Which bike, which issue?

SCRUFFY - Honda XR200 1983

Words and photos from Mick Williams

In a perfect world, when I attend a Vintage Enduro I would love to be riding an early '80s Husky, KTM or Maico, but due to financial and time constraints the chances of this happening are pretty slim. Luckily this does not mean I have to miss out on all the fun. You do not need Donald Trump’s bank details to go out and have fun racing.

This is the story of my race bike, an XR 200 called “Scruffy” because that’s exactly what it is.

Scruffy was born in 1983 and shipped to Australia to be sold to an eagerly awaiting customer, as back then Scruffy was considered to be an excellent enduro bike.

Very little is known about Scruffy’s youth except that he lived on the coast and had neglectful and abusive owners. As technology and bikes advanced, Scruffy was soon seen as outdated and left in a barn to quietly corrode before being put up for sale a few years back.

Scruffy was rescued for $600 and in retrospect it was a good buy at that money as it still had all the hard to get parts such as the speedo, still installed and intact. Scruffy was given a bath and a service and was ready to race.

After Scruffy’s first outing two things were obvious: 1. this bike was seriously good fun. 2 the suspension needed work - after five minutes on the bike I was nearly getting terminal seasickness! After some work by a suspension guru, Scruffy was ready to take on the big boys and rid itself of its “play bike only” reputation.

These days Scruffy can be seen nipping at the heels of the classy, big dollar machines and occasionally overtaking them as well.

So what is Scruffy like to ride? Bloody easy and brilliant fun! The engine has less power than a minority government so it can be ridden flat out all day without fatiguing the pilot. It’s a small, light bike with quick steering so it’s’ easy to throw around the tighter and more technical sections but be prepared to get blown away in the open stuff. The brakes are woeful but this aids in keeping corner speed as high as possible. It’s really a case of the tortoise and the hare - breakdowns are rare and you can plug along effortlessly without fear of fouled plugs or constant refuelling and the seat is built for all day comfort.

There still must be a heap of similar bikes out there buried under junk in people's garages or hiding in chook sheds, they need to be found and ridden and they do not have to look good or have spectacular performance. At the events I attend mostly run by “Vintage Trail Riders” in NSW, everyone is welcoming and no one cares if you show up on an old dunger, it’s all about fun.



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