These days, a lot of dirt bikes look almost more like a touring motorcycle looked a couple of decades ago. Not only have they changed in appearance, but they're also heavier and often, more difficult to control. That's precisely why the overwhelming majority of newer dirt bikes also have comprehensive electronic controls that help the motorcycle rider maintain positive control at all times. Imagine the difference when these modern-day dirt bikes are compared to something from decades ago, the 1980 Cagiva 250 RX. If you have fond memories of this particular dirt bike, then perhaps it's time to allow those memories to resurface and remember why you got so enthused about the idea of riding a dirt bike to begin with.
Simplicity at Its Best
At first glance, you know that you're looking at something that is far different from anything that's available today. Even by 1980 standards, this particular dirt bike was about as simple as it could possibly be. It was small, lightweight and it didn't have anything that wasn't absolutely necessary for its operation. As a matter of fact, it had a single cylinder, two-stroke engine that was exceptionally small by modern-day standards, yet it was capable of powering the bike around even the most difficult off-road trails, largely because the bike itself weighed next to nothing. It also featured a carburetor and an air-cooled design that kept things simplified in the extreme. That made this particular bike a favorite among riders because it was not only fun to ride, but also affordable and easy to work on. There weren't any complicated electronic systems. As a matter of fact, everything about the bike was extremely simple and straightforward. Even if you’d never worked on a bike before in your life, you could grab an instruction manual and a set of wrenches and do most of what needed to be done on your own without any further guidance. While the bike didn't have as much power as some of the other dirt bikes of its day, its lightweight design and the fact that it was so nimble definitely played into its favor. It also made it a favorite among individuals who either didn't have a great deal of experience or a lot of money to pour into such things. As such, it quickly became a favorite among dirt bike riders.
As previously mentioned, the engine on this particular bike wasn't exactly large. However, it didn't need to be. That small, single cylinder engine was capable of producing 249cc, more than enough to move to bike along at a respectable pace. It also featured drum brakes on both the front and rear and in both cases, they were larger than they needed to be to ensure that there was always more than enough stopping power when it was needed most. Keeping in tune with the desire to make the design as simple as possible, it had a chain-type transmission. There's little doubt that it was capable of performing well, but what about longevity in the long term? When you're looking at something from 1980, you have to ask yourself whether or not it would be possible to find a reliable example all these years later. After all, some machines are made to withstand a bit more punishment than others, but every machine eventually breaks down, no matter how well it's made or how reliable it is. In this particular case, the machine was typically considered average as far as its reliability was concerned. When it worked, it tended to work well. It also tended to have problems that a lot of vehicles of that time had, including problems with the chain drive and the carburetor. Fortunately, it was easy to fix, as previously mentioned. However, that doesn't answer the question of whether or not you would actually be able to find a viable example today. Keep in mind, you're talking about something that was made more than 40 years ago. Is it possible that you would still be able to find one that's actually rideable or even more surprising, one that's in excellent condition? If so, would you be able to use it or would it be a problem to find parts when something goes wrong?
Looking for a Needle in a Haystack?
Is it possible that finding a 1980 model would be akin to looking for a needle in the proverbial haystack? An internet search turns up only one model from 1980, although there are several available that were made during other years. Obviously, the most prevalent models available for sale are those that were made much later, as late as the early 1990s. Finding a 1980 model can be a different story entirely. The truth of the matter is, you can probably still find one if you're willing to look hard enough and you have gotten rather skilled at perusing all of the different types of publications where a bike like this would be available for sale. Finding one that's actually in good condition might be slightly more challenging, but it certainly isn't outside the realm of possibility. The good news is that if you do find one, you’ll likely be able to snag it without paying an arm and a leg for doing so, largely because this bike is still somewhat more obscure than some of the other dirt bikes that you might find available for sale. As such, it doesn't typically command as high a price.
Written by Benjamin Smith
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