The Bultaco Sherpa was the bike of my dreams

Tricky thing, time – turn your back for a second and it runs away like a busted stopwatch.

I have been waiting for new wheels to test. It will – all things being equal – be one of the new Moto Guzzi V7s, a glorious machine with bucketloads of character and a fine pedigree (if you like Guzzis, and there are many who don’t).

While I wait, I have been pondering the long and twisting road that has brought me to this point, remembering those old bikes I once had and the ones I lusted after.

One of them was the Bultaco Sherpa T. Bultaco was a Spanish bike builder which turned the world of enduro and motocross on its head in the 60s. Until then, the sport – and trails competitions especially – was ruled by British four-stroke machines which despite their noble lineage, could handle like leaden pigs on obstacle courses.

Enter the Sherpa T, a 250cc two-stroke giant-killer. In 1965, Irish trials rider Sammy Miller won the Scottish Six Days trial on a Sherpa, putting the Spanish bike on the map and creating a legion of impressionable kids who wanted either a) to be like Sammy or b) to have a Bultaco, and usually both.

The first time I saw a Bultaco was in Classic Bike magazine and I was instantly and irrevocably hooked. I wanted it like no other bike. The only trouble was that Bultaco closed its doors in 1979 and Sherpas had become collectors’ items – if you could find one that hadn’t had the guts thrashed out of it.

The heart wants what the heart wants, though. Strolling around Barcelona’s old quarter with my girl a couple of weeks ago, I walked past a shop window, clocked a gleam of red and my heart hammered in my chest like a drum. There it was: a gleaming Sherpa T, probably the 250cc version, standing under lights on the wood-grain floor as a company showpiece. A nice mascot to have, indeed.

I tried taking pictures through the glass. As you can see, the results were not exactly stellar, although the ghostly pedestrians – who all stopped to gawp (at the bike, one hopes, not the photographer) do add a sort of ethereal quality.

I hope the firm appreciates what they have. If not, chaps, give me a call.

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