By Tom White
What’s so special about these early motocross bikes? First, let’s consider that the sport of motocross is only 53 years old in America. In the fall of 1966, Edison Dye first brought motocross to America. He brought over World Champion Torsten Hallman to showcase the Husqvarnas that Mr. Dye hoped to sell “lots of.” During the seven-race series, the best American “scrambles” riders were invited to race against Torsten, who won 23 straight motos, often lapping the field on tracks that he had to design himself. Ever the promoter, Edison Dye, brought over seven Europeans in 1967, including Hallman, Roger DeCoster and Joel Robert, to compete in the first Inter-Am series. Dye’s Barnum-and-Bailey promotions worked. America went motocross wild.
Not only were Husqvarnas selling like hotcakes, but other brands like Greeves, CZ, Bultaco, Ossa, BSA and Maico were flying out the showroom doors. Each brand had its own approach to building the best possible machine for a motocross track. Most had two-stroke engines, but everything else on the bikes was totally unique. This was the golden age of motocross development.
If you want to be a collector, I’m here to help. My museum, the Early Years of Motocross Museum, has over 140 bikes from the earliest years of our sport. The majority of the motorcycles in my collection were manufactured between 1965 and 1974. I consider these years the most collectible because of the lower production numbers and the uniqueness of each brand. To help you get started, here is my list of the top 10 most collectible motocross machines—this is number six on my list. It should be noted that these aren’t necessarily the 10 most expensive classic bikes you can buy, but they are the foundation of a great collection. I have included the approximate value of each machine, but condition and provenance can raise or lower the prices significantly. You may find my choice of the number six most collectible motocoss bike odd because it was better suited to scrambles, but before there was motocross in America—there was scrambles.
NUMBER SIX: 1968 BULTACO 360 EL BANDIDO
The Bandido was available in both motocross and scrambles models. In America, the longish wheelbase (55.9 inches), 31-degree head angle and ample power were better suited to smoother scrambles tracks. Estimated value: $15,000.