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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 5-3-2019, 1:47 AM Thread Starter
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Memories

OK, so when you get to be my age, sometimes at night you'll sit there with a beer or two and suddenly get a little misty eyed at some mundane, long lost memory.

Poking around craigslist, I came across an ad for one of these.

Immediately I felt transported back in time to the day when a (barely) teenage me attempted to hustle one of these around the local motocross track (actually, we still called it a scrambles track back then).

It belonged to my older brother's buddy, who had joined us for some mid week fun on the empty course. After finding out that it was easier to make my brother's SL100 dance around the front wheel than it was to make any significant forward progress, I hopped on this thing only to find out it was much worse. It felt like I was trying to ride an underpowered brick. It was just an awful excuse for a dirt bike, but fortunately Yamaha had already atoned for this sin by introducing the DT-1, which led shortly thereafter to the YZ series, and I don't need to say any more.
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 5-3-2019, 3:46 AM
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That was back in the day when the manufacturers would take a street bike, slap a high pipe and a pair of "universal" tires on it, and call it a "scrambler". Remember the Honda CL72 250, the Yamaha Big Bear, the Norton P-11, the Triumph Desert Special, etc. etc? They all did it and it was more of a style thing than a real dirt machine.

Then Bultaco hit the market with their Sherpas, Pursangs and Bandidos that had serious long travel (for the era, anyway) suspension, light weight 2 stroke power, and minimal fiberglass body work. Bultaco ruled the dirt for about a decade before everyone else caught up. I worked at a Bultaco shop at the time and we couldn't get them out of the crate and out the door fast enough. For a number of years, if you wanted to win on dirt, you had to ride a 'taco. The Japanese eventually figured it out, beat them at their own game, and Bultaco faded by the early 1980s.
post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 5-4-2019, 11:35 AM Thread Starter
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That was back in the day when the manufacturers would take a street bike, slap a high pipe and a pair of "universal" tires on it, and call it a "scrambler". Remember the Honda CL72 250, the Yamaha Big Bear, the Norton P-11, the Triumph Desert Special, etc. etc? They all did it and it was more of a style thing than a real dirt machine.

Then Bultaco hit the market with their Sherpas, Pursangs and Bandidos that had serious long travel (for the era, anyway) suspension, light weight 2 stroke power, and minimal fiberglass body work. Bultaco ruled the dirt for about a decade before everyone else caught up. I worked at a Bultaco shop at the time and we couldn't get them out of the crate and out the door fast enough. For a number of years, if you wanted to win on dirt, you had to ride a 'taco. The Japanese eventually figured it out, beat them at their own game, and Bultaco faded by the early 1980s.
Not long after that day I described, the guy who owned that Yamaha brought his dad's 360 Pursang over to my house for a trail ride. All I can remember was twisting my little Yamaha 100 through the wooded trail, ring dingin' along and hearing "DONG, DONG, DONG" echoing through the trees right behind me. It was a beast.
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 5-4-2019, 5:27 PM
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My first bike was a YDS3.

POS... I was 11.
From there i went to a BSA Starfire. I thought it was step up.
Buddy had a Bultaco. He maintained that if you could keep one running for a year, you should get your motor cycle mechanic's license grand fathered. I once watched him fix the transmission. The bike was stuck in the mud up to the cases, he just rolled the thing on it's side, pulled the tranny apart. He was back up and running in a couple of hours.
Around here the cool kids had Huskys and Maicos.
There was two brothers, The Andersons, that had sponsored Husky rides. They were both about 6'6" and weighed about 125#. Entertaining to say the least. All knees and elbows.



About 12 years ago I tried to ride a Starfire in a vintage MX... what a joke. Ah to be young and stupid....


Then came the Honda CRs
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 5-4-2019, 6:44 PM Thread Starter
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My first bike was a YDS3.

POS... I was 11.
From there i went to a BSA Starfire. I thought it was step up.
Buddy had a Bultaco. He maintained that if you could keep one running for a year, you should get your motor cycle mechanic's license grand fathered. I once watched him fix the transmission. The bike was stuck in the mud up to the cases, he just rolled the thing on it's side, pulled the tranny apart. He was back up and running in a couple of hours.
Around here the cool kids had Huskys and Maicos.
There was two brothers, The Andersons, that had sponsored Husky rides. They were both about 6'6" and weighed about 125#. Entertaining to say the least. All knees and elbows.



About 12 years ago I tried to ride a Starfire in a vintage MX... what a joke. Ah to be young and stupid....


Then came the Honda CRs
When I watched the scrambles as a kid, it seemed every open class heat included a Maico cartwheeling into the turn one fence. Maybe it was the same guy, I don't remember.

My first look at the new CR 250 was on the cover of Dirt Bike magazine, along with the byline "You beat the nicest people on a Honda." It was one of those moments when you know something significant just happened.

Soichiro Honda, years earlier, made a definitive statement that Honda would never build a two stroke, but after being convinced that the only way to compete in MX was to build one, he agreed, but made it clear that it involved changing one of his core policies, so if they were to build a two stroke motocrosser, it had to be the best in the world. It certainly changed the landscape overnight, no debate on that one.
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 5-4-2019, 8:40 PM
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The Bultacos were built essentially by hand in a converted chicken barn in the hinterlands of Spain. Senor Bulto, who at the time was an engineer at Montessa, got pissed off and quit when the Montessa bosses decided to end their racing program. He, and a goodly part of the former Montessa engineering department, formed a new company and set up production in the unused barn on his family's estate.

The welding on the frames was primitive at best and they didn't even bother to grind off the welding splatter before they applied the paint, which looked like it came out a spray bomb. They did spend a fair amount of time and effort on engine development so they weren't short in the horsepower department which made up for the other shortcomings. The aluminum engine castings were so full of sand and other contaminants that it was a real challenge welding them if they ever needed repair.

Bultacos ruled on dirt for a short period of glory but it was inevitable that they would be out-spent, out-engineered, and overwhelmed by the Japanese who had the corporate resources to take Bultaco's example and develop it far beyond what a handful of Spanish enthusiasts could ever do in a chicken barn.

Today, several models of Pursangs of various displacements are prized as collector bikes, as are the TSS road racers, both air and liquid cooled. I've still got a 200cc Metralla sport bike which brings back memories of my youth whenever I get in the mood to fire it up. Its loud, crude, vibrates like hell and has surprising performance for a mere 200ccs. The brakes suck and the 6 volt AC so-called "lights" are a joke; if it gets dark, better just call a taxi!
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 5-4-2019, 9:00 PM
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Buddy had a Bultaco. He maintained that if you could keep one running for a year, you should get your motor cycle mechanic's license grand fathered.
Hell, back in that era, if you could keep any brand of motorcycle running for a year, you were qualified for a license! That's how I learned, and I did a lot of wrenching because the bikes of the day needed a lot and I was so broke there was no way could I afford to pay a shop for repairs. I must have driven my dad crazy because I stole all his tools when I moved out of the family home. I got good enough at it to make a pretty decent living (and have a lot of fun) for a number of years before I moved on to other things.
post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 5-5-2019, 12:28 AM Thread Starter
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My reference to Dirt Bike magazine got me thinking back to that magazine and it's inimitable editor, Rick "Super Hunky" Sieman. His wit and humor, along with his writing ability and passion for motorcycles are legendary. As a young dirt freak, I was always looking forward to the next issue.

I did a search and he's still alive and active with riding and writing,in his late seventies. You go, Rick!
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