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Old 09-21-2009, 03:09 PM   #1

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Default Advanced riding, 1971

Way back in the Stone Age, when there were no affordable dirt bikes, the frugal, cheap or flat broke dirt rider only had a few choices. [/font

#1: Buy an expensive European dirt bike, one that you could hardly justify spending nine hundred 1965 dollars on.

2: Buy an expensive new/used English street bike, and modify it for the dirt. Again, too much money involved.

#3: Purchase an inexpensive thrashed Japanese street bike, and modify it.

Most of us cheap bastards opted for number 3, and since no off-road aftermarket parts industry existed yet, we modified our cheap Japanese street bikes with a hacksaw, or a cutting torch. Much like the bobber guys before us, we got rid of everything that didn’t matter. Speedometers, lights, fenders, exhaust silencers. Horns, batteries, turn signals etc. all got sawed off, and unceremoniously thrown into a big pile in the backyard.

And there wasn’t a big difference in the bikes we modified too. Some went with little bikes, like the Yamaha 80 Trail Master, or Honda 55 Cub, while others went for the big stuff, like the 305 Honda.

But whatever cheap Japanese street bike we modified and rode, it was a sure bet that it had a safe top speed of about 35 mph in the dirt. With rotten street suspension, worse than bad frame geometry, and ergonomics that would make a contortionist scream in pain, 35 mph was about it

I hung out with a bunch of loonies, who all had the desire to ride in the dirt, but no money to do it with. About that time, thrashed Honda Dreamcycles were being discarded like used toilet paper, and a running one could be purchased for real cheap, like $50.00. Of course, it became our bike of choice. For about the same amount of money we spent on weekly rations of Lucky Lager, we could buy several running Honda Dreamcycles. Out came our Sawzall…

Pity the poor Dreamcycle. Things that worked fine on the street suddenly got put to the test in the dirt. Foot pegs bent, and got pointed straight down, frames cracked and broke. Forks would either seize up, or be permanently bottomed out. Seats flew off, steering head bearings mysteriously disappeared, wimpy triple clamps snapped off, handlebars came loose, the works.

I can remember once, wallowing through some sandy whoop-de-doos on a 400 lb. 305 Honda at about 15 miles per hour, and thinking to myself how blazingly fast I was. Of course, 15 mph on a 305 Honda in sandy whoops was the like going 70 on a real dirt bike, but what did I know? I thought I was having fun.

One time, we let a buddy ride our “community” CA77 305 Honda that had been stripped for dirt, and he disappeared down a desert trail. A few hours went by, and when he didn’t come back, we were forced to go look for him.

After some searching, we found him a couple miles from camp; the bike leaned up against a yucca tree. The battery had somehow fallen out, and taken half the wiring harness with it, which was now wrapped up in the chain, and rear sprocket. We looked everywhere for the battery, but never found it. Which was a bummer, since it was our only 12v battery. And we needed it to fire up the rest of our stripped, bent and twisted Honda Dreamcycles.

Within a couple years, we had exhausted the supply of beat-up Dreamcycles in the greater Los Angeles area, and had to widen our search to places like Lancaster, or Littlerock, places that still had ample supplies. But soon those dried up too, and without new old Dreamcycles to destroy, we were out of a ride in the dirt.

And, because of that, a few of us were forced to actually get jobs, and buy bikes like Yamaha Enduros, or Huskys

The Dreamcycles and parts got forgotten about, and ended up in a giant rusting pile in my buddy Rick’s back yard. Rick later sold all the crap to some guy in Japan, and made a killing on the deal.

So if you’re ever out dirt biking on your new wonder bike with water cooling, electric start and 30 inches of suspension travel, and see some poor sap on a old bike, wallowing and crunching along, remember this story.

And offer that rider a beer, ‘cause he needs one. Badly.
A gun is a tool, Marian; no better or no worse than any other tool: an axe, a shovel or anything. A gun is as good or as bad as the man using it. Remember that.

Last edited by mscuddy; 09-21-2009 at 03:14 PM..
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Old 09-21-2009, 09:42 PM   #2
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we used to have a place nicknamed "the Honda Hills" which was basically a pile of dirt on the river bank, there was always a bunch of beat to sh*t bikes there, one in particular I remember was Dave "pinhead" Lee's Yamaha with no exhaust pipe at all, you could see the blur of the piston if you looked in the exhaust port. There was a guy that got back from Viet Nam and had a Kawi Bighorn, a couple of DT1's and LT1's or whatever the 125 version was, me with my Super Rat, Chuck with his Super 90, Gary with his dads Trail 90 and a few others I can't remember...Mulendore had a Sherpa S with a broken in half expansion chamber..we used to hang out smoke out and ride up and down these stupid hills for hours, it was the general hang out for everyone that rode in the south end of Auburn at the time. I even got my first slice of pie there, but that's another story.......
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Old 09-22-2009, 06:31 AM   #3
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Default Happy birthday!

Holy shyte! Cuddy is 51. Happy birthday!

(BTW, I'm glad I grew up in this era, when motorcycles have decent brakes and stiff frames. Thanks for the retrospective.)
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Old 09-22-2009, 06:41 AM   #4
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Our dirtbike of choice in '65 was the 80 Trailmaster. Sneaking across the barrier into Palos Verdes and riding the horse trails.... horses jumping everywhere... and then crossing the barrier back into Torrance while the PV Cop shakes his fist at us, impotent in his Dodge police cruiser. Ah memories.

Why did you have to remind me of Lucky Lager, though? Cruel and unusual punishment! But still slightly better than Brew102.
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Old 09-22-2009, 06:53 AM   #5
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Happy Birthday KCuddly
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Old 09-22-2009, 07:02 AM   #6
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CUDDY! Welcome to the 51 club! I have been waiting for you for about 9 months. Happy B'day.
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Old 09-22-2009, 09:27 AM   #7
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Happy Birthday, Matt!

Now then, Sir, I have to call you to task for not mentioning a couple of the finest examples of 1960's/70's engineering: to wit---The Famous James, the Greeves, and the BSA Bantam! With their famous Lucas electrics (that kinda worked because dirt bikes don't need lights) and "built down to a price" design, these were the true apogee of Brit engineering---unless you had a bit of money. If you had a bit of money, you could ride in style: a BSA B44VE Enduro (my personal favorite!), a G80 Matchless or the badge-engineered AJS clone---Velocette even made a dirt model, God knows why! Verily, the Cotswold hills would fairly ring with the song of huge four-stroke singles, all trying to catch Jeff Smith or Sammy Miller!

Oh, and how could we forget the Harley Scat, named, I believe, after the applicable animal droppings......

Of course, no one I knew could afford any of the above, and the air of the neighborhood was thick with smoke--and this was from worn out four-stroke Hondas, not the Yamaha or Suzuki or Tohatsu strokers.

And there I sat on my little Lambretta scooter, thinking, hoping against hope that one of the guys with an actual dirt bike would let me try it out....and now and then, one did!

It may just be my age, but I don't think people with $5000.00 dirtbikes strapped in the back of their $30,000.00 pickups and heading for the approved ORV Park have as much fun.....

Britney the BSA
Big John the BSA
Baby B. the BSA
Gemini the BSA/Triumph
Pip the Triumph T140v--(I have "Great Expectations")
The unnamed 1979 XS 650
Jaelith the '77 XS650/sidecar
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Old 09-22-2009, 10:05 AM   #8
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Fun stuff Cuddy. It was truly a "Golden Age" of dirt bikes to be in So Cal at that time.

Got any photos of a Dreamcicle? Or Popcycle? I mean Dreamcycle? I think you did a story on them once didn't you?
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Old 09-22-2009, 10:52 AM   #9

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Thanks for the Bday greetings folks. And as a reminder of how messed up the human body can be, and still funciton, I was getting my hair cut yesterday, and ran into another cripple who was missing his left arm and leg from being hit head-on by an auto, while on the freeway riding his Honda 750 4 ten years ago. And while we were shooting the ****, yet another cripple (a quad) rolled up in his chair, and started telling his tale of woe of being RUN OVER by an 18 wheeler while on his Harley. So while we were all trading pain pills and bench racing, we decided to have a big BBQ and moonshine taisting session this next Saturday at my casa. Looks like I've got some new buddies to replace the old ones that disappeared on me. The Lord works in mysterious ways...
A gun is a tool, Marian; no better or no worse than any other tool: an axe, a shovel or anything. A gun is as good or as bad as the man using it. Remember that.
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Old 09-22-2009, 03:44 PM   #10
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The O.P. is not only great riding reminiscing but a great old school L.A. narrative. Thanks for the post.
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