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Super Combat – Model 97

Laurie Shelton, Dripping Springs, Texas

I bought this Super Combat for $500 as a rough project out of Colorado in 2013. Having owned, built, and raced a few Hodakas, it seemed time that I finally get a Super Combat and see what all the fuss was about.

The bike had a questionable past – it had been raced (by somebody, somewhere) – but that’s all I knew. When it arrived, it rolled, the engine did move and had a little compression, and there was spark – great start!

As with every project, I started disassembly, making a list of things to replace or repair. The pipe was rusted-through, broken and basically trashed. The frame was in good shape, though not untouched by a home-welder (he welded one of the footpegs and some sort of swing-arm bracket for purposes I could never determine). The forks and shocks were in pretty poor shape, but I had suspension upgrades in mind anyway. Both wheels had badly rusted spokes, the tank was dent-free, but was rusty inside. Since this was going to be my race bike, I felt good about departing from a stock restoration and building it to suit my taste.

Engine-wise, the top end needed a bore (oddly enough, I pulled a stock Combat Wombat piston out of this cylinder – not quite the right match for a Super Combat). Every bike has a story, and part of this story was becoming clear: rider broke a piston ring – parts of the ring fell in the gearbox and did some dirty work in there. Rider ‘freshened’ the top end and apparently did not bother to address (or even change the oil) in the gearbox. Back to the races (disappointment follows) and the bike sits for years…

Since this bike was a “keeper”, I tried to be as frugal as possible – I was lucky to find an NOS Super Combat piston in my parts stash, I decided to give the stock electronic ignition a try, and did all the painting myself (I like black bikes). The engine was a complete rebuild - I replaced everything that needed it (bearings, seals, shift springs, etc.) – fortunately no damage to any gears (though the clutch assembly was a total loss). The tank cleaned up nicely inside – as an aside, I had the tank professionally painted, and it turned out way too nice to use, so I sold it and dug up another Super Combat tank. It cleaned up just as nice and I painted it (Dupli-Color Chevrolet Orange is a near perfect match!). In terms of other small parts, all the usual stuff was replaced (cables, rubber bits, reeds, misc bolts, etc.).

The major upgrades were a front end from a Hodaka Wombat (Model 03) – the triple tree mounted right up, and a friend welded stops on the frame. This provides 34mm of improved front fork suspension. I also had a conical hub from the 03 – so I laced up that hub into the alloy wheel for much better braking. The rear end sports 14.25” Progressive Shocks (to match the rise in the new front end). I splurged on a new seat foam/cover, new front and rear spokes, new tires, and a set of Renthal bars. The last big change was the HT3 pipe – a neat upgrade from the stock downpipe. Developed by the late Harry Taylor, this pipe was designed to provide the Super Combat loads of usable power (and looks kinda cool too). The pipe is fairly straightforward to mount – just need to add a bolt hole here, and a passageway through the airbox there…

I got the bike completed just a few days ago – rolled her out, and she fired on the first kick – lots of good power, ran and shifted perfectly – I sure can’t wait to get this one on the track!

Many thanks to Bill Cook and Paul Stannard – they always share great advice, have the ultimate parts stash, and are wonderful stewards of the Hodaka brand. I think Hodaka owners and builders are very fortunate to have these guys in our corner.