In 1950 John Penton and his brothers opened up a motorcycle dealership in Amherst, Ohio which carried NSU, BSA, and BMW motorcycles. In 1958, Penton was the winner of the Ohio State Enduro Championship, Stone Mountain Enduro, and the Alligator Enduro in Florida on a 175cc NSU. Later that year, Penton set the New York to Los Angeles non-stop record of 52 hours, 11 minutes on a BMW R69S.
In 1968 while touring Europe, Penton met with Husqvarna in an attempt to find a manufacturer willing to build a lighter motorcycle to his specifications. After negotiations with manufacturer KTM for a lightweight off-road bike were satisfied with Penton putting up $6000 of his own money, he took delivery of the first 6 Penton 100cc prototypes. Production moved to a 100cc Penton Berkshire, a 100cc red bike. The 125cc Penton Six Days with a green tank. The lightweight, inexpensive Pentons sold for $700 and were in high demand. That year, over 400 were sold. By the time KTM purchased the distributorship back from Penton, more than 25,000 had been sold in the U.S.
Penton 125 Mud Lark
In 1973, John Penton was selling some great race and enduro bikes that were being produced by KTM in Austria. However, he was forced to buy a whole load of the Sachs 125B engines in order to get a supply of the "good" engines. So, to get rid of the B engines, John contracted with Wassel, an English fabricator, and they threw together a frame, a set of wretched Betor forks, ginky shocks and a layout that made you feel like you were sitting on the edge of a pinball machine.
John called it the Penton Trials, but not even Batman could have ridden it in a trials event. There was no power at all, the gearbox was spaced oddly and it wouldn't turn without plowing the front end. So, in desperation, John renamed it the Mud Lark, a sort of all-purpose play machine. In fact, it was a no-purchase dirt bike, and will go down in history as one of the few bad business decisions ever made by savvy John Penton.
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