MX Bob Bike History - Part 1
1973 Chaparral 80 Minicycle
You Never Forget the First

Burnsville Minnesota in the early 70s was a great place to spend time outdoors. Much of the land was still undeveloped, and there were plenty of places to ride bicycles and motorcycles off-road. When I was in 5th and 6th grade, I was just starting to ride my bicycle on the trails. There were these older kids, looking really cool, riding their motorcycles through the neighborhood. They were on their way to the trails, on their way to adventure. At least thatís my childish memory of it. One thing was for sure, I had to have one of those.

Somewhere towards the end of 6th grade, my friend who I would ride bicycles with, Scott Haraldson, started riding a dirt bike. I think technically it was his dadís motorcycle which he was allowed to ride, but either way, it was friend to ride with. By the summer of 73, I had earned enough money from my paper route and babysitting to buy this motorcycle brand new. I was 11 years old.

My mother didnít like the idea of me getting a motorcycle, but I was paying for it with my own money. Much later, it occurred to me that it might have been because her brother, Ed, had been riding since 14, and had a list of broken bones and other injuries. I didnít see Ed very often, he lived in Oregon, but the idea of him still riding off-road, even though he was ďreally oldĒ, was something I would sometimes brag about to my riding peers.

Chaparral was one of the many small snowmobile companies that existed before they all consolidated into the handful of manufacturers that exist today. As a side business, they tried to make what was referred to then as minicycles. This was an important distinction because most small displacement bikes at that time didnít have the look of a big motorcycle. If youíve ever seen an early 70s Honda CT70, youíll know how dorky the little trail bikes looked back then. I realize I may feel the full wrath of some obscure CT70 club, but those are the kind of gutsy, controversial calls you have to make to attract attention.

I learned to ride with this bike. It fit me well and I had a good time with it. The only problem was that after Chaparral went out of business, it was hard to get parts for. I canít remember quite why I sold it, but I think it was a combination of the parts availability and wanting a bigger bike. I sold it to my Dadís cousin who lived on a farm. I heard later that his kids rode it for several years. Those farmers really know how to improvise for parts.

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Revised January 2018