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.


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.


5/7/2020 5:30:51 PM

Damn, a lot of us have the same story. I got the off-road bug and bought a Pioneer (68 I think?) that I beat up in the woods of Nw England in the early 70s. Also caught MX fever and raced that bike in scrambles and what passed for motocross in those days. Pepperell, Lunenburg, Ludlow Fish &Game, etc. You guys probably passed me!

5/7/2020 7:50:17 AM

Your story is interesting.... Very similar to mine. I started riding enduro's on a Triumph 500 Trophy. Didn't take long to realize this was not going to work for me. I traded the triumph for an Ossa Pioneer at a dealership in NH. This took place in 1970 as well.. Loved the Ossa. Rode many enduro's. I never lost the weight like you have described though. lol I wanted to race the next guy not the clock so I started racing MX. My first race was using my Pioneer at the Pepperell MX track in Mass. I finished 8th. I then bought a 250cc Ossa Stilleto and got serious about MX. Loved the Ossa brand. Had many victories and successful rides. I am glad you still have yours. I wish I still had mine! I am thinking we probably were at the same enduro's back in the day. We may have even met Thanks for sharing your story.

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