It looks like some sort of digital movie camera on two wheels, and that’s not completely surprising or inappropriate as the original Ossa company was begun in 1924 to make movie projectors for the burgeoning market in Spain.
Inspired by the famous Ossa monocasco bike ridden by Santiago Herrero, this electric homage of that monocasco bike was designed by Barselona-based studio ART-TIC as a dependable city bike with with a green electric engine.
Herrero died racing his Ossa in the 1970 Grand Prix, and I think it’s a good bet he’d find this machine a pleasing update to his original machine. Perhaps not all that fast, but a real looker.
Based in Catalonia, Spain, Ossa was originally active from 1924 to 1982. The company, founded by Manuel Giró, an industrialist from Barcelona, was perhaps best known as a maker of lightweight, two-stroke-engined machines for observed trials, motocross and enduro riders.
Where did that name come from? The company was dubbed Orpheo Sincronic Sociedad Anónima (O.S.S.A.), and after a short hiatus, the Ossa brand was reborn in 2010 when the trademark was purchased and motorcycle production began afresh. The first mass-produced OSSA was introduced in 1949, and the company’s production reached its apex during the motorcycle boom of the 1960s.
The Ossa firm had their first track success during the 1967 24 Hours of Montjuich run on the streets of Barcelona. Against all the major Spanish factories, and the odds, Ossa machines and their riders took a surprising first and second. Flush with this success, the honchos at the factory decided to compete abroad in the hopes of making inroads into the international motorcycle market. What followed was some success in the AMA Grand National Championship as iconic rider Dick Mann helped the team develop a 250cc dirt track bike. He must have done nice work as he won the 1969 Santa Fe Grand National short track event, held on a quarter-mile dirt track oval, on the machine he helped design.
OSSA also found success in Grand Prix road racing with the innovative monocoque-framed bike designed by Giró’s son, Eduardo and ridden by Santiago Herrero after which this latest electric bike is styled. Herrero won four 250 cc Grands Prix, but sadly, he died while competing at the 1970 Isle of Man TT. It was the death of star rider Herrero which led the OSSA team to pull out of road racing completely.
The tragedy led OSSA to focus their competitive efforts toward Observed Trials in Europe and the United States, and they competed against machines made by other famous Spanish firms like Bultaco and Montesa. With British rider Mick Andrews on board to help design and ride their trials machines, OSSA went on to capture the 1971 and 1972 European Trials Championship and Andrews took the grueling Scottish Six Days Trial three straight years between 1970 and 1972 as well.
In spite of making superb and admired machines, a disorganized and tiny dealer network in the American market ultimately derailed the company.
Toward the end of the horrific Franco Era, in 1975, the arrival of cheaper Japanese motorcycles into the local economy and an employee strike in 1977 signaled the end of the Ossa company. An attempt was made in 1979 to merge the company with Bultaco, but financial problems led the Ossa factory to close in 1982.
In 2010, a group of Spanish businessmen purchased the rights to the Ossa trademark and began producing Ossa branded motorcycles once again, and this new firm makes trials and enduro bikes.
The OSSA factory team competed in the 2011 FIM Trials world championship with factory sponsored rider Jeroni Fajardo finishing the season in fifth place.
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