Sunday, December 28, 2008
1974 Husky 250 mag
This was not technically my bike until my uncle gave it to me in 2005. It was my dad's bike for a few years in the early '70s, and I raced it in the 250 novice class a couple of times when, for some reason that escapes me, I was without a bike (a breakdown, perhaps?).
It got sold to my uncle when dad tired of it, and was ridden until it became too dog-eared and rusty, at which time it was put away to wait for resurrection. I always knew uncle Jim had it put away, but was surprised when he called me and offered it to me. I was happy to come haul it off, and now it waits patiently for me to fix it up. It is in remarkably good shape for a 30-plus year old machine, it still has compression...
Husqvarna was one of the big players in the motocross world in the early '70s, and they are one of the few remaining old marques around today. The 1974 250 mag (the "mag" refers to the magnesium engine cases) was a somewhat revolutionary bike at the time: light, powerful and agile. The engine gave a raspy power that was typical '70s 2-stroke — rather abrupt with a substantial mid-range surge and vibrating into a decent top end. It was a man's bike, not like the toys we were racing at the time in the 125 class.
The bike also had another trait Huskys were famous for at the time: the infamous "Husky hop". The short wheelbase coupled with shocks that were mere ornaments possessing rudimentary damping characteristics, made for a handful on the sandy, whooped-out "56" track. This combined with the nasty power and quick steering made for one memorable, arm-pumped race. I lined up in the 250 novice class, pulled the holeshot and flogged out a haggard win. I can't remember the details, nor do I have any pictures, but I do remember the massive arm pump and close calls, swapping and lurching around. A character-builder of a race.
At some point we talked dad into installing a set of longer shocks in an attempt at smoothing out the ride. The stock Husky only has 4 or 5 inches of rear wheel travel, so we bumped that up slightly with a set of Ceriani's on the stock mounting points. It was common at the time to lengthen the swingarm and move the lower shock mounts forward, but we did not perform that particular modification. We did slide the forks down in the triple clamp to compensate for the higher rear stance.
The Husky hop remained, as my dad found out when, after one race, he was super charged-up from watching us kids. He went barreling into the whoops on one of "56's" rough straightaways, all full of piss and vinegar, and sideways he went. It looked like a bomb went off, dust and sand flying, red and silver Husky swapping, a classic "Flying W" that ended badly. A brutal end for both dad and the Husky, as shortly after, dad bought a Suzuki RM250 and never looked back.