it back together and reinstalling it on the trike. So far, the only things this Big Red appears to be missing are the airbox cover and an air filter. Everything else is intact.
When the moment of truth—seeing whether it will start—comes, it’s almost anticlimactic. This thing is in such good shape. All the positive signs are there that it should start, so it would probably be a bit more surprising if it didn’t--but start it does, and almost on the first try. Not only that, but it idles perfectly, and as you’ll soon see, the reverse gear even works exactly as it should.
All in all, it’s a pretty fantastic barn find, and unlike some of the other rescues that 2V makes on a regular basis, he thinks he’s probably keeping this one. Can you really blame him?