THE BONANZA MINI-CROSS
JUST WHAT IS a Mini-Cross anyway? Well, it’s small like a minibike. It’s more powerful than some trail bikes. It’s too noisy to pass by unnoticed. And it’s going to be very popular with four-feet-high racers.
Bonanza’s Mini-Cross is not a new machine. It’s a variation on their previous 1500 SH model.
The CC>2-welded, double-cradle tubeframe is retained. And, like its predecessor, it is powered by a Hodaka Ace 100 five-speed engine. Power is transmitted to the rear wheel through a chain driven jackshaft assembly. The secondary jackshaft chain is adjusted by moving the rear wheel, as on a motorcycle. Adjustment of the primary jackshaft chain is accomplished by moving the engine on the slotted engine mounting plate, which also doubles as a bash plate.
Rim size has been increased from 6 to 8 in., and 4.00-8 Carlisle round-profile, trials-pattern tires are fitted front and rear. Ground clearance is 7.6 in.
The front forks are now Ceriani-like in appearance, and have 4 in. of travel with no dampening. The wheelbase is 42.0 in. Swinging arm rear suspension is used, but the Italian Fulgor shocks have very limited travel.
A side stand is mounted under the center of the engine mounting plate, but it is difficult to reach and is useless in soft ground.
Bonanza’s gas gauge is retained. The unit consists of a simple float that actuates a dial located in the cap itself. It measures only from full to half-full.
A brake is provided on the rear wheel, and is actuated by the right handlebar lever. Brake response is good and the machine is easily halted on all but fast, steep downhills.
A few of these machines will undoubtedly be used in minibike races, and many youthful riders will appreciate the 10 bhp available.
On these smooth TT courses, the Mini-Cross is just plain fun to ride. Handling is quick and controllable on smooth surfaces, and the undampened suspension can cope with small bumps and ruts.
But don’t be mistaken: the MiniCross is not a motocross mount, and it is difficult to handle when traveling fast over rough ground. Even on the trail, care must be exercised. Small-diameter wheels have their limitations, and rocks 3 in. or larger should be avoided.
The Mini-Cross is also not suitable
for traveling down sandwashes or climbing steep hills with loose top soil-unless the rider is capable of carrying a 120-lb. machine for short distances.
Practically speaking, however, the Mini-Cross is capable of handling most off-road obstacles. Lights are even provided for night trail riding.
But you are not going to travel through the woods unnoticed, and you probably won’t be comfortable. Both of these problems stem directly from the expansion chamber. In the first place, the unit is not tucked in far enough under the gas tank and no leg guard is provided. A burned right leg is inevitable.
Secondly, although the chamber contains a U.S. forestry approved spark arrester, it does not silence the exhaust noise. It is loud. Loud enough to make most people paranoid about the law, even though the machine is not intended for street use.
While it is not against the law to ride off the road with an overly loud machine. Bonanza would do well to take the sting out of the sound. If not, soon there will be no back lots left for happy little kids to wring out Bonanza’s peppiest minibike. [Q
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