Life In America
1961 – John F. Kennedy is elected president. The average family income is $5,700 per year. Ben E. King’s, Stand By Me, and Chubby Checker’s Lets Twist Again, are among the year’s top singles. On TV you’re probably watching the Brit hit, the Avengers, and getting your sports info from the newly debuted ABC Wide World of Sports. Construction starts in East Germany on the Berlin wall. A new 650cc motorcycle costs around $1,100 and a new car will set you back $2,850. A gallon of gas is $.28.
|Number One Motorcycle Trend For 1961:
|The market is flooded with motorcycles from Europe, England and Japan. Honda, entering the market in 1959 already dominates with a 50% plus share.|
The prestige marques are the big British twins led by Triumph, BSA, Norton and Matchless as well as Germany’s BMW brand. Specialized off-road bikes like Greeves, Parilla, and Jawa are starting to attract customers as well.
From the East, led by Honda, are a multitude of small displacement motorcycles and scooters, Yamaha, and Suzuki are already established. There are many other brands however, such as Pointer and Yamaguchi, that won’t make it to the ‘70s.
Carroll Resweber is Grand National Champ
A.C. Agajanian has proposed and the AMA adopted a rule that will limit novice racers to 250cc machines with both front and rear brakes, this is the first time that brakes have been allowed in class C racing.
Road tests are pretty unsophisticated and short on objective data. In fact there are no performance tests of any kind. Bikes tested in 1961include the NSU Super Max 250, Greeves 250cc Special Hawkstone Scrambler, BSA Super Rocket, BMW R69S with side-car, Triumph TR5A-C, and a Moto Parilla Wildcat Scrambler.
The bikes are judged primarily on how easy they are to kick-start, and whether or not they leak oil. Leaking oil seems to be expected at some point.
Of the bikes tested in 1961, the Parilla Wildcat Scrambler is probably the most modern and well equipped motorcycle. It’s a 247cc four-stroke that puts out a claimed 26 horsepower at 9,500 rpm. It’s front suspension has a steering head to axle height adjustment, and three position rebound control knob. It’s a pure competition machine and comes with five different sized sprockets. The bike doesn’t leak oil during the test and the testers are impressed.
Motorcyclists in general and the AMA are concerned with the “image” of motorcycling. The AMA has launched an image improvement program through motorcycle dealers called, “Put Your Best Wheel Forward,” that encourages “proper dress” and behavior and encourages motorcyclists to join the AMA.
Unlike today, the aftermarket is focused on performance parts, cams, cranks, ignitions, pistons, neoprene clutch plates, and carburetors are among the items readily available.
Tech inquiries back up the desire of motorcyclists to improve the performance of their ride with lots of questions asking about various cams, compression ratios, and connecting rods. Most emphasis is on engine, and very little about suspension.