THE BIKE THAT BEAT BAJA

Cycle World - - Ducati - By MARK LINDEMANN

Today scram­blers are mostly a retro-styling ex­er­cise for street ma­chines, but in 1962, a high-pipe scram­bler was a le­git dirt bike. Honda’s CL72 was one of the first fac­tory scram­blers avail­able. Pow­ered by a 247cc fourstroke par­al­lel twin with a sin­gle over­head cam and twin carbs, these early en­gines are in­stantly rec­og­niz­able by their squared-off, fine-pitched cylin­der and head fins. The pressed-con­struc­tion 180-de­gree crank used roller bear­ings and one-piece rods. Drum brakes front and rear. No elec­tric starter. Weight: 315 pounds. Price? Six hun­dred and ninety dol­lars—the equiv­a­lent of about $5,600 today. (MSRP on a new Honda CRF250L Rally is $5,899.) The CL72 was good for about 20 hp at 8,000 rpm and could man­age 85 mph. Honda sold 89,000 of them be­tween 1962 and 1968, but even this was just a hint of what was to come. Re­placed by the CB/CL350 se­ries, Honda sold 67,180 of those in 1972 alone, and more than a quar­ter-mil­lion in five years. If that first Baja was con­ceived as a PR ex­er­cise, it ap­pears to have been a suc­cess.

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