It’s Spring and a young mans fancy turns to…a Doodlebug? What the heck, why not? If it’s got two wheels and a motor it’s gonna be fun!
I’m a big fan of motorbikes that make you smile the minute see them or sit on them. Motorbikes that remind you of when you were a kid, or the one that you rode to and from school or took a girl on her first motorcycle ride.
Those of us that grew up in the 50’s and 60’s remember minibikes all too well. Taco, Mustang, Bonanza, there were a bunch back then. Kits to build your own were advertised in Popular Mechanics and Boys Life magazines. If you wanted one, you take the money you made on your paper route and buy the one the kid down the street had (and let you ride a couple of times…without your mom knowing) but has outgrown, or your dad would build you one from scratch with an old lawnmower motor. However you got one, you rode it all over the neighborhood. Through Mrs.Wilsons flower garden, did doughnuts in Mr.Jones perfectly manicured front yard and practiced your wheelie skills. And, you only got brought home by the police once.
I found this neat little Doodlebug on ebay this morning and started thinking about finding Ozzie and Harriet or Leave it to Beaver episodes on Netflix. Instead, I did some research. Doodlebugs were manufactured between 1946 and 1948 by Beam Manufacturing in Webster City, Iowa. The idea was to create a cheap form of transportation following World War 2 and to compete with the Cushman model sold at Sears and Roebuck (under the Allstate name).
Beam sold the Doodlebug under the brand name Hiawatha through Gambles Department stores for a whopping $69.95! For your $70 you got a 1 1/2 horsepower giggle. They were also through Western Auto stores under the brand name Western Flyer.
It’s estimated that are probably only about 1000 Doodlebugs left in the world and yet they have a very popular following. The Doodlebug Club of America has an annual reunion that seems to grow bigger each year.
The Doodlebug I found today has had a complete restoration and looks great. At first I thought the asking price was crazy, but through my searching I found that it was right in line with all the others on the market. So…if a 1 1/2 horsepower high giggle factor bit of two wheel history and fun blows your skirt up then click on the pics below for more pictures and more info. And then have fun letting your grandkid ride through your neighbors flower garden!
“LUUUUCCCCYYYY…it’s time to go!!!” “But Ricky, the RV isn’t ready and we don’t have any way to get around once we get to the KOA”
“Lucy, we have everything we need in the RV…what else do you want?”
“I may want to go shopping? I don’t want to have to carry bags of ice and firewood…I want to have fun!”
It’s that time of year again. We’re all getting ready for spring and summer vacations. Those of us that have Medicare and RV’s are planning one thing and our kids are planning something entirely different that usually ends up on the internet and they have to explain it to us when our fellow church members tell us about it. Question…what are our fellow church members doing looking at those sort of internet video’s anyway???
Ok, back to Lucy wanting a motorcycle, what you need to get around the KOA, get some ice for margaritas, a little stack of firewood or a quick jaunt into town for a new polka dot skirt is not a big touring bike, you need/want is a fun little bike that will fit on the front bumper of your truck with a camper or the back bumper of your motorhome,(hell, even inside your motorhome!) You need a bike that is easy to start, easy to ride and more importantly is as cool as you.
Ladies and gentlemen, I bring you the Hodaka Ace 90.
I can’t think of one rider that when you mention Hodaka motorcycles they don’t start smiling. It may be because of the name, it may be that someone they knew had one, or maybe they themselves had one. People that have been around motorcycles since before ECU’s, TractionControl, Wheelie Control,ABS and every other electronic doodad to make riding a motorcycle more fun (?) know the joy of just riding a motorcycle.
Hodaka is often credited with creating the ‘Trail Bike’ craze here in America. And you know what, probably so. Yeah, there were small bikes that were fun to ride before the ACE 90, but there was just something about that little bike that just clicked with everyone.
Was it the chrome tank? The easy start motor ? The Red frame? Who cares. It was a great motorbike and the company went on to create a whole bunch of fun bikes to ride. My old racing buddy and friend Ted rode a Thunderhog to and from work everyday. And chances are still does…mainly because it’s more fun than his Triumph Trident!
I found a really neat little ACE 90 on ebay this morning that would really be great on the front or back bumper of your motorhome this year. Get around town, do some sightseeing… Actually it would be more fun under your butt everyday. Better yet, go do one of those ‘Family Enduro’s’ on it. I have a story about that sort of incident on my website blog somewhere.
The ACE 90 here is in really great shape, its ready to ride right now. It has been gone through, has some improvements and really, if you’re looking for a fun little motorcycle to ride around town, do some casual off-road riding, you really can’t do any better than this. There is a HUGE online community devoted to Hodakas. These are truly the most fun motorcycles ever built. I don’t know why…but they are!!!
Click on the pics below for more pictures and info. This is a very cool little bike
A mini-bike called the “Widow Maker”…yep, 80cc can certainly do that…make sure your life insurance policy is paid up. OK, all sarcasm aside, an 80cc mini-bike is a hoot to ride but…can it truly live up to it’s name?
For those of you that have watched the movie “On Any Sunday”…probably so many times your wife and kids are sick of it (and if you haven’t you should) you have seen the Widow Maker Hillclimb in Utah. 80cc probably wouldn’t make it that far up, especially one with a single speed transmission…100 feet? Ok, again, no more sarcasm.
I actually started my dirt bike career on an 80cc Yamaha. Truthfully, the first 30 minutes on the homemade track in Malibu that little bike scared the crap out of me but then….the rest is history. It was more of a motorcycle than a mini bike bit mini bikes are sooooo much fun. Pocket Bikes, mini Road Racers (my good friend and old road racing buddy Erik) rode a pocket bike for a year or two on the Willow Springs Go Kart track and he had way too much fun. Small bikes are supposed to be fun!!! And this Speedway looks the part.
Speedway was manufactured during the early 70’s in Ohio, they were trying to give Rupp mini-bikes some competition. Rupp was the King Kong of the Mini World…I had a Taco mini-bike for a while, I thought ‘they’ were the Mini Kings?
I found this neat little Speedway Widow Maker on ebay this morning. It’s a very cool little mini dirt bike. It’s gonna need some TLC but, if you have a young kid at home, got a big back yard or a neighbor that does, and you’ve got the time get this little sled running and looking good…the fun factor is way up there. The sad part is you’re going to have to wait till your kid goes to school or bed to ride it!
Clock on the pics below for a bit more info (not much) and a bunch more pictures. Got a Five year old kids birthday coming up? A favorite nephew or your own…this is a great way to start!
I put this in here today because I have a friend that I work with who lives in a ‘Retirement‘ community and does property management there. He likes vintage motorcycles but needs something a bit cooler than his golf cart to get around the community. I think this is the perfect vehicle.
There is a lot of strange and interesting history when it comes to Indian motorcycles, way too much to put here but I love it. At this period in time, post WW2, both Harley Davidson and Indian were trying any and everything to keep sales up. Small bikes, which both companies pretty much failed at, service vehicles (which Harley did a much better job at) and even scooters.
Indian partnered with Lowther Scooters to build up the 63D model. A three wheel service vehicle that was easy to drive, very functional and inexpensive compared to the Harley Servicar. In truth, the 63D didn’t even come close. As a matter of fact only 8 were built. The 63D had an either 4 or 6 hp motor, a centrifugal clutch, the 63D had a differential for 2 wheel drive, If you had a small farm or ranch (or a modern retirement community) it was probably just fine but as a true service vehicle…nah. However it is pretty cool.
Lowther Scooters built some of the craziest most futuristic scooters ever…check these out…
I found a 63D model on ebay this morning that is a good runner starts on the first or second kick, shifts through the gears just fine and the lights work. This particular model is the ‘high horsepower’ model….all 6 horses are there so it’s going to be quite a handful! It needs some love for sure but nothing too serious.
It ain’t cheap but it is really cool. Click on the pic’s below for a lot more info and more pictures. It is a very interesting peice of Indian history and now I’m really interested in Lowther Scooter company history. More to come.
There isn’t a motorcycle brand out there that delivers as much fun and giggle factor (in so many ways) as Hodaka. The Dirt Squirt, Road Toad, Thunder Dog, Wombat, Combat Wombat and of course the Super Rat. These are names that live on both in good memories and in infamy. Little bikes that brought so many people into the world trail riding and even racing.
Hodaka’s were reasonably priced, well built and above all, fun to ride. Having cool names didn’t hurt either. A long time friend of mine has probably around 12-15 Hodaka’s in his barn in Northern California and wouldn’t part with a one and he still rides a few of them..when he’s not surfing.
The Super Rat got its name when it came to America as a bored out Ace 90 (now 100cc) with the letters SR on the air box cover. The ‘SR’ moniker was actually for “Special Racer”, the guys at Pabatco (the importer) asked if the ‘SR” stood for Super Rat? The name stuck. These bikes sold for around $500, what a deal! So much of a good deal that they sold almost 20,000 of these little bikes!!! They were inexpensive, fun to ride and low maintenance (especially compared to my Bultaco!). Because they were so popular lots of companies made hop-up parts for the Hodaka’s.
This one I found on ebay this morning is a great bike for a good price, might just a tiny bit of TLC and then you’re off riding a really fun bike.
Now a short side story here about my first experience with a Hodaka, I don’t think it was a Super Rat but at the moment, from my vantage point, all I recognized with the chrome tank. It was during a ‘family enduro’ sponsored by the Sportsman Racing Association in Southern California, I had taken a bit of a tumble and was laying in a small cactus patch. As I was pulling cactus needles out of my body an older lady, could have been my grandmother, rode up looked down the edge of the trail and asked if I needed help. After I said I was OK, she rode off finishing the enduro with a better score than me.
Click on the pics below for more info on this really cool little Motocrosser
Way too much fun. Here’s the deal with the ‘Monkey Bike’. It’s just a blast to ride. You can load it into the back of a station wagon and take it on a family camping trip, you can hang it off the bumper of your camper or motorhome and head to wherever, you can teach your kid or your wife to ride on this bike and it won’t scare the crap out of them. When you’re at the RV park you can ride to the little store they have there and get some ice or firewood, and you’ll go through a tank of gas about once a year (remember to put Stabil in the tank). There are all kinds of hop up parts for this little bike…you can make it loud, you can actually make go around a go-kart track pretty fast, you can make a little pack mule out of it, but mostly, you’re going just have fun on it. This is truly a ‘high giggle factor’ little motorbike.
I found this one on ebay this morning and it is exactly what it should be…ridden, shows it’s age and has been taken care of. Like I said at the beginning, way too much fun. This is two wheel fun at it’s peak.
Click on the pictures below for more info.
We all know someone who deserves a lump of coal in their Christmas stocking…right? The person that leaves their motorcycle out in the rain because that’s the only time it gets washed, checks tire pressure only when they go out to ride and find a flat tire, oil changes happen as regularly as Congress actually does something (never), they come over to a barbeque and all they bring to the party is their appetite, they borrow a couple of tools to do a clutch adjustment and only one of them comes back…the list goes on but we all know that person.
Most of us have bought a motorcycle or two that we thought would be a good winter project only to find that it’s probably more work than it it’s worth, in so many ways. We end up finding a sucker…uh, I mean friend, that thinks he can make something good out of it (I have been that sucker more than once in my life..) and you are more than happy to send that two wheeled (if you actually have both wheels) was a motorcycle, off to new home.
Years back a group of riding buddies and I started this running joke of passing around a fruitcake at Christmas. It got mailed all over the country and after about ten years somebody actually opened it up. Surprise,surprise…it was just the same as it was when it started it’s all over the country journey.
A year or two later one of the band of merry men decided to resurrect the tradition but this time with a junk yard motorcycle. Ok, now this one didn’t shipped around the country it was just transported house to house here in So Cal. I was the first recipient of said junk yard P.O.S.
I awoke December 26th to a Suzuki something or other that had one wheel, a rusty gas tank, no seat and one turn signal(which was hanging by one wire) laying on my front porch. No one ever fessed up to being the one to start it but that almost rolling Suzuki ended up in someone’s Christmas stocking for the next ten years or so. Not a one of us ever did anything to it, we just laughed our asses off every time we dropped it off on a friends front porch with a bow on it.
Today I found on ebay a bike that you can buy and start a fine tradition yourself with your ‘friends'(?). It’s a 1975 Indian ML100. It is truly a classic Indian motorbike, well the seller thinks so. It is almost complete? so says the seller, it’s a rare find? Oh sure it may be missing a few parts but it has some extra rust to make up for that. And the best part is that the seller is willing to part with it for just under $1000 dollars…how can anybody pass up a deal like that to start a running joke with your riding pals. A good tradition isn’t always as cheap as a fruitcake, but how much do you like a good joke.
Click on the pics below for more pictures and more info. Also, a good laugh at what someone thinks something is worth. This is one Indian you know the Chief doesn’t want to admit siring.
East Buttcrack, Minnesota,
“Hey Eunice, It’s getting pretty damn cold around here, maybe it’s time we went and visited your sister and that dolt of a husband of hers down in Florida”
“Floyd, you don’t like my sister and her husband isn’t a dolt, he’s just a bit different?” “and besides that the Winnebago hasn’t run for a whole year, probably won’t even start much less make it all the way to my sisters” “And on top of that what are we going to do once we get there? You don’t play golf, you don’t fish and you’re scared of alligators”
“Well, we could buy ourselves a motorcycle and ride it around?”
“Floyd, last time you rode a motorcycle you were a senior in high school and your brother bet you five dollars you couldn’t make it to the end of the block before you crashed his…I was there, you didn’t make it ten yards…what makes you think you can ride around Florida?”
“Well, that was then, I’m better at things like that now?”
The real truth here was that Floyd was tired of being cold, Florida sounded good but being with his sister and brother-in-law was only just a bit better than being snow bound all winter
So the conversation went on but in the end Floyd won out…well, he was going to buy a motorcycle without telling Eunice. He did all the right the right things, he took the MSF course (telling Eunice he was going to the VFW hall for Bingo), got a bumper carrier for the Winnebago and bought he and Eunice a couple of spiffy looking helmets. Now all he needed was a motorcycle.
Floyd spent the next few days searching ebay for a motorcycle. He found a few that he thought he would like (his ego was well in place at this time…a GSX-R1000, a Honda Superhawk, he even thought about a Gold Wing?) but finally settled on a small bike that would be perfect to ride around town or a little out of town to get away from sister in law and dolt husband, (and Eunice too). It had to be light enough to fit on the bumper of the Winnebago and not scare Eunice.
I found the perfect bike for my friend Floyd this morning on ebay, a Honda CL125. This is a bike that will get you all around town and away from the family when you need to. The Cl125 is a super easy bike to ride, requires almost no maintenance save for changing the oil, lubing the chain, keeping the battery charged and making sure there is air in the tires. This little CL I found today, needs nothing except a new battery. It is super clean, new tires and spokes. This is a very cool little bike. It would also make a very fun little Cafe Racer. Click on the pics below for more info and a lot more pictures.
Recently my friend, racing and traveling partner Erik bought his wife a little 50cc Yamaha to ride around town and develop her riding skills. Well, as it turns out he is spending more time on that little Yamaha than she is. Why? because it’s so damn much fun!!
He put a tank bag on it so he can make ‘small’ grocery runs and even light weight Home Depot runs. He can ‘kickstart’ it with one hand, fills the tank about once a month, and has a giant grin on his face every time he rides it. What could be better? Well, something with more style.
Having owned a Benelli for a short period of time I have developed a slight affinity for the marque and am always intrigued when I find one on ebay, or anywhere else for that matter. And…I am a long time lover of small motorcycles, motorcycles that have a ‘high giggle factor’. I found a sweet little Benelli Fireball on ebay today that I think would be a blast to own.
A little history is required here though. This little motorbike was born in the Benelli factory but was sold through Montgomery Wards as a ‘Riverside’ brand motorbike. Back in the ‘Leave it to Beaver’, ‘Father Knows Best’, and Ozzie and Harriet’ days, both Sears and Wards sold everything including motorcycles. Most all were sourced out of Europe and sold rather inexpensively here in the States. This was at a time when small bikes were selling well as basic transportation and fun to ride. Motorcycling was growing fast and everyone (businesses) wanted to cash in. That happy time didn’t last all that long. Sears stopped the Allstate brand, Wards dropped Riverside even Western Auto stopped selling mini-bikes. Fortunately, a good number of these bikes have survived.
I found a really great example today on ebay of that time period. A Wards ‘Riverside’ 50cc motorbike. It’s a Benelli 50cc Fireball. A simple little two-stroke racebike with a head and tail light. This little bike is so cool. The owner went over the bike and removed all the ‘Wards Riverside’ logo’s and rebadged it as Benelli and it looks great. The seller says it runs good. There isn’t a lot of information about these bikes out there but there are a few websites that have info that you might want at a some time.
If you live in a city where getting around on a scooter works well, you’ll have a lot more fun on this little Benelli. And you’ll look a lot cooler too.
Click on the pics below for more info and more pictures.
Over the more than 100 years Harley Davidson has been building motorcycles they have dipped their toes into the waters of bikes other than big twins a few times. Their short lived love affair with Aermacchi, the horizontal singles and small two strokes came from Italy, and more recently a partnership with sportbike builder Erik Buell (of which I now own one, and much to my chagrin, I LOVE). But, The Motor Company always seems to come to it’s senses and goes back to what it sells best…big, heavy, twins that owners can make louder than a Led Zepplin concert.
Let’s take a short walk back to the early 1960’s and the world of scooters. Harley Davidson was doing everything it could to keep their market share here in the U.S of A while the British and more importantly, the Japanese, were whittling away at it. As mentioned before, the working with Aermachhi to enter the small bike market didn’t go quite as well as the bean counters in Milwaukee would have liked. What about building a scooter?? Could it, would it, work?? It didn’t matter, Harley was throwing money (money it didn’t really have) almost anywhere to keep selling motorcycles. Enter the Topper.
Harley Davidson built the Topper to cash in on the growing market of beginner riders and those that just wanted something fun to ride but wanted an American built machine. Well, the Topper went over like a fart in church. Harley built a medium sized 165cc, 9 horsepower, 2 stroke motor with a rope start (just like the one on your Craftsman lawnmower today) and top speed of about 46mph in a fairly modernistic designed, and…well, like I said ‘went over like a fart in church’. Harley kept it on the market for nearly 5 years but only sold about 3,000 of them and today only about 100 are still alive. That statistic alone gives it a very high cool factor.
So, today, I found one of the one hundred on ebay and it’s really cool. It’s no secret that I love scooters and I know that someday soon I’ll have another to ride around, a Harley Topper might just be more to my liking than a Vespa or Lambretta (is that because I now have a Harley powered motorcycle??…am I really headed to the dark side?? Oh Lord, please help me..). The one I found today is in great running condition with just a few small cosmetic flaws and only 6915 miles on the clock. It looks really great and would be perfect for someone who simply wants an around tow n grocery getter or a fun Sunday ride if you don’t have to get on the freeway.
If you are thinking about a vintage scooter that is very unique and quite rare, click on the pictures below for more info.