Ossa or ‘Orpheo Sincronic Sociedad Anónima’ was originally a company that specialised in manufacturing cinema projection equipment. Words: Jeff Ware Photos: Nick Nicholls.
Mick Andrews. Double European Champion Ossa & Mick
Founded in 1924 by Manuel Giro, it became renowned for its two-stroke motorcycles that had great racing success in the 1960s and 1970s. This rather large shift in focus happened after the Second World War when motorcycle production for the Spanish market took off, as people needed affordable transport. By the 1960s exports to Europe and North America played an important part in the company’s success and racing/competition was seen as the perfect avenue for increasing both awareness and demand for the brand.
In 1967 Ossa had its first racing breakthrough, when in the 24 Hours of Montjuic in Barcelona, its bikes took first and second places. Santiago Herrero competed aboard the manufacturer’s monocoque-framed racebike and won four 250cc Grand Prix, before being killed while competing at the 1970 Isle of Man TT. This tragic event affected the firm greatly, ending its involvement in road racing.
Turning to observed trials competition in the US and Europe, Ossa hired Mick Andrews to assist in designing their trials bike, as well as riding the bike for them. Mick, from Derbyshire, began competing in trials back in 1959 at the age of just 15. He went on to win the 1971 and 1972 Trial European Championship (the precursor of the FIM World Championship) as well as the Scottish Six Days Trial in 1970, ’1971, ’1972, ’1974 and ’1975.
By the mid-1970s Ossa was struggling to keep up with its competitors, both European and Japanese and – despite merging with Bultaco in 1979 – the Ossa factory closed in 1982. In 2010 a group of Spanish businessmen gave the brand a new lease of life, purchasing the trademark and producing a small range of trials and enduro motorcycles.
See more old classic off-road metal at The Classic Dirt Bike Show (February 16/17) sponsored by Hagon. For more go to: www.classicbikeshows.com