RTW travelers tend to fall into one of two camps. There’s the wealthy ones, with big-bore bikes and a budget to circle the world. Or, at least explore the world a tour at a time, whenever they can get away from managing their hedge fund or their law practice or whatever.
Then there’s the other camp (the one I fall squarely into, alas!). These are the riders with a shoestring budget, who’d happily stuff it all to circle the globe, if it wasn’t for all those bills.
If that describes you, then here’s a cool little bike, for sale in Australia. It’s not well-known in North America, but Honda’s CTX200 Bushlander might be a great choice for a world traveler on a tight budget.
A basic engine
The Honda CTX200 is a farm bike, aka an ag bike (short for agriculture). It’s made for herding cattle, checking fence lines, running down varmints—traditional cowboy stuff. In many ways, the ag bike was a replacement for the horse on Australian cattle stations; the motorcycle never wore out, never needed feed when it wasn’t used, and it never got sick. Yeah, you had to put gas in it, and wrench on it once in a while, but these machines were also made to be low-maintenance as well.
This ad doesn’t say where this 2010 model Bushlander was made, but it was one of Honda’s overseas models, built in factories outside Japan from a Honda design. Some of these machines were made in Brazil, so it’s possible this machine was built there as well.
The engine is basic, bare-bones ’80s technology. It’s an air-cooled single-cylinder, with overhead cam. Digging around the Internet, it appears some of these engines were built with pushrod-actuated top ends, but this 2010 model appears to have a cam chain, as near as I can tell from Honda manuals.
Whatever the case, experienced riders will immediately see similarities to Honda’s XL/XR200 engines of the 1980s, as well as the CG125 engine. All of these engines were simple and solid; the CTX200 has a basic two-valve head, with no RFVC trickery. This means less horsepower, but the engine is much more bulletproof.
Honda rated the CTX200 for around 9 horsepower, and roughly 11 pound-feet of torque. No doubt this helped longevity. The CTX200 came with a five-speed gearbox (a very low first gear, reportedly) and a kickstarter to back up the electric start. There’s no paper oil filter, only a removable screen built into the case.
Accessories fit for the farm
As a budget-friendly machine aimed at careless cowboys, Honda did not pack the CTX200 with technical bells and whistles. Instead, Honda outfitted the bike with gadgets that made the Bushlander a more practical vehicle.
One oddity you’ll never see on a street bike was the clutch lock (see it demonstrated below). Instead of forcing farmers to row through the gearbox in their gumboots, stabbing for neutral every time they wanted to stop, Honda put a locking lever next to the clutch lever. This allowed the rider to disengage the clutch in any gear, cutting power to the rear wheel so they could get off the bike and chase a runaway sheep or mend a fence.
Other than that, the CTX200 got the standard ag bike setup. Honda put a wide-foot kickstand on both sides of the bike, which makes driveline servicing easy. There’s a sizeable rack over the front headlight, included as standard equipment, and an even bulkier rear rack. There’s a set of engine crash bars, and large rear fender to keep mudslinging to a minimum.
The CTX gets a set of sturdy-looking handguards. These seem to be aimed at protecting the levers in a tipover, mostly. They’d offer some protection from trailside branches, but they don’t offer much coverage.
Honda didn’t put an enclosed drivechain on the CTX. Some ag bikes come with this setup, which preserves chain life by keeping it clean if you remember to oil it periodically. The CTX’s exposed drivechain is certainly much easier to see and clean, although it may wear out more quickly as it will pick up grit on the trails.
Honda said the CTX weighed 300 pounds at the curb, but that’s probably without the weight of the crash bars, etc., included.
Although motojourno reviews of the CTX are non-existent, you can see a farm publication reviewing the bike below! There’s another collection of CTX200 videos here. Get a good walkaround look at the bike here.
An affordable overlander?
The CTX isn’t a fast bike, but it’s built tough. It comes with everything you need for heading down a bad road, including 21-18 wheels. If you search Google, you can find ride reports of different solo or group adventures through Africa in the early 2000s aboard the CTX. It combined quality with affordability, and fly-and-ride trips were easy. The bike couldn’t really be improved past its showroom state, as it came with racks and bash guards, with no aftermarket accessories available. Buy your bike, strap down a duffel bag, and go.
They seem harder to find in South Africa these days, as they’ve been out production for a while. This one is for sale in Ballina, Australia, for $3,750 AUD, and the turn signals seem to hint it’s street-legal. Maybe it isn’t. You’d definitely want to make sure of that before you jetted around the world for a fly-and-ride Down Under. But even if it isn’t road-legal, or practical for a developed country like Australia, this machine is an example of what’s possible if you think outside the box. International travel is always going to cost money, but it can cost a lot less if you have goals other than raw speed. If you’re willing to explore back roads and goat tracks at lower speeds, a machine like this might be the thing for you, even if the CTX itself isn’t the perfect bike.