the ultimate collection of ultimate bikes






          click upper image to enlarge

                       1973 YZ250 Monoshock    Hakan Andersson

                                          1973 250 World Champion

   The bike featured here is the very bike Hakan Andersson won the 1973 250 World Championship with.  It was Yamaha's first World Championship and just as important, this was the first long travel motocross bike in history.  This is the bike that started it all.  Looking back, it is easy to come to the conclusion that this is one of the most historical motocross bikes of all time.  The long travel suspension that we enjoy today started right here.  It made its debut at the third round of the 1973 250cc Grand Prix season at Wuustwezel Belgium.  It had over fifty percent more travel than any of the other bikes that day.   All the work that Torsten Hallman did in 1972 and all the work that Hakan, Hakan's mechanic Eije Skarin (pronounced Aya) and the Japanese engineers did in months of rigorous testing, was about to pay off.  Hakan won the overall that day and then went on to absolutely dominate the season.  With four Grand Prix's to go at Hyvinka Finland, Hakan clinched the World Championship.  It wasn't until the seventh round at the French Grand Prix that Adolf Weil's Maico came out with the forward mounted shocks.  In this race during the first moto, Hakan got a last place start and came blazing through the pack to nearly win.  The FIM officials were sure something was not right and ordered that Hakan immediately take a drug test.  Drugs were not the issue here.  Hakan was riding fantastic and also he was on a bike that was changing motocross history.  Things would never be the same.

   I was a junior in high school when all this was happening.  I would take all my motorcycle magazines that covered Hakan and this special bike to school and read them over and over, just dreaming of being in Europe at these races.  I actually got to meet Hakan at the 1974 Trans-am at Honda Hills in Ohio.  I remember being so nervous just to ask him for his autograph.  It was a special time for me and many others that lived through this era.  I never thought I would one day own this bike. 

  In 1997 I went to Belgium with Jim Pomeroy for the 50th anniversary of the 500 Belgium Grand Prix.  We stayed at Joel Robert's house and the night before the Grand Prix there was a party at the Citadel.  At about one O'clock in the morning Joel and I were just starting to leave, and there was Hakan sitting at a table by himself.  Joel stopped to talk, and introduced me to him.  We then sat down at the table and talked for a while.  One of the first things I asked him was if he still had the 1973 Championship bike.  When he told me he did, I just sat there in shock for awhile.  I asked him if he would sell it and the answer was no.  He told me that over the years at least a hundred people had tried to buy the bike and he wanted to keep it.  At that point I was just glad that it still existed and I hoped that one day I could see it.  Weeks later back in the states, I could not get that bike out of my mind.  I dug out all of those same magazines that I used to take to school and went through them over and over.  I couldn't take it anymore.  I phoned up Jim Pomeroy and asked him to call Hakan and ask him about selling the bike.  The answer was still no.  I then asked Jim to call him back and ask if it would be alright if I called him.  The answer was yes to that.  I phoned Hakan and introduced myself again.  He actually remembered me from Belgium and believe it or not from Ohio in 1974.  I explained to him my passion and goal of preserving motocross history and after Pomeroy calling him, Joel putting in a good word, he decided to sell me the bike.  When the crate arrived, inside along with the bike was the jersey he was wearing at the Honda Hills Trans am from 1974.  It was and still is a dream come true. 

  After the purchase, Hakan and I became good friends and he invited me to Sweden to watch the 500cc Swedish Grand Prix. Hakan is still involved with motocross and infact it is his club that puts on the race.   I took him up on the offer and there I met his long time mechanic Eije Skarin.  Over dinner one night Eije told me the history of this bike.  They used a total of four bikes that year and this one was used in a total of three Grand Prix's.  Finland, Russia and Sweden.  Hakan also used it in some post season races in Sweden.  I also learned that Eije was very instrumental in the development of the bike, working along side the Japanese for hours on end to develop it into a World Championship winner. 


                                           Getting Hakan's autograph at the 1974 Trans Am at Honda Hills Ohio


  Hakan Andersson's comments

  The first time I saw the monoshock was in February of 1973. It was at a very remote track in the woods, near a small village in northern Belgium named As. The Japanese chose this place because the monoshock project was top secret and they were very careful not to be seen. I was very skeptical about the bike when I first saw it. After testing it, my first impression was that it felt very strange. It was very harsh in the rear and the seat kept hitting me every time I went over the bumps. The rear shock had too much compression damping and there was no rebound damping at all. I was very surprised that my lap times were about equal to my best lap times on the two shock bike. The Japanese really wanted me to start the Grand Prix season on the monoshock bike, but I felt it wasn't ready yet. They put no pressure on me and left the final decision up to me as to what bike to use. For the first two GP's I used the standard bike. It took about two months of testing nearly every day to get the compression and rebound damping and also find the right spring, preload and gas pressure before I felt the bike was up to its potential. The Yamaha engineers and my friend and mechanic Eije Skarin did a great job to sort out all the problems in the beginning.

  At the third round of the GP's in Belgium, I felt the bike was ready. We picked Belgium for the monoshock debut because the track at Wuustwezel was similar to the one we tested on for so many months. This was a calculated and well thought out decision. The bike was working very well that day and I was riding very well too. I had just recovered from the flu that I had at the Italian Grand Prix and was feeling very good and confident. When the day was all over I had won the overall. The bike preformed excellent. Yamaha was very happy and we decided to use the monoshock for the rest of the season. The next GP was at Payerne Switzerland and I won both motos there. We were really starting to gain momentum. In between Grand Prix's we tested all the time, mostly in Belgium but we tested at other places as well. We would also test at a track that would be similar to the track at the upcoming Grand Prix, and set the bike up for that type of track. We basically had a different shock for each Grand Prix. It was in Yugoslavia that we had our only mechanical failure. The frame broke near the swingarm pivot. My mechanic Eije welded the frame in between motos (neither one of us thought it would last but it did) and I went on to win the second moto.

  We had two Japanese engineers that traveled all over Europe with us and after the races and during testing they were always in contact with the factory in Japan. Every little detail was reported and parts were being changed, updated and flown over all the time. The bike was changing every week and it was improving every week too. Yamaha was very serious about winning. I had so many parts that there was no way I could ever use them in ten lifetimes. It was crazy. The other factories were seeing our advantage and were now trying to play catch up. In France we got our first counter attack. Adolph Weil showed up with the first bike with forward mounted shocks on his factory Maico. That day in the first moto, I started dead last and worked all the way up to second at the last lap. One more lap and I would have won for sure. The F.I.M. officials did not believe it was possible to come from behind like that with out being under the influence, and they forced me to take a drug test. That was the first and only drug test I ever took. After that race we had so much momentum, we had the best bike and I was riding at my best. It was then that I thought I had a real good chance of being World Champion. Going into Finland, with four Grand Prix's to go I had enough points to possibly clinch the World Championship that day. When the day was over, I had won both motos and was crowned World Champion. My life long dream had come true.

  When I look back now, I realize that it was Yamaha and myself that started the whole suspension revolution more than thirty years ago. And that how important it was for the whole motorcycle industry. In my opinion this was the single most important advancement in motocross. All the bikes today now use a single rear shock suspension similar to the one I used, only improved.

  Note: On May 2nd 2001 Eije Skarin died after a long battle with Brain cancer. He was Hakan's best friend and mechanic from the beginning.  Eije was a major contributor to the development of the monoshock, often working late hours behind the scenes.  Eije was a kind and soft spoken man. His brilliance and hard work played a major role in this Championship. He is missed by all those who new him.

                    click either image to enlarge






                     click either image to enlarge


                                                                                      NEXT PAGE