Say the words "postie bike" to an Australian, and you'll conjure an instant wave of very specific nostalgia. You see, while the Honda CT90, CT110, and similar trail bikes found their niche in other markets, the Australian Post adopted them as official work vehicles back in 1971.
Prior to signing up with Honda as their official postal vehicle supplier, Australian postal delivery workers used a lot of walking and regular bicycles, also referred to as 'pushbikes.' As you can imagine, adopting a fleet of motorized postie bikes made their jobs a lot easier (though some postal workers might also have enjoyed getting paid to exercise).
They might not be the fastest straight out of the box, but that's not what you want if you're making frequent stops and traversing uneven, uncertain terrain, anyway. You want solid, dependable vehicles that can carry a decent volume of post in their saddlebags and top boxes. Bikes like Honda CT110s and CT90s, which gained reputations as solid farm bikes all over the globe for very similar reasons.
Then, Postie Bikes Were Retired
Thus, postie bikes became a common sight all over Australia for the following decades. Then things started to change in 2017, when the national Australian government issued a new, legally binding Vehicle Standard for motorcycle and moped braking systems.
Under the terms of the new law, all new models that hadn't previously been sold in Australia from 2017 on would require two-channel ABS (front and rear) fitted as standard equipment. By November 2021, the statute broadened to include any new motorcycles sold in the country, including new versions of existing models. That, of course, included showroom-fresh versions of the classic Honda postie bikes.
By the time that law extended to existing models in 2021, the Australian Government had already chosen a new plan for postie bike evolution. In 2019, it announced a plan to adopt three-wheeled electric delivery trikes instead.
As is often the case when a major change is made, not all Australian residents were on board with the plan. Still, the fact that the new trikes could carry quite a bit more post at a time (especially packages, which have only become more popular with the rise of online shopping) was a serious point in favo(u)r of the EV trikes. Some alleviation of rising environmental concerns was also seen as a benefit.
Postie Bikes Weren't Totally Outlawed; They Just Couldn't Be Sold New
Your local used bike market will vary greatly depending on where you live in the world, for multiple reasons. A quick look around at online used bike marketplaces like Gumtree and Bikesales in Queensland, Australia shows a range of old postie bikes for sale. They all have various mileage, and some are newer than others. Prices might range from $1,500 Australian up to over $3K AUD (or about $990 US to somewhere north of $1,990).
It might not exactly be pocket change, but it's pretty close for a functioning, almost unkillable bike.
So, Do Honda CT110s And CT90s Make The Best Adventure Bikes?
In this video, three guys from the overlanding and camping Australian YouTube channel True North Adventures get a trio of old postie bikes and start flogging them on some of their favorite terrain in Cape York, Queensland, Australia.
Two of the guys have ridden before, while one guy hasn't. In fact, he just got his motorbike license a few days ahead of shooting this video, as he mentions toward the beginning. You can see that two of the guys have proper motocross boots, while the other guy is just wearing a pair of everyday work boots.
None of that really matters, though, because all three look to be having an absolute blast. They're exploring terrain they already know well from their previous four-wheeled adventures, but in a new way. They've divided up the items they want to carry among the three bikes, and they're just off having a good time together on their bikes.
At the end of the day, isn't that what adventure riding is all about? Getting out, having fun with your friends, and most importantly, not being stressed out?
I mean, there's a solid argument to make for a simple, honest, uncomplicated motorcycle that's easy to fix (or to learn to fix) with a few basic tools. It's the polar opposite of fancy and complicated, but that's all part of its charm. You won't be doing the Erzbergrodeo on one of these bikes, but hard enduro is a bit more hardcore than trail riding with your buddies, anyway.
Advantages to planning adventures on trail bikes like these (whether you call them 'postie' or not) include:
- Used ones will usually keep running if you give them basic maintenance, and are simple to work on or learn on.
- They're often cheap. As with most used bikes, they'll be cheaper the more work you have to do, so just be careful not to bite off more than you can chew, wrench-wise.
- Because they're cheap, the cost of entry is a lot lower than it is for a big, proper 'adventure bike.'
- Because they're cheap, you AND your friends can have an easier time all getting your own so you can go do silly things together.
- They're lighter, less powerful, and easier to handle than bigger bikes, so they're perfect for anyone learning how to be comfortable doing this type of riding.
- They're lower to the ground, so most riders will feel more confident and have an easier time keeping themselves upright and moving forward.
- They're less expensive to fix than bigger bikes, and parts (both new, used, and new-old stock) are plentiful.
What do you think? Have you got any grand trail bike adventure plans brewing with your friends for 2024? Let us know in the comments!