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Bultaco Astro 360 1976



  • Bultaco


  • Astro 360


  • 1976
Picture an executive board-room late in the day on a sultry Spanish summer: ripped posters and drawings are strewn across the floors and desks; copious amounts of plastic bottles and empty plates of food sit about half-molested; and exhausted salesmen and women lie in various states of decimation, some collapsed onto the desk, others shattered and asleep on the carpet. The team have been developing the name for their new flat-tracker motorcycle for a whole twenty minutes. All of a sudden, a brain-wave! Why not combine the name of your country’s most famous ‘sport’ and edible foods?! Time for the back-slapping and celebratory pińata! And lo, fellow bike enthusiasts, the siesta-dilla was born!

The team at Shepster Towers don’t know for sure if that’s exactly how the Bultaco developed its name <Ed- it completely wasn’t*>, but would motion that all future motorcycles take on the same marketing process – bring on the Football-Steak&Kidney, Sumo-sushi and the Slippery-hockey-maple!

Bultaco was a Spanish manufacturer of two-stroke motorcycles from 1958 to 1983. Established by industrial engineer and entrepreneur Senior Bulto, he formed a break-away company from his previous motorcycle partner at Montesa. Snr Bulto and his excellent bushy moustache focused all his energies on thoroughbred racing motorcycles, coining the famous motto ‘the market follows the chequered flag.’  First off-the-rank was a 125 Bultaco that won seven of the first ten places in Spanish Grand Prix, which was all right. A long life of racing pedigree beckoned and indeed lasted for twenty-five years before joining many of the British elite motorcycling companies in collapsing. Recently it has been revived though, with a focus on electric dirt bikes. The Brinco for example is available at a zippy ten thousand dollars. Yes, zippy as in, take-your-pants-off-and-reach-for-your-socks kind of zippy. It still has peddles.

But back to the excellent Astro 360cc. To say it’s a minimalist motorcycle is a little bit of understatement unless you’re well acquainted with Flat Trackers. It does splash out on the usual trappings like wheels, a petrol tank and a two-stroke engine, but does dispense with niceties like front brakes or any kind of dashboard or instrument panel or radiator. What it does have in spades though is pure knarl. Bultaco dominated the World Trials Championship in the 1970s, winning the title eight times, which is quite frankly ridiculous. Popular on the short-tracks (presumably because it won all the bloody time) the Astro was fine-tuned to perfection to have an immense power-band, and used by many of the top riders in their pursuit of the title. Some of the modern Flat Tracker’s though are simply astounding, especially as you get towards the top-end price bracket and the scrambler cross-overs. They all tend to vie for that brutish bastard of a motorcycle look, which at Shepsters we absolutely love.

The famous ‘thumbs up’ at the centre of the logo apparently comes from the British motorcyclist David Whitworth giving the signal to the pit crew, but presumably this was because he was too scared to indicate anything else that might anger the beast. Successful in the textile industries, chemical-pharmaceutical and heavy machinery, Francisco Xavier “Paco” Bultó Marqués became one of the main employers in Catalonia, with a monument dedicated to him at the Catalonia Circuit. Paco Bulto passed away in 1998, buried at the massive Montjuïc Cemetery on the slopes of Barcelona, apparently wearing his Bultaco t-shirt and his moustache properly waxed. Legend.
* Bultaco was an amalgam of Snr Bulto and his nickname, Paco

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