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”>
The Yamaha ‘Tuning Fork’ logo is historically important because Yamaha has been in the piano business since 1887, motorcycles didn’t come along until 1954…The YA-1 ‘Red Dragonfly’, 125cc of two stroke fun.
Post World War Two was a big time for small displacement motorcycles around the world and truthfully, other than here in America, they still are. Small displacement bikes are used by commuters, police, mail delivery, just about everyone, even your Dominoes Pizza in Mexico gets delivered on a 125!
Through the 1950’s and into the 1960’s the motorcycle business here in the U.S was dominated by the British and Harley Davidson. I know that some of you will disagree with me and that’s Ok…but the Japanese were coming and they were coming fast. It didn’t take them long to go from ‘Jap Crap’ to serious competition for the US buyers dollars. I use the term ‘Jap Crap’ only because it was a common feeling and, in some cases true, at the time.
Yamaha was the first to successfully to take on the Brits with the XS650 twin, it was also Yamaha’s first four stroke motorcycle. Following the heels of the XS650 Yamaha went after the big Brit singles. 1976 brought the TT500. Big torque,big powerband, Yamaha reliability and easy to start…by comparison to the BSA B50 and Gold Star.
The TT500 found its success in long off-road races particularly the Paris-Dakar where in 1979 (the first of the Paris Dakar Rallys) Yamaha took the top two places, the second year of the rally Yamaha took the top four! places.
The TT500 leant itself to heavy modifications the best of which was the Dick Mann chassis. I have ridden a TT500 with the DM frame and it did wonders for the bike. The TT as it is was a bit slow handling, not bad, you just had to plan ahead a bit more than on a lighter bike, but it is still a great bike. Yamaha hit a home run with the TT, it spawned the XT500 (the street legal version which also in my mind really created the Adventure Touring market that BMW then perfected) and the SR500 (Yamaha’s factory Cafe Racer…which I still love and lust after!).
I found a really nice TT500 on ebay today, yeah it’s got some flaws but hey…it’s old. It is a low hour (according to the seller…) runner. I would simply get it, give it a good through and love riding it. Or…search around for a Dick Mann frame (you can just call Dick Mann Specialties and get one…$$$$) and turn it into a really cool street bike. Or…get a Champion frame for it and go vintage flat track racing. The TT will be anything you want and be happy doing it.
Click on the pics below for more info and pictures.