Do you remember when you got your first bike? For most of us, it’s one of the best days of our lives. Thanks to the support of our friends at Spy Optics, we have a new Saturday column called “My First Bike.” The subject of this week’s column is AMAmotocross.com’s Jim Kimball, who has fond memories of his first bike, which sparked his passion for racing motorcycles.
Although this was not my first “dirt bike,” it was my first true motocross race bike. I had previously ridden an old beat-up Honda SL125 that I took the lights off and cut the muffler off. This bike is a 1976 Husqvarna 175 that they actually only made for about two years. Back when I first began racing, the 175cc-200cc class was very popular. While the newer Japanese motocross bikes were starting to take over, the 175-200 class was still very popular with the (at that time) off-brands such as Husqvarna, Bultaco, CanAm, and KTM.
I got this bike when I was 16 years old. It was actually a Christmas present, and I can vividly recall my dad wheeling the bike down from a neighbor’s house on Christmas Eve to put in our living room by the Christmas tree – my mom had even put a big red bow on it! At that time our winters in Michigan included lots of snow, so after Christmas we put the bike in the basement, where I would sit on it every day after school. My heritage was Norwegian and Swedish, so having a Husqvarna was extra special.
When spring came I raced at many of the local Western Michigan tracks, especially Red Bud and another track nearby in Niles, Michigan. While the bike handled well at the time, it did seem pretty underpowered compared to the CanAm and the Bultaco (which was a 200cc). Still, I did okay and got a pretty good amount of trophies. We raced almost every weekend, and the bike seemed to hold up pretty well. One race I still remember to this day was at Red Bud – it was the worst mud race I had ever raced in! I finished second, but after taking my goggles off after the first few turns, my eyes hurt so bad I immediately went to the ambulance to get them washed out. My younger brother went and picked up my trophy for me! I rode with #79 on my number plates, as that was the same number one of my motocross heroes wore: Michigan pro Mike Hartwig. I would later sell the Husky and buy a Bultaco 200 from Red Bud owner Gene Ritchie, who sold Bultacos and Maicos for a while. I immediately started doing better. But I will always remember my blue-tanked Husqvarna 175!
If you work in the industry and have a story you would like to share with our readers about your “first bike” experience, contact Fubar: firstname.lastname@example.org.