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The 80's bikes, hard rock and Ronald Reagan
Links, videos and books from the 80´s

1987 Kawasaki KX 500, The green monster 500GP during the 80's
The 500GP class was won by André Malherbe, Belgium (Honda) in 1980, The American Brad Lackey was second riding a Kawasaki. Third was Håkan Carqvist, Sweden (Yamaha) on his first season in the open class. He won the 250cc GP title in 1979 and had since moved up to ride the 500cc class.
André Malherbe won again in 1981. Graham Noyce, Great Britain (Honda) where second and Håkan "Carla" Carlqvist was third again.
In 1982 The popular American, Brad Lackey, sadly one of very few who had made a serious effort in GP racing became World Champion in the 500cc class. André Vromans, Belgium (Suzuki) was second and Neil Hudson, Great Britain riding a Yamaha was third.
Håkan Carlqvist finally ran out of bad luck in 1983 and won the 500cc GP crown. André Malherbe, Belgium (Honda) had to settle for second and Graham Noyce, Great Britain (Honda) third.
André Malherbe (Honda) won the title back in 1984. Georges Jobé, Belgium (Kawasaki) had moved up to the 500cc class and was second. Third was the consistent, well trained and positive new Brittish rider Dave Thorpe riding a honda. He was a funny guy beeing able to beat practically anyone in the world except his countryman, the significantly less successful GP rider Jeremy Whatley. The headlines where funny: "Oh no, Jem's done our Dave again".
Honda riders suddenly got a devostating dominance for a period. In 1985 Dave Thorpe, Great Britain (Honda) moved two steps up to the championship gold. André Malherbe, Belgium (Honda) took second and Eric Geboers, another famous Belgian rider took his Honda to third overall.
The 1986 season was another Honda year. Dave Thorpe won again. André Malherbe was second again and Eric Geboers third, AGAIN ! The first three guys where exactly the same as in 1985. The Honda dominance during this era had several explanations. First and foremost the riders of course. But one should't forget that from around 1985 and for many years Honda made exceptionally good dirt bikes with a superior quality compared to any other marquees. These bikes are still into the 21'th century good used bikes and can in the hands of the right rider win anything, despite soon nearly 20 years old!. Suzuki and Yamaha didn't develop their old air-cooled designs further. Kawasaki and KTM had sluggish bikes that wasn't really brought up to the level of competition until 1987-88, thus a few years later. Maico was out of the picture after the disastrous 1983 and the modern four strokes wasn't yet made.
Georges Jobé won the 1987 title on a Honda. The 500GP Mr:Second Kurt Nicoll, Great Britain (Kawasaki) was just that, second. Kees van der Ven, Holland (KTM) was third.
In 1988 Eric Geboers, Belgium (Honda) won the title followed by Kurt Nicoll, Great Britain (Honda). Dave Thorpe, Great Britain (Honda) was back on top three to claim a third spot.
The last season during the 80's was a great year for the nice Brit, Dave Thorpe (Honda). He won the 500GP overall in front of the Australian rider Jeff Leisk (Honda). Eric Geboers, Belgium (Honda) dropped down to third.

1983 Suzuki RM250 with the excellent Full Floater rear suspension introduced in 1982 250GP during the 80's
The 250GP title in 1980 was won by Georges Jobé, Belgium on a Suzuki. Kees van der Ven, Holland took second place on a Maico. The Bulgarian rider Dimitar Ranguelov on a Husqvarna was third.
In 1981 The Brittish rider Neil Hudson won the title on a Yamaha. Georges Jobé, Belgium (Suzuki) dropped back to second and so did Kees van der Ven, Holland that switched to ride KTM and dropped one notch back to third.
The 1982 season had one surprise as the American rider Danny Laporte measured up to the euros and beat them all taking the title on a Yamaha. Georges Jobé, Belgium (Suzuki) was second again and Kees van der Ven, Holland (KTM) third again he too.
Georges Jobé, Belgium (Suzuki) got back in first spot beating Danny Laporte, america (Yamaha) who had to settle for second. Kees van der Ven, Holland (KTM) must have figured third was fine so he parked there again. Another odd thing in the 1983 season. The overaged and overweight retired rider, Swedens Torleif Hansen decided to race one GP just for fun. He finished 1'st overall and got a 10'th in the total standing entering just one race. His pants had the text "too old" on his rear side for everyone to see. Downright insulting !
The Austrian new talented rider Heinz Kinigadner won the 1984 season aboard a KTM. Another new top rider was Jacky Vimond, France (Yamaha) that finished second. In third was the fit Brittish "Dave Thorpe killer" Jeremy Whatley (Suzuki).
1985 was another top year for Heinz Kinigadner, Austria (KTM) as we won the title. Jacky Vimond, France (Yamaha) took second again. Gert-Jan van Doorn, Holland (Honda) was third.
Jacky Vimond, France (Yamaha) finally managed to win the title in 1986. Michéle Rinaldi, Italy (Suzuki) was second. Gert-Jan van Doorn, Holland (Honda) repeated his third place finish.
In 1987 The title was back in Belgian hands as Eric Geboers took his Honda to the GP title. Pekka Vehkonen, Finland (Cagiva) was second and Jörgen Nilsson, sweden (Honda) was third. The swedish Rider had a tragic accident where he broke his back but made an amazing recovery even beeing able to ride again. He never competed at this level though.
John van den Berk, Holland (Yamaha) won the title in 1988. Pekka Vehkonen, Finland (Cagiva) was second and Rodney Smith, America (Suzuki) was third.
In 1989 there was time for one of the, if not the best motocross rider to ever sling a leg over a bike, Jean-Michel Bayle, France (Honda) to take the title. He was rapidly developing and was about to go to USA where he won almost anything that can be won during the following seasons. I personally consider JMB to be the best rider ever. He however moved on to road racing without any major success. I think he fooled himself on some hard to beat records in the books by quitting somewhat in the beginning of his carreer. Pekka Vehkonen, Finland (Cagiva) was second again and John van den Berk, Holland (Yamaha) dropped back to third.

1986 Suzuki RM125 one of the most successful 125cc during the 80's 125GP during the 80's
Harry Everts Belgium riding a Suzuki won the 1980 title. Michéle Rinaldi, Italy (Gilera) was second and Eric Geboers, Belgium (Suzuki) third.
In 1981 The very young Belgian, Harry Everts (Suzuki) claimed the title in front of his countryman and team fellow Eric Geboers. Michéle Rinaldi (Gilera) dropped back to third.
Eric Geboers, Belgium (Suzuki) came back to take the title in 1982. He was chased by the two Italians Corrado Maddii and Michéle Rinaldi. Both riding Gileras.
In 1983 Eric Geboers, Belgium (Suzuki) repeated his title and The Italian Michéle Rinaldi has traded his Gilera for a Suzuki ride taking second. Jim Gibson, America (Yamaha) was third.
The Italian Michéle Rinaldi finally won the title in 1984 riding a Suzuki. Corrado Maddii, Italy (Cagiva) was second and Kees van der Ven, Holland (KTM) third.
Pekka Vehkonen, Finland (Cagiva) won the 1985 world 125GP title. This and the coming season was the two best for Cagiva ever while competing under their own name. They bought the Swedish marquee Husqvarna back in 1984 and have since merged the two brands together under the name Husqvarna. Dave Strijbos, Holland (Honda) was second and Corrado Maddii, Italy (Cagiva) third.
In 1986 the young Dave Strijbos, Holland (Cagiva) moved up to first. John van den Berk, Holland (Yamaha) was second and Massimo Contini, Italy (Cagiva) third.
John van den Berk, Holland (Yamaha) made it and took the title in 1987. Dave Strijbos, Holland (Cagiva) had to settle for second. Those two are unique since they are members of a very tiny group of people beating Jean-Michel Bayle in a championship as they did since he only finished third.
Jean-Michel Bayle, France (Honda) got his revenge and won the 125GP title in 1988. Dave Strijbos, Holland (Honda) got second again and Pedro Tragter, Holland (Honda) third.
1989 was the last season of the decade and it was won by Trampas Parker, America (KTM). Alessandro Puzar, Italy (Suzuki) was second and Mike Healey, France (KTM) was third.

AMA Nationals MX in the 80's
The 1980 National champions top three was in the 500cc class Chuck Sun (Honda), Goat Breker (Kawasaki) and Marty Smith aboard a Suzuki. In the 250cc class Kent Howerton (Suzuki) won comfortably in front of Mike Bell (Yamaha) and Steve Wise (Honda). The 125cc class had some interesting guys in those three positions. Mark Barnett (Suzuki) barely beat Broc Glover (Yamaha). In third we saw Jeff Ward as always on a Kawasaki making it to the top of motocross.
1981 Yamaha YZ465, Something of a legend In 1981 the most interesting riders seemed to be in the 125cc or 250cc class. In the 500cc class however Broc Glover and Mike Bell, both riding for Yamaha (YZ465) took first and second. Chuck Sun pointed his Honda towards third and ended up just there. In the 250cc class Kent Howerton (Suzuki) claimed the title handing second spot over to Bob "Hurricane" Hannah (Yamaha). Donnie Hansen (Honda) settled for third. Mark Barnett (Suzuki) won the 125cc title in front of Johnny O'Mara (Honda) and Jeff Ward (Kawasaki) just like the previous year.
1982 saw Darrell Shultz (Honda), Chuck Sun (Honda) and Alan King (Suzuki) taking the 500cc top three places. Donnie Hansen took the 250cc champions belt on a Honda in front of Rick Johnson (Yamaha) and Broc Glover also riding for Yamaha. Mark Barnett won the 125cc title with Johnny O'Mara (Honda) second and Jim Gibson (Honda) third.
In 1983 Broc Glover (Yamaha) had turned to the 500cc class and won the title in front of Kent Howerton (Kawasaki). In third finished another legend, Danny "Magoo" Chandler (Honda). David Bailey (Honda), another of the most dedicated riders ever showed up in top position winning the 250cc class. Scott Burnworth (Suzuki) second and Bob Hannah (Honda) third. In the 125cc Johnny O'Mara (Honda) won the title. Mr Kawasaki: Jeff "Wardy" Ward moved up one notch to second in front of Mark Barnett (Suzuki).
1984 was also a very interesting season with a bunch of really good riders about to take on a few newcomers that clearly lacked all forms of respect. 500cc champ in the end was David Bailey riding for Honda. Broc Glover (Yamaha) second and Goat Breker (Kawasaki) in third. In the 250 class Rick Johnson (Yamaha) had to ride honest to keep Ron Lechien (Honda) behind him with only 8 points clearance. Billy Liles (kawasaki) in third wasn't too far behind either. Finally Jeff Ward (Kawasaki) won the 125cc title. Johnny O'Mara (honda) in second and Mike Beier (Yamaha) third.
1986 Honda CR 250, one of the best bikes ever The exitement remained in 1985 with a bunch of legends out there. 500cc champ was Broc Glover (Yamaha). Eric Eaton (Yamaha) in second and David Bailey (Honda) only 2 points behind. The 250cc class was harder than ever with Jeff "Wardy" Ward (Kawasaki) first, Johnny O'Mara (Honda) second and Rick "Ricky" Johnson (Yamaha) in third. Ron Lechien (Honda) switched to the 125cc class and grabbed a hold on the title in front of Erik Kehoe and George Holland, both Suzuki riders.
1986 was one of those glory days that still comes to remeberance when talking about interesting seasons. the 500cc champ became David Bailey edging out second man Rick Johnson with a tiny marguin of only 6 points. Both riders rode Honda. Jeff Ward (Kawasaki) was third and also very close in the points. In the 250cc class Rick Johnson (Honda) turned things around and beat David Bailey (Honda) leaving Johnny O'Mara (Honda) in third. The battle between Rick Johnson and David Bailey is still by many considered the hardest ever. Micky Dymond (Honda) finished up the Honda dominance by winning the 125cc class in front of Erik Kehoe and George Holland, both riding Suzuki.
1987 Yamaha YZ 250 1987 Had the following podium places. 500cc Rick Johnson (Honda), Jeff Stanton (Yamaha) and Ron Lechien (Kawasaki) as first, second and third. 250cc champ was Rick Johnson (Honda) with Jeff Ward (Kawasaki) in second and Ron Lechien (Kawasaki) third. In the 125cc class Micky Dymond (Honda) won in front of George Holland (Suzuki) and Guy Cooper (Honda) in third.
In 1988 Rick Johnson (Honda) won the 500cc class just before Ron Lechien that rode Kawasaki. Third man was Jeff Stanton riding for Yamaha. Jeff Ward (Kawasaki) very narrowly won the 250cc class in front of Rick Johnson (Honda) and Ron Lechien (Kawasaki).Micky Dymond (Honda) continued to convince as he won the 125cc class. In second we had George Holland (Suzuki) and Guy Cooper (Honda) third.
Finally in 1989 there where some new riders that looked to make it into the 90's. The 500cc final standings was Jeff Ward (Kawasaki) first, Jeff Stanton riding Honda second and Rick Johnson (Honda) third. Jeff Stanton (Honda) won the 250cc class with a small points margin down to Jeff Ward (Kawasaki) and Ron Tichenor on a Suzuki third. the 125cc class had Mike Kiedrowski (Honda) taking first with Damon Bradshaw (Yamaha) second and Guy Cooper (Honda) in third.

USA 250cc Supercross in the 80's
In the 80's there where no 500cc class. The 250cc class went through the decade and in 1985 the East/West 125cc class started (see below).
1980 250cc won Mike Bell (Yamaha) with Kent Howerton (Suzuki) in second and Chuck Sun (Honda) in third.
1981 250cc Supercross champion was Mark Barnett (Suzuki) with Mike Bell (Yamaha) in second and Kent Howerton (Suzuki) settling for third.
1982 250cc winner was Donnie Hansen (Honda), second was Mark Barnett (Suzuki) and Johnny O'Mara on his Honda got third.
1983 250cc: David Bailey (Honda) won with Mark Barnett (Suzuki) and Broc Glover (Yamaha) on second and third. Rick Johnson about to start the 1986 season for Honda
1984 250cc, Johnny O'Mara (Honda) took the title leaving second and third to David Bailey (Honda) and Rick Johnson (Yamaha).
1985 250cc champ was Jeff Ward (Kawasaki). Second was Broc Glover (Yamaha) and Ron Lechien (Yamaha) took third.
1986 was the legendary David Bailey vs Rick Johnson battle that included supercross just as well as motocross. However Rick Johnson (Honda) won in front of David Bailey (Honda). Johnny O'Mara (Honda) took third and just to realize how things had been pushed up that season, Jeff Ward (Kawasaki) only managed fourth place.
1987 250cc was payback time as Jeff "Wardy" Ward on his Kawasaki took the title. Rick Johnson (Honda) took second place and Ron Lechien aboard Kawasaki got third.
1988 250cc. Tables can turn more than once as Rick Johnson (Honda) proofed when he dragged home yet another title. Ron Lechien and Jeff Ward, both riding Kawasaki got second and third.
1989 250cc, the last season of the decade, Jeff Stanton took his Honda to round up the 80's with the last win. Ron Lechien (Kawasaki) was second and Guy Cooper (Honda) third.

USA 125cc East/West Supercross in the 80's
The 125cc class is actually two series, the east and the west series. Therefore there are two champions each year. We will only report the winners in this text. For further details see the complete results tables.
1985 East: Eddie Warren (Kawasaki), West: Bobby Moore (Suzuki).
1986 East: Keith Turpin (Honda), West: Donny Schmitt (Kawasaki)
1987 East: Ron Tichenor (Suzuki), West: Willie Surratt (Suzuki)
1988 East: Todd DeHoop (Suzuki), West: Jeff "Chicken" Matiasevich (Kawasaki)
1989 East: Damon Bradshaw (Yamaha), West: Jeff Matiasevich (Kawasaki)

Trophée Des Nations 250cc 1980 - 1984
The Trophée Des Nations was the 250cc class international contest up to 1985 when all three classes, 125cc, 250cc, and 500cc merged together into Motocross Des Nations as we still know it.
In 1980 Belgium won. Their riders where: Harry Everts (Suzuki), Georges Jobé (Suzuki), André Malherbe (Honda) and André Vromans (Suzuki).
United States took the 1981 title as they did for all remaining years during the decade. The 1981 riders where: Donnie Hansen (Honda), Chuck Sun (Honda), Johnny O'Mara (Honda) and Danny Laporte (Yamaha).
The 1982 riders: David Bailey (Honda), Danny Chandler (Honda), Jim Gibson (Honda) and Johnny O'Mara (Honda).
The 1983 race showed just how superior the United States was at the time. Broc Glover (Yamaha), Mark Barnett (Suzuki), David Bailey (Honda) and Jeff Ward (Kawasaki) walked away with an easy victory.
1984 was the last year of the 250cc Trophée des Nations, it was merged with the Motocross des Nations from 1985 and onwards. American riders blasted the euros and everobody else for that matter. Broc Glover (Yamaha), Johnny O'Mara (Honda), Rick Johnson (Yamaha) and Jeff Ward (Kawasaki) made it happen.

Motocross Des Nations 500cc 1980 - 1984
Belgium won the 500cc team competition in 1980 just as they did in the 250's. Their riders where: Georges Jobé (Suzuki), André Malherbe (Honda), Ivan Van Den Broeck (Maico) and André Vromans (Suzuki).
Usa won the remaining years, their riders from respective years:
1981 Donnie Hansen (Honda), Chuck Sun (Honda), Johnny O'Mara (Honda) and Danny Laporte (Yamaha).
1982 David Bailey (Honda), Danny Chandler (Honda), Jim Gibson (Honda) and Johnny O'Mara (Honda).
1983 Broc Glover (Yamaha), Mark Barnett (Suzuki), David Bailey (Honda) and Jeff Ward (Kawasaki).
1984 David Bailey (Honda), Johnny O'Mara (Honda), Rick Johnson (Yamaha) and Jeff Ward (Kawasaki)

Motocross Des Nations 125, 250, 500cc 1985 - 1989
Finally to the 1985 season the Motocross Des Nations race included all classes just like it has been eversince. United States won all titles during the rest of the 80's.
1985 David Bailey (Honda), Jeff Ward (Kawasaki) and Ron Lechien (Honda).
1986 (Dream team detected) Johnny O'Mara (Honda), Rick Johnson (Honda) and Bavid Bailey (Honda).
1987 Bob Hannah (Honda), Rick Johnson (Honda) and Jeff Ward (Kawasaki). Tough combat that year since the nederlands had a very strong team: Dave Strijbos, John Van de Berk and Kees Van Der Ven. Belgium had a strong team as well with Marc Velkeneers, Eric Geboers and Georges Jobé.
1988 Rick Johnson (Honda), Ron Lechien (Kawasaki) and Jeff Ward (Kawasaki).
1989 Mike Kiedrowski (Honda), Jeff Stanton (Honda) and Jeff "Wardy" Ward (Kawasaki).

The mighty Maico 490 -81, Holeshot guaranteed Bikes in the 80's
The bikes developed rapidly during the first years in the 80's. The 1980 Maico 440 and the follower 1981 Maico 490 was exceptional nice open class bikes. Their sweet powerband, balance suspension and geometry was and still is somewhat a standard for the modern dirtbike. Most experts agree that a 490 from 1981 could and would easily pull holeshots on all 250's today. On most tracks they would hold their own against almost anything open class, even today going towards that first turn. Fox AirShocks was the trick in the late 70's and the beginning of the 80's

In the first years of the 80's, the rear dual shock configuration became a single mono shock system. Yamaha had a single shock system with the shock mounted under the gas tank. Suzuki scored highest points with their Full Floater Ohlins singe linkage shock, The finest shocks money can buy suspension. KTM, Maico, Honda and Kawasaki developed their own linkage shock system. It took a few seasons but in 1985 most bikes had fairly good rear suspension. Husqvarna used a dual shock configuration until 1984. On the other hand their ITC damped Ohlins units where probably better than most single shock systems from 1983-84.

Ohlins dual shock configuration, very good stuff indeed The forks where developed a great deal during the 80's. In the beginning of the 80's most Japanese bikes had 38mm fork tubes. These where rapidly changed for 43mm conventional kayabas and showas. Maico had their 42mm forks since late 70's and they worked well with small upgrades. Husqvarna used their 40mm units until 1985. they where never good and cannot be setted up to meet modern standards. Japanese 43mm, Maico 42mm and upside down WP 40mm units must be considered good fairly modern forks that can be adjusted, valved and rebuilt to seriously be used in racing.

KTM watercooled engine. variable exhaust port and reed intake The 250cc engines became water-cooled in the 80's. KTM in 1983, Honda 1981, Kawasaki 1983, Suzuki 1982, Maico 1984, Husqvarna in 1984/85. This allowed closer tolerances and higher power output, the typical 1983 250cc engine gave around 43bhp while the 1989 250cc pumped out closer to 50bhp. The reasons where among others water-cooling and variable exhaust ports. The power output that 250cc engines from 1985 and newer makes is mostly enough even today for everybody except the absolute professionals.

The open class development continued during most of the 80's. The three watercooled full sized 500cc that made it to the end of the 80's is Kawasaki KX500, KTM 500MX and Honda CR500R. These bikes pumped out around 65bhp and is for most tight tracks far to powerful. They have found their way into desert applications and sometimes also stunt trick jumping. Besides their racing usage they are also popular bikes for veterans recreational riding, ice racing and such. 1983 Honda CR 480, The big red was on the move There is a never ending battle which one is the most powerful. The subject is meaningless but KTM seemed to make most power on the dyno with the Honda second. However most people with experience riding these things claims that the KX500 is the most powerful.

The 80´s gave us a share of legendary bikes such as: KTM 495MX, Yamaha YZ465, Kawasaki KX500, Honda CR480, Maico 490 Mega 2, Suzuki RM250 -82, Honda CR250 -83 among others. Some are beautiful, some fast, some good and some brutal and bad. Did you know that the KTM495 is the fastest dirt bike ever made ?, DirtBike Magazine clocked it to over 127mph (almost 215km/h).

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2002 © All right reserved. All information is to the best of my knowledge, there are certanly important events, bikes and riders that I'm not aware of, please contribute to this historical document if you have essential information that shouldn't be forgotten. www.mxbikes.com, B Hahn