BY Big Bear

Restoring a Motorbike in Thailand

Most of us love to ride our motorbikes. It's convenient especially during traffic. 

But what if the two-wheeler is already old? Would you buy a new one? What if I tell you that I have a solution for that? Now, most of you may ask - how to restore a motorbike in Thailand?

Let me guide you through as I share with you the restoration of my old lady's first motorbike.

 

My Old Lady's First Motorbike in Thailand

My old lady bought a new Honda Tena for the first time in 1997. It was a top-of-the-line minibike at the time. Now, I have a mission to restore a motorbike in Thailand.

The Honda Tena had an interesting feature that was unique then. It had a ring-ding, but you didn’t need to mix oil into the gas tank as it has its own 2-stroke oil tank and mixes it automatically.  

Of course, she loved the motorbike since it was her first bike. As usual, even now in Thailand, she has paid for it for over 3 years. 

She developed a close relationship with this motorbike. I guess anyone would have, especially if you pay so much a month for such a long time like she did. People tend to invest themselves in the things they put their hard-earned money into.

 

The Old, Terrible Bike!

But when I arrived in Thailand in 2012 and saw her Honda Tena for the first time, I was sad. It was not old. I think it's just 15 years (well, in motorbike years, it was not too old). I believe it's the same age as my sidecar bike today which still looks new. 

The Honda Tena was a garage rot. It was damaged from accidents, the key had been lost for years, and it had to be started with a coin and a small stone. There were scratches all over it, a flat tire, and other little things wrong that made it look even worse.

Her mother was thinking of selling the garage rot to the scrap metal guys for 2000 THB. Actually, it wasn’t really a bad idea because she and her sister already bought a new motorbike. So, the family had no use for the old one. 

 

The Fall of the Honda Tena Motorbike

However, I was seriously disappointed with how things like this get treated so badly. I could not believe how it was possible that this kind of motorbike could end up as a garage rot. 15 years is not old. Also, it’s not even close to being a vintage motorbike… for me, it was kind of love at first sight, a fallen angel. 

And I was sure that I could get this Honda Tena back in good shape. So, I paid 2k. I took the bike with me in the back of a pickup. Then, I started looking all over the Pattaya area to find a guy to repair and restore this bike!

 

An Incredible Motorbike Repair Shop 

After a short search and asking around to some friends, we found a small motorbike repair shop in nearby Ban Amphur

It was known for doing an incredible job on projects like this. We had a nice negotiation with the owner, and his mechanics set to work right away. 

 

Restoring the Honda Tena Motorbike

The Honda Tena motorbike was totally disassembled. The power plant was completely cleaned. It got new paint, new aluminum wheels, and top-of-the-line tires … everything! We changed the color during the restoration process from the original green to a glossy black. 

What I did not know at the time is that if a color change gets to a certain point, we needed a new green book (Registration Document) for the motorbike, and with this, we had to also get a new license plate. Also, this process required us to turn in the small “vintage” style license plate. Because of that, we got a much less attractive modern one in return. Then, we added a classic accessory top case and started to immediately enjoy riding it. 

Looking back, if I had known all this, I would have repainted it in the original color just to keep the vintage plate!

 

The Cost of Restoration Work 

So, in the end, for a total price of 14k THB, we got a like-new bike with a lot of golden memories for my old lady. 

It was a very welcome addition to the garage for us now that the kids were older and in school - we needed all the transportation help we could get. 

We were ready and able to make use of this motorbike even without a sidecar, and we enjoyed having it every day.

 

The Newly Restored Motorbike 

After riding around on this thing so much, about this time I established what would become our routine “House Route”. 

This is a very nice one-hour trip that takes you along the southern part of Pattaya’s Jomtien section past some of the most beautiful places in the area.  It’s not the tourist road, it’s the twistiest scenic route, and it runs all through the mountains and ends with a nice stretch that follows the beach road.

There are many places to stop and enjoy a coffee or you can pass all that and just do some cruising and sightseeing. More about our House Route in one of the next posts.


Now, wherever we go with this beautiful little gem of a motorbike, people stare at it as we go past. I can’t help but believe that in their heart of hearts, many Thais regret that they sold theirs for the 2k worth of garage rot and did not maintain it right.

As the saying goes, “Hobby is when you buy a new bike. Passion is when you keep the old one running.” Another successful mission of restoring a motorbike in Thailand :)

So, until next time... Rumble on!

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Written by
Big Bear

Hi, I'm Big Bear. I love to hit the road with the motorbike for the long haul. Join my adventure in one of the most beautiful countries in the world. 

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