Hodaka Motorcycles from Ace to Road Toad

By: On: February 21st, 200932 Comments »Updated: October 14, 2012

Does anyone else remember Hodaka motorcycles? I actually had an Hodaka Dirt Squirt 100 as a teenager around 1980 that I bought used.   I sometimes think back to those fun days of riding dirt bikes with my friends.  Them on their Hondas and Kawasakis and me on my Hodaka.  I even wore a Hodaka t-shirt that made me feel like a real pro.

We all used to laugh at the name of my bike, the Dirt Squirt, but that wasn’t the funniest model name Hodaka used, nor was it the strangest.  What dirt bike rider wouldn’t aspire to own a Combat Wombat?  When your riding a Dirt Squirt, believe me, the Combat Wombat sounded pretty darn exciting, and maybe a little weird too.

Hodaka Road Toad 1976 modelOut of all Hodaka weird model names, I have to give the prize to the marketing geniuses that actually approved the Hodaka model name Road Toad. They sure picked a name that would get attention, but what in the world were they thinking? It’s almost like they said, let’s face it, this thing is a real piece of junk, so let’s just give it a name that tells it like it is! It was not a piece of junk at all, but it sounded that way. Well, these are actually quite collectible now.

A brief history of Hodaka motorcycles is a story of a company that was part American and part Japanese and started out in 1964. Shell Oil was involved with Hodaka via their trading company, Pabatco. Pabatco was behind Hodaka until 1978 when things really fell apart. Hodaka eventually went bankrupt and shut down production in 1980.


You might not be surprised about this, but Hodaka motorcycles are now somewhat collectible and they have a following of enthusiasts that restore them.  There are some repair manuals still out there, like the Hodaka service-repair handbook, 90-125cc singles, 1964-1975, and the Hodaka 90 and 100cc Singles 1964-1972.  I sure could have used one of those back when I had my Dirt Squirt. Eventually, 3rd and 4th gear did now work anymore, so I ended up selling it because I had no money to fix it and parts were not easy to find, even back then.

Hodaka Dirt Squirt motorcycle vintage adI thought my Hodaka was pretty cool. I actually liked the chrome fenders and shiny aluminum gas tank that it had. It was old when I got it, but it looked even older. I think Husqvarna was about the only other dirt bike that still had the chrome fenders and tank combo.  Chrome tanks and fenders were cool on motorcycles and still are if you ask me.

When I used to go to the motocross races at Unadilla around 1980 or so, I always rooted for the Husqvarna team with their metal tanks and dual shocks. I suppose if Hodaka didn’t go out of business, which also happened at about 1980, I would have rooted for them too!

Does anyone remember, or better yet, do any readers of Motorcycle Info have an Ace, Dirt Squirt, Wombat, Combat Wombat, Super Combat, Super Rat, or Road Toad?  These were not the best motorcycles ever made, but they were fun, and fun is what dirt bikes and trail bikes are all about.

About John Clay

John Clay is the author of MotorcycleInfo.Org. He and his family reside in North Carolina in the United States. A graduate of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation's Experienced Rider Course, he enjoys riding his Moto Guzzi in charity rides and serves as a volunteer motorcycle marshal for an annual bicycle charity event in the Carolinas.

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32 Responded

  1. ledfut says:

    I started out on a Hodaka Ace 100B+. The B+ meant that it had a raised front fender. I had an orange Bell Star and Hooker expanson chamber on the bike and thought I was “bad to the bone!” It was a great bike and lots of fun! I’d love to find another one.

    I currently have a 1965 Hodaka Ace 90 that is in great shape, and will be out terrorizing Reno, NV soon.

    If anyone wants more info on Hodakas, strictlyhodaka.com is a great place to start.

    The Hodaka Days event looks like a blast, and is put on in the town they were distributed from…Athena, OR. Info on this event is also on the site listed above. Maybe one of these days!!

    Take care, Rich

  2. John says:

    Rich, thanks for sharing your Hodaka memories with us and the tip about strictyhodaka.com. They have a great site. Send us a photo of your Ace, we’d love to see it!
    John

  3. Gerry"The Toad" Mac says:

    I am the original owner of a 1975 (purchased new in ’79) Road Toad 02 – the model with the green, “coffin” gastank. Supposedly there are only seven known existing examples, including mine. Thanks to Strictly Hodaka / “Hodaka Dave” it has been restored to the boltwith some minor upgrades. Had some fantastic times with that bike as a kid, plan on racing it in vintage MX this year. Hodaka Days is a blast I highly recommnd for and fan of the marque.

  4. ratsrod says:

    I to had an ace as a teenager with expansion chamber . I lost my ace to a garage fire maybe about 78 . I live within 15 minutes unadilla valley and have always wanted to go there and cheer on the HODAKAS . Alot of time in the dirt of my hodaka , maybe I’ll get another someday .

  5. ray says:

    just recently we had bulk trash pick up here on town and i found a road toad it is the first time i had even heard hodaka it is all locked up and was wondering if any one could tell me what it would be worth in less then adiquit condition
    thanks ray

  6. Ronnie Elrod says:

    From 1970 thru 72 I race MX in Florida on a highly modified Hodaka Super Rat. It took me to my first state championship where the grand prize was a brand new Hodaka Super Rat. Mom had a Combat Wombat and so did Dad. My sister also raced Hodaka Super Rats in the early 70’s and was also state champ in the powder puff class. Finding this site has brought back some almost forgotten memories, Thanks Ronnie Elrod #2

  7. PLCracing says:

    Hodaka….they just sort of grow on you. The name actually means “to grow higher”. My dad had a ’77 SL250 (white tank) as I was growing up. Didn’t appreciate it much back then, took alot of ribbing from my friends who had never heard of them. “What’s that thing, a Hondaka?” LOL That bike was too heavy, big and powerful for me so I sold it on Ebay (stupid!) and found me a dirt squirt 100, years later. What a fun little bike! Not the fastest, or best at anything really, but a good overall just fun bike. Now I’ve got the bug, buying any old Hodaka’s I can come across. I would love to make it to Hodaka Days someday. Just owning one makes me feel like part of a special “Hodaka cult”, some of the nicest bike owners around. You’re not going to find that with the run of the mill Honda’s, Yami’s, etc.

  8. Bubbles says:

    My son has a Road Toad that we got used about 10 years ago. We aren’t sure what year it is but I think they said it was a 125cc. He would like to restore it but I am having problems find manuals and parts. Does anyone out there know where to get parts and such?

  9. Sven says:

    Around 1972-74, as kids we went fishing down to this creek, followed it about 3 miles further than we ever did. In the woods lining the creek we heard motorcycles. We went into the woods to check out what was going on. Super Rats flying back and forth on the trails, man they were cool!! Looked like so much fun. I was only around 14, so as copy cats, we tore thru the trails on our big 26″ tire bicycles pretending to be on motocross trail bikes. We had a blast, till the bikes started breaking down. About a year later I could afford a used G5 100cc Kawasaki, had some friends that had them too. Met more friends that owned Suzuki TM125’s. I wanted to race Motocross, I was too big for the 100cc Super Rats that were tearing up the 100cc Class, so I opted for a brand new 125cc Combat Wombat. Wanted to be different. Tricked it out with a plastic gas tank, new air cleaner box, plastic fenders and under the frame expansion chamber and new shocks, etc.
    After about 2 months I got rid of it, too slow, too heavy and it just vibrated too much, crappy engine.

    Hodaka started the motorcycle craze that I didn’t know existed inside myself.

    Over the next course of 8 years of dirt riding, racing motocross and hare scrambles, ended up owning a bunch of MX’ers. Suzuki’s, Honda’s, Yamaha, Maico, CZ’s. Hodaka is like remembering your first girlfriend.

  10. BillB says:

    Way back in the early ’60’s I bought new from PABATCO an 80cc(?) 3 speed motor. Attempted to install it into the go kart I was racing at the time. Even though transmissions of any kind were forbidden in kart racing, I just had to try it. (ind of a pre-curser to present day shifter karts) It was really quick when it wasn’t breaking motor mounts. I ended up building a mini bike around this engine. It would stand up and bark at you in all three gears. Great fun and exciting little motor.

  11. Darren G says:

    I had a Dirt Squirt in 1975-76, my dad got it for me brand new in a little shop off of State St. in Salem, Oregon. We lived nearby and there was a very small barber shop next door to the Hodaka Shop. Well needless to say, every haircut was an adventure for me to go and drool over the bikes! My dad bought me a Brand new shiny Dirt Squirt! And I will never forget it, I grew out of it eventually and got a YZ 250 and kind of forgot about it. Moved to Hawaii for 15 years and left it at an old landlords house and thought for sure it was history, I even drove up the old driveway but never looked in the garage because I didnt know who owned the house now. I later found out through a friend that the bike was still in the garage!! But she sold the home and acerage to a developer, they tore down the house and the seperate garage and subdivided it. That bike sat there for almost 20 years for me waiting to come get it!! I think about her often, and would buy it back if I evr had the chance in a heartbeat!

  12. Roofmanrod says:

    We just remodeled a home for a retired Farmer and he asked me if I would be interested in looking at an old motorbike that his neighbor had given him because she had no room for it anymore. I went into his out building and there it was, an old rusty looking bike with an odd name. It was called a Hodaka?? The tires were in good shape, and the seat was in near perfect condition. Someone had tried to do some backyard mechanical work on it but I see some hope for this old relic. I can purchase this bike for a very fair price and am considering making this a once in a lifetime restoration project. Can anyone suggest a website to find parts for this type of motorcycle?
    Rod.

  13. John says:

    Try Paul at Strictly Hodaka tel 802-375-0212 (Vermont)

  14. Purplerider says:

    I still own a combat wombat, and a road toad. Neither have been started in years, and I need to restore them. Funny thing, no one ever admired them until vintage dirt bikes became popular. Right now, I wouldn’t part with them, at any price. These bikes were just too much fun to ride, and now that they’re actually valueble, its the only classics that I will ever be able to afford.

  15. swampbuck says:

    found your article while searching whatever happened to hodaka… gonna search bultaco next.. lol

  16. swampbuck says:

    I forgot to add I wanted a dirt-squirt.. But my dad bought me an jap/Indian enduro, 100cc when I was 13.. Which I promptly striped down and turned into a dirt bike.. It actually wasn’t a bad bike and I rode the wizz out of it..lol

  17. Wombatter says:

    I happen to have my 1974 Combat Wombat right here in what most folks use as a “living room”. I bought it in 1978 for $225. It has served me well for the pleasure riding I have used it for. It’s in excellent mechanical condition and sports a camouflage paint job I applied in the early 80s.

    PABATCO was the Pacific Basin Trading Company. Unlike today, to get the Japanese Fuji engines on these bikes, even trades for USA goods were done on a barter system and no tariffs were applied. It supported jobs in both countries evenly. Different from the open-trade suicide the USA practices today.

    As far as any disparaging comments about the Hodaka name, it was the bike to beat in it’s time. Everything else was in the dust and was the “junk”, cheaply priced or otherwise. Hodaka was a pioneer in off road racing bikes that set the pace in the 125cc racing class. Today, it is the forgotten champion. Please note… “champion”. That explains the cult following these bikes have.

  18. crystalnacht says:

    MY 75′ My 75 Road Toad had been ssittin in a open carport for 10-12 years. drained thr rotten gas from tank and carb, installed fresh gas and gave it a tow. much to my surprise, it started up and ran just fine. I have owned it for 36 years.

  19. Bidoe says:

    Champion is right! These were the bikes that started all the dirt bike craze. I have a 71 Ace 100ccB+. Chrome Toaster tank and all. They were the boys to beat in the 60’s and early 70’s . They kinda went south in the mid to late 70’s pabatco was bought by a corp. and they just let it go down hill. I love my Ace, it ain’t the fastest bike out there, but it sure is a unique little head turner.And to the auther , your right . Without a manual your slightly lost on these, espesailly on the gears . It takes a little know how and patients to adjust the shifter to get all the gears to work , plus the patern is backwards from most other bikes. And Paul at Strictly Hodaka is the best . If he doesn’t have it . He sure knows who does. He loves em as much as we do.

  20. George says:

    I rode a Kawasaski KD80 back in those days (e.g Jr. High) but a kid I went to school with had a Hodaka Wombat. I loved dirtbikes as a kid and knew about every make and model so I remember the Hodakas very well.

    I’m curious….Does anyone remember the Bultacos or the Macos????

  21. hod rod says:

    http://motorcycleinfo.org/2009/02/hodaka-motorcycles/

    I lust looked up my childhood bike it was a dirt squirt . I still have my Hodaka badge , man it brings back allot of memories, I was eleven my dad bought two brand new ones, Ive ask people over the past thirty years that had an interest in old bike, about this bike, and they all look at me like I was crazy ! I’m 45 now ,and was going through an old she box from my child hood memories, right in the middle of some love letters from girls, when i was grade school, there set that Hodaka badge, WOW!!!!!! I’m NOT CRAZY I did own one & they did exist……so I went right to the computer & looked up “Dirt-squirt” & “Wombat”, I believe that’s what my dad bought for me & him to ride , they were allot of fun….. my dad had good taste,, that same year I stole the keys to his 68 Dodge Charger ,,I could not see over the steering wheel, but I took it for a very eventful joy ride,,, man what memories!
    Hod Rod

    PS I sure would love to buy a fixer upper, any suggestions?

  22. Joeboxer says:

    I rode with a guy that rode a Wombat in a 6 day Enduro event and took the Silver medal. It was an awesome bike

  23. action111 says:

    i had a Super Rat in the late 70’s,a buddy had a combat Wombat;i know it is still in his dads shed,another had a dirt squirt,another road toad,a couple sisters had a pair,there was a dealership in Venus Pa. I’ll bet there are alot of them in barns and sheds in Clarion and Venango County’s in western Pa. I was surprised to see all the parts and bikes you can find now,sold mine for $100 dollars in 1982. should have left it sit at dads house.

  24. turbinflyer says:

    I have one better. Back in 1972 I bought a new easternstar mini bike. They were a knockoff of hodaka bikes. I bought if from the money I made from selling sweet corn on the corner….funny

    Don

  25. allen wright says:

    I did not have one back in the day when they did rule the trails. I had an appreciation for them but all of my money went into my 55 Chevy instead. Then 40 sumthin years later I saw a 1971 Ace 100 at a junk car haulers’ lot. They did not know anything about vintage motor cycles. I picked it up for a reasonable price. Surprisingly almost all of the parts were in restorable condition. The parts that are needed are listed on the Strictly Hodaka website. As for being a proud owner of a legendary Hodaka…..
    Better late than never!
    Nice to see that there are so many folks that do remember, appreciate, and enjoy these machines that are part of our motorcycle history. Oh, I might ad some of my money now is absorbed in my recent purchase…. a 55 Chevy. Some things never change. Thanks for the article on Hodaka.

  26. John says:

    Allen, I too have a hard time choosing between bikes and cars. Having a ’55 must be fun. Having a Hodaka and reliving the old days of trail riding might just be as fun too. I’m happy, and I’m sure other Hodaka fans are happy also that you were able to give a new life to that Ace 100!
    John

  27. chevman32 says:

    I bought a 1969 Ace 100 brand new from Roehr Bros. in Burbank, Ca. for $315.00, and I still have it along with two other parts bikes I have picked up over the years. I plan to restore the bike soon and use it for my daily transportation. Unbeatable for reliability and the best handling bike I have ever ridden (I have owned about 25 bikes over the years and have 5 still three Hodakas and a Yamaha 200 XT and a Harley FXRSP) I have tried to sell the 3 Hodakas several times but can’t find anyone interested, so I guess I will keep them and ride my old one. maybe this summer I hope.

  28. James Robertson says:

    I have a 1971 Hodaka Super Rat original owner

  29. John says:

    James, very cool! Do you still ride it? Send a picture or two if you get a chance, would love to see it.
    John

  30. jim says:

    hey everybody, i am 50 yro from NE USA that grew up riding dirtbikes from age 11 when i had an sl70 to my late teens & early 20’s.
    About Hodaka, I thought that bike was great because it handled awesome in tight trails, reminded of my husky 360wr 1976 i had too. i had bought the used 1972 wombat for $350 and like most have said, it was fun to ride , i had a blast ripping around on that bike! honda had come out with those all red cr125’s and I used blow this rich-type kid off on him cr125…I could slide into a muddy corner and come out tight and doing a wheelie, in fact on time my throttle grip came off doinga wheelie and I fell cuz of it. Aslo it was my trainer bike for wheelie’s. I could shift thru the gear gears 1,2,3 wheeliing, in fact i remember that big gear on rear brake side of engine only had about 1/3 of the teeth it needed before I got the replacement gear to put in it,,, now I’m shifting 2,3, and rarely 4th gear on my 2000 ZX12R , I’ve seen the speedo @ 135mph during long rear wheel antics…
    pEACE
    jk

  31. Ed Swanson says:

    Back in 1966 I bought an Ace 90, which I still have. It hasn’t run for years since my youngest son ran it a little in the early “90’s”. I had problems getting a title when I first got it so I never ran it much, it took so long to get it (almost a year) the thrill was almost gone. The speedometer only shows 354 miles.
    I’m 65 and will retire soon and would like to get it to someone that would appreciate it. I have no idea of its worth but are there collectors out there that could be interested? I live in central PA.

  32. JT says:

    I also have a ’65 Hodaka Ace 90 that I am willing to part with (for the right price). My family are the original owners but I do not have the skills for restoration. Anyone interested?