Dirt Bike History 101

Discussion in 'Old's Cool' started by kittycactus, Jan 21, 2008.

  1. Gordy

    Gordy Team Listo

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    Here is a link to The History of Honda Dirt Bikes:

    Link Here

    Good info on the Elsinores!
  2. Valleyrider

    Valleyrider I Survived The '60s

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    First off, Thank you! I was very fortunate to have worked at Suzuki and later Yamaha at the time. It was very sad news about Rich. I remember reading all the well wisher messages on the website setup after his accident. He was one of the really down to earth nice guys!
    John was an animal on a bike, but was the exact opposite off the bike. The whole family would often stop in at Suzuki's Santa fe Springs facility and visit the shop. Great people!!
  3. Strong Bad

    Strong Bad n00balicious

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    In the years before Hodaka build their first race bike, the Super Rat, Jhon Steen took Ace 100 Hodakas and tore them down and re-built them as "race bikes". The frames were painted silver, The gas tanks were given a dark blue paint job down the top. Ceriani forks, webco air filter & pipe.

    I grew up in the D-37 desert races and knew Rich Thorwalson. Rich and many of the other members of the Prospectors MC were world class racers. Rich's dad Bill and Charlie Hockie had a Bultaco Shop (CB Motors) in Gardena. Bill Messer (father of MX ace Bobby Messer) and Bill Thor were the first americans to race the ISDT, sponsored on a couple of VIllers by Nick Nicolson, aka "Uncle Nick" who went on to be the Greeves distributer.

    Prior to landing that rare "Full Ride" factory sponsorship on the Suzuki, Rick kicked major ass on his Jhon Steen sponsored Rickman Westlake BSA thumper. Rich was never able to do on the factory backed Suzuki what he could do on the Rickman.
  4. Strong Bad

    Strong Bad n00balicious

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    Jhon & his brother were regulars at the Wed night Ascot Part MX races. That was back when Jhon was still a Montessa rider along side Tim Hart, who rode for Competetion Services in San Pedro.
  5. nachtflug

    nachtflug infidel

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    one by one the old names start to surface. if he doesn't get credit for wearing a full face helmet before it was standard equipment in MX I don't know who would.

    we could almost do a thread on the old names, as this is sticking mainly to the bikes.

    so many names. all but forgotten while NBA Basketball players get 75 million dollar contracts to play basketball and then complain about it. :snore
  6. Knute Dunrvnyet

    Knute Dunrvnyet marooned in realtime

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  7. Knute Dunrvnyet

    Knute Dunrvnyet marooned in realtime

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    Still got two of these, one is on my TW200! Circa mid-70s? A great product.
  8. Valleyrider

    Valleyrider I Survived The '60s

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    Yeah, I know about John and Ascot!!! He would hit the 1/4 mile crash walls (berm off them) and we had to replace wheels after each moto when he was riding the TM400 there. Again, he was an animal when it came to riding.
  9. JAB

    JAB Unsprung Weight

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    [Nick Nicolson, aka "Uncle Nick" who went on to be the Greeves distributer.

    Funny how a name will ring a bell. Somehow, my dad and his circle of riding friends hooked up with Nick and his family for what seems like a "riding season". Dad bought a used Greeves from Nick, which is still around with a local guy that dad later sold the bike to. He still won't sell the darn thing to me, but I'm waiting. This all happened when I was 10-ish and unfortunatly, dad does'nt remember much of the past (or the present).
    Rode that Greeves when I was 12 or so. Quite a handfull for a punk kid.
    Remember having to shift it (on the wrong side) with the back of my boot.
    Good times.
  10. TREE

    TREE Interloper

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    Most programs have similar colour correction tools, but knowing how to use it is the trick.
    If the shot looks warm then it has too much red, magenta or yellow.
    Cold means it has a blue , green or cyan cast to it.

    Try reducing one of the 3 suspects at a time, look for the whites to clean up.
    Chrome is also a good indicator as the bad colour shows up when it is there.

    A good program should give you control over each of the six colours, usually has 3 sliders with cyan/red ..... magenta/green ...... and yellow/blue at opposite ends of the slider.

    As you add red you kill cyan, add blue you kill yellow, add green you kill magenta..... and vice versa.

    (If program just has a single hue adjuster then you will be at a big disadvantage.)
  11. vintagemxr

    vintagemxr old fahrt, nobody special

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    (official Nachtflug photo)
    [​IMG]

    Now I'm really feeling old when I see the kind of gear I raced in now in a museum exhibit. Those laced up lineman's boots, the black leathers with the "gold" stripe on the leg, the plain black kidney belt above and right of them and the ribbed for comfort light colored mx gloves (which replaced my official Torsten Hallman gloves). The lineman's boots were standard items for a lot of racers. The fance buckle boots from Europe could be had but were pricey. The cheap ticket was to buy the linemans boots at Sears and have a shoemaker put a wedge in the arch so the heal wouldn't get torn off when you put your foot down during a scrambles race or desert race.

    I still have the leathers and the kidney belt in a box out in the garage. I don't think I could even get one leg in the pants now. I guess they shrunk over the last 38 years... :nod

    Doug
  12. vintagemxr

    vintagemxr old fahrt, nobody special

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    Some photos I snapped at the Vintage Iron World Championships in 2000 of some folks mentioned in this thread:

    (Somebody feel free to correct me if I've got the labels wrong, the memory for faces was never good)

    [​IMG]
    Tim Hart
    [​IMG]
    John DeSotor "The Flyin' Hawaiian"

    [​IMG]
    "Rocket Rex" Staten after kicking butt in the first moto

    The only "old pro" racer at the event that day that was slow was Eddie Lawson and he admited that motocross was not his forte. :D

    Doug



  13. kittycactus

    kittycactus Banned

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    Good morning! I came down with the flu Friday and was too busy having a pity party to read much this weekend. I’m feeling better now and have some more questions. But first, I wanted to say thanks again for all the great contributions and pictures - it’s very cool to get first hand information from those who were there. Nachtflug, the pictures of the vintage riding gear are very interesting to say the least! Have you been to Wheels through Time in Maggie Valley, NC?

    There seems to be a fair amount of talk here about the TM400 (the Cyclone). I read Rick Sieman’s article on it last week and it seems to be an interesting and noteworthy bike from the early 70‘s (depending on who you ask). So I’m curious what other noteworthy bikes came along, good or bad? Where there some bikes that were universally coveted by all or was the field wide open? Which time period from the 60’s through the 80’s saw the most growth in terms of improvements to the bikes? I’m guessing late 70’s, early 80’s, but it’s just a guess. I also keep hearing a lot of mentions here and elsewhere about the Maico. But it also sounds like they broke down a lot. So I’m curious - did they perform so well for their time that everyone put up with the unreliability?
  14. Sal Paradise

    Sal Paradise Dharma Bum

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    As far as motorcycles the mattered heres a few:

    1968 Tilkens Monoshock CZ
    1975 CZ Falta Replica
    74.5 GP Maico
    75 GP 250 Can Am
    77 Can Am MX3
    1969 CZ Sidepipe
    1972 Husky
    1974 Husky
    1973 Honda Elsinore
    1975 Yamaha Monoshock (available in Canada in '73)
    1976 Suzuki RM
    1976 Yamaha OW 125 (first watercooler)


    As far as when the most change took place, it was probably from 1972-1982. 72 CZ's and Huskys were pretty primitive as were square barrell Maicos, by the time you hit 1975 the long travel trend is starting to take over. All the Euro guys produced their GP and the introduction of Magnesium cases to the Husky and Can Am, along with numerous other changes, helped to spur on the R&D. By the mid to late 70's Long Travel was thoroughly entrenched, most bikes were now reliable, and more powerful than the early 70's models. But the suspension still evolved, Yamaha was trying air cannisters on top of the forks, a single rear shock, while the rest of the manufacturers were trying forks with an offset axle and moving the shocks around by the hour. By the end of the 70's almost all manufacturers Euro and Jap had a watercooled works bike, something Yamaha and Can Am had during the 1976 Nationals but never put into production. With the intro of the 81 Suzuki RM 125 the look of MX was changed for ever, a watercooled single shock production bike, aong with Yamaha's monoshock convinced the other Manufacturers this was the future. And it was the future they sold us, whether it was the road we would have progressed on without them I don't know.

    On a sidenote, when I was a kid I had one of those 81 RM 125's. That thing was unrideable! The rear shock stunk, it was gutless, and the bottom end started to leak water. So I went back to riding my 79 RM 100, which was a half decent bike, mostly because of the dual shocks and having a carb that was the size of one that should of come off a 400! Beware the 79 RM's the plastic gas tanks are garbage and crumble, I had a 79 RM 400, you may recall it from Nachtflug's page, anyway the tank on it crumbled, luckily I found a new one...
  15. kittycactus

    kittycactus Banned

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    Thanks onanysunday! Are you 48 or 18 though? :huh How have you been able to ride so many older bikes? Does your dad still have a collection or have you started your own?

    The RM125 I had was old when I got her and I pretty much killied it. Not a great trail bike for sure and the light switch power was hard to get used to. Made me figure out how to use the clutch though. We sold it to a kid who wanted to restore it.
  16. Strong Bad

    Strong Bad n00balicious

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    Fantastic pic of Tim Hart! I guess I haven't seen him in 30 years. Back in the day, there was a group of riders from the South Bay area of Los Angeles who were all pretty close friends as well as superb riders. Tim Hart had a house back behind the Parasol Resterant (PCH & Cranshaw) that was party central. Donny Emler, Bobby Messer, Danny LaPort all used to hang there. A coupe of blocks away Jim Wilson (former Greeves ace along with Gary Bailey both sponsored by "Uncle Nick"), lived at his parents house. Jim's mom was the school nurse at my high school and would write us excuses to not dress out for PE on Mondays after hard weekends of racing!

    Lace up lineman boots with wool socks rolled over the top were pretty standard issue. Of course you had a plug wrench stuffed in the calf of your right boot!! Torsten Hallman goatskin leathers were the bomb. They were thin and extreamly durable. My first pair of buckle boots were Full Bore boots that came from the Ossa people (same as the Full Bore two Stroke oil the came in the black aluminum cans). The Full Bore boot brand later became the Highpoint boot distributed by the Penton people. In the pic the Full Bore are seen (with the red, whit & blue diamonds) next to the HIghpoints that have the stainless steel shields. Us Desert & Enduro guys also had Barbour or Belstaff jackets (waxed cotton "thorn proof" material) for racing in the rain. These were the pre-curser to today's enduro jackets. I've still got my Full Bores, Hallmans, and Barbour jacket along with my open faced Bell helmit with the duck bill visor in a box in the garage.
  17. Sal Paradise

    Sal Paradise Dharma Bum

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    18, thankfully...:lol3

    Its a lifetime of riding old bikes. Before eBay we didn't have any vintage european stuff (we thought it was unavailable), I still rode old bikes cause they were cheap. My first bike was a 72 suzuki RV 90, the fat tired bike, 3 speed tub! Then I had a 71 Kawasaki KD 125. Then got my first motocross bike, the only water cooled bike I ever rode, a 1986 KTM 80. After I outgrew it I bought an RM 100 for $50. My old man being the mechanic that he is, brought it back to life for me. This was all pre- internet and it needed some trans parts, luckily he knew who all the suzuki dealers were because Chapparral definetly didn't have the parts. I came across an 81 RM 125 in the paper and bought it, sold it quickly after because it was such a pile of scrap (not before riding it off a cliff, which I'm sure contributed to the bikes overall condition as well as mine!) It was just not my thing, I thought it would be great when I got it but it turned out I was much faster on the old twinshock 100!

    Thats when eBay got going. By this time I'd sold all my Japanese stuff, which I actually had a lot of. Now I've got about 8 Can Am's, a 73 Maico 400, and I still have an old KTM. I really made an effort to thin down the load. I was able to buy the bikes cheap do some work one me, sell em for a profit and buy something better. My father has his bikes too, which are considerably rarer than mine for the most part!:lol3 Hes got a bunch of Falta CZ's, a couple GP Maicos, 15 or so Can Am's, also a pair of Ammexs, and then some misc. parts bikes, Elsie hondas, RM's, a Montesa Cappra, etc...(Oh, and just to prove we actually do ride on the street and can be called Dual Sport riders he bought a Bimota YB-10, they're neat street bikes aren't really my thing though...)

    Aside from the riders my father and I try to fo a couple really nice resotrations a year. So we have a lot of parts bikes. Just in Can Ams we bought 12 parts bikes to complete two MX2 250's. So we have bought and sold a lot of stuff. We bought out a bike shop in the desert here, took all his euro stuff which was mostly KTM and Husky. Sold all the KTM's except one to a guy in Puerto Rico who is constructing a mueseum! Hopefully he gets it done, it'll give me another reason to go to Puerto Rico (as if I needed another!) So for me its gotten to be more than a hobby, but not quite a job, which is where I like it!


    Anyway thats the history of me, if you want photos of some of this stuff let me know. I like to have as many photos as possible for future refrence so I don't mind returning the favor.
    Thanks for being interested as well! :D

    Scott

    edit: I've posted a bunch of photos of both my fathers and my bikes on Nachtflugs thread. Check em out if you want. Theres a lot fo great photos on that thread as well!
  18. Sal Paradise

    Sal Paradise Dharma Bum

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    I'll pull some photos from Nachtflugs thread in the near future...
  19. KinkyWinks

    KinkyWinks El Gringo Perdido

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    The first bike I raced was a 305 Honda, I remember it had a 60 tooth rear sprocket that was almost as big as the rim. Somewhere around 1970 or 71 I got an American Eagle built by McCormick Manufacturing. It had a Kawasaki 238 Greenstreak engine. The brakes were crap and I had a Honda hub laced to the rear rim which helped some. It had a low pipe which went under the engine and frame, I managed to smash several of them. It would handle as well as the Jap bikes but would lose ground in the straights due to the engine and not being able to shut down in time to make the turns. I got another one from someone that was setup for Short Track and it worked "OK" on our local 3/8 mile track.
    The 175 class was refered to as the Penton class by many of us because if you did not have a Penton, you were going to run last.
  20. nachtflug

    nachtflug infidel

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    thats a good question for debate. I think the answer would be no, at least as far as bikes you could buy.

    Everybody wanted what DeCoster was riding. :D

    But universally, no. Brand loyalty played a role. Dealer proximity. You were more likely to ride a Yamaha if the dealer was in town and he treated you good if the next closest dealer was far away. Of course people got burned too, and abandoned their brand for a "better" one. The thing about todays bikes, they all look the same, and have for years. I mean who cares about Hot Wheels. The bikes have lost their identidy. There was nothing wrong with a few Moto fox stickers and god knows a Champion sticker on a Suzuki went a loooooooooong ways towards respectability.

    [​IMG]

    but for a lot of different reasons, which included the factory riders, everyone had their brand. from my observation at a few local MX races this fall, despite Ricky Charmicheal's success, the tracks aren't swarming with Suzuki's.

    Its a very good questions and one that you could debate for hours. And again as has been said before, unlike today, where an amateur could go buy a 3-4 even 5 year old bike and be competitive, (if he's decent), due to the fact that things were changing very quickly, your head was spinning trying to keep up. The Elsinores did fall very out of favor and when the 250 and 370 RM's came out everybody was all of a sudden very interested in Suzuki's.

    what was the question?

    Universally? no. too many things happening too fast. I still say in the 70's the elsinore made the biggest splash. water cooled yamaha's were great-if you happened to be Bob Hannah, but you couldn't buy one.

    And the European factor just added to the confusion. In this era it's more of pick your poison from Japan, unless you want a KTM. Which most don't unless they're doing non mx things.

    but back then in all fairness when you include CanAm the non japanese brands outnumbered the japs 2-1?

    Maico. Husky. Bultaco. CZ. Ossa. Montesa. KTM/Penton. CanAm. All big players to some degree. All fell by the wayside.

    Very good question. Great thread!

    :deal

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]