Clinton Hill Classics returns a Spanish two-stroke to its former glory…
Believe it or not, Spanish factory Ossa (Orpheo Sincronia Sociedad Anomina) began in 1924 producing movie projectors and other film equipment. Founder Manuel Giro, however, was heavily involved in motorcycle racing throughout the 1930s, designing and building his own machines.
“Before WWII, Ossa founder Manuel Giro was the Spanish sidecar champion, along with his co-pilot Francisco Bulto (who would later found Bultaco).” —Motocross Action
In fact, Giro even claimed to have sold one of his 125cc designs to Spanish factory Montesa, who used it to start their own motorcycle line — later becoming one of OSSA prime competitors!
It was only after the ravages of World War II that Ossa turned to producing two-stroke motorcycles out of a factory near Barcelona. In the 1960s, Ossa formed their first factory race effort to help boost international sales, hiring British off-road specialist Mick Andrews to help design and ride their trials machinery.
“Riding for the factory, Andrews won both the 1971 and the 1972 European Trials Championship, and the grueling Scottish Six Days Trial in 1970, 1971 and 1972. OSSA started selling Mick Andrews Replicas in 1971.”
The Ossa Pioneer 250 was the company’s two-stroke enduro, a top of the line “professional grade” machine not unlike the Bultaco Matador — machines ready to race right out of the box. Called “cat quick and tiger tough” (Motorcycle Classics), the street-legal Pioneer was a real weapon beneath the lights, speedo, silencer, and other road equipment:
“The Pioneer is really Ossa’s 250 Stiletto scrambler in drag.” —Cycle World, 1971
The bike had a fiberglass seat/fender/fuel tank, weighed 257 pounds with a half-tank of gas, and the 244cc piston-port two-stroke engine offered a broad powerband.
“This, and the longish Ossa wheelbase, conspire to make the Pioneer an exceptional hill climber, mud slogger, and top gear sandwash runner, as well as stable in bouncy going.” —Cycle World, 1971
Enter David Harutyunyan of Brooklyn’s Clinton Hill Classics, whose 1971 Rickman Metisse 650 desert sled we recently featured — a replica of Steve McQueen’s race bike. David has always loved vintage dirt bikes, and this ’72 Pioneer 250 needed some serious TLC:
“When I received this bike in a trade it was in pretty rough shape. So I decided to do this bike some justice and do a full nut to bolt restoration, bringing it back to its original glory.”
David went through every component of the bike. The frame was power-coated, the fiberglass painted and clear-coated, and most of the parts were vapor-blasted to give it the factory finish. The Betor forks were reconditioned by Drew Smith at WER Suspension, and David was introduced to the Ossa whisperer himself, Alex Snoop, who not only rebuilt the engine, but proved to be an invaluable resource for help and advice.
What a cool two-stroke enduro for ripping around NYC! Below, David gives us the full story on the build.
Ossa Pioneer 250: Restorer Interview
• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.
My name is David Harutyunyan, and I am the owner/operator of Clinton Hill Classics in Brooklyn, NY. My obsession with anything that had a motor began at a very young age, but my obsession with motorcycles began after I saw Terminator 2 for the first time. Seeing “John Connor” on that little Honda dirt bike made me imagine owning a bike and having the freedom to go anywhere I pleased. Fast Forward to 2009 when I got my first set of wheels. A Vespa GTS 250. I took that scooter everywhere and it was my main mode of transport for many years. 2015 I purchased my first old Triumph and met the guys at Sixth Street Specials. Hugh and Fumi helped me get the bike going and became my mentors for all things motorcycles. 2016 I was fully addicted to old Brit bikes and had acquired 3 more projects. That’s when the shop space became available in my building and Clinton Hill Classics began. Since then I have been buying and restoring bikes that I always dreamed of owning and seeing them on the road puts a big smile on my face.
• What’s the make, model, and year of the bike?
1972 Ossa Pioneer 250.
• Why was this bike built/restored?
I always had an affinity for vintage dirt bikes. Growing up there was always someone in the neighborhood who had one, but it was always breaking down and looking very tattered. When I received this bike in a trade it was in pretty rough shape. So I decided to do this bike some justice and do a full nut to bolt restoration, bringing it back to its original glory.
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
The idea for this build was to do a full restoration. Most of this motorcycle was complete when I got it, so it was just a matter of taking it all apart and going through each one of the components. I was lucky enough to be introduced to the Ossa whisperer himself, Alex Snoop. He was very excited to hear about my project and he took in the motor and rebuilt it for me. He was also an invaluable resource when I had any questions or concerns about getting everything correct. Essentially I wanted to make this bike look like it just came out of the showroom so that I can wear it in myself.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
Since this was a restoration project there wasn’t too much customization. However certain things where done to it, in order to protect it from too much wear and tear. The frame was power coated instead of the original being painted, the fiberglass was painted and a clear coat was applied, the motor and most components were vapor blasted to give it the factory finish. The Betor forks were completely gone through and set up by Drew Smith at WER Suspension, and Hagon Shocks were added to the rear. That’s about it.
• Does the bike have a nickname?
“The Orange One.”
• Can you tell us what it’s like to ride this bike?
It is impressive how well this motorcycle rides for its age. After the full rebuild the engine feels and sounds amazing. It has the perfect low end grunt needed to plow through the trails. The shifting is super positive and the five-speed transmission is more than enough to keep you in the right gear all the time. The reconditioned front forks and the new Hagon shocks really make it a smooth ride on all surfaces. This bike is also fully street legal, and is a great little bike to ride around NYC.
• Was there anything done during this restoration that you are particularly proud of?
I look at this bike and it makes me smile every time. Most of these bikes are left to rust because they aren’t particularly valuable, and not too many people want an Ossa these days. I’m proud that I stuck with the restoration and brought it back to life. Sometimes I get stopped on the street by an old-timer who said he used to own one back in the day and it brings back a lot of good memories. That alone makes me happy.
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