CLASSIC MOTOCROSS IRON: JODY WEISEL’S 1974 HODAKA 125 SUPER COMBAT
BY TOM WHITE
For a short period of time in late 1973, the Hodaka Super Combat was the fastest 125 motocross bike made. It was, unfortunately, a very short period of time! As Penton, Monark, Bultaco, Zundapp and CZ were wilting, the Japanese were focusing their attention on the incredibly popular 125 class. Hodaka got there first with a serious 125 racer. The 1974 Super Combat was a spin-off of the trail-based 125cc Combat Wombat, which was spawned from the ubiquitous Super Rat 100. Unfortunately, the Super Combat’s dominance was short lived. It hit the showrooms first and was resoundingly applauded, only to be eclipsed in short order by the Honda CR125 Elsinore and strap-tanked YZ125.
While the $900 Super Combat was the most advanced Hodaka ever made, it wasn’t built by a megabuck company with the finances to retool every year. When the CR125 and YZ125 leapfrogged over the Super Combat, the bell had tolled for the Oregon brand. It had been a great run. Hodaka had fueled the off-road motorcycle explosion of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, but by 1974 Hodaka’s loyal following had been lured away by Honda and Yamaha. Even Hodaka’s most famous riders, Tommy Croft, Bob Rutten and Cordis Brooks, were switching brands.
In the end, Hodaka executive Marv Foster encouraged the development of one last prototype Super Combat (built in Texas and California for Jody Weisel to race). Forty-five years ago, Jody was part of a thriving Texas motocross movement that included Kent Howerton, Wyman Priddy, Steve Stackable, Jody Foust, Danny Doss, Jack O’Leary, Tim Riddle, Steve Wise, Jumpin’ Jack Hicks and Bobby Pickard.
Jody’s bike was in the AMA Hall of Fame “Motocross America” exhibition.
The exhaust stinger did not extend out the back of the bike—it barely cleared the aluminum side number plate. The silencer was welded inboard about 8-inches.
The end result was the most advanced Hodaka 125 ever made. The list of innovations included a handmade Alex Steel aluminum coffin tank, a 3-inch longer Swenco swingarm, moved-up shock positioning, 34mm Kayaba air forks (the stockers were 32mm), a Rickman conical front hub, a GP Specialties up-pipe (with a stinger that exited under the seat), a reinforced frame, aluminum side panels, and a built-up seat.
This prototype was a last-ditch effort to bridge the gap between new and old and the haves and have-nots. It was too little, too late. Hodaka was too small to fight the juggernauts. In the end, Hodaka closed its doors. Marvin Foster got a job at Grab-On grips, Jody Weisel signed on as a professional test rider, and the one-off 1974 Hodaka Super Combat ended up in a motorcycle museum never to be ridden again.