Cat Quick and Tiger Tough: 1970 OSSA Pioneer

Jim Noel never recovered from being bitten by the “Offroad Bug,” trading in his Triumph for a 1970 OSSA Pioneer.

| May/June 2019

1970-ossa-250-pioneer

1970 OSSA Pioneer
Engine: 244cc air-cooled 2-stroke single, 72mm x 60mm bore and stroke, 12:1 compression ratio, 21hp @ 7,800rpm
Top speed: 80mph (est.)
Carburetion: IRZ “DG” 29mm double needle carburetor
Transmission: 4-speed, chain final drive
Electrics: 6v, solid state ignition, magneto
Frame/wheelbase: Dual downtube steel cradle/54.5in (1,384mm)
Suspension: Telesco telescopic fork front, swingarm with Betor dual shocks rear
Brakes: 6.2in (158mm) SLS drum front and rear
Tires: 3 x 21in front, 4 x 18in rear
Weight (dry): 242lb (110kg)
Seat height: 31in (787.4mm)
Fuel capacity: 3gal (11.3ltr)
Price then/now: $1,024/$1,500-$5,000

Most motorcycle stories don’t start with racing a 1957 Chevy with a Corvette engine, but Jim Noel’s story does. While going to school and racing his Chevy in his spare time, Jim bought a Triumph 650 to ride back and forth to school in Boston. He enjoyed riding it, and his girlfriend enjoyed going along for rides, too. But in 1970, “someone coaxed me into the woods,” Jim says.

Going offroad was an eye opener. Jim was immediately bit by the Offroad Bug, and has never really recovered. “I tried to follow an offroad bike with the Triumph. I realized I was out of my element.” Jim went to a dealership and traded the Triumph for this 1970 OSSA Pioneer, which had no room for a passenger. “My girlfriend was upset — she liked going for rides.” And though Jim bought the OSSA in New Hampshire, the story of how he got it, and how the bike, which is now west of the Rockies, got there, is a little convoluted.



OSSA’s beginnings

OSSA was part of the post-World War II resurgence in the European bike market. The company started out in 1924 by building movie projectors, of all things. Manuel Giro, the proprietor, became involved in motorcycle racing in the early 1930s, and started designing and building his own racing motorcycles. He later claimed that he sold a design for a 125cc to a Spanish factory, Montesa, who used it to start their own motorcycle line — which would later be a direct competitor to OSSA.

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