A bit of history and some stories about vintage bikes for sale

Posts tagged “Enduro racing

1965 Hodaka ACE 90

Screen Shot 2015-03-11 at 6.19.51 PM“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??? Screen Shot 2015-03-10 at 12.30.22 PM

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.
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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

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Screen Shot 2015-03-10 at 7.57.52 AM1965 Hodaka ACE 90

Hodaka Super Rat

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 12.44.13 PMThere 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

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Screen Shot 2015-01-13 at 8.50.42 AMHodaka Super Rat

1972 Ossa Yankee Z500

Picture 45Not too many people are familiar with OSSA motorcycles much less Yankee. A quick history here…isn’t that part of the charm of this blog???

Picture 37OSSA actually started out making movie projectors in the 1920’s, motorcycles didn’t come along until after World War Two. At that time a lot of motorcycle companies got into the business of making (or importing) smaller two stroke motorbikes…BSA, Yamaha and even Harley Davidson. It was also a time that Moto-Sport was growing. Europe was the international base for all things motorcycling…Moto-Cross, Enduro’s, Trials and Road Racing. The only Moto-Sport America can lay claim to is Desert Racing.Picture 38

Up until the mid to late 1960’s American Desert Racing was dominated by Triumph, BSA, and Harley Davidson…big, heavy, single and twin cylinder bikes from Britain and here at home, then came the Europeans with their light weight two strokes and literally and figuratively left everybody in a cloud of two stroke smoke and dust.Husqvarna,Bultaco,Montessa,OSSA,DKW,Penton,KTM…the list goes on. The Japanese got into the game as well.

Picture 39OSSA was primarily known for its Trials and Enduro bikes but also had some relative success in both Moto-Cross and Road Racing. In the late 1960’s Eduardo Giro (grandson of the OSSA founder) developed a Monocoque framed road racer that in the hands of Santiago Herrero won four 250GP’s. Sadly Sr. Herrero was killed at the Isle of Man in 1970. After the death of their racer, OSSA withdrew from roadracing and focussed on Trials.

Here in the United States, OSSA was popular in Flat Track racing, National Champion and racing legend Dick Mann won the 1969 Santa Fe National ShortTrack aboard an OSSA he helped develop…cool huh?

Now you know enough about OSSA to get you laughed out of any motorcycle trivia game. But this post is about the Yankee Z500, which is basically two OSSA 250’s mated together. The motor was originally developed for European road courses but they were also looking for versatility both on and off road. The Yankee Motorcycle Company was the importer of OSSA Moto Cross and Enduro machines and John Taylor, the head of Yankee in New York wanted to design and build a bike that would compete with the Euro’s but be better by being more powerful,better built, more reliable and faster. OSSA was well known for being reliable, some thing I can’t say about my beloved(?) Bultaco’s. Mr. Taylor enlisted the help of Dick Mann to design the chassis which had some unique features such as a rear disc brake, the first of its kind on a dirt bike. Also, low gear in the standard 6 speed transmission, which wasn’t allowed in AMA racing, could be disabled to comply with the rules. And one more cool thing about the Yankee…the top fork crowns were manufactured by Smith and Wesson. I guess you could shoot somebody if they got ahead of you on the trail? Just kidding, this is non-violent blog.

There were 762 Yankee Z500’s built. A couple of things happened here, first production delays. The first 500’s didn’t come the assembly line until 1971 and by that time the Japanese manufacturers had really stepped up their development and Yankee was now behind the curve. Secondly, no matter how good they rode, they were a bit on the heavy side for serious Enduro riders. So production of the Z model was discontinued after a short run. Picture 13But I have a question, there was a regular street going 500, has anyone seen one here in the U.S? This motorbike looked to have huge potential? Why wasn’t it brought to market? Granted the road going two strokes were starting to fade by that time. Could it have competed with the Suzuki T500? Oh yeah!!. The Kawasaki triples?,Handling yes, performance no. The Yamaha twins? Probably so.Picture 17

Today I found a really nice, I mean really nice 1972 Yankee Z500 on ebay. This bike has only 1880 miles on the odo, it is all original with the exception of the front fender which is a Preston Petty unit which is period correct. It is not a runner but the seller says it has good compression, kicks through and shifts through all the gears. My guess is that getting it running should be pretty easy, it has just been sitting decades. The bike is cosmetically in great condition it appears. So, I think someone should get this bike and make a very unique and cool cafe racer out of it…what else would I think?

Click on the pics below for more pictures and some info.

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Picture 101972 Ossa Yankee Z 500

1968 Cheney Triumph 500

Picture 10Starting a racing career in the California deserts in the 1960’s was great! These were the days that on the starting line were legendary names…Bultaco, CZ, Maico, Husqvarna, Ossa, Penton, Sachs, DKW, Zundapp and probably a half dozen others that I can’t remember right now. But, also were the heavy weights…Triumph, BSA, Norton, even Harley Davidson (yes, the big motors, not the little Italian jobs, even though there were plenty of them as well) and believe it or not once in a while a BMW?! The Japanese were making serious inroads into off-road competition as well, I rode a Honda SL350 for two years in Enduro’s and desert races. And then to add even more fun to these event were the ‘sidehack’ racers. Talk about nutballs!?Picture 14

This was a period in time where innovation and experimentation ruled in motorcycling. Off-road racing had the Rickman brothers and Eric Cheney building better chassis’ than the OEM, Flat Track had Champion and Track Master, Road racing had their fair share of custom builders as well. This was a time to take a good motor and make it handle better. This may not be considered the ‘Golden Age’ of motorcycling to some, but to my generation, yeah, it was.

Picture 15I found a cool Cheney Racing framed Triumph on ebay today and it got me to thinking and remembering…and doing a bit of research. My step-dad’s best friend Stan Hughes had a really cool Cheney/BSA single that I thought was the hardest motorcycle in the world to start, I think I’m still right on that one (but I did learn the secret to easier starting…a few years later). I never got to ride the bike very far but I do remember how good it felt. Everything seemed to just fall into place (ergonomics) and the bike steered with almost no effort. And, on top of all that it was beautiful.

There is a good amount of Eric Cheney’s history on the web, he built the frame for British MX Champ John Banks’ BSA, he developed ISDT (International Six Day Trials) for Triumph from 1968-71 and many other racers. Most of his frames were built around the BSA Singles of the time but also built kits for the Triumph twins. A Cheney framed bike was a prized possession.

Picture 9Eric passed away a few years ago and his son took over the business. You can still get a Cheney frame built to your specs! How cool is that!

The bike I found on ebay is in very good condition, I don’t think it runs but the seller believes it’s an easy fix to get it going (weak spark…Lucas electrics?). If you want an interesting vintage off roader this is a good choice. And the Triumph 500 motor is a blast to ride!

Click on the pics below for more info and more pictures.

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Picture 71968 Cheney Triumph 500

1971 Honda SL350 custom

Picture 4Stop me if you have heard this one…I love Honda 350’s… I have four of them. A 1971 CL350,a 1970 CB350 (the one I bought for my dad to get him back into motorcycle riding after about 30 years), and two 1971 SL350’s (one of which is in the process of becoming a cafe racer project).
The Honda 350 is arguably the best selling motorcycle in the world and for good reason…it does everything really well. Reliable, easy to maintain, you can’t kill ’em and they are fun to ride. Also, they make a great platform for all kinds customization.

I started my racing career aboard (and a few times under) a Bultaco Matador, when the Bultaco became terminally ill I transformed my daily commuter SL350 into my new racebike. Strip everything off the bike, add a skid plate, knobbys, shorter lighter mufflers and go racing. It wasn’t as light as my ‘beloved'(?) Bultaco and it wasn’t as heavy as the Triumph ‘desert sled’ I had also raced so I guess it was the perfect ‘Goldilocks’ racebike.

The Sl Motosport models developed quite a following right from the start, I mean even ‘The Duke’ rode one!John Wayne SL350

I found a really well done customized (not brutalized like I did to mine) SL350 on ebay recently. The owner/seller has gone through the bike nut by nut and bolt by bolt but what I really like is the ‘scrambler’ style exhaust, really nice. The bike is pricey, thats probably why it has been listed a number of times. Is it worth what the seller is asking? In his mind, yes. To a buyer, maybe.

What I’m really hoping for is that this SL will come out as nice as the one on ebay now.CIMG3712
Click on the pics below for more info and pictures.

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Picture 51971 Honda SL 350 Custom

1970 Hodaka Super Rat

Picture 16Nobody doesn’t love Hodaka. With names like Ace, Dirt Squirt, Wombat, Rat and Super Rat, Road Toad and Thunderhog, what’s not to love? In the late 60’s through the mid 1970’s every young ‘wanna be racer’. wanted a Hodaka. Why? Well, they were cheap, they were easy to ride, and almost maintenance free. Operative word here was ‘almost’…remember these were little two-strokes.

Hodaka has been given credit for kick-starting the ‘trail-bike’ craze here in the US of A, and it’s easy to understand why. Like I said in the first paragraph… Hodaka’s were easy to buy, easy to ride, easy to maintain and they had fun names.

Many beginning racers that became stars got their start on Hodaka’s, mom’s got to go riding with the family on a Hodaka, and they had the cool factor of the crazy names. A good number of aftermarket companies jumped on the Hodaka bandwagon with all kinds of hop-up parts that made your little Ace 100 out run bikes twice it’s size!! No Kidding. Hodaka’s were light and quick and just a pure joy to ride. Hodaka’s were known as ‘The Little Bike That Could‘. And at only $495 ‘new’…you could could buy a fun trailbike and a winning racer.Picture 26

I found a really nice little Hodaka on ebay the other day and is actually selling for a reasonable price. It was restored four years then stored. It is in really nice shape with the original chrome tank and stainless steel front fender (most Hodaka’s you find have a plastic tank and fender because the originals were just too heavy or they have been beaten into submission). The original carb was rebuilt as well. This little bike is ready to ride…not store somewhere.

Picture 19Here is another very cool thing about having a Hodaka motorcycle…Paul and his wife Patti at www.strictlyhodaka.com. When you have a Hodaka and you need a part, there is no other place on this planet that can help you more. Paul and Patti live breath and live for Hodaka and it shows. When you first contact them you become part of the family.

And one last thing about the Super Rat, how it got its name. When the 100cc MX racer showed up at Pabatco in Oregon (the importer), it said ‘SR’ on the side of the engine, one of the Pabatco honcho’s looked at it and said what that stand for, ‘Super Rat’? Well, it may have been a bit of a sarcastic remark but the name stuck.

Ok, and one more last thing…remember I said “everyone loves Hodaka”… if ‘The Duke’ will trade his horse for a Hodaka, well, it has to be a great motorcycle!
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Click on the pics below for more info and more pictures. This will be a very fun bike to own.

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Picture 291970 Hodaka Super Rat

1980 Yamaha TT500

Picture 13Thumpers, singles, one lungers…I love ’em. A big four stroke single is a great motorcycle, and a small single is just as much fun really. There is something about the power pulses, the sound and the power delivery that make singles so wonderful to ride. I don’t know what it is, but when you start riding single cylinder motorcycles, your view of riding changes a bit. THe high speed may not be there but cornering speed that can leave a bigger bike in the rear view mirror…at least for a few seconds, will always put a big smile on your face.

I have been racing singles since the early ’90’s and yes, the racing may a bit slower than let’s say a modern 600 four cylinder but the fun factor and the commarardarie of the single cylinder lovers is something a bit special.

I have written before about the Yamaha TT500 my former father in-law owned and that I had the privilege to ride a few times. At that time I was riding a Husqvarna WR250 so jumping on a big, kinda heavy 4 stroke was interesting. I had ridden Triumph and BSA ‘desert sleds’ and raced a BSA 441 Victor, but to get on a modern big single was, well, life changing.

Jay’s Yamaha was no ordinary TT500. He bought the bike new, and rode in the New Mexico wilderness for about a year before he decided it could be better…next thing I knew, I was invited to ride a Dick Mann framed TT500. The stock TT was good but this motorcycle was truly amazing. The handling improvement brought out all the good the motor had to offer. Since that time I have been a fan of the big Yamaha singles.Picture 16 I have owned a TT500 (I bought a basket case, put it back together, rode it for a couple of months and realized it needed more work than I thought…it was sold shortly there after). Next on the list was an SR500, what a motorcycle, it did everything I wanted it to do. The SR was light, quick, great handling and most importantly…it was fun to ride!!! The SR too, was short lived in my garage, the desire for a Honda Hawk was too alluring and so the SR was sold. I still have the Hawk. My love of Yamaha singles came back to life a while back with the purchase of an SRX600, but it all started with that TT500 in New Mexico.

While looking for parts for my SRX on ebay today, I found a really great TT500 for sale at a somewhat reasonable price. This 1980 TT is stone stock…a good thing! I love bikes that are unmolested because you can either leave it that way or customize it to your own tastes without undoing someone else’s work. A little tidbit about the TT500 for you…when it came out it actually took the top two spots in the first Paris-Dakar Rally! The TT500 weighed only 282 lbs and put out a modest 27HP but it was the torque of the motor that made it so much fun to ride. Now, having owned a TT500 I can tell you this, even though it has a compression release lever and a little sighting window to tell when the piston is at top dead center, turn the handlebars to the left before you try to start it…that way your knee won’t hit the bars when the bike kicks you back…which it invariably will at some time.

This TT on ebay is a great bike to buy, it is already a great trail bike, can be lightened up to be a good vintage desert / enduro bike or just left as it is for a perfect do anything, go anywhere motorcycle. Turn it into a cafe racer? Nah, if you want that I’ll sell you my SRX…just kidding.
Click on the pics below for more pictures and info about this really great motorcycle.

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Picture 181980 Yamaha TT500

1972 BSA B50 MX

Picture 6Getting thrown over the handlebars while trying to kick start your motorcycle is never fun. Kicking and kicking and kicking until all you can do is either fall down in exhaustion and frustration or hoping a willing (but no so smart) friend will take over the kicking. Welcome the world of big BSA single cylinder motorbikes. OK, I’m exaggerating a little, but not by much. The big BSA’s are tough to start, until you learn the trick and then one, maybe two kicks and you are off riding one the most fun big bore bikes ever made.

I have owned a couple of the BSA singles, a C15 and a 441 Victor. The C15 was a project bike that got stolen out of my garage and the 441 was sold after a short time because I was told I had too many motorcycles (wife at the time was unhappy that she couldn’t park her car in the garage?). I got the Victor in good shape and it took very little to get it into great riding shape…however, I couldn’t ride it until I learned to start it! After suffering a nearly broken ankle, a really sore foot, a throbbing knee and a lifetimes worth of frustration, I got my next door neighbor to help me bump start it.Picture 5

Running start,2nd gear, dump the clutch…nothing except a short skid mark on the street. Try again, this time in 3rd gear…same skid mark. Ok, one last time…running start, 4th gear, pop the clutch…BOOM!!! I was so shocked it started I almost stalled it! I rode up the street and back laughing all the time, I LOVED IT!! Out of common courtesy, and a sense of obligation, I let my neighbor, who pushed me up and down the street many times, take the bike for a ride…he stalled it a block and a half away. He leaned up against a tree and walked back. We were back to pushing the bike, this time a block and a half. It was time to learn how to start this beast.

My next day off, I made a trip over to my friendly Brit Bike mechanic with the bike in the back of the truck hoping to get a lesson on how to start the B50. When I arrived and told Jack my story he chuckled for a moment, climbed up into the truck bed, onto the bike and two kicks later had the B50 barking happily. “How in the hell did he do that?” A five minute lesson later and I could start the big single with no problem. But could I do it at home when the bike is cold? A couple of hours later I tried ‘the technique’ and the BSA fired up on the second kick!

Picture 7The next Sunday I had off I headed to Texas Canyon with my friend Tim, he on his CZ and me on the BSA. We rode through two tanks of gas each and I had so much fun on that Beezer. It has the torque of a locomotive, it actually handled well, and the sounds that big single made, well, set me off on a lifetime of loving big single cylinder motorcycles.

There is a lot of great history with the BSA B50 MX, it was the last of the big bore singles from England, it actually grew out of the C15 250, as a matter of fact, the chassis was the 250 chassis and they just stuffed the 500 in there…that’s why it is as light and nimble as it is for a big bike. Then there are the Cheney designs.

Eric Cheney, a successful racer in his own right, designed a chassis to work better than the BSA stocker for the British ISDT team, and the race winning B50 for John Banks and the BSA B50 that held the record for its class at the Isle of Mann TT. Interesting little tid bit here regarding Eric Cheney, he had no formal engineering education, he used to design frames in chalk on his workshop wall, ingenuity at it’s best. In 1973 production of the B50 ended, there were a few left overs that were rebadged as Triumphs and sold as 1974 models.Picture 8

Today I found a really nice B50MX that if you are interested in vintage motocross on a classic four stroke this a perfect motorcycle for you. This particular bike was stored for a long time, it looks great, was serviced just this last October. It is a good runner and if you want to learn the secret to starting this beast without getting tossed over the handlebars, there is a great video on YouTube…the bike is well worth learning how to start…it is a blast to ride. Whack open the throttle in any gear and the front end comes up and the rooster tail you’re throwing…I pity the guy behind you!

Click on the pics below for more info about this bike and more pictures.

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Picture 41972 BSA B50 MX

Yamaha YM1 305

Picture 3I really do enjoy early to mid sixties motorcycles no matter what country they came from. To me though, what is great about that time period is the Japanese and the Italians had the most unique styling…odd in some people’s view, and they were the most mechanically inventive.

I’m sure that many will disagree with me about that, but think about it…in America you had / have Harley Davidson…nothing has changed much in nearly 100 years and when they did want to have a different image, where did they go? Italy. In Britain, motorcycles from that side of the pond also hadn’t changed hardly, hence the demise of the British motorbike industry until John Bloor came on the scene. And Germany was, well…Germany. Those didn’t change after the war disappeared and BMW didn’t change much for another four decades.

So,back to my original statement about the Italians and the Japanese. The Italians were about styling and did design some truly beautiful motorcycles (remember, beauty is in the eye of the beholder), but mechanically they were still using older designs (the Ducati Desmo notwithstanding). The Japanese however, were using a combination of older Euro styling along with some more modern styles of their own. Technologically, they were playing catch up to the Europeans but also being more adventurous, especially with the two stokes and multi cylinder designs.

Leading the way in the two-stroke world was Yamaha. Honda went on to multi cylinder four strokes. Yamaha’s history is a great one and there is all of it on the net…how it went from being (and still is…) a music company and the founder needing something to fill up the time and space they had for manufacturing, into a motorcycle business. From small single cylinder bikes to world beating twins, Yamaha led the way.Picture 2

Through the development of the race bikes, Yamaha’s street bikes and you and I, were the lucky recipients of the technological advancements. These advancements came fast and furious, most importantly for the time was the ‘auto-lube’ system. Prior to Yamaha’s development of the system, oil had to be pre-mixed with the gasoline to lubricate the engine internals. With Yamaha’s invention, now the rider just put gas in a separate tank and let the motor do the work itself. Pretty soon every had a variation of Yamaha’s auto-lube system.

Picture 11As Yamaha was growing, the theory of ‘if 125cc is good, 250cc must be better. And if 250cc is better, then 305cc must be much better’. Very American don’t you think? We have always believed ‘bigger is better’. Hence, the street going YM1 305. The 305 came in two versions, the standard street model and the more popular ‘Big Bear Scrambler’. The Scrambler was a one year model however. Within three years the YM1 305’s were replaced by much more advanced 350’s but the 305 really did move Yamaha ahead in the American street bike market.

I found a really nice YM1 on ebay today that really would be wonderful to have and ride. It is in great condition it appears and is ready (?) to ride. I imagine that because it has been sitting for 10 years that it will need the standard stuff…carb clean, new tires, battery, etc but hey, you can pick up a very clean little classic for not too much money. Now, this is one of those bikes that I would tell you to buy a plane ticket, go get it and ride it home but, if you’re not too far away, hop in your truck and go get it. If you live more a couple of hundred miles away, call Forward Air and have ’em pick it up. This is a very fun little bike that you can ride almost right now.

Click on the pic’s below for a little more info and more pictures. Oh, and one more thing…the seller lists it as 1969, the 305 stopped being made in 1966 though some were still being sold new and titled as late as 1968.

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Picture 8Yamaha YM1 305

1980 Montesa Cota 349 Trials Bike

Picture 2When I first started my life on motorcycles I was one lucky kid, my step dad was into any form of riding and racing. We rode ‘hare and hounds’, ‘scrambles’, moto-cross (of which I was not good at…), enduro’s, we even tried trials riding once. Michael was actually pretty good at it, me on the other hand…not so much. I don’t remember exactly where we tried our hands at Trials, I think it was at Saddleback Cycle Park in Orange County California. It was right after we saw ‘On Any Sunday’, and something about watching the trials rider segment had both of us saying out loud “We gotta try that!”.

We were fortunate enough to have our friends at Steve’s Bultaco in Van Nuys California loan us a couple of Bultaco Sherpa T’s to go have some fun. I think they figured I couldn’t do as much damage to those as I did to the Pursang’s I got each year…they were wrong. Not really…I didn’t hurt the Sherpa.

Trials riding is a talent, that even back then was beyond most motorcyclists skill level. Trials requires forethought more than reaction because you’re riding a motorcycle slower than most people normally walk…including your grandmother and her walker. A trials bike will do things no other motorcycle will do and most riders aren’t capable of. If you think stunt riders are good, watch a modern Trials exhibition and you will see the true masters. I sort of wished I had pursued trials riding more…nah…I’ll watch those guys go slow up rock walls and down impossible stream beds over logs bigger around than a VW Bug…much more entertaining. Besides, I figured out in one day I wasn’t that good at it.Picture 11

Always on the search for unique vintage motorcycles, I came upon a Montesa Cota Trials bike on ebay, it got me to do some research both on Montesa and Trials in general. The Montesa story is really good. Started in 1944 by Pedro Permanyer and Francis Bulto. The first bikes were based on the Motobecane machines from France. They were small bikes at the time, 50-65 cc, and later moved up to 125cc which they entered in the 1951 International Six Days Trials. At the direction of Sr. Bulto, Montesa also built a roadracer that won its class multiple times at the Isle of Man TT. Picture 4

In 1958 Paco Bulto left Montesa and started Bultaco motorcycles. It was in 1967 that Montesa first started building Trials bikes and hired Malcolm Rathmell, later to become world champion aboard a Montesa to ride and develop the machines. There is more great Montesa history to be found at www.southwestmontesa.com.

The Montesa I found today is a 1980 Cota 349. It is a beautiful bike that would just perfect to ride in Vintage Trials meets, which are becoming quite popular thanks to organizations like AHRMA and Twin Shock Trials Association. This particular bike I found on ebay is ready to ride today and quite reasonably priced…so far. Having ridden a couple of Montesa’s in the past I can say this would be a wonderful bike to have for just plonking around the local hills and canyons or to do some serious old school trials riding. Another thing cool about Montesa’s is that quite a few very famous people rode them.Picture 8

Click on the pic’s below for more pictures and info.

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Picture 181980 Montessa Cota 349 Trials Bike


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