I have a soft spot in my heart for Bultaco. And at the same time I curse my step dad for introducing me to Bultaco. I started my racing life on a Bultaco and have many mixed memories of that bike.
I started on a 1967 Matador, I would race it on Sunday and ride it to school on Monday (maybe…it all depended on whether it made it home from the race in rideable condition?!). I went from the Matador to a Pursang then an El Bandido. I loved the Matador (I was young, what did I know?), really enjoyed the Pursang and then there was the El Bandido. I truly thought that motorcycle wanted to kill me. On a gravel fire road in a full power slide..oh baby!, anywhere else…Oh Jesus save me! But still, I love Bultaco.
On the way home from a short desert race we stopped at 395 Cycle Park in Adelanto California. Just a wide spot in the road. It was a small but great Flat Track venue and there was a race going on. Go figure. Walking around the pits, still wearing my desert racing gear I spotted a guy with his leg propped up on a chair and in a splint. Sitting next to him was a Bultaco Astro. Bultaco’s entry into the Flat Track World. We got to talking and because he couldn’t ride asked me if I would like to ride his bike. Let me think about this for a minute…hell yeah. I used his name and number and with a full face helmet nobody knew it wasn’t him. I had way too much fun. It was a TT race, rights and lefts and a jump..I had so much fun.
I was amazed at the difference between my Pursang and the Astro. The Astro knows where to go before you do, a slight touch on the bars and the Astro responds. Throttle response was perfect and at the end of my second race I was a believer…the Astro gave you confidence that you could beat a Harley XR750. Well, if the Harley was a reduced to 500cc.
I found a really nice Astro ebay today and if you’re into Vintage Flat Track..you gotta have this bike…if you’re willing to pay way too much. This is a really nice bike and the opening bid is pretty much right on but the buy it now price price??? NOT.
For more info and pictures click on the line below.<a target=”_self” href=”http://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/711-53200-19255-0/1?icep_ff3=2&pub=5574881880&toolid=10001&campid=5336495545&customid=1978+Bultaco+Astro&icep_item=162088607631&ipn=psmain&icep_vectorid=229466&kwid=902099&mtid=824&kw=lg”>
1978 Bultaco Astro</a><img style=”text-decoration:none;border:0;padding:0;margin:0;” src=”http://rover.ebay.com/roverimp/1/711-53200-19255-0/1?ff3=2&pub=5574881880&toolid=10001&campid=5336495545&customid=1978+Bultaco+Astro&item=162088607631&mpt=%5BCACHEBUSTER%5D”>
There are motorcycles that have a “High Giggle Factor”, the Yamaha RD 350 comes to mind, and then there are Vintage motorcycles that have a very high “Cool factor”, 1969 Sand Cast engine Honda CB750, the Harley Davidson XLCR (Ok, that is my own cool, wish I had one ‘cool factor’ bike) and then there are those that combine both and the Bultaco Metralla is just that.
The Metralla is the motorbike that knows what you want to do before you do.It’s like the headlight is your own eyes that can see farther than you. This is a bike that the lightest pressure on the bars sets the bike on the path you want to go…perfectly. The Metralla does have a bit of a peaky powerband but nothing like the Pursang motocrosser. It does take a bit of time to get used to how quick handling it is, if you’re used to hustling modern 1000cc super bikes through the canyons, this little bike will blow your mind. Carrying speed through the corner versus point and shoot…BIG FUN!!
The Metralla was very successful as a racing machine as well having won the 1967 Isle of Man TT 250 Production class. The little 250 put out around 27HP, not bad for a 250 (considering a Honda 350 only put out 22), the Japanese two strokes of the time were more powerful but didn’t have the handling of the little Spainiard.
I found a beautiful Metralla on ebay this morning. This is not one of the “Fly, Buy and Ride Home” bikes, well it could be if you’re of the very adventurous type, but really ship it home and have a blast riding it on your local canyon roads and embarrass all your friends on modern super bikes. This is a really nice bike and a load of fun. Double check the brakes and the clutch then go out and have the time of your life…on 250cc.
Click on the pics below for more pictures and info.
I found a very interesting collection of bikes on ebay this morning…Ok, it’s just a guy clearing out his garage. We’ve all had to do that over the years either because we ran out of room for the new motorcycles we wanted or more than likely because our wives were tired of having to look at what she considered junk and couldn’t get to what she was trying to get to.
So, this guy has two interesting motorcycles and one that goes on the front bumper of a motorhome bound for Florida. First is a 1969 Triumph Tiger Cub, a simple little 250cc motorcycle. The Cub was unreliable, period. It had lubrication issues, bearing problems, a weak triple tree and of course Lucas electrics. But still an interesting little motorcycle.
Next up, a Honda VT500 Ascot. In my view this is the gem of the bunch. Truthfuly the VT500 wasn’t the most powerful bike of it’s era or genre, yet…it worked. Now I have to say, it has one of the most ugly headlight setups I have ever seen. I would instantly change it! Except the wiring harness would probably be an absolute nightmare…a good Saturday project.
The VT500 didn’t have all that much horsepower (54…That seems plenty for having a lot of fun?!) but what it did have was a nice tight chassis that gave the bike really fun handling. It was styled after the FT500 Ascot single (which I raced for years) but came with a 6 speed tranny, shaft drive and a little more comfortable ergo’s. My old friend Mike Eaton (one of the greatest surfboard builders ever!!!) had one. I got a chance to ride it on the twisty roads of Point Loma in San Diego and had way too much fun. This is a great bike.
Next is a 1972 Suzuki Rover. Put it on the front of your motorhome and hang out at the KOA’s across the country on your way to visit the Grandkids in Florida. Actually, this could be a really fun little trail bike, however, it went over like a fart in church. Didn’t sell. But hey, everybody can use something to take up space in their garage. You could probably hide this little bike behind all the other junk your wife doesn’t know about (yeah right).
It’s a pretty interesting package deal. Click on the pics for more info and pictures. And by the way, this seller is by far the worst picture taker I have ever seen! Do not let him or her come to your wedding!!!
When I first got into motorcycling I was lucky. My step-dad was a good racer, a great mechanic and above all else an incredible teacher. I didn’t really understand that last part until a few years later.
I started desert racing on a 250, went to a 360 and even tried my hand on a Triumph 500…all I could say at the end of that race was “Give me my 250 back”.
Michael and I decided we wanted to try Enduro’s. My Matador was perfect his Greeves was…kind of OK, but he made it work. One of the things we noticed was that fast bikes seemed to work in desert quite well, but, in the woods (yes, Southern California does have forests), smaller lighter bikes did better. Enduro’s are not about speed persay but a precise handling, light agile bike gives you just what you need and want.
The first time I rode a smaller Enduro bike was a Yamaha IT 175, It was great. It did everything my Bultaco did but easier and better…and it was smaller! Sad part, I couldn’t afford one and I had switched to road racing…talk about not being able to afford something!!??
In the early ’80’s I was working for a Kawasaki dealership and the Big K came out with the KDX. I got a chance to spend a weekend with a KDX200. I truly believe that this was the bike that instilled in me my love for small motorcycles. Street legal, super fun and if you saw a dirt road you wanted to explore, just go. That bike would do it.
Kawasaki is well known for building incredibly reliable motors and the KDX did not let that reputation down. The other nice thing was the KDX model was built on the KX moto-crosser chassis but Kawasaki gave it a real world motor in a tight chassis. Sweet. Kawasaki did bump it up to 250cc but it just wasn’t the same, the 200 had a personality that the 250 and later the 300 just didn’t have (the 300 was really good though!).
I found a really nice one on ebay today. Check this out, it has less than 100 miles on the odo…no way. How in the world can you buy a bike and put less than 100 miles on it? Anyway, if you want a really good “Vinduro” bike (Vintage Enduro) or just a really fun trail bile to attach to the front bumper of your motorhome, you can’t do better than this.
Click on the pics below for more pictures and more info.
So there I was in 1968 at a traffic light on Roscoe Blvd in Panorama City, California somewhere around 10pm…my curfew wasn’t until midnight. It was a really nice summer evening (not to be confused with “It was a dark and stormy night”). My friend Eddie had just gotten off work and we were going to go for a ride. I was on my Bultaco Matador and he on his Yamaha DT1, both 250’s. Up next to us pulled up a Suzuki X6. I had heard about it and read about them but honestly, when it pulled up along side of us, all I could think of was what a dull looking bike. Ok, it was Japanese styling of the time.
Styling be damned, that bike took off like a rocket, I was left in a cloud of blue smoke. Now granted most kids on a skateboard could get off the line faster than my Matador but I would eventually catch up…the Suzuki, no chance. Now lets be fair, the Suzuki had 2 cylinders, my Bultaco had one; The Suzuki around 30HP, my matador had maybe 20hp? Eddie’s DT1 was faster as well but still no match for the Suzuki.
Ironically we did catch up with the Suzuki at a gas station a little ways up the road. None of us could buy beer at the time so soda pop it was. We talked about bikes and stuff and figured we were all just out riding for the evening. And just for grins decided to swap bikes around. After 5 minutes of riding the X6 I was thinking I can get away with this bike and they’ll never catch me. It will be mine! I didn’t do it but it sure was tempting.
The T20 was a very advanced motorcycle for it’s time. 1; Tubular steel frame, a first for Suzuki; Posi-Force oil injection, a far more efficient system than anybody else was using at the time; the 8″ double leading shoe front brake derived from the race bikes and…the very first 6 speed transmission in a production motorcycle. The 6 speed tranny made it very easy to stay in the 250’s very tight powerband.
The X6 is a perfect platform for a very cool Vintage Cafe Racer.Leave the motor alone, upgrade the suspension (but leave the exposed front fork springs),a set of Clubman handlebars and maybe some modern tires. From there you will have a bike that will get a lot of attention….especially from the CBR/GSX-R/R6/ZX6 that you just passed on a tight twisty road! Espcially when you wave at them as you pass them in a corner!!! God I love small bikes!!! Too much fun.
I found a very nice one ebay this morning, it’s not perfect but it is a runner. Needs a little love…not the fly out, buy it and ride it home bike but the price ain’t all that bad…well, it was only $650 new in ’67. The bike is aging nicely. This is not a full winter project…this is a ‘be riding by the end of the month bike!
Click on the pics below for a few more pictures and some more info. What a fun little bike!!! OK, I couldn’t help myself…a pretty girl in a bikini on a Suzuki…works for me.
For those of you that have read my posts over the years know that I love (and have a fleet of) Honda 350’s. I am a big fan of small to mid-size motorcycles and the Honda 350 is my favorite. Well, I love Yamaha RD350’s, Suzuki X6 Hustler, Kawasaki KH400’s…but, the Honda 350 has my heart. And my wallet.
In 1968 I started my desert racing life on a Bultaco Matador, then a Pursang, next was an El Bandito. The Pursang and the Bandito went away but the Matador stayed because I became addicted to Enduro’s. For Enduro’s the bike had to be street legal so the Matador fit the bill. I rode that Matador to school most days (when I wasn’t riding a Triumph or BSA…the family norm) and then the day came that the Matador was too tired to keep going. Time for a new bike. Enter the SL350.
I did keep the Matador running for off-road events but needed a good reliable bike for everyday use. I bought a new SL350 because it suited my needs, I liked the way it looked and it was only $850. Life is good.
Fast forward just a few months and the Bultaco died of a massive stroke…or lack of stroke? In the course of one day, the SL350 became my new off-road weapon. Jettison the blinkers, the stock mufflers, manufacture a decent skid plate (thank you Mike Bast of Bast Brothers Welding), change the handlebars, Curnutt shocks, proper knobbys installed and it was ready in time for an SRA Enduro. And I was back to riding a BSA on a daily basis.
Now, let’s fast forward again. I have been riding Honda 350’s consistently since those days. Both my kids learned to ride on a CB350, my dad got back into riding (after 35 years or so) on a CB350 and I have built a couple of Cafe Racers based on the 350…one on the CB platform and the best one on an SL. Why the SL is the best?
We’ll start with the chassis. The double down tube frame is stiffer and offers greater handling accuracy. The motor is slightly different from the CB/CL (different carbs being a big difference) but also, the electric starter was removed…lighter weight! The SL series from Honda from 75cc to 350cc, there isn’t a motorcycle more fun. Heck, even the ‘Duke’ rode one.
This particular SL350 I found on ebay today is so perfect (but not too perfect…) and the price is reasonable, that really somebody needs to snap this one up now !!! Heck, the mufflers themselves are worth the price of admission. The SL350 is a bike that can do everything every time. Low maintenance, easy parts availability and it is a perfect platform for anything you would want to do with a mid-size motorcycle!
Click on the pics below for more pictures and more info
So here I am again going on about my love hate relationship with Bultaco motorcycles. I love Bultaco’s despite the fact that I was left stranded in the desert a few times, I had to rebuild the top end more often than I changed my underwear…wait a minute…my El Bandido caused quite a few underwear changes!But I digress.
My motorcycling street life started on a Bultaco Matador. A 250cc street legal dirt bike. I also started my racing life on that same bike. A Bultaco of the time was not what you would consider overly reliable in the deserts of California, in the mountains of Spain in Trials competions…oh yeah. In Roadracing…again, very successful. My only thought that was Bultaco’s didn’t like sand…me neither.
A bit of Bultaco’s road history, top five finishes in the Spanish Grand Prix, the Dutch TT, the Isle of Mann and in 1960 set the Speed record in France for 12hrs in both the 175 and 250cc class and then the 24 hour record in 175, 250 and 350 classes!!!
In 1973 Jim Pomeroy won AMA National races on a Bultaco Pursang (which is the bike I raced in the Barstow to Vegas race…well, not Jim’s bike just my own Pursang). The great Angel Nieto, who won 13 Roadracing World Championships in just about every class rode a Bultaco. And, MotoGP racer Sete Gibernau is the Grandson of Señor Bulto!
One of my dream bikes is the Bultaco Metralla. The dealer that helped support me during my dirt bike racing years always had a Metralla in the showroom (sold a number of them too), every now and then there would be a Mercurio. The Metralla was a bit racier but the Mercurio (being 50cc smaller) was just about as fast! In the tight canyons where I live, that 175 could easily embarrass much bigger bikes. And the “Giggle Factor” compared to “Pucker Factor”…the Bultaco wins every time!!
I found a perfect Bultaco Mercurio on ebay this morning seems to need nothing except a new owner that will ride it. Click on the pics below for more pictures and info. And more than anything…have fun riding this great little motorbike!!!
I truly do have this love / hate relationship with Bultaco. I raced Pursang’s in the desert, Matador’s in Enduro’s and an Astro in a TT race. I rode my Matador to and from school and all over the local mountains. What do they all have in common? They all left me stranded somewhere near ‘BFE’ which is close to the ‘middle of nowhere’, well the Astro is the one exception, it didn’t strand me during my one 10 lap TT race. Nonetheless, my life with Bultaco was, well, interesting.
The one category of Bultaco motorcycles I haven’t had the ‘pleasure'(?) of spending any time on is the street bikes. Since the very beginning of my relationship with Bultaco, I have lusted after the Metralla. The Metralla had only what you needed. It was light, fast, quick handling and beautiful. The Mercurio was another version of the same bike that didn’t have much of an impact here in the US. Why? Well, it started as a small bike and worked its way up to 175cc. Today, 175cc isn’t even freeway legal here in California, but in the rest of the world, it was a pretty big bike.
The Bultaco singles worked. Because of Senior Bulto’s involvement with Montessa’s racing success, Bultaco’s were race bred machines from day one. Here is a quick (Readers Digest version) of Bultaco history. Francisco ‘Paco’ Bulto started Bultaco following a split with his former employer, Montessa. Management at Montessa decided it was time to get out of racing, Paco disagreed and along with a few others left Montessa and started the new company based on racing technology and design. 1954 brought the first Bultaco, the 125cc Tralla, a road going machine bred from the successful road racers they had built for Montessa. Two months later, in the Spanish Grand Prix, Bultaco took seven out of the top ten finishers!!! And as they say, the rest is history. A short side note, former 500GP and MotoGP rider Sete Gibernau is Senor Bulto’s grandson.
I found a very unique Mercurio on ebay this morning. This Mercurio is a really well done ‘custom’. It features a BMW gas tank, a unique fibreglass tail section and different wheels and hubs. I dig the dual headlight set up. It is a really cool motorbike. It is a runner according to the seller. Priced seems reasonable compared to some other bikes I have seen lately. The Bultaco is a very simple motorbike and with minimum maintenance should be a fun Sunday ride for a long time. Plus, this bike, in my opinion has a very high cool factor and would be a blast to ride. Click on the pics below for more pictures and a bit more information.
I have a serious soft spot in my heart for Bultaco motorcycles, which also means I have a serious soft spot in my brain. I started my desert racing career on a Bultaco and ended it on a Bultaco. Bultaco’s were notoriously unreliable (bad electronics,crappy steel for the frames, etc, etc), but at the same time how could you not love them??
The worst motorcycle I ever raced in the desert was a Bultaco El Bandido. At the time I was being sponsored (given a motorcycle and some service help) by the local Bultaco dealer each year. I had been riding Matadors in Enduro’s and desert races along with a Pursang in Scrambles races occasionally. They both required a lot of maintenance but I loved them…most of the time.
Early in 1969 I was given a left over (but still new) 1968 El Bandido 360 to race. The break-in period was in Texas Canyon with my friend Jim Gaver on his Maico 501. If there was ever a motorcycle that truly deserved the name Beelsebub the Maico was it, but…the El Bandido came pretty damn close. It was evil.
After a couple of Hare Scrambles I figured out the Bandido’s strengths…fire roads. That bike could slide through corners like no other. Tap the rear brake just a bit, let the rear end drift into a smooth powerslide and you had the most beautiful feeling in motorcycling. Feet up, the bike almost sideways, you could almost picture yourself at the San Jose Mile. Dirt and gravel being thrown up at the rider behind you, great fun.
I hated that motorcycle. Then. Today, I have a better vision for the El Bandido. A cafe racer. The ‘Scrambles’ version had a 19″ front wheel whereas the MX version had a 21″, so the Scrambles model would be the choice. The motor had plenty of power, it was the first ‘mid-size’ bike that could easily keep up with the 500’s of the day and was lighter weight. The Scrambles version had a longer wheelbase so stability in Cafe Racer form wouldn’t be a problem A bit of frame bracing and you have a canyon carver like nobody else!!!
I found an El Bandido on ebay today, it looks a little ragged but nothing that can’t taken care of easily. The seller says it did run when he bought it but you will have go through it yourself. It is all there and is pretty much all original.
Some new shocks, upgrade the fork internals, a set of Avon race tyres (AM23’s are my choice), get a headlight and tail light, find a ‘friendly’ DMV person and you my friend have a hooligan bike that nobody else does.
For more info and pictures, click on the pic’s below.
I spent years riding Bultaco motorcycles and loved every one of them. Well, in truth I loved a few of them, ok, not that many of them. But, there is something about Bultaco’s that makes everyone who has owned one, love them. It’s weird.
I don’t know what it is that makes me love these motorcycles, but I do. I have been stranded in the desert more times than I care to remember by a Bultaco. I have been pitched over the handlebars, high-sided into a cactus bush, and been stuck axle deep in mud all on a Bultaco. Notice, I didn’t say because of a Bultaco. Most of my misfortune has been due to rider error, but still, there were plenty of times the bike was the culprit. And yet, Bultaco holds a special place in my heart.
I have ridden Matador’s, Pursang’s, Astro’s, Lobito’s, Shepa’s and Metralla’s but never a Campera. I wonder why? The Campera, as I look at it now, almost seems a perfect bike for it’s time. The Campera used essentially a Trials bike motor (lot’s of low end torque and smooth power delivery) stuck into an Enduro chassis (good road going capabilities). A proper ‘Dual Sport’. The Campera is a simple motorcycle with classic European Enduro styling, and it is Moto Giro legal for those of you that would like to ride that event…I want to. The 175cc motor is a very low stress little powerplant and if you don’t abuse it should just go and go.
I found a Campera on ebay this morning that needs a good home. It is a runner but it certainly needs some love. Other than cosmetics some simple going through the mechanicals and you would have a fun bike to ride just about anywhere. Is it worth doing a full ‘show room’ restoration? No. Is it worth painting the tank and doing some other cosmetic work? Yes. Is it worth the asking price? Probably. If you like Bultaco and want a unique model from the Spanish company, give this little Campera a look.
Click on the pics below for more info and pictures.