Bultaco Pursang 125: A Classic Motocross Icon
The Bultaco Pursang 125 is a legendary motorcycle that has left a significant mark on the motocross world. Initially introduced in 1965, the Pursang series became synonymous with power, excellent handling, and a competitive spirit. This article will delve into the history of the Bultaco Pursang 125, its features, and the impact it had on the motocross community.
A Brief History of Bultaco
Before diving into the Pursang 125, it’s essential to understand the origins of Bultaco as a company. In post-WWII Spain, Francesc “Paco” Bulto was a director at motorcycle manufacturer Montesa. Bulto played a significant role in Montesa’s racing efforts, but when the company decided to step back from racing in 1958 due to economic reasons, Bulto resigned.
Shortly after, Bulto formed his own company with several former Montesa racing department colleagues. The name “Bultaco” was derived from the founder’s name, Paco Bulto. The company’s first motorcycle, the 125cc Model 101 Tralla, was released in 1959 as a zippy street bike for domestic sales. It was an immediate success, and Bultaco’s racing heritage began.
Bultaco’s Entry into America
By the early 1960s, Honda’s sales success in the United States prompted Bultaco to tap into the American market. Off-road motorcycles were rapidly becoming popular, creating a huge market for smaller displacement dirt bikes. The first Bultaco imported into the US was the Model 3 Sherpa S 200, arriving around 1963-64. The bike’s two-stroke power, lightweight design, and great handling quickly established Bultaco as a go-to brand for those looking to win races.
The Pursang Series
Bultaco’s main line of motocross bikes was the Pursang. The first Pursang model hit the market in 1965, available in various engine sizes, including 125cc, 250cc, 360cc, and 370cc. The leading model in the United States was the 250cc. However, the 125cc Pursang, in particular, became a popular choice among motocross enthusiasts and racers.
Bultaco Model 89 Mk5 125cc Pursang
One of the most sought-after Pursang models was the Bultaco Model 89 Mk5 125cc Pursang, a genuine UK machine built for the emerging schoolboy motocross scene. This model replaced the earlier Bantams used in schoolboy motocross and quickly gained popularity among young riders.
Damon Wood, a former motocross racer, raced a Model 89 Mk5 125cc Pursang in 1973. Wood’s connection to the bike led him to purchase one via an online auction site years later, despite its rough condition upon arrival. After restoring the motorcycle, Wood’s Pursang became a testament to the lasting appeal of these classic bikes.
Pursang’s Power and Handling
Pursangs were known for their power and excellent handling, making them a favorite among racers and enthusiasts alike. For example, the 1970 250cc Pursang had a single-cylinder two-stroke engine with a displacement of 244.29cc and a bore and stroke of 72x60mm. A 32mm Amal carburetor was used, and the bike featured a five-speed gearbox. The front forks had 6 1/2 inches of travel, while the rear suspension had 5-way adjustable shocks with hydraulic dampening and provided 3 15/16 inches of travel. The 1970 Pursang had 9 5/8 inches of ground clearance and had a dry weight of 220.4 pounds.
While the 125cc Pursang may not have matched the power of its larger siblings, it still offered impressive performance and handling for its size.
Jim Pomeroy and the Pursang’s Popularity in America
Jim Pomeroy, an American motocross racer, played a significant role in making the Pursang popular in the United States. In 1973, Pomeroy raced a 1973 250cc Pursang in the Spanish motocross grand prix, becoming the first American rider to win an FIM international motocross race aboard a Spanish-made bike. Pomeroy also became the youngest rider to win a World Championship Motocross Grand Prix and the first rider to win such an event in his debut race. This success brought the Bultaco Pursang into the spotlight in America and solidified its reputation as a competitive racing machine.
Vintage Motocross Community and the Pursang 125
Today, Bultaco Pursangs continue to leave their mark on the vintage motocross community. The Pursang 125, in particular, remains a popular choice among vintage motocross (VMX) riders. The bike’s combination of power, handling, and classic design make it an appealing choice for those looking to relive the glory days of motocross or experience the thrill of riding a classic machine.
Pursang Models and Variants
Throughout its production run, the Bultaco Pursang saw several different models and variants, including:
1967-68 Model 42 Pursang Mk2 250
1969-71 Model 61 El Bandido 360
1971-72 Model 89 Pursang Mk5 125
1973-74 Model 121 Pursang Mk7 360
1974-76 Model 135 Pursang Mk8 250
1976 Model 162 Pursang Mk9 125
1977 Model 194 Pursang Mk10 125
1977-79 Model 195 Astro 250
1978 Model 219 Pursang Mk12 250
Each model offered various improvements and refinements to the Pursang’s design, ensuring that it remained competitive throughout its production life.
Restoration and Collectability
Given their classic status and racing pedigree, Bultaco Pursangs, including the 125cc model, have become highly sought-after collectibles among motorcycle enthusiasts. Many owners choose to restore their Pursangs to their former glory, either to ride or display as a testament to the bike’s storied history. As with any classic motorcycle, proper restoration requires time, skill, and dedication to source the correct parts and return the bike to its original condition.
The Bultaco Pursang 125 is a classic motocross icon that holds a special place in the hearts of many motorcycle enthusiasts. From its origins in post-WWII Spain to its success on the racetrack, the Pursang 125 represents a unique chapter in motocross history. Its power, handling, and timeless design continue to captivate riders and collectors alike, ensuring the Pursang 125 remains a popular choice in the vintage motocross community.