Honda Monkey Tuner Gianni Potenza

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Honda Monkey Tuner Gianni Potenza

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Honda Monkey Tuner Gianni Potenza

Finale: Potenza Monkeys
Honda Monkey Tuner Gianni Potenza

When it comes to the Honda Monkey topic, there is almost no getting around Gianni Potenza. The Hamburg-based company not only manufactures and sells fine parts, but also customizes the small cult bikes into phenomenal one-offs.

Rolf Henniges


Anyone who hears his name for the first time without any reference to it, automatically thinks of a porn actor: Gianni Potenza.

The 36-year-old leans casually against the wall of his workshop, smiles to himself and says: “I never thought about that, but I usually get on the phone with ‘Gianni here’ or ‘Potenza Performance Parts’.” , whose real name is actually Wittschier, everything revolves around tuning. But Wittschier Tuning or Wittschier Performance Parts … somehow that doesn’t sound like anything.

“Potenza was obvious,” sums up Gianni, “because it is the Italian expression for PS.” Obvious because he was practically born with a love for Italy. His father, a professor of Romance studies who has already published a number of specialist books, gave his two children not only Italian first names, but also a weakness for the Italian way of life – temperament, serenity and amore. And it is the love for little things that Gianni lives out to the full in his job. In the motorcycle scene he is an insider tip for Honda Monkeys, and he also produces tuning parts for the Mini Cooper. Gianni develops and sells special parts for the small Japanese bikes and rebuilds old machines ( He goes a different way than most of those who deal with monkeys – he cus-tomizt: “I looked at the cruiser and chopper scene and thought: I can do what they do too.”

And this is how his system works: He buys original old Honda Monkeys and dismantles them down to the last screw.

Those interested in buying can have their bikes put together individually, because everything from the brake caliper to the swing arm to the handlebars – all new parts, of course – is freely selectable. The real highlight: the drives can also be freely selected. Gianni has hot wires to Thailand and Japan and is purchasing parts of new single cylinders there.

In Germany, hundreds of parts packed in small bags are turned into whole engines. “The units from the Honda Cub series in particular are ideally suited for installation in the Monkey,” says Gianni.

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With around 63 million vehicles, the Honda Cub is the best-selling motor vehicle worldwide and comes off the production line either with 110 (Wave / Nice models) or the new version with 125 cubic meters (model designation in Germany: Innova). With extensive changes, Gianni also builds these motors into the Monkey. Not only do new motor mounts have to be designed for this, everything from the wiring harness to the intake manifold has to be adapted. Since both drives have almost ten hp ex works, they are already powerful enough by default. But they are also suitable as a tuning basis. The 125cc Innova engine, for example, offers large stud bolt spacing so that 69 or even 72 pistons can be installed, which in conjunction with another crankshaft allow up to 232 cubic meters. Another master engine, with a manageable cost of over 180 cubic meters and with a Japanese four-valve head even easily 23 hp, does not come from Honda, but from Kawasaki. “The KSR 110 is a godsend for the monkey scene,” says Gianni. The 110 cubic motor was originally developed for use in small wheel motocross bikes. “It took me three years of sweat and headache before I legally and TuV approved this power plant Monkey planted ”says Gianni.

It’s a rainy day in August. Gianni stands in his workshop in Hamburg-Hamm, idyllically located on a tributary of the Elbe. A couple of newly built monkeys stand behind him. From the chrome-plated budget model for around 4,000 euros, which is powered by a 125cc engine from the Chinese company Skyteam, to the elegant, slightly tuned Martini version, for which around 11,000 euros have to be popped on the table. Gianni hands over the ignition key, his hand points to the expensive top model. “Here,” he says, “but please don’t fall.”

Honda Monkey Tuner Gianni Potenza


Potenza’s realm: three lifting platforms, nine metalworking machines and a thousand ideas. The original frames are from the 1970s, the engine parts are new from Asia – with a few tuning measures, 232 cubic meters and 25 hp are easily in there.

It fits perfectly. The folding handlebar is a little more delicate than the original, the seat and footrests lock the body parts as if by themselves. The Martini version is powered by a 125cc Honda Wave motor, with a four-speed gearbox and a semi-automatic centrifugal clutch. Go into gear and just step on the gas. 216 cubic meters with 25 hp combined with 65 kilograms with a full tank and an ultra-short wheelbase – these figures promise fun.

And keep the promise: If you tighten the throttle cable too abruptly at the traffic lights, you will immediately be on your nose despite the extended aluminum swing arm. You can also tell when braking that the Martini-Monkey is not for novice drivers. In almost all Potenza bodies, Nissin double-piston floating calipers from the CBR bite into 155-millimeter braking discs in a wave design. Single at the back and even as a double pane at the front. In conjunction with a good brake pump, this construction decelerates like a house wall. Built for driving on the last furrow, optically a feast for the eyes, technically the current non plus ultra. The engine hangs perfectly on the gas, and the Potenza stainless steel exhaust system hides a surprise: the sound can be varied from creeping up to rolling via a manually controlled flap. The steering behavior is ultra-light, and the mounted semi-slicks from Duro provide a lot of grip even when they are not used much. So you sit on the bike and as an adult you immediately feel as if you were a child, because the size of the monkey makes you think of toys all the time.

11,000 euros – a not exactly cheap toy. Who is buying this “Anyone who treats themselves to something this exclusive often puts it between a custom bike and a luxury sled,” says Gianni, but divides his clientele into two categories. In those who have almost everything and the others who are fulfilling a childhood dream. “In a time when everything revolves around superlatives, the little monkey arouses even more sympathy because she always comes across as nice, innocent and friendly. This bonus carries over to the driver. You are constantly in the center of attention and are greeted chivalrously from housewives to rockers. His painter Stefan Zimmermann ( ensures that Potenza top models also visually stand out and differentiate themselves from the crowd, but above all remain individual pieces, who perfectly implements even the most filigree designs and the most unusual requests. And Gianni’s mother, who always has the right nose for the bikes when it comes to style and color and is called in as a second opinion for various projects.

Anyone who experiences Gianni “Potenza” Wittschier in the midst of or on one of his Monkeys, feels that this man lives for his passion. One looks in vain for the wrinkles of his 36 years. It seems like the monkey mania keeps him young forever. And it seems as if all difficulties regarding tuning or refinement are just challenges instead of obstacles for him. It is just as natural for him to fulfill his monkey dream for an overweight person with frame reinforcements, opulent fork tubes and oversized shock absorbers, as to explain the world to an indecisive customer without time pressure. And when the Hamburger fervently tinkers and tinkers with his lathe or milling machine, you will not believe him, as well as his age, that the business graduate has played as a DJ in the Hamburg neighborhood for almost 15 years. Because Gianni lives the subject of mini, monkey and motors like no other. And that’s good. For him. And for all the many others whom he makes happy with his knowledge and products.

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