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The Honda Big Red 3 Wheeler

By Edited Oct 24, 2015 1 3

If you are in your thirties, there's a good chance you remember the Honda Big Red 3 wheeler. This was called an ATC, or all terrain cycle, not an ATV, or all terrain vehicle. The biggest difference is actually the number of wheels. Three wheels makes in an ATC. There were some big differences between the old recreational vehicles of yesterday and today, beyond having just three wheels. Let's take a quick look at the old Honda Big Red 3 Wheeler.

Who needs suspension?




Back in the day, the old Honda Big Red 3 wheeler didn't have any sort of suspension at all. The only cushion that was offered was through the big, low pressure ATC tires. These balloon type tires would absorb some of the shock drivers would otherwise feel on rough terrain. While the newer models had a real suspension, those that rode the original Honda Big Red 3 wheeler know just how much you would get jostled around when you were out for a ride.   You can still find many vintage three wheeled rides out there.

In 1982 the ATC200E, yes a true Honda Big Red 3 wheeler was introduced, complete with suspension. Wow what a difference it made to have a simple shock added to the ride. The reduction in the jostling was quite evident to anyone that rode both models of ATC, before and after the suspensions were added.

Additional accessories:




Until 1982, the Honda Big Red 3 wheeler, along with really every other model, was just about the same. The 1982 model however, not only was produced with a shock suspension system, but cargo type racks as well. These days, virtually every utility type ATV comes with racks. The original design was from the Honda Big Red 3 wheeler. This was truly many years ahead of the curve.  Today, there are 250cc motor scooter trikes on the market, which are direct relative of the old units.

Honda Big Red 3 Wheeler

Four strokes way ahead of the curve:




It wasn't until recently that virtually all ATV's were produced as a four stroke. The makers of the Honda Big Red 3 wheeler produced a four stroke in 1983, on the 200X model. This was a 192cc engine that was pretty powerful at the time, and really quite a ways ahead of its time. This was yet another breakthrough, which was in fact started from the original Honda Big Red 3 wheelers. They were so far superior to others at the time.

Why don't they make these anymore?




The gold old Honda Big Red 3 wheeler has not been in production since 1987. At that time, the industry moved to the sale of only 4 wheeled ATV's. This was because they were more stable and deemed, at least at the time, to be safer. It has been suggested by some groups that the sale of three wheeled ATC's should be completely banned, including the sale of used vehicles. This would make it impossible to buy a Honda Big Red 3 wheeler. Fortunately, this ban has been talked about for years and years, with no real progress being made.   

Look at the trails:




You can still see a ton of the old Honda Big Red 3 wheelers out on ATV trails these days. In fact, you will still see quite a few of them doing some heavy work out on local farms. Even though it's been nearly 25 years since they were last manufactured, the high quality components and craftsmanship shows. You can run across a number of vehicles still on the trails or up for sale if you just take a few minutes to look.

How much will one cost me today?




These days you will pay more for a nice condition, used Honda Big Red 3 wheeler than you would have paid for a new one back in the day, at least in some cases. You can expect to pay up to $2,000 for a near mint 250ES, and more in some cases. These are highly sought by collectors. While this may be the going rate for a collector grade ATC, you can expect to pay less for Honda Big Red 3 wheeler to simply drive around.

If you are willing to get one that is in less than perfect condition, you may be able to get a nice running Honda Big Red 3 wheeler for sale at under $500 without too much problem. It really depends on the model, year and overall condition of the ATC. Some are considered more collectable than others, too.

Where can I find one?




You will have to look around a little to find nice Honda Big Red 3 wheelers for sale, but they are out there if you are willing to spend a little time searching. Not only should you try eBay, where you will always find many to choose from, but you should also try site like Craigslist, or any type of online ATV sales site. You never know what you may run into. You may be able to find a classic Honda Big Red 3 wheeler in minutes, and for a great price.

Can I still get parts?




Even though the Honda Big Red 3 wheeler hasn't been made for almost 25 years, you can still get original ATC parts in a number of ways. Let's look at a few things to consider when you are in need of ATC parts.

Aftermarket: You will find many sellers that have just about any type of ATC part you can imagine. You will have no problem finding great parts at great prices.

Parting out vehicles: You will find many people that are willing to sell off their old Honda Big Red 3 wheeler for parts. While they will be used, they will be genuine.

Off brands/knock offs: The Honda Big Red 3 wheeler, and virtually all the other ATC engines have been copied over the years by Chinese manufacturers. The patents expired several years ago. Have you noticed how virtually every Chinese ATV manufacturer sells a 110cc and 125cc model? Both are carbon copies of the original. It makes for a cheap way to get parts for your Honda Big Red 3 wheelers. These are classic, timeless machines.

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May 4, 2010 10:50pm
To be sure the Big Red is a great bike. I own two. The 1984 ES does not have a suspension, the 1985 does, and was the first year of the Big Red that has a rear suspension.
Jun 11, 2010 9:25am
Spent many hours trying to kill myself on one of these as a kid what fun that was.
Jul 10, 2010 10:10am
Good article, Jason :)
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