Honda Big Red 3 Wheeler

The Honda Motor Company Ltd., a Japanese company, specializes in manufacturing automobiles. Soichiro Honda established the company in 1946. Honda produces motorbikes, cars, UTVs, trucks, engines, and electric automobiles. Globally, it ranks among the top brands. The Big Red 3-wheeler, or ATC 200, was one of their famous sports utility vehicles.

The Big Red 3-wheeler entered the market in 1981. Honda came out with different models of the ATC until 1987, when production ceased. Even though ATC 200 is no longer manufactured, adventurers search for second-hand vehicles because of their features and advantages.

It is an all-terrain vehicle released as a part of a cycle lineup by Honda. The Big Red 3-wheeler is sturdy, powerful, and versatile. Let’s read about it in detail.

What You Need to Know About Honda Big Red 3 Wheeler

A motorcycle with three wheels sounds fascinating, isn’t it? It gives you the necessary road grip and balance when riding on rocky, bumpy, and uneven routes. Honda Big Red 3-wheeler did exactly that and much more.

The initial Honda ATC had balloon tires and didn’t exactly look like a stylish and powerful cycle to take riders on adventures. The ATC 185 became a big thing when it was launched in the early 1980s. It came with a 4-stroke 180ss air-cooled OHV engine and five-speed auto-clutch transmission.

Then came ATC 200 series, which went on to become a farmer’s favorite. The trike (three-wheeled motorcycle) was easy to maintain and use. It was perfect for agricultural use. Farmers and commercial craftsmen decided that the Big Red 3-wheeler was the best cycle to use on their lands.

Honda produced three generations of Big Red 3-wheelers. The main purpose and intent of all models were to provide a more dependable utility trike for farmers, adventurers, travelers, etc., from the off-beaten paths. Engine displacement and suspension had major prominence as the vehicle had to sustain in rough conditions.

Racers loved the Big Red 250/ 250ES and 250R with the 200cc engine. The 250R model even had pro-link suspension, six-speed transmission, a liquid-cooled 246cc engine, and the appearance of a Harley Davidson (yes!). ATC 250R and ATC350X turned out to be the top-selling cycles by Honda. The ban on these vehicles in the US didn’t affect their sales in other parts of the world.

ATC 200 was the last release in the series before Honda had to stop production. ATC 200 had as many as six versions and new features. For example, 200M, 200S, and 200X were known for their lightweight aluminum wheels and super suspension. The 200E/ES had a towing capacity of a whopping 700 lbs. Imagine a three-wheeler cycle towing 700 pounds of weight on uneven roads and hilly areas.

Specifications of Honda Big Red 3 Wheeler

Some models were meant for utility purposes, some for sports (racing), and others for recreational purposes. We’ll look at the features and specifications of Big Red to understand why it was and continues to be so popular among users.

Dimensions: 72.8 x 42.5 inches (LxW)
Dry Weight: 342 lbs (or more depending on the model)
Ground Clearance: 4.9 inches
Wheelbase: 47.2 inches
Seat Height: 27 inches
Tires: 25x12- 9 front and rear tires with clear patterns (optional chevron patterns)
Fuel Capacity: 2.3 gallons

Design and Build

The Big Red trike had a durable red plastic body and steel frame. The bright red color was a major attraction. The vehicle didn’t require much maintenance or serving for the exteriors and components. It could survive in tough off-road and weather conditions. Honda has always given due importance to high quality, and the Big Red is no exception.


The Big Red had engines ranging from 192cc to 250cc, depending on the model. The four-stroke air-cooled single-cylinder 192cc engine had a compression ratio of 7:8:1. It was powerful enough for the rider to drive on rocky paths while carrying a load on the front and rear.

Suspension and Brakes

The front suspension was one of the highlights of Honda Big Red. It made the ride smoother and better. The manufacturer used hydraulic telescopic forks for the front suspension.

It had aluminum cast drum brakes (level and cable operated on the front and fully sealed pedal-operated brakes on the rear). The braking system was efficient and dependable.

Ignition and Drivetrain

The vehicle came with an automatic compression release and electric start. The ignition was practically maintenance-free. The CDI system (Capacitor Discharge Ignition) also had an auxiliary recoil pull starter as a backup. You could use this to start the Big Red if the electric starter didn’t work.

History and Ban of Honda Big Red

The Honda Big Red or ATC 200 was a utility vehicle with an electric start ignition and four-stroke 192cc engine. It had cargo racks on the front and rear to carry the load. There was an additional storage box for other items.

With features like sealed drum brakes on the rear and telescopic fork front suspension, the Big Red soon became a reliable vehicle to use on all terrains. This led to other manufacturers releasing their own models in this category.

So what led to the ban on the production of these useful vehicles?

The U.S. Justice Department expressed safety concerns about the three-wheeler cycles in the market. Big Red and other trikes in the category faced the same fate when the US government banned manufacturers from producing more of these vehicles.

That’s because of the increase in accidents (deaths and injuries) caused to adolescents and teens who rode the trikes into hilly terrains without proper training, practice, or driving license. The lack of control and censorship on the use of these ATVs led to many accidents. The government decided that a ten-year ban would be appropriate.

Furthermore, the distributors bought back the unsold vehicles in the market and even financed a $100 million safety campaign to create awareness about safe driving and the hazards of riding these bikes.

But what could be the reason for the accidents? Irresponsible and reckless driving is one reason. However, there’s more. The inherent design of Big Red caused a few issues, especially at higher speeds. The Big Red has one wheel at the front and two at the rear. This makes it a rear-heavy trike prone to tilting and toppling if the rider is not careful.

Riding on a slope could cause the vehicle to tip backward due to the extra weight at the rear end. Moreover, the trike could literally hit the rider over the head if they didn’t know how to get down from it. The rider couldn’t just jump off. They had to balance their weight and then get off the vehicle.

Since these vehicles were used by teens and children (without adult supervision), they couldn’t plant their feet or adjust the entire weight and stay upright. Consequently, accidents and injuries increased. The government had to ban three-wheeler vehicles even though these were a great help for farmers and commercial workers in remote locations.

Pros and Cons



Final Words

Honda Big Red 3-wheeler was a great trike or utility vehicle with a unique design and build suitable for all terrains. The vehicles are still used and loved even today. Luckily, you can buy the spare parts on eCommerce marketplaces or ask your mechanic for brick-and-mortar stores.

Riders require great skill and riding expertise to navigate the Big Red in different regions and conditions. Whether you use it for utility or racing, you can’t go wrong with the Honda Big Red 3-wheeler. It is reliable, durable, requires low maintenance, and is productive.