Sold by PABATCO—Pacific Basin Trading Company—in tiny Athena, Oregon, from 1964 through 1977, Hodaka motorcycles were developed on the premise that motorcycling should be cheap: “No one should have to seriously strain their budget to enjoy it,” a Hodaka sales booklet proclaimed. Developed by a small but dedicated group of motorcycle enthusiasts in an era when U.S. interest in motorcycling as a leisure sport was exploding, the little bikes with the Hodaka name—Japanese for “grow higher”—became one of the biggest successes in American dirt bike history.
Written by Ken Smith, the editor of Australia’s excellent VMX vintage offroad magazine with help from Strictly Hodaka owner Paul Stannard, Hodaka: The Complete Story of America’s Favorite Trail Bike chronicles the evolution of Hodaka motorcycles from PABATCO’s initial 1961 entry selling Japanese Yamaguchi motorcycles to designing and specifying the construction of its own range of dirt bikes, built by former Yamaguchi engine supplier Hodaka.
PABATCO’s best years were in the Sixties and early Seventies (15,736 Hodakas were sold in 1972), and motorcyclists of a certain age have fond memories of the Hodaka Ace, Wombat, Super Wombat, Combat Wombat, Dirt Squirt and Super Rat. Yet creative names weren’t enough to save the small company against rising competition, and new motorcycles quit flowing in 1977: PABATCO shut down its motorcycle operation in 1978.
Years in the making, the book’s release celebrates the 50th anniversary of the first Hodaka, the Ace 90, and a book release party helps kick off Hodaka Days 2014, held June 26-29 in PABATCO’s hometown of Athena. Hodaka Days will feature former PABATCO employees, plus former offroad superstars and industry insiders Brad Lackey, Ron Pomeroy, Preston Petty and Ken Smith.
Exhaustively researched, enthusiastically told and featuring scores of period photographs and advertisements, the book contains full production statistics by model and year, with engine serial number data and yearly sales data by distributor and state. An absolute must for any fan of offroad motorcycling history. Octane Press: 192 pages, $60. Order this book in the Motorcycle Classics store: Hodaka.