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In most of rural America, this 1972 Yamaha DT360A would be dismissed as a “barn bike” tucked away in the back of a shed, uncovered and left to choke on a carb full of old fuel. More than likely, it would have been used as a farm bike and eventually dismissed in favor of it’s me-want-shiny distant American cousin. I’m just as guilty of this dismissal as the next guy, particularly in my pre-riding years. Now that I’ve owned several bikes, my eyes have adjusted and I’ve learned to see and appreciate the beauty in the lines of a bike like this.
Meet the humble beginnings of the DesertCat DT360A. This 360cc single cylinder is so torquey that your rear wheel will come unglued from the dirt at a quarter throttle. The absurdly long rake of the front fork balances out the power being delivered to your rear wheel. Most importantly (in our view, anyway)…this bike is fast. Bikes of this stance and power aren’t meant for jumps and vertical trajectory, they’re meant for getting you there quickly and as directly as possible, true to desert racing style. We’ll keep you posted as our plans for the DesertCat come together…
Tech specs aside, we love this bike’s history. In the American motorcycling vernacular, bikes like this represent the dark side of the motorcycle world – and we’re damn proud of it. While the “bright” side was busy laying the foundation for what later (and unfortunately) became a culture of overpriced American custom choppers and bloated machismo, the entire off road motorcycling industry was being built on the needs of the desert racers of the 60’s and 70’s. In the beginning, there wasn’t gear – just the bikes. A DIY article from a 1960’s motorcycling magazine shows how to modify a pair of combat boots for desert racing by simply sewing on leather reinforcements. The Belstaff jacket was galvanized into motorcycling history simply because it was the most durable jacket of the time. When form follows function, and not lifestyle, it’s a thing of beauty – but only if you let yourself see the lines.
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