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10 Common Issues I Find Buying a Used 1982 1983 Honda BIG RED 200E

I tend to see the same issues over and over again looking at used 1982/3 Honda BIG RED 200E’s. Below is a complied list in random order of what I have seen over many years that I wanted to share. I hope this list can help you if when you look at a used 200E or if you just bought one. This post will include some of the fixes to remedy the issues. Ok let’s get to it.


1. Broken Fenders – At the time of this post the first generation BIG RED is 36-37 years old. In many cases the BIG RED has spent a lot of time out in the elements so the plastic is faded and brittle. Cracked fenders and broken missing pieces are also common. I have seen all types of repair methods – zip tie and fishing line stitching, metal and pop rivets, body filler and screen. The fix can be buying a good new or used set of fenders or doing a repair like plastic welding. Some good fenders can still be found used and new aftermarket fenders are now offered by Maier. When it comes to repairing cracked plastic I have had good results with plastic welding. HERE is a link to a post with more information on plastic welding.

2. Brakes – No brakes, stuck brakes, missing brakes are very common on the used 200E’s I’ve seen. I was always shocked how many times I have bought running and driving BIG REDS that have no brakes at all. This could be a major contributor to issue number one on the list. The brake issue can be caused by multiple things like missing brake levers/pedals, seized brake cables, brakes just not hooked up/connected, and worn brake shoes. Seized rear brakes for BIG REDS that have been sitting for years can be common too. The brakes tend to seize when the brake shoe linings come unbonded and wedge themselves between the shoe and the brake drum. All brake parts (besides the brake drums) are available new from Honda or aftermarket sources.

3. Front Forks Stuck - As mentioned multiple times the 1982-1984 front forks are a terrible design. What’s worse is that a critical part (sealed non-rebuildable fork damper) is no longer available. I have given up with working with the original design and will swap out a rebuildable hydraulic front fork from an ATC 200M. For more details on this conversion see post HERE.

4. Gas Tank Leaking – I look closely at the bottom of the gas tank at the seam near the seat when I browse classified ads. I look for rust, missing paint, and JB weld. This is the area where the tanks rot out and start leaking. Good used tanks are still out there and you can get new plastic tanks. Leaking gas tanks can be repaired by coating and if in bad shape welding and coating. HERE is a post on gas tank restoration for reference.

5. Tires – In just a handful of cases I have bought a 200E with all three tires in good shape. In my experience the tires are typically worn, dry rotted, cracked, and leaking. Many tires are available new but they have gotten more and more expensive over the years. Just something to keep in mind when you are thinking about buying. It’s good to know how much the tires and the installation will cost before you make an offer.

6. Exhaust – Up here in the north I don’t see too many 200E’s that still have the spark arrestor on the end of the muffler. Many of them have rusted out over the years. Sometimes the mufflers themselves have corroded enough that holes are present. The exhaust can be weld repaired and a tailpipe without a spark arrestor can be added. There are a few aftermarket choices for new exhaust systems out there.

7. Ripped Seat – Ripped seat covers and missing foam are common on used 200E’s. This is not a big deal but if the BIG RED was left out in the elements the seat foam could break down and if the seat is steel it could be corroded. New seat covers are readily available and new foam can be added to the existing foam. New seat foam and covers are available through saddleman. Information on repairing seats can be found HERE.

8. Worn Chain and Sprockets – Chains and sprockets tend to be neglected on the 200E’s. I’m not sure why it could be the cost or it could be that the sub transmission need to be disassembled to replace the front sprocket. New chain and sprockets are available through aftermarket part sources.

9. Air Cleaner – It’s always a mystery when I take off the airbox cover on a 200E. What will be there? A mouse nest? A car wash sponge? In most cases it is nothing the air cleaner is missing or if the air cleaner is there the foam is very deteriorated. The air cleaner element is installed on the air cleaner bracket assembly. This bracket is not required but I am really happy when I see them in an airbox. Aftermarket air filter elements that don’t require the bracket are readily available. The stock Honda air filter element is still available.

10. Bent Handlebars – Many of the used 200E’s out there have been crashed or rolled over at one time or another and the handlebars got bent. Not a big deal you can straighten the bars or aftermarket handlebars are available.

I hope this list will be helpful when you look at that used 200E or if you just bought one. If you end of finding one without a majority of these issues chances are it has been well taken care of.

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