THE PUCH GS & MX 1971-1975
By MATT CUDDY
THE PUCH GS & MX 1971-1975
BY MATT CUDDY
What about the Puch 175 MX? I asked Rick Pearson over a few beers. “Old goofy stuff” replied my buddy Rick as I tried to pry more Puch knowledge out of his fertile motorcycle mind. Rick knows about everything when it comes to motorcycles, and I wasn’t going to disagree with the master. If Rick said goofy, they were goofy all right.
Sure Rick, Puch made some “goofy” bikes, but they also built some dang fine dirt machines. Puch, in the nineteen seventies built some very competitive off-road machines that won everything from gold medals in the ISDT, to desert races across the pond in the United States. If anything, Puchs were excellent motorcycles, with a long storied history.
Pook, err…Puch belonged to conglomerate Steyr/Daimler/Puch, and in 1970 was on a roll. The parent company Steyr, was flush with cash from government contracts and weapons production. The sister
company, Daimler, produced off-road military automobiles for anyone who could afford them, along with building Fiat 500’s under license with Steyr motors. Puch was benefitting from all of the above, and had enough money in-house to finally design and produce some serious off-road motorcycles.
Puch was trying to get away from the “goofy” label most of its older machinery had been classified under. The “twingle” sold by Sears & Roebuck under the “Allstate” brand was anything but normal, its twin cylinder motor shared the same combustion chamber, with the front cylinder handling the intake and exhaust duties, the rear cylinder the transfer port.
Earlier versions used an “in-Line” design for the engine placement (Think BMW, Moto Guzzi) with later models that placed the carburetor over the left side case, with a futuristic Flash Gordon spaceship air filter assembly. They sold thousands of these futuristic motorcycles, with the same basic design well into the late 1960s.
But now it is 1970, and Puch wants a dirt bike.
The boys in the design department came up with the MC/MX 125/175 series, and Puch manufactured them from 1970 to 1975 (The 175 was a bored out 125 with different primary gearing). Many parts made their way from the enduro to the motocrosser. One was the naugahyde carb shroud/airbox/numberplate that was not needed on an MX bike. Next was the gigantic seat, most likely pirated off some other Puch model, made for double-up duties. Also the over engineered rear fender mount and chain guard made their way from the MC enduro to the MX, and seemed to have military roots for some reason a rocket launcher.
1972 MC125 Puch. Note funky expansion chamber/silencer & naugahyde airbox.
But it didn’t seem to matter, this series of Puch dirt bikes made the cut, and even though plagued with leaky Spanish Betor forks, wimpy Betor rear shocks and enough naugahyde to make a tent, the bikes went fast, and won in spite of themselves.
Oh sure, there were problems with the bikes. The gearboxes sometimes did a DKW routine, and missed shifts, the Bing had issues, and the forks leaked, but everything else was solid. And those high bars with the Magura blades worked too, since the MX was raced more in cross country events than actual motocross. There’s also the fact that the 175 had to run in the 250 class, and was out-powered in that department.
Puch wasn't too popular here in the US of A, but in Urrip it was a hot item. Seems they forgot about a few basic things us Americans dig, like cubic centimeters. As a result they didn't sell too many of these, here across the big pond...
Puch reasoned that a lightweight, good handling powerful 175cc MX bike could compete and win against full sized 250 cc motocross machines, but they were wrong, and the 175 never caught on in US Motocross. It was more at home in the desert, or in Eastern type enduros. A one thousand dollar price tag hurt sales too, since a 250 Yamaha MX in 1971 cost around eight hundred dollars new, and was superior in the power, if not
The 175 MX Puch was an odd bike indeed. With a long 55” wheelbase, and raked out Betor forks, the bike resembled more of an enduro, or cross country motorcycle than a purpose built MX bike. It ran a low-pipe that was protected by a giant skid plate, and sported a huge chrome pickle silencer, that looked more at home on an expresso machine. Also, the carb was hidden under several yards of naugahide and zippers to make it waterproof, something seen on enduro bikes, but not really needed on motocross machinery.
1975 175 Puch MX (essentially the same bike)
The bike weighed in at a somewhat portly 238 lbs, and sported alloy rims, a 2.5 gallon steel gas tank and a moly steel double downtube frame. Excellent full sized Spanish Betor forks graced the front, while the rear was held up by wimpy Girling shocks, that had a life span of about 3 hours. Both the forks and shocks blew seals constantly, and spewed oil and goo over an otherwise classy looking machine.
Notice the naugahide carb cover & other "enduro" stuff. Look at that chain guard!
The Puch MX also had a wide ratio transmission that some say was pirated from the 125 ISDT replica, and a large seat that looked good for passenger duty. Other design characteristics that pointed more to off-road and enduros than MX, was a large bracket on the rear fender and a giant chain guard, that looked like it came from a saw mill. Wide high “cross country” type
handlebars completed the somewhat confused package, with Magura blade and throttle assemblies doing the stop-go thing.
Nice fender mount. And the Chrome Pickle! Girlings (most likely devoid of oil).
The MX also had an enduro bike’s power band, with a lot of low-end and midrange punch, but it signed off at top end because of mild porting, a funky 28mm Bing carb and that giant pickle exhaust. Long time Puch rider Jeff Wright won the 1972 Moose Run desert race on a 175 MX, if that said anything about the bike’s capabilities.
It would all change by 1976, when Puch introduced a very fast and potent 250 MX bike that won the 1977 250-world championship at the hands of Harry Everts.
In 1988 suffering the onslaught of the Japanese juggernaught, Puch sold its motorcycle division to Italian scooter manufacturer Piaggio, and that was it for the Puch motorcycle.