by Mats Nyberg

OSSA fans 2


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 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 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 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.

  1. Unpack the pieces
  2. Wash off the 22 year-old mud from Camp Claiborne

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 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.

Motorcycle City

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 love)
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, Oklahoma, USA

Buzz McMillian flying over a jump at the first ever SuperCross event.

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

Hello OSSA fans,
I've adored OSSAs for years...grew up in New England where OSSAs ruled in the early 70's...and finally got my hands on one.  Just picked up a 74 SDR which runs strong but needs a lot of cleaning up, etc.  Picking up some good leads on parts, etc off Mats' web site here...a great resource,  Thanks Mats!!!
My hope with the SDR is to get it restored so that it looks like one of the Six Day bikes ridden by Team Yankee at the 73 ISDT in Dalton, Mass.  I'm currently making contact with Dave Latham who rode with Don Cutler and Charlie Vincent on the team.  Dave's bike was probably different from all the other OSSAs in the 73 ISDT as he used a 3.50 trials tire up front and had one of the chrome Stiletto pipes on his bike...definately unique.
There are a couple of photos of him in the book on the 73 Six Days, "The Olympics of Motorcycling".
For all you vintage enduro and ISDT lovers, for the past 2 years there has been an ISDT Reunion Ride held in Cass, Arkansas.  It is organized by Leroy Winters (ex-factory Penton 6-day rider) and the legendary Dick Mann.  This year's event had such legends as Malcolm Smith, Preston Petty, John Penton, Dave Mungenast, Jake Fischer and about a dozen other ex-ISDT riders including Tommy McDermott, first American to win a gold medal (1949 on a BSA hardtail!).
Watch the AHRMA homepage for details.
Anyone with with info on SDRs I'd love to hear from you.  I'm also restoring a 1972 125 Penton, but that's another story!
By the way, I rode a R80 BMW g/s to a bronze in last year's Reunion and pulled off a gold this year!  Look for a story I wrote in Cycle News and also for an upcoming story by Paul Clipper in Trail Rider magazine, probably in December or January issue.  See ya!
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
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 am a real Phantom nut and have three of them (125, 250 and a Desert Phantom).  I also have a 1978 6 Day and a 1972 250 TT Stiletto.  I hope to develop a 125 OSSA registry to share parts and tuning information. Contact me if you have any interest or knowledge of the 125 Phantom or Stiletto!  It's a cool little machine
although few were imported in the USA.
I am preparing a 250 Phantom and GP2 for AHRMA racing in 2002 and want to make contact with as many other OSSA freaks as possible.

 Hi Mats,
 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:



Hi , Phil here,on my 72'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

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