Your classics

Your Classics: George Brett’s Honda Motocompo is a tiny, rad ride

by Antony Ingram
22 August 2022 3 min read
Your Classics: George Brett’s Honda Motocompo is a tiny, rad ride
Photos: Matt Kimberley

“Ever since Mighty Car Mods did their video, the prices literally doubled overnight…”

If ever there was an incentive to get out and buy your dream vehicle before it’s too late, the quote above is probably it. Wait too long, and a wildly popular automotive YouTube show might spot that vehicle you’ve been eyeing up – and broadcast it to an audience of millions.

George Brett didn’t quite get into the Honda Motocompo game before the aforementioned Australian duo brought the little bikes to a very large audience, but after spotting the bike in late 2020, he had to have it – and at least managed to pick one up (both figuratively and literally, as the ‘Compo weighs a tiny 45kg) before demand and import tariffs pushed prices up to ridiculous levels.

The reason why you might want to literally pick up the Motocompo, is because Honda designed its tiny, fold-up scooter to fit in the back of the City… err, city car. In this respect, Honda was way ahead of its time. Today you can barely walk around town without tripping over a ‘last mile mobility solution’, but here was Honda, in 1981, building one you could bung in the back of a car. So did Brett bring his here, to RADwood, in the back of a City?

Honda Motocompo Radwood

“I wish! There’s a City Turbo for sale on eBay for thirteen grand. If I could fit it in the garage I’d have it. It’s even matching white. I’ve got an M2 Competition, and funnily enough, it does fit on the back seat of that. It’s a massive faff, and we’ve only done it once…”

Befitting its last-mile status, the Motocompo is one of few vehicles (along with a pair of Sinclair C5s) that you could feasibly get around on without becoming a nuisance. It really is tiny, coming up short of 1.2 metres long in full bike mode, and standing less than a metre tall.

As you might imagine, there’s not much engine underneath the squared-off bodywork; just 49ccs of two-stroke power, and that power is around two and a half horses’ worth.

“It takes two litres of petrol so when you take it to the petrol station it doesn’t even meet the minimum delivery!” explains Brett. “How many miles does it do on the tank? I’ve no idea – it hasn’t even got an odometer or anything.”

Being so small does have its advantages though, and not just in terms of storage (whether garage or car boot). Brett explains that he bought it in fairly good condition, but the bits he did have to fix have been fairly straightforward.

“It was in alright shape when I got it, mechanically it was sound, it ran. The frame had a bit of surface rust but it’s been stored inside, whoever had it before me.

“I had the panels professionally resprayed and repaired because people pick them up in the wrong place, and because it’s just plastic it cracks. The paint’s the original colour, Honda Shetland White, new stickers, I’ve repainted the gearbox cover, the flywheel cover, the wheels all myself.”

The only small snag was the battery – which had to be refilled with acid by a local bike shop, since chemicals have to be drained before export. “All the electrics work, it just doesn’t hold any charge. Which is fine by me because the engine’s always running when you’re on the road. And it’s kick-start, and starts first kick.”

Honda Motocompo Radwood

It’s a doddle to ride too: “If you’d never ridden a bike before you could ride it straight away – no gears, twist and go, and you’re never really going fast enough to get into much trouble – 22mph flat out, which is more than fast enough on an eight-inch wheel! If you hit a bump, you know it…”

Brett demonstrates by whizzing around the show a few times for our photographer’s lens, before he parks the bike up alongside a Ferrari Testarossa for its beauty shots. Somehow, it couldn’t look more appropriate, and has me wondering whether you could squirrel a Motocompo anywhere away in the Ferrari’s luggage areas.

And, it has to be said, while one of the smallest vehicles at RADwood, few get more smiles, waves, and attention than the little Honda. Which might be – along with their prices these days – why Brett has absolutely no intentions to let it go.

“It’s never going anywhere, I’m keeping it for the rest of my life. It’s perfect.”

Read more

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