Clymer Manuals got an up-close look at Greg Imbs’ 1972 Husqavarna CR450 off-road racer at the 2013 HoAME Vintage Motorcycle Show. Slotting in the Husky timeline right between the Steve McQueen/Malcolm Smith 400 Cross from On Any Sunday, and the officially designated Desert Master bikes released in 1973, this 450cc two-stroke still ruled the dirt.
Clymer Girl and the crew didn’t have to go far to attend the HoAME show and rally, as it was just up the road at the Kansas City Airline History Museum in the Downtown Airport. The show was packed with classic vintage and antique motorcycles representing the best of British, German, Japanese, Italian, and American manufacturers. Some of the brands on display were Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, BMW, Harley-Davidson, Triumph, BSA, Norton, Indian, Cushman, Vespa, Laverda, Lambretta, Ducati, Matchless, Zundapp, Moto Guzzi, and more. There was everything from 100% perfect restorations, to well worn bikes daily riders, to full-on customized cafe racers, choppers, bobbers, dirt bikes, road racers – any type or style of motorcycle you could image. As part of the museum’s permanent exhibits, there were also vintage propeller driven passenger planes, including a Douglas DC-3, a Martin 404, and, the pride of their collection, a 1958 Lockheed Super Constellation.
Perhaps more than anyone else, the Swedish maker Husqavarna is responsible for the two-stroke off-road revolution that happened in the late 1960s. While many folks rode stripped down Triumph, BSA, or even Harley-Davidsons off road after WWII, they were heavy machines that did not change direction well. As competition moved from simply surviving cross-country enduros to racing on tighter purpose built scrambles, the lighter weight two-strokes started to prevail. Husky was a maker of all sorts of machinery in Europe, and their motorcycles displayed the reliability and torque their farm tractors were also known for. When Edison Dye introduced American riders to the Husqavarna motorcycles by bringing over the European motocross champions in 1966, it changed the sport forever. The CR450 was the top of the line for 1972, sporting the then new larger 450cc engine, five-speed transmission, and standardized left side shifter/right side brake.
Read more about Husqavarna motorcycles on Wikipedia.