I have a 1971 Pioneer that I purchased new in Ontario CA in February of 1972. I still have the original CA title, the inspection tags...in Spanish...that were tied to the handlebars and the original bill of sale. I knew from the beginning that I would never,ever sell this motorcycle. One notable feature of my bike...the Akront (sp?) factory couldn't meet the demand for their 21" wheels. My bike came from the factory with a 19" front wheel with a Pirelli trail tire on it. I replaced it with a 21" wheel as soon as one was available.....but I think the handling was more predictable with the 19" wheel. I still have the 19" wheel and the spokes that were installed with it.
The bike saw fairly hard use for about 5 years. It was used for desert/trail riding, enduros and hare scrambles in California, Texas, Virginia, and Louisiana..in that order until 1976. I even used it for short commutes to work, and grocery store runs. During that time, the bike accumulated about 8500 miles with rock-solid reliability. It always got me back to the truck, and the only parts that failed were the speedometer, the fork seals and the rear shocks. I left the speedo broken, replaced the seals with those from, I believe, a Honda 305 Scrambler, and stuck some Mulholland springs and shocks on the back. Towards the end of it's service life, I replaced the original rear fender with a Stiletto look-alike, replaced the throttle assembly with a sexy looking Italian 1/4 turn unit, and simplified the headlight switch wiring. I still have the original rear fender and (cheap) toolkit.
I attribute the reliability to a good design, mostly, but I will take some credit. I was very careful to disassemble, clean, lubricate and inspect everything I could after every serious exposure to dirt...wet or dry.
Oh yes, almost forgot the piston rings which I replaced after a mild piston seizure, the result of WFO ingestion of muddy water in a 4-foot deep creek during an off-course excursion at Camp Claiborne LA. Head and cylinder base gaskets were replaced, too.
Persistant and unresolved problems were some pinging and clutch drag; both after the engine had operated for an hour or more, and particularly at low speeds.
Big changes in my life in 1976. I decided to leave the Air Force and go to college, and did, beginning in August while living in Alexandria, Louisiana. That October I had a serious crash, again at Camp Claiborne (something about that place...) I was pretty beaten up....but I got better. More important, my trusty Pioneer suffered a torn up front fender, bent handlebars and an assortment of scratches. It could have been much worse. Witnesses claim that the bike went end-over-end 2-3 times before coming to rest on a patch of swampy ground. The soft ground prevented more serious damage.
As I lay in the ER having my ankle set, it came to me that I would have to give up something if this college thing were going to work. I had (and still have ) a family to support. They were making sacrifices in order for me to get my education. I had to give up cycling.
My bent and dirty OSSA sat in the carport for 5 years. It was only started twice during that interval (usually after 2-3 kicks even with years-old gas/oil). My wife wanted me to sell it. I ignored her, and completed my chemistry degree.
In 1982 we moved to Hattiesburg, Mississippi where I attended graduate school in the Polymer Science Department at Southern Miss. The OSSA was disassembled, carefully packaged (but not washed first...don't ask why) and moved with us over my wife's protests. Since completing graduate school the bike has moved with us...still packaged...to Newburgh Indiana, Greensboro, North Carolina, and recently, Kennesaw, Georgia.
Family, career, triathlons, two Jeeps and a Mazda Miata all conspired to keep me and my OSSA apart. I did attend a few antique motorcycle shows, and seeing all those beautifully (sometimes) restored Montessas, Bultacos, Greeves', Maicos, Jawas, ATS' , Huskys, Hodakas, Hondas, Suzukis, and Yamahas hurt...because I knew I had something better that needed attention.
But I never forgot about my OSSA, and always planned to restore it. I think that time has nearly arrived. Once we get settled in, I'll get started. And I will probably be contacting many of you about parts etc. The plan is to make this a factory accurate restoration....not to be confused with some highly-chromed and immaculate show bike. All the bumps and warts which it came with, will still be there.
One other item of intrest...while traveling through thr backroads of Indiana a few years back...on my way to the Indianapolis 500...I saw a small business with a weather beaten sign reading "Moto Guzzi and OSSA Motorcycles". I didn't pay it much attention at the time..and actually drove right by on subsequent trips until one day when I had the time to stop and look around. The building had been occupied by an OSSA and Moto Guzzi dealership from the late 60's until the late 70's. The owner was an ex-racer who flat-tracked Dick Mann Replica's before getting into motocross. Surprisingly, he still owned the building, and had a business repairing TV's and VCR's in what had been his showroom. It seems that one day it became obvious that his cycle business just wasn't going to be able to support him...and he just closed the doors and moved on.
I mentioned to him that I was the original owner of an old Pioneer. and was planning a restoration. He immediately offered to show me what he had in the way of parts. Perhaps you can relate to my sense of wonder at what I saw next.....
He opened a greasy handmade plywood door and escorted me into a dimly lit room with unfinished wooden shelves occupying much of the space. On these shelves was an incredible assortment of OSSA parts...most of them new. They ranged from simple things like levers and cables to complete 500 CC twin cylinder engines....and that wasn't all. Above this room was another ...again dimly lit and accessable by an unstable unfinished wood stairway... in which were all of the bikes used by the teams that he sponsored. These were mostly DMR flattrackers...and a few modified Stilletto's....I couldn't believe it. It was like a time capsule. One day he was in the motorcycle business; the next he was out. Just like that.
I haven't been back since...but I know where it is.
Not long ago I met a guy who lives near me in Winston-Salem, North Carolina . His name is John French, and he owned several old OSSA's. He has since sold them to a guy who lives near Charlotte, North Carolina. Most of them are somewhat disassembled...as I understand it. Needless to say..I will be in touch with them when I begin my restoration. I plan to unpack all of the parts and take a 'before' picture...and then I'll take pictures as the restoration progresses.
Good to know you guys are out there.......
Keith Gray, Kennesaw, Georgia, USA.
In the early 70's we were the Ossa importers into NZ. We still hold parts for MAR replicas.Our stock is rather small but worth a try.
Chris Harris, New Zeeland
I have two OSSA SDR (Six Day Replica) for my
personal use and eventual restoration. Just bought one of them but have
owned and ridden the other one for about 20 years--since I was 16. (Strange
Looking for any curious info. on these models. My brother, who has a similar affair with Bultaco's, said I could find the original brochure for my model on the net.
Other related interests: 1991 HD FXRP--owned since new--minor, but very cool, mods. 1979 CJ Jeep--several major rebuilds over the years and a 1967 Scout 800B awaiting restoration or any attention at all. Currently driving a 1997 GMC 1/2 Ton 4WD PU--lift, 33/12.50's, 12,000 Ramsey Industrial Winch--I'm not proud. (None of this stuff is for sale so don't ask!)
Love my toys,
Lew Davis, Stillwater,
Click on it
Thought you might enjoy the attached photo, which shows my friend Buzz McMillian flying through the air on his OSSA Stiletto. The time is probably 1971. Buzz was a pro motocrosser, and he also rode trials and enduros. He rode for OSSA in the early '70's, and he has some interesting stories to tell about those days.
When I lived in Great Falls, Montana, there was a fellow there who had a small OSSA shop behind his house. He had the only offroad Yankee bikes I ever saw. They were very impressive, and I wanted one so bad I could taste it......but with 3 young children at home there was no way I could afford one.
I bought my first OSSA brand new in 1969 from Swanson's Cycle Shop in
San Jose, California. It was a 4-speed 250 Pioneer, and I really
loved that bike. Many other bikes followed over the years, but the memory
of that '69 Pioneer has always remained.
Yesterday I bought a '73 SDR in good condition, and look forward to many pleasant hours riding it and working on it.
Ron Brown, Newark, New York, USA
I did a little research in my book on the 1973 ISDT and came up with the qualifier results and ISDT results shown below. I believe the US also had an OSSA team in the 1971 ISDT at the Isle of Man, with Bob Hicks as team manager. (Bob also rode two previous ISDTs but I am not sure on what bike.) I think I mentioned something about a dispute about the Yankee Z bikes. It turns out that was in 1972. John Taylor got the team of Don Cutler, Dave Latham and Charlie Vincent qualified on Yankees, but then part of the team refused to ride them in the ISDT...too big, heavy, etc. I believe Charlie Vincent went ahead and rode the Yankee anyway, and Barry Higgins was entered on the Yankee that Dave Latham qualified. Dave rode his personal OSSA Pioneer for the Canadians, and Don Cutler rode for a US club team. Another US rider, Dave Eames, took overall honors at the Berkshire Trials in 1972 on a Yankee. The 1973 ISDT was held on the same terrain as the Berkshire Trials and was organized by Al Eames, who had been the organizer of the Berkshire Trials since it's inception in 1965. The 1972 Berkshire was a 3-day event (all prior Berkshires had been 2 days) in anticipation of a US Six Days the next year. Anyhow, here are the results of the 1973 US ISDT Qualifier Series followed by the results of all OSSA riders in the 1973 ISDT. Ft. Hood 2-day Qualifier, 31Mar-1Apr, Ft. Hood, TX Dave Latham-Gold Charlie Vincent, Don Cutler-Bronze Busted Piston 2-day Qualifier, 7-8 Apr, Potosi, MO Cutler-G, Jerry Yoder-G, Vincent-S, Latham-S Cutler 5th overall Trask Mountain 2-day Qualifier, 12-13 May, McMinnville, OR Latham-G, Cutler-G, Vincent-S, Dave Evans-S, Ken Kreigh-S, John Taylor-B, Bill Harris-B (Taylor was OSSA importer in US) Bad Rock 2-day Qualifier, 19-20 May, Weston, OR Latham-G, Cutler-G, Vincent-G Shamrock 2-day Qualifier, 23-24 June, Sunland, CA A. Lund-S Southern Ohio 2-day Qualifier, 30 June-1 July, Laurelville, OH Yankee Team-1st Cutler-S, Vincent-S, Latham-S, R. Rice-S, L. Rennekamp-B, B. Perry-B 1973 ISDT, Dalton, Massachusetts OSSA riders, country, awards There were 67 riders entered in the 176-250cc class Rider# Name Country-Team Medal/place out of 67 entries 82 Michael Gendre FRance-Vase A 61-retired 157 Michel Lutz FR-Vase B 48-retired 161 David Latham USA-OSSA USA Silver-27 165 Nicholas Samofil FR-Trophy 39-retired 177 John Burrows GB-ACC of Austalia Bronze-43 178 Jaime Lozoya SPain-Vase B Bronze-35 185 Charlie Vincent USA-OSSA USA Gold-17 190 Jacques Vernier FR-Vase A 51-retired 194 Miguel Monras SP-Vase B 50-retired 197 Sven-Eric Hillman Sweden-? Gold-5 199 J. Williamson GB-Scottish ACU 63-retired 202 Claude Thomas FR-Vase A Bronze-37 203 Larry Gillespie CAnada-Vase A 60-retired 209 Don Cutler USA-OSSA USA Silver-22 211 Carlo Rinaldi ITaly-Motoclub Cosa Volpino B Silver-25 212 Jim Fenwick CA-Vase B 59-retired 213 Jean-Marie Huguet FR-Trophy 52-retired 219 William Borland GB-Ireland Vase A 67-retired 220 David Thorpe GB-? Bronze-31 The OSSA USA team of Cutler, Latham & Vincent placed 11th out of 50 manufacturer's teams. The OSSA France team of Samofil, Vernier & Huguet placed 45th out of 50.
|Jeff DeBell Overland Park, KS
I moved from Oklahoma and now live in Leavenworth, Kansas. My OSSA fleet consist of a 303 Trials, 1978 VI Day and 1975 Desert Phantom and my next projects are a 125 Phantom and a GPII. I am always looking to buy OSSA inventories and here is a photo of my 303.
David Richardson, Leavenworth, Kansas, USA
Contact me by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
CARLOS LATORRE, LLEIDA, SPAIN
|Hi , Phil here,on my 72 MAR....it's a great bike and I'v won a couple of Provincial championships on it. It's so easy to ride that I started with modern bikes again....|
Phil Ashmore, Ontario, Canada
I have a '72 OSSA Plonker (MAR) Serial #343
787, which I bought new sometime back then. I enjoyed it for many
years and then parked it in the shed. Last fall I took it apart,
cleaned, and reassembled it. I am now enjoying it again in the woods
around my home. This bike is completely original including the Pirelli
tires. I have lost the speedometer and rear tail light, but they
may be around somewhere. I have not looked too hard.
What may be of more interest is I have the original fold up owners manual in very good shape as well as a clean copy of "OSSA Workshop Manual Five-Speed models" written by Paul Dean, National Service Manager, and distributed by Yankee Motor Company in '72.
I enjoy your OSSA page and e-mail list. It has been interesting to learn there are other OSSAs out there. I have not seen another one in nearly 20 years.
Bruce Langdon, Fayetteville, North Carolina, USA