CLASSIC MOTOCROSS IRON: 1973 PUCH 125GS
A relative of the famous bikes sold in Sears Roebuck; but not the same by any means
By Tom White
The Austrian company, Puch, was founded as a bicycle manufacturer in 1903 by Johann Puch. By 1952, the company was building motor scooters, and in 1957, they started exporting the Puch 500 motorcycle to America. It was sold under the name “Allstate” by Sears and Roebuck. In the early 1970s, California entrepreneur Ted Lapadakis became the importer for the all-new Puch 125/175cc machines, which were purpose-built for motocross and enduro.
The Puchs were excellent motorcycles, though the motocross models never became popular here. There were a couple of reasons:
(1) Ted Lapadakis was also the Sachs/DKW importer, and those bikes’ popularity overshadowed Puch in motocross.
(2) The Puch 127/175 motocross model came standard with a pickle-style silencer, heavily padded seat and a very beefy skid plate. It didn’t look very moto.
(3) Puch’s private-labeled Sears Allstate motorcycles weren’t well regarded in the racing world.
(4) Puchs were considered excellent desert and ISDT bikes (and Puchs won many events, including the 1972 ISDT in Czechoslovakia). AMA Hall of Famer Lars Larsson recalls visiting the Puch factory in 1972 as a member of the United States International Six Days Trials Team (ISDT). “When word got to the factory that I would be competing in the 1972 ISDT in Czechoslovakia, Puch officials asked me to visit the factory.
They showed me a row of bikes, all set up for the ISDT, and pointed toward the best bike in the row and asked me to race that bike. The 175 was one of the best motorcycles that I had ever ridden. It was perfect for all six days! I got a gold medal!”Puch stars included Herbert Schmitz, Harry Everts and, late in his career, Joel Robert.
In 1987, Puch was sold to Piaggio, maker of the Vespa scooter, and products are still produced under the name “Puch.” In fact, Puch makes the Mercedes-Benz G-Wagon.
Suggested retail for the 1973 Puch 125GS was $850 and the 175GS was $910. Though not on the top of vintage collectors’ lists, they should be since they are so cool. A nicely restored example should sell for $7000.
There were 125GS and 175GS five-speed motocrossers and five-speed 125 and 175 Enduro versions. Puch also made a small number of six-speed 125s.
For the collector, make sure the bike has the huge pickle silencer. The gas tank is a coffin-style fiberglass model, and the airbox/carb shroud is Naugahyde. Betor Forks and Girling rear shocks were standard.
Contact the restorer of our Early Years of MX Museum example, Bill West, of Vintage Works, at (559) 348-1316.
For more info on classic bikes go to www.earlyyearsofmx.com
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