Exciting Times -
It’s been a busy few weeks at Rockwell Motor Club! Earlier this month we (gracefully) brought home Dan’s new 1981 Honda Passport C70. RMC loaded up in my Pathfinder and we headed out to the burbs to check it out. Unfortunately for Fahed it was right before the motorcycle carrier arrived so he had to get cozy with the bike on the way home. We made it back without incident and because it’s February in Chicago, we did the responsible thing and took it for a rip as soon as we got back and unfolded Fahed.
The week we brought the Passport home, the motorcycle carrier arrived and that made us dangerous. We had always been limited to buying bikes we could cram into the back of my Pathfinder but now we had a proper transport system. By nature, the three of us are always crawling the marketplaces for bikes and projects and one night I found a bike I had never heard of. I’m going to share some history on the bike and the people that built it because I just find it really cool.
Hodaka & Steen
The bike we bought is called a Steen Alsport, but as you can see in the image at the top of this post, the engine says Hodaka. The Alsport is actually a modified Hodaka Ace built by a company called Steen, which started as a chemical and lubricants company, and then built mini-bikes, and then built this bike.
The worldwide distributor for Hodakas was PABATCO – Pacific Basin Trading Company headquartered in a small town called Athena, Oregon. It was started in 1961 to distribute fertilizer throughout the Pacific Northwest and decided to branch out to try and make more profits. Somehow, someway, this fertilizer distributing company met Yamaguchi, a Japanese motorcycle company. PABATCO then set up over 400 dealerships for Yamaguchi and motorcycles became their biggest revenue stream.
In 1963, Yamaguchi suddenly went bankrupt leaving PABATCO with a huge network of dealers with 0 inventory. PABATCO went to Hodaka, who had been manufacturing the engines for Yamaguchi & also been left in a badsituation, and offered to design and market bikes if Hodaka could manufacture them. In 1964, their first Hodaka Ace rolled off the assembly line and it was a dependable, high performance motorcycle that became extremely popular.
John Steen was a successful trail rider, made early innovations in the synthetic oil market, and made some pretty wild mini-bikes named after foods. In 1967 he started selling Hodakas and on the side he made custom dirt bikes based on the Hodaka Ace using Ceriani suspension, Rickman Metisse handle bars, and other parts to make a light-weight off-road dirt bikes. He built ours in 1972 – and here it is:
The bike is 98% complete and insanely clean, the only parts that are missing are the petcock & air filter assembly. The fenders are a little beat up and will be addressed, there’s obviously a missing grip but all in all the bike is in fantastic shape.
Our plan is to really clean everything up and do a light restoration on it before finding a good home for it. We’ve tested compression, which came out good and it starts in 2-3 kicks when you feed it some top-notch carb cleaner. We’ll be documenting lots of the process I’m sure of it.