Lee Barnes an ex. OSSA owner
Hey man, just had to write you and congratulate you on your excellent
When I lived in North Carolina, I had an old Pioneer that came with a box
of extra parts, including a complete set of Stiletto glass. I converted
it over to the Stiletto bodywork, but kept it street-legal, then converted
it back to a Pioneer because I needed the extra gas tank volume. The IRZ
carb was hopelessly worn out, so I converted it over to a Mikuni from a
Yamaha 250, which turned out to be more complicated that you might imagine,
and getting it jetted right was a bear. Turned out that I had a Stiletto
cylinder instead of a Pioneer cylinder, so it was more pipey and less torquey
than a Pioneer.
It was great as a dirt bike, but using it on the street, especially taking
it on the highway for the 15-mile trip to work, was a pain in the patootie.
By the way, I bought some red Sears epoxy spray paint for it, and after
the paint dried, it was not red, but hot pink.
With the possible exception of the old Rickman 125 dirt bikes, I think
the old Ossas are the prettiest dirt bikes ever made. I finally sold mine
because it was impractical as a street/trail bike; I replaced it with a
porky Suzuki 250 that was better on the highway, but much too heavy in
the dirt. Here in Florida, it's too flat for a dirt bike (in my opinion),
so I just ride my 22-year-old Yamaha 650 twin. I still have the Ossa patch
on my riding jacket, though.
On weekends, I find a friend or two and ride about 20
miles on the highway to the closest off-road place. In North Carolina at
that time, a dirt bike with headlights and tail lights and brake lights
and a horn is all it takes to be street-legal. My Ossa Pioneer meets the
letter of the law, by a hair.
I'm riding with my friend Robert, who as usual, is following too close.
It's something that has driven me crazy. So finally, I pull over and say:
"Dammit, you are following me too close, and if I crash, you are going
to ride right over me!"
Let me point out here that I am riding my fine Ossa Pioneer, and he is
riding a Honda 175. So Robert says, "My bike is not as fast as yours,
so I am riding as hard as I can to keep up with you." And I insist
that he go first for a change. So he does, and soon he crashes, and as
you might expect, I am following too close, so I attempt to ride around
him, and instead hit a tree stump. This is the part that proves Ossas are
not ordinary bikes: I hit the tree stump, and I do a somersault over the
handlebars, landing squarely on my butt without a scratch. I jump up and
find my Ossa Pioneer laying on its side, running full throttle. I run over
and hit the kill switch. Nothing happens; it is still screaming. I PULL
THE SPARK PLUG OFF! and still, nothing changes! It is still running wide
open! Finally, I yank the fuel line off, and within seconds, the engine
sputters and dies.
OK, the rest is anti-climatic. I put the fuel line back in place, I pick
up the bike, and kick it over, and it starts, smooth as a $5 cigar. We
ride back to the highway, and ride the 10 miles or so back home. For those
of you at home who are puzzled by this: The Ossa was running so hot, it
was firing off its own heat and compression, much like a diesel engine.
So my pulling the spark plug had no effect. By the way, I was wearing gloves,
as I always do. Had I not been wearing gloves, the spark plug wire would
have kicked me in the patootie. I have owned many bikes, but only one that
was so temperamental that it would fire without benefit of spark, and so
kind that it would recover and let me ride it home.
Lee Barnes email:firstname.lastname@example.org
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