Matt Henn's 1992 Honda Civic and 2015 Giant Reign
Pistons & Pivots

Matt Henn's Well Used '92 Honda Civic & Special Giant Reign

Words AJ Barlas
Photos AJ Barlas
Date Dec 16, 2019
Presented By
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Pistons and Pivots is presented by Maxxis. Every second Monday, we'll present a new round of Pistons and Pivots which features cool vehicles with character, and a little about their owners and the bikes they ride.

If you've got a vehicle and bike that fit the series, you can submit your photos and articles to pistonsandpivots@nsmb.com. Make sure to include 'Pistons and Pivots' in the subject line. Once a month, we'll pick a winning submission and feature it on the site, and the person that submitted it will earn a fresh set of tires for their bike, courtesy of Maxxis. At the end of six months, we'll pick a grand prize winner, who will walk away with Maxxis rubber for the vehicle they submitted for Pistons and Pivots!


Not all Pistons & Pivots subjects can be glossy vehicles; that’s not how all mountain bikers are. And not everyone cares about the latest and greatest products either. Matt Henn is a fine example of each; his car is old, used, costs very little to maintain and gets driven hard. His bike is the same and he doesn’t need brand new gear to go fast. Matt finished just off the podium at the Squamish Enduro EWS Qualifier earlier this year, an event filled with fast riders. That may not sound impressive but when you compare Matt's bike with what his competitors were riding, his result comes into focus.

Matt’s knowledge of the Squamish trail network probably contributed more to his success at the Squamish Enduro than his bike. He's part of the Squamish Trail Crew and he spends his summers sculpting dirt, filling holes, and assessing the state of his home trails. Anyone that's spent time walking their local trails knows that alone grants great insight, and it increases when working on the trails and spending more time on them, away from the bike.

When Matt’s not playing in the dirt, he’s playing with water for Northwest Hydraulic Consultants, mainly as a hydrometric technician. What he may refer to as his ‘real job’ has him gauging streams, building weather stations, and several other tasks that have to do with managing water resource data. Hailing from Mill Valley, California, he first landed in the area while attending UBC. Soon he made friends, secured his job and made Squamish home. Four years after finishing school and he hasn’t looked back but he enjoys some California time during our long, wet winters.

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The '92 Civic CX basking in the glorious evening light.

Matt’s 1992 Honda Civic CX

Matt doesn’t conform to trends, which is clear from his vehicle choices. But I can't really say he focuses on what’s practical either – not completely. Before the Civic, Matt owned a Ford Ranger and to be honest, that seems like a more practical vehicle based on his summer job. He hasn’t let the Civic hold him back on the access roads and he gave me a sample on our way to the shoot location. Many use a relatively smooth upper road that drops down to the access road these images were shot on. To show me what the Civic was capable of he chose a lower access road covered in sharp, baby-head sized rocks. There was a bit of spinning but he and the little car made short work of it.

Matt didn’t buy the Civic as an off-road vehicle, that’s just the life it's been part of since he took ownership. Unless he needs to carry a lot of tools he often jumps on a KLX 250 when commuting on the dirt roads around Squamish. The Civic was originally purchased as a commuter for his regular trips to North Vancouver – where Northwest Hydraulic Consultants have an office. Two frugal co-workers recommended the car for its ease of maintenance and low running cost.


The car has been blissfully light on maintenance considering it was $1,100 and made in 1992. – Matt Henn

It’s worked out. The car cost him $1,100 three years ago and he’s since put an estimated $1,500–$2,000 into it, which includes bike racks, roof box, snow tires – items that quickly add up, even if purchased from the second-hand market. The largest repair he’s undertaken involved a loud exhaust that he didn’t like. Matt tried to replace the muffler on his own with one he found at Pick-A-Part in Chilliwack, B.C. but made it louder in the process. A gap between two pieces of the exhaust was the problem. It took a year of driving the Sea To Sky highway with earplugs and a complete failure, making the exhaust go from “loud truck volume” to “unlimited class tractor pull volume” to send Matt to OK Tire for the final repair.

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She's a looker and doesn't require much work.

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The '92 Civic, and possibly every Civic, isn't considered anything special but the simplicity and reliability have made them popular.

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The paint hasn't got any shine left and looks like a matte finish from many angles. Body trim and lines no longer line up how they once did off the showroom floor. But she drives well and cost little to run.

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Matt hasn't put any time into the exterior of the car and the spots of off-green, missing paint…

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Missing trim pieces…

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And rust make it clear that this is a utility vehicle that will be driven until it can't be anymore.


Perhaps the proudest Civic moment was passing a shiny, built Tacoma up the road to Full Nelson – Matt Henn
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Rather than buy a new roof rack, Matt jimmied on the rack from the canopy of his previous vehicle, a Ford Ranger.

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Matt retrofitted the rack with some small pieces of steel flatbar and self tapping metal screws instead of buying new attachments.

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The rack has been solid for three years and Matt's had some heavy loads on it, including a 250lb folding couch that was being transported to the dump. He still gets a bit nervous when driving with a heavy load in strong winds though…


Unfortunately I ended up making the vehicle louder as there was a small gap between the two pieces of exhaust I had tried to join, so I drove with earplugs on the highway for about a year. As a quick side note, I discovered that earplugs are actually a very cheap and effective upgrade to shitty speakers as it cuts out the sharper, higher frequencies relative to the mids and bass. – Matt Henn
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The power of the stock 1.5L S.O.H.C. motor is something to behold! Matt's Civic is no 'rice-burner' or in Aussie, 'jabber car'. The engine produces a whopping 102hp – the U.S. CX model had a smaller engine that only produced 70hp – for it's 2,094lb curb weight.

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There's quite a bit of oil on the engine but Matt hasn't experienced any problems to make him concerned about it.

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The first thing Matt had to sort out was the lack of temperature control (there's no A.C. though). He bought the vehicle in March and still needed a defroster but purchasing it on a Sunday didn't give him time to pull apart the dash and search for the cause. But he did find the blend door in the engine bay (Matt's hand points it out in the image above) and manually flipped it to only blow hot air until June/July, when he switched it back to regular air. It's since fixed itself and he's been able to change the temperature from the dash lever for the last two years.

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The windscreen has a couple of big cracks but Matt hasn't seen a need to replace it yet. Just out of focus is a special bead seat cover…

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Matt told me that the bead seat cover does a great job of preventing sweat in the hotter months. When the car doesn't have air conditioning, that's a functional addition to have. The dash is coated in dust from having the windows down for that natural air-co but otherwise looks pretty good.

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The CX was a base model and everything is manual, except for the power brakes. The automatic model also included power steering but Matt's is a 5-speed manual.

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Dust…

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The stereo is a luxury upgrade that was installed by the previous owner. It includes Bluetooth calling which is hilarious considering the rest of the car's lack of tech…


Apparently you can put the suspension from the same generation Accord into my Civic without needing to modify anything, and it gives it a ~2" lift. A buddy was also saying he saw one with a winch on the front of it the other day. – Matt Henn
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The inside is overall in great condition and with a few hours of vacuuming and windex, I reckon it would shine up quite well.

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A nice and unique feature to this model Civic was the split opening hatch.

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The hydraulics in the door are done though. Instead, Matt uses this steering wheel lock to prop it open.

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Matt keeps it pretty clean. Some ropes, booster cables, a window reflector, and a visi-vest are all that lives in the vehicle.

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Shine on you crazy diamond…

Matt’s 2015 Giant Reign Advanced 0

This may be a four-year-old bike (gasp!) but it's as unique and used as the Civic. Matt bought it second hand and has since proceeded to ride it into the ground, something he tends to do with all of his vehicles. And while it isn’t the fanciest bike out there, Matt likes how it rides. He enjoys it so much that when he noticed a crack in the downtube, he got excited about trying to fix it. I don’t think I’m alone when I say I would initially be gutted, followed by possible excitement if covered by warranty.

Instead of moving on to a new bike, Matt began learning how to apply a carbon wrap to the frame. He had a friend who'd performed similar home job fixes to busted Yeti bikes and together, the two of them got to work in his kitchen. He told me that laying carbon is similar to fibreglassing; soak and coat the material in a two-part epoxy and lay it into the desired shape. Curing the material proved more challenging and Matt feels this is where there's some creativity and R&D happening in bike companies. Matt battled with a leaky seal in their vacuum around the repair, thanks to a bad tape job or underpowered pump – he’s not sure. To finish it Matt’s solution was to wrap the repair tightly with electrical tape and set the frame in a room with a space heater cranking. He hoped that the tape would provide enough compression to let the work cure without bubbles and it appears to have been a success – he’s been riding it in this state for roughly three years.


I could flex the carbon with my fingers, but the tube wasn't deformed and I wouldn't have noticed it if it wasn't right next to my face on the gondola. The crack was almost certainly caused by the crease in the tailgate pad I had on the truck leaving the bike's downtube exposed to the edge of the tailgate while shuttling. – Matt Henn
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Matt's Giant spent a bit too much time hanging over a shuttle pad when he first got it. It's probably why he's so damn fast on a bike but also started a new journey for his Giant Reign.

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Matt and a friend wrapped the cracked part of the downtube in carbon and repaired the frame themselves. He's been riding it like this for three years now.

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Since owning this bike, anything Matt's tried has felt fairly similar, curbing his desire to update. And they have less carbon too!


Upon unwrapping it and sanding/angle grinding down the extra epoxy I was left with a new and improved frame. – Matt Henn
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Another sign of too much time hanging over a tailgate. Matt said without hesitation that the wear on the CSU…

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And the lower were caused by the friction on a tail gate pad.

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Not all of the wear is from shuttling. This spot on his chainstay is from his rear foot and his friends poke fun saying that its pop can thin. Owen from the first Pistons & Pivots says he can feel it flex when he presses on it. Matt didn't seem too worried

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Matt runs the popular Maxxis Assegai on the front of the bike. He's also been running Cushcore inserts for three years and says he hasn't had a single flat. He has spent heaps of time faffing with setup though and notes it's definitely not for everyone. Considering how many parts have needed to be swapped the good condition of the original wheels speaks volumes about the protection the inserts offer.

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A DHF was fitted to the rear wheel. This has been a commonly seen combination in 2019.

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The bike came with the stock build kit, which was all high end. Matt has replaced each part as it's worn with lower quality parts or stuff he's gotten second-hand from friends. His drivetrain is a mix of well-used NX cranks and SRAM 11-speed drivetrain.


I'll probably ride it until I get on a new bike and it feels like a completely different beast, in the way that I went from the Nomad 2 to this bike and it felt like a new type of machine. So far, most of the bikes I've ridden since feel fairly similar, and they don't even have as much carbon on them. – Matt Henn
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The stock Guide RSC brakes are gone and they were replaced with an older set of SRAM X0 Trail brakes. Kona grips take some of the sting from the trail out of his hands.

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Matt runs a 200mm SRAM Centreline rotor up front but the rear has been bent and replaced with a 180mm Formula.

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He's also swapped the bars for a set from Chromag.

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The fork is the stock RockShox Pike 130-160mm travel Dual Position Air.

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Does anyone use these travel adjust dials anymore?

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Matt's a fan of the OneUp EDC Pump. He likes that it lives on his bike permanently so he doesn't have to think about tools or air when getting prepared for a ride.

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Composite pedals from OneUp.

It's clear Matt inflicts a hard life on his conveyances but it's refreshing to see someone focused on having a good time rather than how good his possessions look. These are merely Matt's tools, whether for a good time or transportation and he isn't afraid to take on a challenge in order to keep his vehicles running. I'm going to leave it at that because I don't want to jinx Matt.

Has anyone else fixed their broken carbon frame in the kitchen?

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Comments

fartymarty
+2 Niels Beau Miller
fartymarty  - Dec. 15, 2019, 11:48 p.m.

Some more info on the DIY carbon repair would be interesting.

I do love bikes that tell a story.

Reply

AJ_Barlas
+1 thaaad DMVancouver satn
AJ Barlas  - Dec. 16, 2019, 10:06 a.m.

Aside from what's above, Matt said the crack was straight and clean, making things easier. He said they sanded the frame, then wrapped it with the epoxy soaked carbon. They tried wrapping the area in a mesh paper to soak up extra epoxy when trying to create the initial vacuum seal but that didn't work out (leaky seal as mentioned). They then went to the 'leci tape approach and that's that. Matt may be able to add more?

Reply

mhenn
+2 AJ Barlas Pete Roggeman
mhenn  - Dec. 16, 2019, 9:41 p.m.

Yep what AJ summarized below basically sums it up. This was a very simple case of a repair - a straight tube that can be wrapped with an off the shelf 6" roll of carbon. It would be much more complicated and outside of my skills to wrap something on the edge of a head tube or near a pivot.

Reply

xy9ine
+1 Pete Roggeman
Perry Schebel  - Dec. 17, 2019, 11:50 a.m.

i'm assuming most broken carbon bikes are getting warrantied & dumpstered (/ocean fill), but would be cool to see more repairing going on, as it generally seems like a fairly straightforward process. i had a frame patched up at roberts composites - reasonable price, bomber fix. sucks to have to toss out a $3k++ frame for a (somewhat) easily implemented fix.

Reply

billyholton
+1 Pete Roggeman
billyholton  - Dec. 18, 2019, 9:06 p.m.

I’ve been repairing carbon frames for years!  Broken seat stays,  broken top tubes. Fixing is relatively simple and saves the planet from another perfectly functional piece of fibre reinforced plastic sitting in a landfill for the next 5000 years. 

I employ a similar approach to what Matt did except my vacuum system seals flawlessly. I use breather fabrics to help absorb excess epoxy and then use light weight tinted fillers to smooth it all out after the structural part is cured. Tinted so that I can tell when I am sanding down to the substrate level. Then paint it and go out and smash it again.

Reply

mhenn
+1 Pete Roggeman
mhenn  - Dec. 18, 2019, 10:15 p.m.

That's a really good idea to use a tinted filler as a way to make the end result look cleaner. If I'm understanding it correctly, that's something you essentially just paint on to the completed repair? Would you sand off the epoxy and then apply it? Or am I getting this wrong and it's something you put into the original epoxy mix that bonds with the carbon fiber?

What I took away from the process is that carbon repair is definitely still an art rather than a science, and every time I hear of a nifty technique like this it confirms that there is still a lot of innovation remaining for it.

Reply

billyholton
+1 Pete Roggeman
billyholton  - Dec. 19, 2019, 5:42 a.m.

It’s kinda like yer thinking. The filler gets spread on like PB. It is applied to the cured carbon layer asa way to smooth it out. My vacuum system means that I sand as little of the structural repair as possible. When the lightweight tinted epoxy cures I sand it. The tint tells me when I’m sanding too deep cuz I see the colour of the carbon. I usually do the tinted filler process twice to achieve a nice smooth finish. Then you could do what your thinking, if I have it right and it’s great idea BTW, mix a runnier batch of tinted epoxy and paint it on.  Once that cures UV coat it  and viola the repair’s done. 

It is a bit of an art, as you said. The nice thing is that even if your not a great artist at first, the repairs work.

Reply

mhenn
0 DMVancouver billyholton
mhenn  - Dec. 19, 2019, 9:34 p.m.

Cool yea I think I'll try this if I have to do another repair at some point. It would be cool to check out your setup at some point too depending on where you are located. I've got a set of carbon cranks that have worn through to the underlying foam in one spot I've been debating repairing...

fartymarty
+1 mhenn
fartymarty  - Dec. 19, 2019, 11:56 p.m.

Billy, 

This is well above my understanding of carbon (I'm a ludite and ride steel bikes) but it would be really interesting if NSMB did an indepth article on carbon repair with all the gritty details.

Reply

billyholton
+1 mhenn
billyholton  - Dec. 20, 2019, 5:08 a.m.

That would be very interesting. It’s a material that is well suited to repairing and the parts hold up extremely well post repair. No need to chuck them and get new.

Reply

billyholton
0
billyholton  - Dec. 20, 2019, 5:08 a.m.

That would be very interesting. It’s a material that is well suited to repairing and the parts hold up extremely well post repair. No need to chuck them and get new.

Reply

Speeder1
+1 mhenn
Speeder1  - Dec. 22, 2019, 2:09 p.m.

I've repaired a cracked and smashed up carbon wheel with JB weld. It worked just fine for months before winter came and I sent it back to DT for a new hoop. There's a couple good vids on the interwebs with great info on how to get it done. Haven't done a frame though!

Reply

mhenn
0
mhenn  - Dec. 23, 2019, 9:45 a.m.

Nice! I definitely have taken the flat spot out of a rim with one end of a automotive bottle jack on the hub and the other on the inside flat part of the rim. Works as well as you can estimate what a perfect circle is.

Reply

Kelownakona
+8 Timer Niels AJ Barlas Andy Eunson ManInSteel JVP Cr4w Beau Miller
Kelownakona  - Dec. 16, 2019, 1:13 a.m.

This is inspiring and refreshing to see and read about when we're part of an industry that is obsessed with creating reasons to buy the next latest thing which give minor benefits to most riders.

Reply

Timer
+3 Niels ManInSteel Beau Miller
Timer  - Dec. 16, 2019, 1:41 a.m.

Love his comment about new bikes feeling very similar since 2015. Quite a sharp contrast to the marketing machine proclaiming each model year a new "gamechanger" and "obvious improvement" over last year's bikes.

Did he comment on how many dropper post he went through? I would be amazed if this was still the original one.

Reply

mhenn
+1 AJ Barlas
mhenn  - Dec. 16, 2019, 9:47 p.m.

Yep it's the stock dropper post alright, but the lever button was upgraded and the post itself has needed to get rebuilt once a year for my entire ownership. The frame can't accommodate a post with the amount of range I want so I use a quick release clamp to compensate for this, and I trust a hydraulic connection for the frequent manual adjustments of the seat post more than I would trust a cable actuated one, even though they are far simpler and less maintenance.

Reply

Littleman
+8 Timer goose8 Niels AJ Barlas Vik Banerjee ManInSteel Cam McRae twk
Littleman  - Dec. 16, 2019, 3:05 a.m.

100% agree with the comments above, it's great to see the opposite to the "buy new stuff" articles  that are the norm. I know it needs to be to keep sites like this going but a nice welcome change nevertheless, well done NSMB. Also, the environmental benefit of keeping things for longer and repairing is an important thing too, not to be dismissed. Massive respect to Matt.

Reply

xy9ine
+3 fartymarty ManInSteel Cr4w
Perry Schebel  - Dec. 16, 2019, 6:58 a.m.

this. refreshing indeed. i'm all about extracting maximum lifespans / value out of everything, and especially fond of a good bodge that will keep product out of the landfill. i also love hardware with well earned character & patina. beaters are rad. anyone can load up a credit card with the latest trick bits, but it's quirky stuff that proudly display heaps of loving (ab)use and character that i find fascinating. 

also - EG hatches rule. i had one for years; served me well for many miles & countless adventures. was properly beat when i finally got rid of it (though the engine was still solid at 300+k), slammed & loud - total kids car - but i loved that thing till the end.

Reply

DaveSmith
0
Dave Smith  - Dec. 16, 2019, 9:39 a.m.

The hood latch being among the issues at the end.

Reply

xy9ine
0
Perry Schebel  - Dec. 16, 2019, 11:26 a.m.

breaking a ball joint and having the front end hit the ground in an intersection was another. though i just consider these character building moments.

Reply

DemonMike
+2 AJ Barlas Pete Roggeman
mike  - Dec. 16, 2019, 6:59 a.m.

Fugg it submit my crap later LOL.I need new tires!!!

#northsidetrailbuilders

Have tried 3 times to submit , keeps getting returned . Is there another email address??

Reply

pete@nsmb.com
+1 mike
Pete Roggeman  - Dec. 16, 2019, 5:01 p.m.

Do it!

Reply

DemonMike
0
mike  - Dec. 17, 2019, 8:24 a.m.

Trying but the email keeps getting returned :(

Reply

pete@nsmb.com
0
Pete Roggeman  - Dec. 17, 2019, 3:22 p.m.

Hmm, weird. Are you sending tons of huge photos? Can you confirm you're sending to pistonsandpivots@nsmb.com?

You can also try submission@nsmb.com. And if that's still not working, send me an email to pete at nsmb dot com and let's figure it out.

Reply

DemonMike
0
mike  - Dec. 17, 2019, 4:11 p.m.

No huge images , I will try later . It could be me mechanical mind in a digital world LOL. And correct email made sure of that.

Sent a few images , hopefully it worked this time

Thanks!!

Reply

cbennett
+3 AJ Barlas Pete Roggeman mhenn
cbennett  - Dec. 16, 2019, 9:04 a.m.

Always game for a 19th retrieval plus it's narrow stature dodges all the potholes!

Reply

OwenFoster
+7 AJ Barlas ManInSteel mike Pete Roggeman Cam McRae twk mhenn
OwenFoster  - Dec. 16, 2019, 9:38 a.m.

Love this so much.  Matt's a gem and is also very fast.  6th in pro at the Squamish Enduro this year... ON THIS BIKE.

Reply

doug-m
+1 Speeder1
Doug M.  - Dec. 16, 2019, 10:01 a.m.

Glorious! Beater hatchbacks are a great choice for the discerning dirtbag.

Reply

morgan-heater
0
Morgan Heater  - Dec. 16, 2019, 10:57 a.m.

Fuel efficiency is so hot right now.

Reply

CB-Spoolmak
+2 AJ Barlas Speeder1
CB-Spoolmak  - Dec. 16, 2019, 1:07 p.m.

Best looking Hondas ever, '87 to '95 CRX & these hatch/mini wagons. I miss cars that look like cars.

Reply

DemonMike
0
mike  - Dec. 16, 2019, 9:49 p.m.

This comment has been removed.

ChazzMichaelMichaels
+2 Speeder1 Cam McRae
ChazzMichaelMichaels  - Dec. 18, 2019, 8:17 p.m.

I have a similar Civic. Same colour, but the sedan version, slightly better condition though. And with 142kW.

Reply

Heinous
+1 Cam McRae
Heinous  - Dec. 20, 2019, 4:40 a.m.

If you’re interested in carbon repair, Raoul is one of the best in the game, he’s even done repairs for warranty on some super high end boutique carbon stuff. It helps having your F-16 carbon repair ticket from Boeing.

https://instagram.com/luescher_teknik?igshid=1svbaqse36bwn

Reply

Speeder1
0
Speeder1  - Dec. 22, 2019, 2:18 p.m.

Best piston and pedal yet! Love the 5 speed econo beater Honda from probably the best era of Honda's ever, improvised roof rack, and well used bike. No tach? No problem. Shift when it starts getting loud and power starts dropping off. Easy to work on, tough as nails, and a lot of fun to drive. Way more offroad capability than most people know.

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