60's era Tohatsu 50cc twin GP bike

When I was a motorcycle-crazy teenager, about 15 or so, I became a charter subscriber to Cycle World magazine and avidly read every issue. I was particularly crazy about the Golden Era of motorcycle GP racing (when the factories were all trying to outdo one another with technological advances -- more cylinders, more RPM, more gears, etc). Cycle World was my window into that facinating world.

A couple years later I read that the Tohatsu factory had shut down and a guy named John Honda (no relation to Sochiro) had purchased all their 'factory' and 'production' race bikes. Two boxcars full, or so the article said. I'd owned a couple of 50cc Tohatsus (3-speed, 2-strokes), and once in a dealership in Springfield, Oregon, I saw a CR50 Tohatsu Runpet production roadracer with sand-cast engine and 4-speed gearbox. 6.8 BHP at 12,000 RPM. So I wrote the guy and asked about parts.

He must have mistaken me for an adult with a real job and actual money to spend, because he sent me the following photos and offered to sell me the bike shown plus many spares. I have the original letter somewhere.

It was a genuine factory production GP bike of 50cc, twin cylinder, 6-speed, with tiny remote float Del'Orto look-alike carbs and magesium brakes, producing 11+ BHP at 13,000 RPM. The only twin-cylinder 50cc racer ever sold to the public, as far as I know. Needless to say it tormented me terribly to have such exotic hardware offered to me, yet be unable to acquire it because of lack of money.

I hope it resides now in some collector's inventory, and didn't get scrapped or abandoned somewhere. What a little jewel of a bike...

50cc twin GP bike, left side

50cc twin GP bike, closeup of engine

50cc twin GP bike, right side

Copyright (c) 1998, by H. Marc Lewis.