What vintage trials bikes were most desireable back in the day

Discussion in 'Trials' started by sdm, Aug 18, 2009.

  1. sdm

    sdm Adventurer

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    I am looking to get into vintage trials but am having a hard time deciding on what to focus on for a bike. There seem to be a variety of bikes to choose from but I am not familiar with the scene enough to make an informed decision. I have been riding for along time and have rode mx and enduros etc but I have not payed much attention to the trials scene. I am mainly interested in the early to mid 70s 2 stroke bikes like the Bultacos and Ossas
    etc but I see the Suzuki , Yamaha and Kawasakis out there too. I am not afraid to turn a wrench especially on the older bikes as they were so simple to work on. Any thought would be appreciated and anything I should stay away from?:eek1
    Thanks
    Sam
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  2. welder

    welder Long timer

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    the euro stuff generally had weaker transmision, cluthes,and brakes than the japanese bikes. That being said, i think they were a bit more powerful and handled bettter than the japanese bikes. The yamaha ty's were about the best all arounder imho. the 175 being a bit underpowered but very light. the 250 was a bit of a pig @ 205lbs. If you get a ty250 try to get a 76-78 model. they made a few improvments over the 74. 1975 for some reason yamaha did not produce the 250 ty.
    #2
  3. norton73

    norton73 drinkin'

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    An important question would be where are you located? Your local club will have a big effect on what you want to compete on. What classes do they have and what do you want to ride.
    Some clubs only have a twin shock class, so you would be at a big disadvantage riding a 500cc '61 AJS against a early 80s Fantic. Some break it up by year, some recognize the differences and put similair performing bikes togeather.
    If your local club has a class for '70s bikes, TYs are a good start, lots of knowlege, lots of parts. Bultacos are great if you want a quirky bike, parts and knowlege are out there, but take a little more looking. That and you might have to get used to a right shift, left brake bike.
    suzukis break frames, I'd avoid them. Kwackers are ok, but parts are spotty.
    Ossas are great if you can find a good one, but trans are hard to set up, parts are spotty.
    Montessas are popular, reliable, parts appear to be available.
    Hondas, 125 Ok handling, but short on power if you weigh much more than the average japanese rider. 250 will power over anything in it's path, kinda like Godzilla, but heaven help you if you end up under it.
    #3
  4. motu

    motu Loose Pre Unit

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    The most desirable in the day would be a Montesa or Bultaco,anything else was second choice.The most desirable twinshock would be the blue plastic tank Bultaco's,they are late '70's early '80's.Biggest trouble with Sherpa T's is the chrome plated brake drum,it was chrome straight on the alloy hub...it finally peeled off.I'd pull the wheels off any Bultaco I was looking at.
    #4
  5. roadholder

    roadholder Long timer

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    If you are most interested in the Spanish iron and don't mind wrenching (as stated) then they are probably a good way to go. Parts availability isn't too bad and the bikes are competitive.

    Of the Japanese brands the Kawi's and Suzukis work pretty well but are a bit obscure compared to the Yamaha and Hondas. If you want a fourstroke get the latter, but the TY I think has the best combination of reliability, competitiveness and parts availability.

    In any case, get what interests you the most. It's a sport or passion over rationale!
    #5
  6. sdm

    sdm Adventurer

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    All good points everyone has brought forward... Just the kind of input I am looking for. I live in NE Calif and have some riding to be able to practice close by but the nearest bike shop of any kind is a 2 1/2 hour drive. I do most of my parts mail order anyhow.
    I think I may try to attend one of the AHRMA vintage trials events in the near future to see what is going on. We do have a local bike/atv club but they are mainly into mx. I think there is an AHRMA trials coming up is So. Oregon soon so that my be a good place to start.
    Didn't the Bultacos eventually come with the ability to shift on either side?
    Seems like I remember that coming along about the mid 70s.
    Thanks for the info
    Sam
    #6
  7. Cpt. Ron

    Cpt. Ron Advrider #128

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  8. darmst6829

    darmst6829 Been here awhile

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    Hi Sam,

    AHRMA has several classes to chose from,

    <TABLE border=0 cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 width="100%"><!--msthemelist--><TBODY><TR><TD vAlign=baseline width=42>[​IMG]</TD><TD vAlign=top width="100%"><!--mstheme-->Girder Fork: Any rigid-frame, girder-fork machine. <!--mstheme--><!--msthemelist--></TD></TR><!--msthemelist--><TR><TD vAlign=baseline width=42>[​IMG]</TD><TD vAlign=top width="100%"><!--mstheme-->Rigid: Any non-swingarm machine. <!--mstheme--><!--msthemelist--></TD></TR><!--msthemelist--><TR><TD vAlign=baseline width=42>[​IMG]</TD><TD vAlign=top width="100%"><!--mstheme-->Premier Lightweight: Pre-1965 era machines up to 250cc. <!--mstheme--><!--msthemelist--></TD></TR><!--msthemelist--><TR><TD vAlign=baseline width=42>[​IMG]</TD><TD vAlign=top width="100%"><!--mstheme-->Premier Heavyweight: Pre-1965 era machines 350cc and larger. <!--mstheme--><!--msthemelist--></TD></TR><!--msthemelist--><TR><TD vAlign=baseline width=42>[​IMG]</TD><TD vAlign=top width="100%"><!--mstheme-->Classic: British kit-framed two-stroke machines up to model year 1974 with 175cc or smaller OEM engine, and Spanish 4-speeds to 250cc in original OEM frame. <!--mstheme--><!--msthemelist--></TD></TR><!--msthemelist--><TR><TD vAlign=baseline width=42>[​IMG]</TD><TD vAlign=top width="100%"><!--mstheme-->Modern Classic: Any unit-construction machine up to model year 1979.

    If you like lot's of competition then ride the Modern Classic class, all the other classes have low participation in comparison. I personally like the Classic and Premier classes because the bikes are so much more challanging to ride and I like the way the early bikes look. Whatever you end up with I would suggest buying a bike someone is activly using as apposed to a bike that has been sitting.

    Dave



    </TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>
    #8
  9. Putts

    Putts Gettin' there.

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    Oooooooo! The TY's getting the love. :thumb


    [​IMG]

    I don't know enough about trials bikes in general to make valid comparitive statements, because I drank the Yammy Kool-aid early on and just stuck with it.

    Had a TY250 in my youth. Tried to beat the shit out of it, but it just kept runnin'.

    Bought a TY175 a few months ago and use it in the back yard. Stuffed it's pipe with packing to quiet it down, but even half smothered it'll yank my arms off.

    Whatever you get, you'll have more fun/mph than any other bike you've ever owned.

    :bert
    #9
  10. sdm

    sdm Adventurer

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    Dave
    Modern classics class is the area I am looking at I guess. There seem to be bikes that pop up for sale on cl from time to time so I am keeping my eyes open. I just have to decide how far I want to travel for a good prospect.
    Sam
    #10
  11. buls4evr

    buls4evr No Marks....

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    SDM I like the late 70s Bultacos or Montesas and here are the reasons...... These are real racing engines not warmed over trail bikes as the big 4 built. They have bigger cranks and flywheels and U can change crank seals very easily. They are made from far better steel in the frames and forks and so hold a line better. The plastic gas tanks especially on the type 199 Bul is tough and doesnt leak or put fiberglass or rust into the carb. The parts are pricey but easy to get from several sources. In fact expect to pay more for the bike from the start but it's worth it and has great resale.
    Bikes to stay away from in order : Suzuki RLs (just plain junk), Honda 250 TL (heavy), Kawasaki KT250 (parts virtually impossible to find outside NZ) and about anything British. You can get by with a Yamaha but as soon as you ride a borrowed Spanish bike your TY will be for sale. Stay with the later plastic tanked bikes but watch that 1979 cut off date and know that for AHRMA not all 78-79 bikes are legal. You need to watch the Montesas especially as late 70s flopped shocks fwd. Enjoy the hunt.
    #11
  12. Lobo50

    Lobo50 Adventurer

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    I have a 75 and 76 Kawasaki Kt-250's. The 76 has only 800 miles on it and is as clean a bike as you will find unrestored. The 75 has been redone and is a nice bike. I am backwards from the last post. Parts for the Kt 250's have been much easier to come up with than the Honda TL250 I also have. The only thing I don't like on the Kawa's is it seems to me the front end will wash out when in a tight corner. I will take the Honda fourstroke engine over the two strokes any day but yes the bike is heavier. Been years since I have ridden the Ty Yamaha's but if I was going to buy bikes all over again. I would go with the Yamaha because of the amount of parts and the ease of still getting them. They are a great bike also. My 75 Kt has just been rebored with new piston and rings. New Mukuni carb,air cleaner, and throttle, along with a new front fender from BJ racing. Forks rebuilt, new seat and paint, brakes. Oil pump, oil tank, air box, lights, and anything else I didn't need has been removed . The bike feels much lighter than stock and is a fun bike to ride. But again I really love the Honda TL-250 engine. Whichever one you choose try to find a good clean bike with ALL the parts to begin with . Don't think you can buy a bike missing parts and think you will save money no matter how cheap you get the bike. Parts for these old trials bikes are at a premium. With some patience you might find a clean bike at a decent price. A Yamaha TY 250 1978 model just sold here for around $700. It had a new engine both top and bottom end and was in very clean shape but missing lights.
    #12
  13. roadholder

    roadholder Long timer

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    I rode a TL-250 for years, and a 125 before that. They get panned for being heavy (which they are) but for larger, heavier riders at the right type of event they can actually work very well. The motor always saves the day and will rev to the moon, inhaling big climbs...or effortlessly tractor up a greasy slope and through mud, putting power down the way two strokes can't match. It's still best in traditional "classic" type sections rather then more modern obstacle-intense events. I know there are times when the 250 (for me) was as good or better a choice then a TY or a Bul...and times when it wasn't. For me it was always better then my previous TL125.

    Over the 14 years I owned it I added gas, changed the oil and replaced a few wear items...NOTHING touches them on that front! :eek1
    #13
  14. buls4evr

    buls4evr No Marks....

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    SDM you asked a question about Bultaco shifters and what side they are set up for. From the factory they shift on the right side and for good reason as the kick starter is on the left side. You can get a left side shifter, right side brake system from Venhill in the UK. The problems with conversion are2... You often kick the bike into gear accidentally,when starting the bike and even worse you get stuck with a cable operated instead of the rod actuated type brake. Not a good trade IMO. U learn to ride with the right side shifter pretty quickly like Sammy Miller liked it . My bike is a 1979 Bultaco 350 Sherpa T, also known as a type 199. They are very reliable and tough in every way. I also own a well set -up 75 KT250 Kaw which has more money in it than the Bul and is about as good but has really cheesy build quality in comparison. Another question you must ask is how much money do I need to spend to make a stock trialer into a competitive AHRMA trialer? A Spanish bike is a lot closer from the factory than Jap stuff. You will have to buy certain parts for all of these bikes such as shocks, tires,fork springs, usually crank seals and air cleaners and good cables. If you are lucky the gas tank is not contaminated with rust(if steel). If you saw this as "cheap racing" its not. A good event ready trialer will cost the average guy $2500.
    #14
  15. sdm

    sdm Adventurer

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    All great info from everyone and thanks for the replies. I am leaning towards a Bul but there have been a few Japanese bikes that have come up that look interesting. Lobo 50 makes a very good point about parts prices and availability as I have been looking at things that potential prospect bikes have missing that would need replacing with oem or aftermarket parts.
    At this time I am waiting for the owner to become available to show me a 72 250 Sherpa T. Sounds like a good prospect as it is suppose to run well.
    As long as it is all there and isn't thrashed beyond repair it may be the best prospect so far. I got some pics of a 75 350 Sherpa but the gas tank was really blistered bad and the swing arm had been welded on so I passed on that. The shifter thing is really no big deal for me but was just curious.
    I'll let you know what I come up with as the search continues!
    Thanks
    Sam
    #15
  16. Lobo50

    Lobo50 Adventurer

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    SDM if you take your time you can find good deals. The 75 Kawasaki KT250 that I have that has been all rebuilt was done by the guy I just got the bike from. He wanted to compete in AHRMA so he pretty well went through the whole bike. He had part receits of almost $1500 plus the price he paid for the bike. He lost interest after finishing the bike. He traded me straight across for an old TT 500 enduro that I had less than $500 in. My other 76 KT 250 I bought had 750 miles on it when I bought this summer. It had been in storage most of its life and the guy just wanted to get rid of it. Other than the carb being messed up it is as close to a new bike as possable. I bought it for $800. Just happen to see it just as he posted it on our local internet add site. I was the first to call (he said it had been posted 4 min.) and picked it up. He had a boat load of phone calls on it. He also gave me the info on a TL-125 that was in great shape that a guy might sell. These were just old bikes they wanted gone so thus the low price. Good luck on your search. It is half the fun. As I said earlier and others have mentioned a clean Honda TL 250 is a sweet bike. The extra weight doesn't bother me and the engine makes up for any other short comings. Nothing better than the sound of a 4 stroke powering up a steep hill!
    #16
  17. buls4evr

    buls4evr No Marks....

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    SDM there was a very specific reason why I mentioned a late 70s Sherpa T as they have molded plastic gas tanks not the fiberglass junk on the early 70s bike. U can replace the tank on any of these bikes with a center mount Elsinore tank from Clarke for a pretty reasonable price. The part number is 1336 and they come in about 10 different colors.
    Also note that early round case Buls are 4 spds while the later square case square barrel Bul is a 5 spd. Not a big deal in trials but something to ask about. That 72 is likely a 4 spd with a glass tank. The glass tanks used to leak right on the showroom floor in 1972 at our shop so we left them MT ! Not a big deal so long as you plan to put on an aftermarket tank though. Pretty means nothing in trials. Look for the good parts such as good RADIAL tires on the bikes,MIKUNI carbs and NITROGEN-OIL shocks on the bike. Look for a PROFESSIONAL engine rebuild not a shade tree mechanic. I would always suggest that U buy an ACTIVE PARTICIPANTS bike and not try to invent the wheel again. These parts should be a common denominator on any bike that you buy. Also I want you to go to wwwbultacomotorcycles and look at that site before you buy. This will convince U that virtually any Bultaco can be fixed. Many of these sellers do not know that their bike would not be a competitive trialer. They are not trying to mislead U... they just don't know what additional steps are needed to compete. Like I said I have 2 very different trialers and they both work. But U need the right stuff on them all.
    #17
  18. Happy Rider

    Happy Rider Old but nOOb

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    The bultacos, were 5 speeds from at least 1969. They had round cases, a low motor mount and 5 speeds. The square cases had the advantage of the clutch actuating arm being above the case not below, don't ask me why i know this.
    #18
  19. Castle

    Castle Red Cloud Slept Here

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    I had a Honda TL250. Yup it was heavy, but it was also bulletproof. It actually was a decent enduro bike but the gas tank was too small to be serious. That bike would go anywhere.

    I road a factory-prepped Montessa in Spain in 1976; that was a serious trials bike and let me know what a porker my Honda was.....:cry
    #19
  20. Happy Rider

    Happy Rider Old but nOOb

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    Buls4ever, a quick question, i went to the clarke tank site, and the only elsinore tank they have is for the 125, is that the one that fits? i would prefer not to continue using my fiberglass tank, and didn't realize there were options. the almost 180 degree arc of the steering stops makes most tanks challenging.
    #20