Feb 25, 2008

My Top Ten Bike List #2: Montesa Cota Trials

#2 on the list is all of the versions of the Montesa Cota trials bike. Every one ever made. I think they are among the most beautiful vehicles ever designed by anyone.

I first ran into this bike in the mid-1970s and was blown away by the bike. It looked, worked, and rode like a dream. The Cota made everyone a better rider, even untalented, uncoordinated, balance-disabled clunkers like me. I was selling Ossa Mick Andrew's Plonker replicas at the time, but the Cota was a far better bike. The 125, in particular, was the best beginner bike of the time.

When Honda bought into Montesa, the best just got better. World champs, Dougie Lampkin and Takahisa Fujinami dominated the world round for a decade on Cotas. Personally, one of my favorite moments in my writing life came when I lucked into interviewing an old hero from the boom days of US trials, during the 1970's. I'm still not clear on what lured Martin Belair from Southern California to Minnesota, but I will always be grateful for the opportunity to talk at length with Martin about motorcycles, great trials riders, his own experience near the top of the US game, and everything between and around those subjects. Martin was the US distributor for Honda Montesa, until Honda decided the US market was too small, too unpredictable, and unprofitable for Montesa and discontinued importing their trials bikes into our country. When that dried up for Martin, he packed up his family and returned to sunny California where he occasionally sends me a "glad I'm not there" email bragging about the perfect weather and his distain for down-filled clothing. Martin rebelled against the Minnesota funny hat fashion statement and managed to spend every winter in short baggy pants, regardless of frostbite and practical sense.

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