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End of the Road for the HONDA FTR & CB223S. Models That Were Loved for Being the Best Base or the Handy Motorcycle!

  • 02/11/2016

HONDA has finally announced that they will be halting the production of “FTR(FTR223)” and “CB223S” on its official website.

Cashing in on the boom of the streetbikes, FTR were often seen on streets. CB223S was designed in a basic style to cope with the street ride or the customization requests. And now, these two 250cc motorcycles are going off the stage. The air-cooled single cylinder carburetor engine, that were mounted on these two motorcycles, came from the CB90 of the 1970s. No other motorcycles in Japan are using this engine anymore.
At the overseas site, an off-road model for race and public roads are being produced as CRF230F in Brazil, and the production of this model will keep on going.

FTR: Bringing the flat-track design and the running performance to the contemporary street bike

The very first story of the “FTR223” is much complicated. It was in the 1980s when HONDA had first announced its participation in the USA flat track race (dirt track race). Freddie Spencer, the WPG champion, used to be a dirt track rider in the past, and even had an experience riding a HONDA motorcycle then. FT400 and FT500 made its debut in 1982 taking in this flat track style. However, they experienced a sluggish sales.

Have its root in “FTR250” which can be also be used for race


“FTR250” was a motorcycle brought to the market in 1986 to become a full-fledged flat track model. It became the motif of the FTR. HONDA, which won the manufacturer and the rider championship in 1984 and 1985 at the AMA Flat Track, had devoted its technology to develop this motorcycle. It had a XLR type air-cooled RFVC 4-valve engine. It was indeed such a full-scale engine that could be used for flat track races too. It also had an excellent response characteristics.

Yet, the Japanese market was in the midst of the racer replica boom then. The sales hovered at a low level, for the flat track itself was not familiar among Japanese people. It had to end its production in 1989. It was in the late 1990s when the street custom motorcycles stirred a new boom. The price of the secondhand FTR250 jumped up and Yamaha TW200 became a great hit. FTR was a motorcycle developed and sold to compete against the TW200.


FTR took after the flat track race (dirt track race) motorcycles, and inherited the style of the FTR250. It was a street single motorcycle with a light and compact body. It mounted a 2-valve engine based on the air-cooled single cylinder engine of the SL230.

The engine focused on the full-load torque at regular use range under 5,000rpm, and its set its maximum output rather low, 19ps. It was tuned to become a easy-to-handle motorcycle.
The vehicle body didn’t take over the style of the FTR250, and it use a different frame that suited the FTR223 engine.

Its slim body that was maneuverable on both streets or dirt tracks attracted the fans. FTR became popular as an “easygoing and definitely active street tracker.”
Especially, the tricolor version of the HONDA works team became popular. I bet many of you had seen one of them on streets nearby.

[FTR223 Standard]

FTR_standard01 FTR_standard02 FTR_standard03

[FTR223 DX]

FTR_dx03 FTR_dx01 FTR_dx02

[FTR223 Tricolor]

Click here for more information on FTR223

CB223S: “Best match item” was the keyword for development


CB223S was developed to let the users enjoy their motorcycling lives in a more casual manner. “Best match item” was its keyword for development, and it was brought to the market in April 2000.

It mounted the same engine as the FTR223. It adopted street road tires and changed its suspension to make it more on-road spec. It was designed in a retro style, yet it still was simple and slim.

It was set up to become easy-to-handle on street roads. It also had good foot grounding property. Both light and heavy users loved this motorcycle since it could be casually enjoyed.

The tank capacity (11L) was larger compared to the FTR223 (7L), which made it convenient for various types of use, such as commuting or long-distance touring ride on weekends.


CB223S_01 CB223S_02 CB223S_03
Click here for more information on CB223S

Street custom which stirred a new boom from the late 1990s


Since FTR and CB223S had a simple style and structure, many users enjoyed customization of these models.

From the late 1990s, a customization called the “tracker custom” or the “stripped-down style” caught on, and Yamaha TW200 became a hit being the basic model of the customization. FTR was a motorcycle developed to compete against the TW200, and it was brought to the market in September 2000.

Motorcycles that showcased the street custom sceneries

YAMAHA TW200, which drew the attention of the younger generations by setting up a new category called street custom, had enlarged its displacement and turned into TW225. However, in accordance with the new strict emission regulation, it ended its production (Japanese specification) in 2008.

We assume that the production end of FTR223 and CB223S is also due to the fact that it doesn’t conform to the new emission regulation or the noise regulation.
SUZUKI GRASSTRACKER/BIG BOY, SUZUKI ST250, or KAWASAKI ESTRELLA are the motorcycles of the same category, but they are all facing the tough environment in which restrictions are becoming to get more strict.


Even if the production in Japan ends, motorcycles of a larger displacement volume may still be available if you purchase its overseas model. However, in terms of FTR223 and CB223S, you may not have that kind of an opportunity. It may be your last chance to see these great motorcycles that once created a prosperous era of street custom bikes.

* See Accessories for HONDA FTR223
* See Accessories for HONDA CB223S
* See Accessories for YAMAHA TW200
* See Accessories for SUZUKI GRASS TRACKER
* See Accessories for SUZUKI TU250X(ST250)
* See Accessories for KAWASAKI ESTRELLA

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