Bike of the Month
1971 Ossa Stiletto
In 2008, I introduced my son, Nick Lighthouse, to vintage racing. The venue was a farm in Canby, California, where Mom’s Honda Elsinore was tested on the rolling, grassy fields of the Bushey Ranch. On the way home from the event, much to my delight, Nick informed that he had never had so much fun on a motorcycle.
Sometime prior to the Bushey Ranch event while exercising my hound in Washoe Valley, I located a couple of Ossa Stilettos parked up against a shed. I stored the location away in the old memory bank for future use if necessary. Upon hearing those joyous words from my son, my mind started churning, and I asked if he would like to build a bike of his own and do some more racing. Still excited from the afternoon of racing, he said yes. I told Nick of the Stilettos, showed him some photos of what they looked like, and he was all in. Contact was made with the owner and Nick and I went out to Washoe Valley to check out the bikes. After looking them over, we agreed to purchase the two Stilettos (one ‘69 to ‘70 4-speed and one ‘71 to ’73 5-speed) and a Yamaha DT-1 for $250.
After assessing the bikes, it was determined that the later model Stiletto was in better condition and would make a better candidate for restoration. Nick and I got to work right away, disassembling the bike, and scouring the internet for parts. We sourced the painting of the bodywork, powder coating of the frame, and plating of the controls and miscellaneous parts. Nick wire wheeled all of the hardware for plating, which he performed with an Eastman’s plating kit. I disassembled, inspected, and rebuilt the motor. I also buffed the rims, hubs, brake backing plates, engine cases and fork bottoms. New bearings, seals and gaskets were sourced for the engine, as well as a new rod kit, piston and ring from a few of the Ossa gurus in the United States. Forks were rebuilt and new shocks were purchased. New cables, rubber parts, and other miscellaneous parts were sourced from the gurus, as well as local bike/parts suppliers.
Steadily working on the bike, Nick was able to compete on a semi-finished bike the following spring, 2009. By the time the Bushey Ranch race took place in October 2009, the Ossa was complete. The bike turned out nicer than we thought and Nick was apprehensive about tearing it up, but after convincing him that we could always restore it again, Nick has been racing the bike ever since and having a blast.
Building the Ossa with my son was a rewarding experience and it was fun to see the smile on his face the first time we fired it up.