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Growing up in the 60’s and 70’s in Northeastern Ohio, I recall a real variety of bikes turning up on the trails we frequented. In fact, there seemed to have been as many off-brand bikes as those from the Big Four.
One such off-brand machine was a “Premier,” owned by a buddy of mine. We really didn’t consider it all that odd at the time, what with a sampling of Bridgestones, Rupps, Steens, Benellis, Bronccos, and even a Cooper about at the same time. From all these bikes and many more, somehow the memory that Premier stuck with me, aided in part by a period test on one in Cycle World magazine, a copy which I’ve kept around all these years.
Many years later, and with many, many bikes under my belt, I was in the process of obtaining yet another old machine from a fellow motorcycle hoarder with whom I had recently made an acquaintance. While digging through dozens of bikes stashed away in one of his garages, I spotted through the dim light inside the structure, a familiar profile. It was well buried, but eventually I was able to get close enough to confirm the identity of what turned out to be a 1975 Moto Beta 125 Premier Enduro, the same model which had belonged to my friend, and was featured in the magazine article.
I quickly made a deal with the bike’s owner, who couldn’t believe I was interested in the thing. One hundred twenty-five dollars changed hands, and I was on my way home with my prize. The deal even included an extra fuel tank, new, unused gaskets and piston rings, and best of all – a parts book and a parts source in the form of Domi Racer Supply, right down in Cincinnati, Ohio.
What with other projects taking precedent, a couple of years or so passed before I got around to working on the Premier. Despite its rather rough appearance, the bike appeared to have seen very little use. Most everything was there, including two keys, the original battery, and all parts except for the headlight, taillight, and speedometer assembly. The bike was even still wearing vintage, Metzler “Six-Day” tires, which although hard as a rock, were like brand knew – all the knobs still featuring sharp edges.
After a year or so of collecting parts, much painting and polishing, and lots of patience, the end result is what you see in these pictures. Domi Racer was indeed a tremendous resource. Without their help, the bike would have never been rebuilt. All the work, save for chrome plating was performed by my own grubby hands, and the bike debuted at Vintage Days, 2010. It is correct and original except for the color of the tank (I have the second tank in correct color and graphics), and a Kehin carb, which I temped into place after running out of time trying to make the original Dell'Orto work properly.
All in all, a neat and unusual bike. And, interestingly enough, I have two friends who also own Moto Beta Premier enduro motorcycles just like mine. Small world.