Old MX bike memories


A well deserved tribute to Bill Nilsson. Certainly one of the truly great Moto Cross riders of the " Golden Age " .


Lars Larsson remembers his friend, two-time World Champion and hero Bill Nilsson



By Lars Larsson

“This is a sad day for all motorcycle lovers in general and for motocross lovers in particular. On Sunday, August 25, 2013, an icon left us. The very first first official World Motocross Champion Bill Nilsson went to what some of us refer to as 'a better place!' Rest in peace Bill.

Bill Nilsson's 1957 AJS 7R.

“In the winter of 1956, after being fired by BSA, Bill bought a AJS 7R road racing machine to turn into a motocross bike. Bill used lot of the AJS parts and rebuilt the engine from 350cc to 490cc. Bill did all of the work himself and then used the homemade bike to win the 1957 FIM 500 World Championship.”

Bill Nilsson winning the 1960 500 World Championship on a Husqvarna four-stroke.

Nilsson was part of the Golden Era of four-stroke motocross when Nilsson, Sten Lundin, Rolf Tibblin, Jeff Smith, Les Archer and Rene Baeten raced special one-off machines to motocross glory. It was during this era that motocross became popular with the masses and every modern racer owes a debt of gratitude to the men who raced the first-ever Works bikes.

A few years ago Jeff Smith (left), Bill Nilsson (center) and Sten Lundin had a reunion with Lundin's Monark.

Bill Nilsson would win the 1957 and 1960 FIM 500 World Championships, plus be on the winning Motocross des Nations teams in 1955, 1958 and 1961.

Sten Lundin and Bill Nilsson at the Motocross des Nations.

Bill Nilson signing an autograph at Imola last year.    
Photo: BMW

To learn more about the bikes and men that raced with Bill Nilsson click here:www.motocrossactionmag.com/Main/News/WHEN-GIANTS-ROAMED-THE-EARTH-THE-THREE-MOST-IMPORT-10337.aspx

Rolf Tobblin, Bill Nilsson and Torsten Hallman in 2012.   Photo: BMW



Remember this model HT-1 90cc Yamaha. We converted many of them into farm bikes before the AG-100 came on to the scene. well in August 2013 Morley Shirriffs bought this one on Trade Me. Left out in the open for years so is a rusty hulk, but by the end of the day Morley had it running & doing a wheelie. Guessing competition now, how long before it's mint again!


It didn't last long, next day Morley decided to strip & restore, but is worried about sandblasting as the guards etc. are very rusty, anyone have some advice?


I didn't know that Laverda produced an MX or offroad bike, nor that Cagiva made a WMX500 Desert racer, but Graham Miles from New Plymouth has sent me these leaflet scans



1963 scramble in UK had snow & ice everywhere!

Tim Gibbes on his AJS G80CS "works bike" was 2nd, 2nd & 1st at this event  


The History of the Yankee Motorcycle


Bob Duffy presenting his excellent Yankee to Brian Slark of the
Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum in Birmingham, Alabama.

In the 1960s, John Taylor of Schenectady, New York decided to begin building in the United States, a dual-purpose motorcycle, that would not only compete with European enduro-type motorcycles, but excel by being more powerful, better built, more reliable, and faster. Below is a picture of a 1971 Yankee Z motorcycle. It is 100% original, right down to the Full Bore tires. There were only about 760 of this model built by Yankee Motor Company back in the early 70s.

The concept for the engine had been designed by Eduardo Giro of the OSSA factory in Barcelona, Spain. The engine was actually a joining of two single-cylinder, 2 cycle, air-cooled engines into one torquey twin with a common crankshaft and cases. Although the engine was designed primarily for the roadrace courses of Europe, Eduardo wanted this engine to offer versatility for both road and dirt use. The engine could be made to fire with both pistons together, as a large single cylinder engine would and, with a relatively easy method, be made to fire with each piston taking its turn at the top of the stroke, as most twin-cylinder engines of the time did. Originally, it began with the OSSA 230 cc. engine cylinders, pistons, and crankshafts, but by the time the motorcycles were actually produced, the OSSA became a 250 cc, and therefore, the Yankee became a full 500 cc twin.
This was 1969 and OSSA was a growing force in the off-road motorcycle market. Yankee Motor Company imported the OSSA moto-cross and enduro models, seeing great growth in those years, 1968-71. With the help of dirt-track expert, Dick Mann, the OSSAs were more than competitive in the 1/4 mile short track races of the time. This success spawned the production of the DMR, the Dick Mann Replica, a highly tuned 250 cc OSSA engine set in a special frame totally manufactured in the Schenectady facility. This run of 250s was a trial for the soon-to-be 500 cc Yankee Z motorcycle.
Delays in production were eventually the Yankees downfall, as lighter, more reliable motorcycles made their way into the American market. By the time the first Yankees rolled off the assembly line in 1971, the weight differences were large enough to make the serious enduro rider shy from owning the Yankee.




The Yankee did offer some new and innovative ideas to motorcycling at the time. It was the first production motorcycle to have a rear disk brake system. The Yankee had a 6-speed gearbox with the option to lock out low gear so the motorcycle would comply with the AMA racing rules of the time. It had stainless steel handlebars and a strong, light frame which was made from chrome-moly tubing with the oval swingarm being totally new to motorcycling. The forged aluminum fork crowns were produced by the gun-making Smith and Wesson Company of Springfield, Massachusetts. A quick-release seat and large air filter system was a plus for the serious dirt riders of the time.