1976 Puch MC400
The 1976 Puch is a very rare motorcycle. So rare that only 8 were ever built and none were ever sold to the public. It is very similar to the Harry Everts replica twin carb 250 that was sold in very small numbers. The 400’s were made only for the works riders. Many will remember Harry Everts on a works 380 in the 1974 Trans AMA series and also Puch factory rider Herbert Schmitz rode a 400 like the bike featured here in the 1976 world championship series. This 400 was ridden by six time world champion Joel Robert.
Joel’s relationship with the Puch factory goes back to the mid 60’s when he was a factory CZ rider. Joel made several trips to the Puch factory at the request of Mr. Puch to conduct riding schools. It was at this time that Joel developed a close relationship with the people there.
During 1968 Joel helped an Englishman named Mr. Edmonson source parts for a motocross bike he was building called a Dalesman 125. Mr. Edmonson built the frames in England and Joel with all of his contacts, lined him up with Italian suspension and 125 Puch engines from Austria. Once the bike was complete, Joel also lined up an up and coming Belgian rider named Harry Everts to race the bike in the Belgian 125 championship where Harry won the title.
After the success on the Puch powered Dalesman, Harry and earned a factory sponsorship for the Puch factory riding the 125’s along with another Belgian rider named Christian Gouverneur. At this time the 125cc motocross market was exploding in the US. KTM and other European brands were selling 125’s to the states at an alarming rate. Puch also wanted in on the action and to promote the Puch 125 in the states Joel arranged for Everts and Gouverneur to go to California and stay with the west coast Puch distributor and race in the local Southern California races. From December 1970 to February 1971 Harry and Christian went to California and raced their Puch 125’s at tracks like Indian Dunes. While there they actually met and rode with Steve McQueen.
Joel continued his relationship with the Puch factory and in the early 70’s while a factory Suzuki rider; Joel became the Puch importer for Belgium. When Joel’s contract with Suzuki expired after the 1975 season he was approach Puch to ride as a factory rider. He received a salary and a 250 twin-carb that he would race in selected grand prix’s and Puch also built him a works 400 for the international races. At this point Joel had lost much of the drive needed to be world champion but he was still plenty fast enough to win races and did score points in a few of the highly competitive 250 grand prix’s.
1976 Puch MC400 Photos
Herbert Schmitz’s comments:
In 1976 I was the sole Puch entry in the 500cc world championships on a bike identical to this one. I started with Puch in 1973 with Harry Everts and rode for them until 1976. I was very instrumental in the development of the 400, spending lots of time at the factory testing. After the grand prix’s and other big races, I would always go back to the factory and give technical reports and stay for testing. Another interesting thing that I did at the factories request was go around the pits at the GP’s and take pictures of the latest Japanese works bikes and bring them back to the factory so they could see the latest developments. The Puch’s were very good competitive bikes and I was very glad to be a factory rider there. In 1976 I was 8th in the world Championships.
Joel Robert’s comments:
I became very good friends with Mr. Puch and the people at the factory after they invited me to go to the factory and hold motocross schools in the 60’s. I also tested some bikes for them and they were always interested to hear what I had to say. We always kept in touch and in 1970 I helped arrange for Puch to sponsor Harry Everts and to go to California with another Belgian rider that I once sponsored, Christian Gouverneur.
In the early 70’s while I was a factory Suzuki rider I became the Puch importer for Belgium. I imported Puch motorcycles and Marzocchi forks, shocks and other parts. In 1975 when my contract expired with Suzuki, Puch contacted me and asked if I would consider also becoming a factory rider for them. At this time I was a little tired of the grand prix’s, as I had been racing them for almost 15 years and was getting tired and wanted to slow down. The grand prix circuit is very demanding and I really didn’t have anything to prove anymore. I agreed to sign with them and just race a few select 250 GP’s. They paid me a salary and gave me two twin-carb 250’s and parts. They also asked if I would race in some international races on a 400. I agreed and they built me this special 400.
- The 400 Puch shared many parts from the 250, the rolling chassis was basically the same and both bikes used magnesium Marzocchi forks and Marzocchi rear shocks. While Harry Everts and Herbert Schmitz experimented with Koni and other rear shock absorbers, Joel stayed with the Marzocchi rear shocks in part because he was the Marzocchi importer for Belgium and also because they worked very good.
- The frame is constructed from chrome moly tubing with the backbone being fabricated in sheet metal. The quality of workmanship is very high and it is obvious that somebody spent a lot of time constructing the frame. Perhaps the most interesting feature of the frame is that the front down tubes actually bolts to the backbone. Two extra braces that are bolted in place further reinforce it. The final result is a very light and very strong frame that had no failures.
- The engine is where the biggest difference is. The 400 has a piston port cylinder with an iron liner and is fitted with an Amal carb. Spark is generated by an external rotor Motoplat ignition and features a very small CDI box located in the air box. The crankcases are sand-cast in magnesium and treated with an anti corrosive material. Inside is a very heavy-duty 4-speed gearbox with all hand-cut gears. The works 400 exhaust pipe also differs from the 250 but has a similar shape.