TEAM TESTED: HODAKA MOTORCYCLES: THE COMPLETE STORY
WHAT IS IT? We are always a little skeptical when a book claims to offer a “complete history” on any given subject, but “Hodaka Motorcycles” is the most comprehensive work on the subject ever.
WHAT’S IT COST? $45.95 (hardcover).
CONTACT? www.strictlyhodaka.com—or call (802) 375-0212.
WHAT STANDS OUT? Here’s a list of things that stand out with the “Hodaka Motorcycles: The Complete Story.”
(1) History. It just so happens that 2014 was the 50th anniversary of the founding of Hodaka Motorcycles and this 190-page book covers the history of one of the sport’s most unique and creatively marketed bikes ever produced. Although virtually unknown to modern motocross racers, no hardcore rider from the 1960s and 1970s could every forget the impact that Hodaka had on the American offroad market.
(2) Structure. “Hodaka Motorcycles” Is divided into 13 chapters. The first chapter tells the unusual story of how an Oregon company called Farm Chemicals was worried that the U.S. government might drop farm subsidies after the 1960 elections. So, Farm Chemicals decided to hedge their bets by starting an import business named the Pacific Basin Trading Company (PABATCO). In 1961 they imported their first product to the United States—Yamaguchi motorcycles. All was well at PABATCO in 1962. They sold 5000 Yamaguchi’s in the first two years—only to be blind sided by the news that Yamaguchi had gone bankrupt. PABATCO was left high and dry, but so was a small Japanese company named Hodaka, who made the engines for Yamaguchi. The eventual pairing of PABATCO and Hodaka was thus born.
(3) Art. “Hodaka Motorcycles” is filled with over 300 photos, many of them very rare looks into the origins of the company. Not to be overlooked are the color illustrations of Hodaka’s colorful model names and their whimsical decals. If you are only vaguely familiar with Hodaka the machine, you will instantly remember names like Super Rat, Wombat, Combat Wombat, Super Combat, Road Toad, Dirt Squirt and Thunderdog.
(4) Loyalty. To this day Hodaka remains one of the iconic brands in motocross history. It is easy to think of the affordable, under $500, dirt bike as a small offshoot of the motorcycle business, but Hodaka sold as many as 15,000 dirt bikes a year. And Hodaka helped support the racing careers of many young racers. Tommy Croft, Cordis Brooks, Jim Pomeroy, Bob Rutten, Jody Weisel and many big name stars got their start on Super Rats. The success of the bike makes it popular among vintage collectors. Hodaka even holds a special celebration, called Hodaka Days” at its ancestral home in Athena, Oregon, every June.
WHAT’S THE SQUAWK? The price is high, but this info can’t be found anywhere else. It would make a great gift for that now-old Hodaka rider that everybody knows.
If you don’t know what a Hodaka is or aren’t old enough to remember a bike that was last produced in 1978, move on. This book is for the nostalgic among us.
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