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Favorite Bikes: HODAKA COMBAT WOMBAT - Vintage Dirt bike

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On: Mon, Sep 28, 2009 at 11:04AM | By: Clay Ritchings

Favorite Bikes: HODAKA COMBAT WOMBAT - Vintage Dirt bike

I was talking with my brother the other day about some of the bikes we owned as kids, and some that we wanted to own. We started reminiscing about some bikes that no longer exist but in the early 70s were the big names in dirt bikes. Back then it was not uncommon to come across bikes with names like Dirt Squirt, Wombat, Sherpa, and El Bandito, by manufacturers like Hodaka, Husqvarna, Bultaco, Montessa, and Maico while riding on the trails. We were both in agreement that the Hodaka bikes were some of the hottest rides on the trail. While we never owned a Hodaka, we had friends who did and that allowed us trail time on these cool bikes.

Hodaka was a Japanese-American company that manufactured lightweight and competitive trail bikes with names such as Combat Wombat, Super Rat, Dirt Squirt, Road Toad, and Thunderdog in the 1960s and 1970s. In 1972 Hodaka introduced the Wombat, later introducing the built-for-racing Combat Wombat. The Combat Wombat was powered by a 2-stroke engine with a displacement of 123cc that wound up to a tight 8400 rpm. The Combat Wombat featured a 5-speed tranny with a left side shifter. This little bike weighed in at about 192 pounds and had a wheelbase of 53 inches.

The Combat Wombat (you have to love the name) was a beautiful bike with its chrome tank and was even more fun to ride. The Combat Wombat's light weight, power, and aggressive stance made it a standout. It performed well in both low and high speeds in rough country. While modern off-road machinery has awesome capabilities; unless you’re a young athlete many of the competitive dirt bikes made in the last 30 years are hard to ride. Hodakas, on the other hand, can be ridden by just about anybody.

Google the Hodaka Combat Wombat and you will find a cult-like following for the vintage dirt bike. Hodaka has a large enthusiast core that want to keep the brand alive. Hodakas were something of a cult phenomenon even in their day, and they continue to amass a dedicated following. Ironically, not long after the demise of Hodaka, interest in vintage off-road competition started growing.

While it could be argued that Hodaka created the trailbike market, no one would dispute the fact that the company introduced a tremendous number of people to the sport on a first-class bike that didn't cost a fortune. I would love to own one today, not as a trailer queen, but a weekend rider out on the trail where it belongs.

I just love vintage bikes…

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