A Honda Monkey Bike formerly owned by Beatles legend John Lennon is set to go under the hammer in March and has been earmarked to sell for a staggering £30,000.
The 1969 Honda Z50A was used by the singer song-writer to get around his Tittenhurst Park estate in Berkshire between 1969 to 1971 before being sold for just £250.
Versions of Honda’s miniature trials bike of a similar age have recently sold at auction for more than £5,000. If Beatles and bike collectors want this one, they’ll need to stump up at least six times that figure to get a Ticket to Ride to buy it.
Ticket to Ride: This 1969 Honda Monkey Bike has been authenticated as being owned by John Lennon between 1969 and 1971. It is now expected to sell for £30,000 at auction
The Monkey Bike will be available at H&H Classics’ National Motorcycle Museum Motorcycle Auction in Solihull in the West Midlands on 4 March.
Pictures supplied with the sale of registration number XUC 91H show Lennon riding the Monkey Bike at the Sunningdale premises near Ascot with son Julian on the back in February 1970.
This was just before the Beatles legend flogged it to Henry Graham, the owner of bike shop Motor Cycle City in Farnborough in 1971, before moving to the US.
Later in the same year, current owner John Harington – a yachtsman from Weymouth, Dorset – purchased the dinky Honda for £250 and, not believing it was actually owned by the Beatles star, took the diminutive motorcycle on his boats and used it regularly to get around foreign ports.
However, after seeing images of the iconic music star riding the bike, Harington conducted his own research and had the authenticity of the Honda approved in 2011, confirming it was first owned by Lennon.
This image taken in February 1970 shows John Lennon riding the bike in question with eldest son Julian on the back
Lennon was said to have used to bike as a fun way of getting around his Tittenhurst Park estate in Berkshire near Ascot
At the time of receiving this approval, Mr Harington was quoted by The Times as rejecting an offer of £90,000 for the little Honda, because ‘like a fine wine it becomes more valuable with time’.
Having kept the bike for 47 years, the last six of which have been spent displaying it at events and shows, the bike is now being offered for sale, though with no official reserve price.
H&H Classics will be selling the bike during the National Motorcycle Museum Motorcycle Auction in Solihull, West Midlands, in March
John Lennon, pictured in 1971 – the year he sold the Honda Monkey Bike – during the filming of Imagine
Another Monkey Bike, also said to have been owned by Lennon and fellow Beatles band mate Ringo Starr, pictured here was sold for £36,000 at a Bonhams auction in 2008
H&H Classics describes the machine as unrestored with largely original parts, and as being in running order.
What is a Monkey Bike?
The Monkey Bike originated in the early 1960s when Japanese motorcycle maker opened the Suzuka Circuit race track, which included an amusement park called ‘Motopia’.
The park had motorised vehicle rides, one of these featuring a tiny prototype motorbike called the Z100 using a 50cc engine from a Honda Cub moped and five-inch wheels.
It quickly became the park’s most popular attraction, and because riders looked ‘Simian’ while riding the tiny bikes, the term ‘Monkey Bike’ was used.
Following a minibike craze in Asia, Honda started making the bikes for Europe and the US.
The Z50A ‘Mini-Trial’ was a model created mainly for the American market and used a three-gear transmission with an automatic clutch, front suspension, rear brakes, larger wheels, off-road tyres, a front midguard and adjustable seat.
The Mini-Trail became an instant hit, with Honda struggling to keep up with demand in the 1960s and ’70s.
Mark Bryan, head of sales in the auction houses motorcycle department, said: ‘Naturally we are thrilled to be entrusted with the marketing and sale of this bike, given its extraordinary provenance.’
A similar model, previously used by fellow Beatles band mate Ringo Starr and also reported to have been owned by Lennon, sold in 2008 for £36,000 in a Bonhams sale in Knightbridge, London.
The bike, a Honda 160Z Monkey Bike, was said to have been owned by the Imagine and Happy Xmas (War is Over) singer and was showcased alongside the same image of Lennon and his son from 1970 when it went under the hammer a decade ago.
According to the former keeper, it was inherited by Ringo Starr when Lennon and Yoko Ono moved from the country estate to New York.
The drummer later gifted the bike to Richard Anderson, a landscape gardener, who had helped Starr move from the Tittenhurst Park premises.
A comparable 1969 Honda Z50A Mini-Trial Monkey Bike signed by the late Formula 1 and Motorcycle Grand Prix world champion John Surtees sold at a Silverstone Auctions sale last year for £5,175.
At the end of last year, an anonymous bidder paid £1,345,500 at auction for a 1964 Aston Martin DB5 once owned by Sir Paul McCartney and another buyer paid £102,300 for a 1966 Mini Coopers S that had been converted for Starr to carry his drums in the boot.
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