First assessment

This step of having a first assessment should normally be taken before buying a car or a motorbike. But we’re talking of monkey business, right? So: as I wasn’t even in Nairobi when my girlfriend bought the bike on my behalf, it has to happen now. After some general history about the Monkey and me, this time we’ll have a first assessment of our new aquisition.

Vehicle Identification

Normally you should find various stickers ans bagdes on the frame of a bike or in the enginebay of a car with a VIN. A vehicle identification number. This Honda Monkey didn’t have any, but just a stamped in number in the frame.

First assessment VIN: Frame No Z50J - 1173131
Frame No Z50J – 1173131

Given the fact that it has a rear suspension we can conclude that it is a model after 1974. Any model before 1974 are the hardtails. By the decals on the tank one can conclude it’s a 1976 model. Here’s an overview of all models. But any literature I could access speaks of yellow as the one and only color of 1976. Which turned out is true for US. On the European and Japanese market two other colors where sold. White and – the one we have – G20 papaw green. Which also seems to be quite rare. Did we find a true gem?

First assessment of the engine

Now for the first time it get’s really tricky on this bike:

If you take a closer look there a two important parts missing: the gear lever on the left and the kickstarter on the right. Clearly this is not the original engine. Anyway – whoever did the swap did a fairly good job. killswitch and start button work, a complete wiring harness for this engine was installed and even a bigger battery.

As much as it works it doesn’t look good and it’s far from original. Worst to see at the side cover which might not be even from a motorbike. It also might explain, why the brake pedal gets in touch with the engine cover

brake pedal hit's the engine cover when released
brake pedal hit’s the engine cover when released

First assessment of the paper work

This was fast and easy: there isn’t just any. Normally you would check the logbook or any comparable documents like a CoC for newly imported vehicles if you get what you’re promised. This bike doesn’t have a registration which already brings me to my first question. Does it need to have one? The seller claimed it doesn’t … but hey, it’s the one who will care the least once sold. Which regulations from NTSA apply? And if it needs a registration how to get one for an almost 50 year old bike? Maybe someone can shed some light on those legal issues in the comments below.

First assessment of the condition

To be honest: though it runs I would rate it „poor, but not hopeless“. Lot’s of parts like the fenders, the headlamp and indicators are missing. Quite unusual BTW the indicators. The front fork has the mountpoints though indicators were uncommon on this model.

First assessment: The front fork has mountpoints for indicators, though those were not common on this model year
The front fork has mountpoints for indicators, though those were not common on this model year

Other parts are poor like the exhaust or the badly repaired seat. Brakes, chain and tires need to be serviced and most certainly replaced. If it is a gem, it’s at least a very unpolished one.

And the polishing that has to be done raises a very cruial question:

Which type of restauration to choose?

  1. The sheer minimum would be to service the bike, replace missing parts and keep all the patina it acquired over the last decades. Keeping it in an „as-is“ condition, just with proper maintenance is one of the latest trends when it comes to car and bike restorations. It had a life, it was used, it shall look used. As much as it would save money my feeling is that it deserves more. Maybe any vehicle deserves more than this.
  2. The next level would be to come to an „as new“ condition. Let it look like a shiny new bike, right out of the 1976 show room. Everything that is faulty or broken has to be refurbished or replaced with original new parts to get it back to it’s old glory.
  3. A „better as new“ condition. Basically the same as variation before but with some enhancements, esp. when it comes to new manufacturing techniques or materials. E.g. replacing some heavy weight cast iron parts with lighter aluminium. But overall it will be the same bike at the end.
  4. Even one step further would be a „contemporary rebuild“. Let’s say: drum brakes will be replaced by disc braces. Or old light bulbs will be substituted by LED lights. This would be the bike Honda would build today using the same basis. Borders are quite blured between 3) and 4) and sometimes even with the next level. Which would be
  5. A „custom restauration“. Just take the bike as a basis to create something completely new. I’ve seen Superbike handlebars on Honda Monkeys with some addtional motor tuning all the way from big bore kits up to 200 cc to even superchargers. Or some relaxed Bobber? You’ll find so many inspiration on the internet and YouTube especially.

Any recommendations?

So guys, what are your ideas when it comes to rebuild this bike? Preserving, restoring, enhancing, tuning? What would you do having this mini trail in your garage? Give me some comments below. And again: if anyone has some information how to get this 1976 Honda Monkey fully legal onto kenyan roads I’ld be more than happy to hear about this.

Honda Monkey Business

Alright. My apologies for being quiet lately. And as you might notice – for the change in focus that will happen with this blog starting with this very post. And for covering the upcoming topics in english henceforth. We start talking about Monkeys. Honda Monkeys to be precise. And the buisness of refurbishing them … aehm at least one. Mine. I’m sure there will be some monkey business along the way.

How the Honda Monkey business all started

Honda Monkey Z50A K2 from 1970/71 Example picture, not my particular bike of these days
Not the particular bike I owned, but the same model, same color.
And mine wasn’t in this perfect condition, still in a very good shape.

My very first motobike was a Honda Monkey Z50A K2 from 1970/71. I was fifthteen and eager to hit the road. At that time in Germany the only motorisied vehicle you could drive with 15 (besides tractors) where mofas. Pedals like a bike, engine like a motorbike and it could be ridden without any driving licence. We are talking of the 1980s – things changed meanwhile, just in case you wonder). When an auctioning in our village was publicly announced and two mofas were amongst the listed items, I knew I had to get one of those! Auctions are always a good chance for a bargain and this one was even round the corner.

Turned out the mofas were two of the a.m. hardtail Honda Monkeys. One in red without any keys and papers and one in blue. At least with keys, still no papers. Unexperienced as I was I would go for the one with at least one item of hassle less. I won the bid for it for the pocket money friendly amount of 150 or 160 DM (Deutsche Mark). I can’t even remember the exact figure – but it was extremely cheap. Which would translate into about the same amount in Euro in todays money (or approx. 20.000 KES for my Kenyan audience).

The monkey business of miscalculation

What I had to learn was: those weren’t mofas at all, but mokicks (because of the kick starter). Meant I had to get me a driving licence at the age of 16. Which was the minimum age to be allowed driving such. First Honda Monkey business. Good news though: it would allow me to travel at 40 km/h instead of just 25 km/h which was the max. for mofas. I used the year in between to get the paperwork done (a story in itself). And to practice (illegally) my riding skills in the woods behind my parents house.

Of course I needed some upgrades for the bike. My bicycle of that time which I used for my school commute already had all bells and whistles. My motorbike shouldn’t stand back. The two things I needed desperately included flashers and a luggage rack. As I said: I had to carry a school back and only primary school kids had backbacks. And indicating with handsignals was up to bicycle riders, not to motor people.

First steps into a biker career

Still I had no real clue what I bought. I learned all the basics about braking, shifting, handle the clutch in the driving school. I tried to apply my new knowledge to my Monkey, but it refused. A closer look discovered my mistake. The „clutch“ lever wasn’t such, but another way to engage the rear brake besides the normal foot pedal on the right. So where was the clutch? With no internet for research I could figure out that the Monkey was semi-automatic. Other than that the 3 gears where shifted as usual. First down, two and three upwards and a centrifugal clutch would do the magic of seamless shifting. Which I was happy to have – I wasn’t to precise with clutch on the driving school bike.

Once I got familiar with all quirks of the bike and was officially allowed to hit the road. Not a day later than my 16th birthday I could eventually start my bikers career. Besides my daily commutes I also started using the Monkey for errands and short stints to the local public pool. At one point I went for a „big“ journey of 200, 250 km all around the hills of Westerwald. A real adventure for a 16 year old!

Supply and demand regulate the price

When my cousin offered me his Yamaha DT 50 – still a mokick, but a full-sized enduro – I got tempted. I started announcing the Honda for 500 DM and shortly after it was sold for 400 DM to some guys who seemed to be familiar with that very model. I concluded of their response to my changes and the uncommon full fledged papers I got for it. Man, was I happy to make that money! Still I can admit I had no clue. That very model at that time was already worth at least twice of what I got paid. Those guys buying must have taken me for a complete idiot selling this cheap.

With todays knowledge I would have bought both the red and the blue one and just kept them. Today vintage Honda Monkeys are traded (depending on model year and condition) in a range of 3.000 to 6.000 €. This is the most Honda Monkey business I encountered so far.

There for it was a rather easy decision to buy the one that was lately offered on, though it already looked very poor on the pictures of the advert. Nevertheless I saw some potential in it.

I am still sure that a bit of love (and of course money) could turn this in to it’s old glory:

What we are talking of is a 1976 softtail Honda Monkey in „papaw green“. Quite an unusual color which for example wasn’t sold in US at all. Other colors of that model year are a clear white (also rare) and a bright yellow (the major color you’ll find on the market).

Next episode will be about an assessment for the bike to get an idea about the upcoming work.

Gutenberg Editor vs. PageBuilders

WP Meetup Nairobi 29. Feb. recap

First of all: this is the very first of the some more blog post a wanted to write as announced earlier this year. Sorry it didn’t happen so far. The more I’m happy to provide you with a short summary of the talk about the Gutenberg Editor. I was honored to give this talk last Saturday at the WordPress Meetup Nairobi. Though this group shows about 2000 members. The annual WordCamp regularily gets the attention of far more than 100 people. Still: the meetups have some room for improvement. … hmm, room … that’s already one of the things we are working on.

Let’s find a new venue for the meetup

As the burden of organizing was up to now mainly on Emmanuel Ammanulah we meanwhile have some more members who contribute in organizing the monthly meetups. One of our first tasks is to find a new venue to host us regularily. For Febuary we could make use of AFRALTI on Wayaki Way. As they charge at least 7500 KES for the event, this will only be our second best choice. Though we are aware that the WordPress community support could take over the costs. The March event will be held at Bazaar Plaza, which is part of the Moi University and therein at the American Space which is offered for free, but can’t be booked as a recurring event. Therefore: if there are ideas, where we can locate our meetups every last Saturday of the month please feel free to put it to the comments.

Let’s try to offer meetups every month and with a given topic

The second goal is clearly to make sure to have topics for talks and discussions to get our community involved. The initiative is mainly on Jeremy Kabaya who contributed to the Feb. talk and as well will take over the March event. From my past experiences as meetup organizer in Nuremberg and Wurzburg I know too well, how cumbersome it can be to find speakers and interesting topics. There more I’m grateful, that it didn’t take long to convince Michael Owour to take over the April meetup with some insights about WordPress as a business. And as I’m already connected with the Lawyers Hub the May will tackle the new Data Protection Act of Kenya and the implications for building WordPress websites. I consider this a huge effort and I’m very positive, that we will be able to cover the upcoming meetups in 2020 along the way.

So what about Gutenberg Editor?

To be very honest: it was the first time I was so immersed into this topic. So far I either avoided to use the – well, not soooo – new block-editor or just scratched the surface of it’s possibilities. Turned out: I’m not alone! Some still rely on the old TinyMCE Editor, even pimp it with TinyMCE Advanced. But mostly the audience was all about Pagebuilders and among those it was clearly a majority going for Elementor.

First step therefore was to show how existing „classic editor“ content can be transformed into Gutenberg Editor blocks:

Pretty straight forward. As long as the classic block as such isn’t touched at all nothing happens with given content. And if transformed, the worst thing that can happen is to endup with a HTML-block.

Gutenberg Editor (build in) vs. Gutenberg plugin

The Gutenberg Editor which is part of any WordPress 5.x installation as such already is very powerful. It comes with 64 blocks for various content types, layouts, widgets and embeds. I put up site with all of them just to showcase the possibilities. Esp. the columns block and the full width alignment gives some pagebuilder like features for styling a webpage. With re-usable blocks it’s possible to shape certain aspects of the appearance of your website. It’s almost like having a pagebuilder template for posts and pages. Another aspect which cannibalizes pagebuilders.

Some more blocks which a currently under development together with some other experimental features like the block library, the legacy widget block and block based themes can be enabled by installing the Gutenberg plugin. The plugin shows the cutting edge technology of the Gutenberg development, but is not necessarily needed to make use of Gutenberg as such.

Enhance Gutenberg Editor functionality

Most of the plugins listed here work with or without Gutenberg take the block editor even further into the direction of pagebuilders.

  • Central Color Palette
    instead of being dependent on the color scheme the theme itself offers, Central Color Palette allows to define a color set that is used troughout the complete website and even hooks up to the Gutenberg settings of the blocks, that offer color settings
  • Extended re-usable block
    does nothing much more than showing the re-usable blocks as Custom Post Type in the Menu, where as the default only makes them accessible thru the Gutenberg editor menu.
  • Block control allows to definitions if a block is shown on either desktop, tablet or mobile device or to logged in or logged out users only. Another feature many pagebuilders offer that now comes to Gutenberg
  • Drop it gives easy access to and GIPHY to include pictures and memes to your content
  • Similar comfort to access Special Characters is offered by the so named plugin

More Gutenberg Editor blocks

At this point any list will be incomplete. The very best I got so far is Jessica Lyschicks list of Gutenberg Extensions. Entertaining the „“ she has a widespread knowledge of Gutenberg as such and her persistence when it comes to collecting info pays of in this list as well. The list of the ones I showcased are still available on – of course with the help of another plugin, that helps to improve the Gutenberg experience.

… and even more blocks

At latest with some – let’s call them – „block suites“ the possibilities of Gutenberg are very close to pagebuilders. Problem of course is: if I need just a few blocks from that suite and some of another I anyway have to install them all, bloating at least the backend. The solution is on it’s way and already refered under the Gutenberg plugin: the block library will be a repository of single blocks, just as we are used to it with plugins and themes. So far the biggest leap when it comes to make Gutenberg a somewhat pagebuilder for sure is „Gutentor„, which clearly refers to Elementor namewise.

Which brings us to the Pagebuilders

At that point I was happy to hand over to Jeremy who could give a brief introduction into Divi, which was just a wildcard for any other pagebuilder. No matter if we talk of Elementor, Beaver Builder, Divi, Visual Composer or any other … they all have basically the same approach and functions.

The biggest differences to Gutenberg with all Pagebuilders are:

  • Gutenberg does (so far) not offer front-end editing.
  • Gutenberg (so far) not offer full page editing, just the content part

Clearly: this is End Feb. 2020 we are talking about this and esp. the latter is already part of the recent development which offers „block based themes“. Sooner or later Gutenberg will be the pagebuilder for WordPress.

It seems that the suppliers of esp. Elementor and Visual Composer (or also refered as WP-Backery) are very much aware of this. Elementor could secure a $15 million dollar funding and rumors have it, that at the end an online tool comparable to Wix based on a WordPress fork enhanced with Elementor might be the outcome of this deal. As I say: rumors! And the often chided Visual Composer was completely revised, substited the shortcodes with JSON output and … rimshot … went 100 % GPL compliant!

The vital Nairobi community

The best that could happen to any meetup organizer came true for us: a very vital discussion about pros and cons of either or which evolved and not only Jeremy and me could contribute to questions raised. This for me is a clear sign, that the impulse of our talks where well received.

What I liked most

Among the many learnings I head with Gutenberg I’m quite confident, that my next page will be a complete Gutenberg-driven development. Esp. with the enhancement by some of the a.m. single blocks and the inclusion of some learnings about ACF and CPT I had lately.

The very best: the slides I showed were also made with Gutenberg and with links to the next step in the back- or front-end I wanted to demo (note to myself: tweak the nonces duration next time) it became quite a powerful tool. The complete demo site is still online at

Blogging challenge #project26 … accepted!

Once more it was – my much appreciated collegue – Torsten Landsiedel, who came up with one, no two tweets about the blogging challenge #project26:

Aktivieren Sie JavaScript um das Video zu sehen.
Aktivieren Sie JavaScript um das Video zu sehen.

Some time earlier I already failed at the – ok, much more challenging – project52 in terms of regular blogging. This one seemed to be easier: just a bi-weekly interval? And this time already being somewhat prepared, with content in stock? So why not taking another try with blogging challenge #project26!?

When reading the „terms and conditions“ I started doubting:

Das Thema sollte WordPress sein, angrenzende Themengebiete, wie CSS, Javascript, etc. gehen natürlich auch. Bonuspunkte gibt es für Artikel zum Thema Gutenberg.

Hmm, WordPress as topic, surroundings like CSS, Javascript, etc. Bonuspoints for Gutenberg related stuff …? Not what I had in mind and on stock. The name of my blog „Nairobi Notes“ already gives the idea: It’s about my new hometown. Things that I encounter and which sometimes do not fit to my previous experiences, worth to be noted down and explained. But as WordPress still is part of my professional life in Nairobi, I just decided to expand the choises of topics covered.

So it is WordPress as well

I find enough things here and there in my new WordPress world, which are different (not necessarily worse, not necessarily better, just different) from the usual expericence in „good old Germany“. And this leads to the second peculiarity of this blog: shall I publish in German or in English? Or both?

#Projekt26 and #project26 side-by-side

Having two different audiences in mind, here are my thoughts about it:

  • the german spoken part will mainly be for the ones I „left behind“. I’ll try to give you an insight into my daily life and my work environment here in Nairobi.
  • the english spoken part addresses the local Kenyan Community as well. Besides WordPress I will allow myself some thoughts on business-related stuff. I’m a Master of Business Administration and I feel somewhat obliged to share some of my experiences of being self-employed for 20 years now.

At this point of the project I will just avoid any hassle of multilingual plugins. Therefore: don’t be suprised to find posts (ideally) alternating in german or english. And consequently this will be the only post which is published in german as well. But: I’m willing to learn from your comments about this! Or as Torsten challenged:

Alle zwei Wochen muss ein anderer Blogartikel kommentiert werden – das ist neu, aber wichtig, damit wir den Blog wieder als zentralen Ort für den Austausch nutzen und das nicht auf den Social Media Plattformen diverser Konzerne machen.

So: not only publishing, but commenting on other peoples posts to gain back some of the internet that some multinationals took from us! An approach I totally promote as well!

So: what are the pros and cons of mixing up german- and english-spoken content (or for you guys in Kenya: having swahili and english content side-by-side) in one timeline? And if the drawbacks prevail (e.g. for SEO): what would be the right way in your opinion to organize the content? And why do you recommend this particular way?

Let me have your comments!