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                                                         On the line

I  had Bob Hannah's interview just about done but when I sent it to Bob to proof read, his memory got jarred and he added a ton of really cool stuff to it that he remembered while going over the copy I sent him. The story starts with him getting the Suzuki test rider  sponsorship and goes through the 1976 125 Nationals. The whole story has now grown much bigger than what I originally thought it would be so we decided to put the first part (1975 Suzuki sponsorship to signing with Yamaha) on his site  and then from Bob signing with Yamaha through the entire 1976 125 Nationals series on this site. It's amazing what a few phone calls and just sitting down and rehashing things will bring out, especially since it has been over 30 years that much of this has been brought up. It will definitely be worth the extra wait and it will be great to get one of the best stories in motocross history documented. I will post on the news page of this site when the article is up on both sites.

The photograph above is one that my wife Cindy took of me on my 1980 Mugen ME125 W1 on a Saturday in 1980 at DeAnza Cycle Park. You can see the Bob Hannah replica Moto 3 I'm wearing that I painted myself. Prior to getting the Mugen, I had been riding a 1980 YZ125G that was probably the best production 125 at the time. When I first rode the Mugen I could not believe how much better it was than the Yamaha. I mean light years and to this day I have not ridden a bike that did everything as good as you could have imagined. It was real fast and even faster when you installed the Mugen recommended Mikuni 36mm carb bored out to 37mm. It pulled off the bottom and revved and revved and just kept making power, never falling flat anywhere in the power-band. This was a full works motor and it felt like it.

On the hard adobe terrain at Saddleback or DeAnza, you never had to look for a berm in the corners as the frame geometry was what seemed perfect. The bike cornered like it was on rails. Point and shoot! The suspension was also incredible especially the ultra plush front forks. The forks were works 39mm cartridge Showa's, just like the ones on the factory Honda's at the time and worked perfectly with the Mugen frame geometry. In the real rough sections on my Yamaha, I would really brace myself for the upcoming impacts but the works Showa's on the Mugen absorbed everything and never seemed to bottom. This alone made a huge difference in lap times and in fact, it took a while to get used to the much improved performance. You would see the huge holes coming up and before you knew it, you were past without really feeling the impact. It took a little while to just ignore what you saw and just keep it pinned in those real rough sections. The shortest line soon became the line of choice. Truly amazing!

If there was any short coming at all, it was the rear shocks. The bike came with works piggyback Showa's and were great but every once in a while, the back end would kick a bit, but never to the point where it caused any trouble. The hot set up was to install Ohlin rear shocks (recommended by Mugen) that were made for the 1980 RM125 Suzuki. I did this and that cured that.

Each component of the bike worked in harmony with the other parts to make a complete package. The bike had a solid and very positive feel and everything was much more responsive than on the Yamaha YZG or anything else at the time. It was a true works bike that anyone with $4000.00 could own. $4000.00 was a lot of money at the time as a production 125 sold for under $1000.00 in 1980. I am still amazed that Mugen only sold 5 bikes in the US. For me $4000.00 was everything I had at the time and yes it was worth it.

In 1990 I became the Mugen distributor for the US and Hiro Honda came to visit me in Chicago. While we were having lunch, I showed him a picture of my Mugen wondering if he remembered me. I met him several times in 1980 when I ordered my bike, once at Indian Dunes, once at Hangtown and once at Al Baker's shop. He did remember and was very surprised that I still had the bike and he took the photo back to Japan to show his employees. He told me that he designed the bike himself and that it was the best thing he ever designed. I believed him.

Check out the 1980 ME125