Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Vintage Bike Show - Hammer & Tongs

I had the opportunity to experience some vintage motorcycle gawkin' and picture snapin' over the weekend, courtesy of the Hammer &Tongs show on Saturday.  I hit this show last year and dug it, so penciled in for 2012.  Family schedule allowed some rare solo time, so armed with camera, off I went on a rainy and snowy afternoon to the festivities.

Show held at Downtown Harley Davidson in Renton.  That be Washington for all you non Pacific Northwest types.  Downtown Harley located next door to Renton Motorcycles, mega dealership that closed over the last year.  Welcome to the new economy.  Apparently when paychecks are running low, two wheeled tomfoolery is pretty easy to cut.  Bummer for all involved.

On a happier note, decent sized crowd and Pile-O-Bikes on hand for the vintage show, though not as many specimens as last year.  Still plenty of stuff to look over, bring back memories, and maybe even create new ones.  I recognized a few bikes from the previous show, but fresh vintage iron also mixed in.

Let's get started with assorted rambling and pictures...

Trick little restored Honda XR75, complete with Jeff Ward Racing goodies included.  This would have made some Racer Boy or Girl extremely happy back in '76.  Now probably making some old dude happy by restoring and staring at it.  Nothing wrong with that.  Cool little bike.

On the small bike note, Honda CR60 modified by BBR.  Look at that trick pipe - sweet!

Well used Bultaco Pursang 250 in that cool Bultaco shade of blue, circa 1978.  I always wanted one of these back in the day.  Plenty of two wheeled history associated with this famed Spanish marque.

1971 DKW enduro bike.  Yes kids, back in the stone age before iPhones, dirt bikes really looked like this.  Note the leading link fork, groovy exhaust system, and Johnny Space Commander headlight.  DKW stands for Dampf-Kraft-Wagen.  Dude, would that be a killer band name or what? 

The iconic Yamaha DT.  Many dirt bike careers launched via these bikes during the early to mid '70s.  A few of these buzzed around my childhood era neighborhood, much to the lust of motorcycle-less me.  A friend occasionally let me ride his 100cc model around the backyard, heady stuff for a 12 year old.  Thanks Ray Westcott, wherever you now may be.  I still remember roosting through the "puddle" in your yard, that turned out to be a leaky septic tank.  The stuff dreams are made of.

Nicely done Hodaka 125 set up for vintage racing, complete with modern up pipe.  A cottage industry has sprung up to supply the vintage scene with parts and upgrades.  Valuable resource for the vintage collector and racer.  Welding up expansion chambers for bikes 30+ years out of their heyday to race one again - almost brings tears to my eyes.  Vintage eyes that now require reading glasses.  Ironically, Hodaka displayed in front of faded, flared jeans, that were in style when this bike was new.  What comes around, goes around.  I'm just waiting for feathered hair and tube socks to return. The circle will then be complete.

Super sano Husqvarna looking vintage, yet plenty capable.  The black rims add a modern touch to this Swedish thing of moto beauty.  That's right.  Swedish thing of moto beauty.  Yeah, I'm weird.

Super trick Kawasaki KX modified for vintage racing via aluminum swingarm and modern shocks. Again, black rims really sets this off.  Very nice bike.  The unpainted cylinder/head combo, combined with the handmade down pipe - yes please.

Early Suzuki TM250 appears to have just rolled off the dealer floor, circa '72 or '73.  Totally restored and spotless.  Not recommended, but you could probably eat off those rims.

Can-Am MX 175 straight out of 1978 for your viewing pleasure.  I wanted one of these back in the day.  Didn't happen.  A boy can dream, can't he?  Fast forward 33 years.  A man can dream, can't he?  Not going to happen.

To keep the Can-Am roll alive, later model 250 looking very orange.  Circa '79 or '80 if my failing memory serves me correct.  Superbly restored example of Canadian motocross technology from the era of Scott boots, cheap gas, and natural motocross tracks.

Motocross bikes ruled the show, but a few other vintage pieces sprinkled throughout, including this Honda CB160 set up for road racing. Specific class that allows racing on the cheap.  Cool set up.  Dig that ventilated drum brake, exposed air filters, and chin spoiler.

Maico 400 graces the floor amid a blur of activity.  Well, something like that anyway.  Fantastic looking bike, reminding me of similar Maico models my pals rode in the past.

Trick Bikes-O-Plenty at the show, this vintage race modified YZ included.

1980 Suzuki RM250 looking race ready.  I owned and raced a '79 Suzuki RM125 back in the day, so familiar with this era of RM.  By this point in motocross history, long travel suspension was the norm, though air cooling and drum brakes remained. Don't worry kids, you can still go plenty fast on something like this.  This was the coolest era of motocross bikes in my view, but hey, I'm a little biased.

Very red, very modified Honda XR.  Looks great and I'm sure fun to ride.

A few bikes for sale at the show, fueling the idea to race AHMRA events.  Someday, when time allows and the wallet is fatter, I'd dig doing just that.  For now, I'll dabble outside the tent, peering in with a camera.

Maico sits at table alone, hoping the cute girl with red hair notices.

The Maico parade continues.

Yamaha YZ 465 looking ready to roost.  Call me Mr. Cranky, but when motocross lost the open class two strokes, the sport lost something special.  In the right hands, very talented hands required, these bikes were the top of the motocross food chain.  Sorta like Tyrannosaurus Rex with knobby tires and loud expansion chamber.  Big boy pants required while piloting.

My favorite bike of the show.  And I'm a two stroke fan.  Custom framed, much modified and hand built, Jawa motocross work of art.  Powered by a '60s era Jawa speedway motor.  A very interesting bike that draws your eye to details of the construction...

Apparently, right side shifting converted to left side.  Amazing fabrication of brake pedal now in its place.  Modern carb fuels ancient Jawa motor.  Handmade frame cradles everything...

Stainless steel exhaust routes through the middle, complete with damped mount.  Notice the aluminum plate motor mounts and hand welding on engine case.  I totally dig the ancient looking Jawa motor, combined with the (relatively) modern looking bits and pieces...

Another view to ponder and soak up details...

Very cool bike.  Would I'd like to own, build, or maintain something like this?  Hell, no.  But I do appreciate the build, how different it is, and the work that went into it.  I talked to the owner and he mentioned it's also ridden hard and raced.  That's coolest part of all - it gets used.

Table full of awards ready to congratulate class winners of the Hammer &Tongs race series.  Fantastic looking awards, complete with photo of winning rider.  Very well done and more personal then the typical Awards 'R' Us plastic trophy.

Lined up memories awaiting inspection.

Hodaka fitted for modern vintage battle.  In high school, during the '70s, I remember stopping in Walt's Hodaka with a friend and his dad.  Small, well kept shop in a suburban New Jersey backyard.  Yes, a part-time backyard shop.

A few years later, we'd frequent another backyard shop near Hackettstown, New Jersey.  Place sold Puch parts, new Hercules motorcycles, and dirt riding accessories.  Shop opened by knocking on the house front door, then walking out back to the barn.  The tail end of a different motorcycle era.  A vast cry from the neon lit, modern motorcycle shop.  Was it better?  In a way, yes.  A lemonade stand compared to modern retailing, especially considering online sales.  But a pretty damn cool lemonade stand, run by folks who really knew their lemonade.

Please exit from memory lane.  Back to the show...

Spectacular looking CZ rests comfortably on plush carpet.  These bikes were a bit before my dirt bike involvement days, though I've always wanted one.  Festering in the back of my defective brain, the plan to race AHMRA lives, complete with a CZ in the picture.  Perhaps one day.

With a little elbow grease, this could be your next ride.  Then again, maybe not.  A very battered '78 Honda CR125 for your consideration.  I owned a '76 CR125 back in '78, but mine looked, ah, a little cleaner.  This one appears to have been stored under water.

On the other end of the scale, super clean '75 Honda CR125.

Museum quality 1978 Harley Davidson MX 250 leaning nonchalant to the left.  The motor was actually constructed from half a Sportster v-twin, then converted to two-stroke operation. Go ahead, don't believe me.

Actually, it came from Amarachi, an Italian company AMF owned at the time, along with Harley Davidson.  Yes, AMF, the bowling company. Bowling, motocross, and Harley Davidson.  Can't understand why that didn't work out.  Go figure.

Race modified and battle scarred Yamaha TT500 guards the entrance.  Restored Husky provides back up and On Any Sunday memories.  Tail end of Yamaha IT175 provides a little blue to the picture.

Harley XR 750 flat track bike.  An example where Harleys actually work in the dirt, and quite well.  I've never been to a flat track race, should add that to the agenda....

Another insanely well prepped bike?  Sure, why not?  Add this YZ 250 to the pile. 

Artsy slide show of additional pics, since I've temporarily run out of rambling comments. Bask in awe of my alleged photography skills and/or waste more time at work.  Go ahead, all your coworkers are busy with Facebook anyway...

Well, there you have it.  Time to wrap this thing up in a blur of pre-mix and knobby tires.  Fun afternoon of checking out old bikes - many given a new life - and talking with the folks involved.  Cool little sub culture that revolves around the vintage scene.  I hope you enjoyed the pictures and words reflecting the day.  I certainly got a kick out of putting it all together.

Thanks for reading.

Update:  If interested, also attended this show in 2014 and 2011.


  1. Very nice! Thanks for posting.

  2. Great post. Thanks for sharing.

  3. great photos, if you like watching them all in still life, you should smell them in action! Blendzall wafting thru the nostrils, ring-ding-ding, ring-ding-ding. Memory lane is dirt, and it has a starting gate.

  4. Hey.....lots of memories here_boys from all over the US wanted one of all these-they were dreams and still evoke memories of youth...

  5. Thanks all. Yes, a way to evoke memories of youth - like two wheel time travel machines. Even cooler to see 'em back in action creating new memories.

  6. i had raced a Harley 250 for two years back in 81 and 82 it was a factory bike with aluminum swing arm and Yamaha works forks it had reed valve in take and a lot of titanium nuts and bolts i think the triple tree was also titanium any way was fast but still could not keep up the other new bikes of the day most were water cooled and had better suspension but still a chance to race factory hard to pass up. i think it was Rex Staton's bike do to the capital R/S was stamped on the frame in 1977 to 1979 Marty Trips Rex Staton raced for Harley at that time

  7. Cool Harley MX250 history to share - thanks. Even the exotic bikes get passed technology wise, especially back then, where technology made huge gains in a short time.

    It be cool to see some pics and hear more history of the MX250 you raced. Thanks for checking out my blog.

  8. It seems like the rain and the snow wouldn’t stop you to see these vintage beauties. But I couldn’t blame you. It really is enjoyable to see these classic rides in one place. It makes you wonder how they were able to gather all these motorcycles. Of all the rides listed at this event, my most favorite would be the Harley XR 750 track bike. This is an example that Harley bikes are not only for the road, but for racing as well. I’m pretty sure that this bike can fare well with other big guns in the racing world.

  9. @Max. The XR 750 is a cool bike and interesting to check out close up. I've never been to a flat track event, must add that to my agenda. Thanks for checking out my blog and taking the time to leave a comment...

  10. John Orchard from Australia, loved looking at the pics, thanks. I just finished building a '77 RM125 to race, now working on '79 KX250; last of the twin shocks.

  11. “Maico sits at table alone, hoping the cute girl with red hair notices.” -- With its cool physique, not only one, but a lot of pretty girls out there would be attracted to that Maico bike! :) Haha! Anyhow, I can see that this vintage bike show was a success. They definitely showed off motorcycles of different types! It’s no wonder the event had a lot of attendees.

  12. Dan O-Can't thank you enough! !!!!!! ;! )

  13. Anonymous: Whoever you are - thanks!

  14. I love the 73 tm 250. I had one in the eighties when I was only 13. my buddies had 80's and 125's. It was insane. My parents had no idea when we brought it home. All my friends had strict instructions to stay away from my bike.

  15. could have been worse....could have been the TM400,the original fear machine!

  16. does anybody know anything more about the yz? number 2y any information would be hugely appreciated!!!! cheers