Bultaco were a Spanish manufacturer of two-stroke motorcycles from 1958 to 1983.
The origin of the Bultaco motorcycle company dates back to May 1958. Francisco "Paco" Bultó was a director of the Montesa
motorcycle company founded in 1944. After several years of steady growth and road racing
success, in 1957 Montesa moved to larger facilities. The move was protracted, disrupting production and was followed by a downturn in the Spanish economy. This slump bought to a head disagreements between Bultó and the other senior director Pedro Permanyer
. As an economy measure, Permanyer (the majority shareholder) felt that the company should withdraw from racing. Bultó, the driving force behind the racing program and responsible for much of the companies technical expertise was violently opposed. Failing to reach a compromise, Bultó decided to leave Montesa to concentrate on his other business interests. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the majority of Montesa's racing department left shortly afterwards as well.
Bultaco is formed
The suggestion to form a new company is said to have come a few days later when Sr. Bultó was invited to a meeting by several of the former staff of Montesa's racing department. Keen to return to racing, they persuaded him that their greatest hope lay in forming a new company. Setting up shop in very primitive conditions at an old farm owned by Bultó, things developed quickly and in February 1959 Bultaco held a press day, launching their first bike, the road-going 125cc Bultaco Trala 101. Just two months later Bultaco entered its first Spanish Grand Prix taking seven of the first ten places.
The company name and logo
BULTACO comes from combining the first four letters of Sr. Bultó's surname with the last three of "Paco", his nickname (BULT)+(ACO). CEMOTO is an acronym
for "Compañía Española de Motores". The other part of company logo, the "Thumbs up
" symbol, came after Sr. Bultó witnessed British motorcycle racer David Whitworth
giving the signal to his pit crew
to signify that all was well.
Although they made road and road racing motorcycles, the company's area of dominance was off-road
, in motocross
, and observed trials
Perhaps the most famous Bultaco model is the Sherpa T, a trials bike, which revolutionised the sport in the 1960s. At that time trials was almost exclusively a British sport using big heavy four-stroke machines. Irish trials ace Sammy Miller worked with señor Bultó to produce a lightweight two-stroke machine which, overnight, rendered the heavy four-strokes obsolete. This coincided with and, perhaps, stimulated the growth in the popularity of trials in Europe and later the USA, which provided a lucrative market for Bultaco in the years to come.
Bultaco's premier model in the USA, the Pursang, was an excellent handling and powerful 250 cc competition model that could readily compete in virtually any type of speed-based off-road competition. In later models this was expanded to 125cc, 360cc and 370cc Other models, such as the Sherpa T (trials), the Astro (flat tracker) and the Matador (trail bike), provided more targeted approaches to specific types of races.
Bultaco motorcycles were mainly powered by single-cylinder, air cooled, two stroke engines, but they also made water cooled versions. The rider was required to mix the oil and gasoline manually. Built in Barcelona, Spain, Bultaco motorcycles were exported throughout the world, but their largest market ultimately became the USA, allowing aspiring racers to purchase legitimately competitive motorcycles right out of the box.
Due to industrial unrest and market pressures, Bultaco production closed in 1979. The factory reopened in 1980, but closed again in 1983.
MotoGP star, Sete Gibernau is the grandson of the founder of Bultaco, Paco Bultó. Legend has it that Mr. Bultó asked to be buried "with his Bultaco t-shirt and his moustache properly waxed".
In 1998, rights to the Bultaco name were purchased by Marc Tessier who used it to help launch a range of purpose-built trials motorcycles from his company Sherco Moto S.A.R.L. The bikes were initially named Bultaco Sherco's, then in 2000 the bikes became 'Sherco by Bultaco' and in 2001 the Bultaco name was dropped altogether.