Tuesday, July 24, 2012

1969 Ducati 450 Mark III Desmo “MX”

1969 Ducati  450 Mark III Desmo “MX”

It has been said Ducati is to motorcycles as Ferrari is to cars – soulful, sexy, and the definitive Italian approach to Building Speed.  For the most part Ducati has focused on road-going machines.  So much so that the bike featured here comes as a surprise.  As it should. This Desmo 450 is the motocross machine Ducati never built.

But Bob Budschat did. The Budschat family owned a Ducati dealership in Seattle from 1959 to 1976. They were active in Ducati racing.  Bob’s son, Mike Budschat, still considers the trophy given to him in 1965 by the Ducati factory to be “my most prized treasure from that period.” In Mike’s estimation, among the finest of the Ducati engines of the era was the 450 Mark III Desmo. His father and Boeing engineer Dick Ahrens set about creating a limited run of four motocross bikes built around this street-going engine.

They spared no expense. Ahrens employed his engineering skills to design the frame, made of wafer-thin chromoly steel. The engine received an Imola race cam and the crank was modified, increasing the stroke to make the bike a 490cc. Today the bike retains all its original parts from the 1969 build, right down to the hollow front axle and aircraft-grade titanium bolts. It is astoundingly light, just over 250 pounds. Mike has raced it, and won, at current vintage motocross events around the Northwest.

Friday, July 20, 2012

1969 American Eagle 250 Geronimo

1969 American Eagle 250 Geronimo

Having made his fortune establishing American Honda in the early 1960s, advertiser extraordinaire Jack McCormack set about creating his own motorcycle company in 1968.  Known as American Eagle, McCormack’s new brand burst onto the scene with a complete line of off-road and street bikes, along with apparel, helmets, and an overnight network of 100 dealerships. But, having fired all its guns at once, McCormack’s Eagle exploded into space and was out of business by the end of 1970.

In its short lifetime the company pioneered a concept that was more American than 1960s America:  foreign outsourcing. Its 750cc streetbike was made in Italy by Laverda, its 125cc dirtbike in Germany by Zundapp, and the crown jewel of the American Eagle line, the 250 Geronimo, was powered by a Kawasaki engine aboard a British-style nickel-plated frame.

The 250 Geronimo could have begun a revolution. Debuting in 1968, it contained the same essential ingredients that Yamaha’s DT-1, also launched in ‘68, used to bring motocross to mainstream America. The engine:  a light, powerful two-stroke, the Kawasaki “Greenstreak” 238. The frame:  Dunstall-style, with nickel-plated beauty.  The suspension:  coveted Ceriani forks. The 250 Geronimo was a force on the motocross track, it was affordable, and best of all it was “American.” If not for American Eagle’s short existence, this 250 could well have been the “everyman’s dirtbike” that the Yamaha DT-1 became.

The American Eagle 250 Geronimo here is “really just an emotional umbilical cord to my mid-life youth,” says owner Al Padur. Padur bought three of them in Sandy, OR, at a bankruptcy sale after Eagle’s demise. He raced this one in the Vintage Dirt Racing NW series, which he founded in the early 1990s. If the bike is an attachment to youth, it’s working – Padur is 81 years old and still rides regularly, having recently joined SFRC on its annual 1000-mile Goldrush ride.

Building Speed Press


Building Speed Press




Review and write-up by Senior Art Director Corey Smith


I recently took a trip to my hometown of Portland Oregon to show some artwork in the Graeter Art Gallery exhibit titled “Building Speed”. One of my favorite artists Dan Ness was also showing artwork. Sang-Froid Riding Club and Bridge City Cycles also partnered to showcase some amazing motorcycles.

Renowned Racing Bikes were on display including; Roadrace, Motocross, Hill Climbers, Cafe Racers and More. World-renowned racer Dave Roper was in attendance. The gallery also set up a mini-museum with motorcycle artifacts and leathers.

It was an amazing opening party for the show. Hundreds of people showed up and packed the gallery floor. Motorcycle enthusiasts of all scenes showed up and checked out the bikes, artwork, and of course enjoyed some Rainiers! Some good ol’ Oregon dirt bike burn-outs went down, as well as some burn outs with the classic race bikes (which sounded like a jet engine in the gallery). Everyone had a blast. Thanks to John Graeter and everyone involved for making it such a great event!

Building Speed: Motorcycle Racing & Mechanical Triumphs of the 1950s-60s

by Richard Speer
Visual Arts Editor of Willamette Week

Motorcycle aficionados occupy a subset of the California car culture made iconic by the Beach Boys and informed by elements of Easy Rider counterculture, Italian engineering, and a dash of pure white trash. For this show, actual motorcycles will be on hand, along with their proud owners, who will be offering stories about the bikes as oral history. Cycle-based visual art will be provided by Dan Ness and Corey Smith, two artists who have both the edge and the irony to pull off this kind of material. Through Aug. 25.  

Building Speed: A Summer's Worth of Motorcycle Fun

Written by Marjorie Skinner

The Sang-Froid Riding Club ("the preppy ones" among Portland's biker ilk) are hosting a month-long show in July and August at Graeter Art Gallery called Building Speed: Motorcycle Racing and Mechanical Triumphs of the 1950s-60s. In addition to the artwork of Dan Ness and Corey Smith, the show will feature vintage bikes of the Flattrack, Roadrace, Motocross, and Café Racer variety.
The exhibit kicks off with an opening reception on July 5, but will remain active through August with events ranging from a book release to an appearance by a hot-shit racer. Hit the jump for the full calendar.
7/5 Grand Opening and first Thursday reception: dress down in your racer clothes.
7/12 Movie night presented by Sang-Froid Riding Club
7/17 Evel Knievel Days book release party with author Pauls Toutonghi
7/21 Sang-Froid Riding Club motorcycle ride to Vernonia and Portland International Raceway
8/4 OMRRA Vintage Racing Days after-party with guest appearance by legendary TT moto-racer Dave Roper
8/17 Bridge City Cycles Technician Workshop: tips on how to buy a used bike plus stripping, wrenching, and ice-cold beer
8/25 Closing party! Live music, bike gawking, workshops, photo booth, beer and food
***All events will be held at Graeter Art Gallery***