19th-Annual Two-Stroke Extravaganza

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By Paul Garson

After navigating L.A.’s infamous 405 Flee-Way, then merging onto the 118 East, and finally taking the non-Ozzy Osborne Exit off the 210 Pasadena Freeway, I noticed a semi-mushroom cloud of smoke rising over the Hansen Dam park grounds. I thought the bike event’s barbecue had launched without me. But it wasn’t burger’s squealing on the grill, it was a massive herd of banshee shrieking, ringy-dingies of all sizes and vintages doing the “parade lap” thing around the staging area for the annual 2-Stroke Extravaganza. Then a little voice in the back of my Shoei helmet whispered, “Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid.”

2007 Two-Stroke Extravaganza

I think that was the same voice I had heard many years ago when test riding a minty 1975 Kawasaki 750 H2 Mach IV Triple that I was contemplating buying. I was no stranger to two-strokes, having experienced my first wheelie, though unintentional, on a Yamaha RD350; then riding my buddy’s Kawi 500 Triple after arriving in L.A. back in the previous century. Later on I rather enjoyed a Suzuki GT500, and later still a Yamaha RZ500 V-4 two-stroke rocketship that had snuck across the Canadian border. But after just a few blocks aboard that Kawi H2 Triple, I listened to that inner voice and took the bike back to its owner. Okay, I admit, I wussed out, but only because I thought the frame was badly tweaked, which it wasn’t – it was just part of the bike’s “character.” There was a reason the mags called it “scarily fast” especially when trying to go around corners.

In any case, I overcame my two-stroke trepidations and cruised on over to the 19th annual smokefest aboard my trusty, crusty 4-stroke ’80ish BMW R100/7 and found myself embroiled in a repetitive case of deja vu – all the 2-strokers …read more

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