Motorcycle Types Adventure / Dual-Sport Vintage MX: 1970 Penton 125 Six-Day

Vintage MX: 1970 Penton 125 Six-Day

Vintage MX Motorcycles

Back in the day – that day being in the late 1960s – when European motocross was making its earliest ventures to the U.S. in the form of exhibition races, the big thing stateside as far as off-road was hare scrambles and enduro.

The likes of Husqvarna, Maico, and CZ were still relatively unknown here, so most competitors were limited to modifying big displacement street bikes like Triumphs and BSAs to handle the off-road chores.

The thinking was you needed to possess the most power possible in order to pull yourself through the mud and guck, and the big 4-stroke twins seemed to fill the bill.

In 1968, one man, an Ohio native and serious racer, began to think otherwise. He figured if you had a light machine–perhaps trading displacement for weight–it wouldn’t sink into the mud as easily. Also, it would be a great deal easier to extricate from the hazards of enduro competitions if you did get stuck.

The man was John Penton, and he set out to build a custom, small displacement, light-weight motorcycle for serious competition. He fabricated the frame and various elements, and had the Penton motorcycle manufactured by KTM. An existing European motor manufacturer, Sachs, powered the KTM-built Pentons. The engine was a 125cc 2-stroke.

Penton went out and proceeded to prove his theory by winning enduro events, often with his sons, weaving his way through dense forests and over mud to the awe of his overweight competitors.

Penton immediately began to build the Penton name, assembling and manufacturing a full line of motorcycles Stateside that became synonymous not only with enduro competition, but excelled in the booming realm of motocross.

Most rewarding were the results in the highly prestigious International Six-Day Trial (known as the ISDT), for which John Penton named his popular 125cc model. A 100cc version was named after the prestigious Berkshire enduro in America.

Pentons were famous for superb handling and their dynamic looks, especially the bright green paint scheme and massive sunburst design of the cooling fins for the cylinder head.

Unfortunately, the Sachs transmission was infamous for having a neutral between each gear. Riding one you learned to nurse the gearshift into the next gear, often coming up with a handful of throttle and no engagement.

Nonetheless, Penton motorcycles won a decent share of races and earned a place on the mantel of motorcycling, giving plenty of major European and Japanese manufacturers a serious run for their money. The Penton pictured here is a beautifully restored 1970 Six-Day 125cc.

Visit to see examples of motocross machines from the early days of motocross.

Ron Lieback
Ron Lieback
One of the few moto journalists based on the East Coast, Ron Lieback joined the motorcycle industry as a freelancer in 2007, and is currently Online Editor at Ultimate Motorcycling.

Tim Gajser Clinches 2019 MXGP World Championship in Imola

Team HRC’s Gajser Wins FIM Motocross World Championship Just days after his 23rd birthday, Team HRC’s Tim Gajser clinched his second MXGP World Championship at...

2019 MV Agusta UNICEF F3 800: One-of-a-Kind For Charity

2019 MV Agusta UNICEF F3 800: Charity Build If you blinked, you missed it. MV Agusta built this one-off F3 800 for UNICEF Italia and...

2019 Budds Creek Motocross National Results and Coverage (9 Fast Facts)

2019 Budds Creek Motocross National Results: Tomac’s Perfect Day With one round remaining in the 2019 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross National Championship Series, Eli Tomac...

2019 Vertigo Dougie Lampkin Replica First Look (14 Fast Facts)

2019 Vertigo Dougie Lampkin Replica Trials Motorcycle It is getting to be a regular thing with Vertigo—a boutique Spanish observed trials manufacturer—late in the year...

Motorcycle Workbench Workout: Facing the Trash, Finding Some Treasure

Top 14 Trash and Treasure Items Found on Workbench Admit it - we have a workbench problem. If you have a workbench it is likely...

2020 Honda CRF250R Review: National Track Tested (12 Fast Facts)

2020 Honda CRF250R Review: First Ride at Fox Raceway The 2020 Honda CRF250R is virtually all-new this year, with a host of change. There are significant...