Racer, designer, engineer and editor was 90
PICKERINGTON, Ohio — Joe Bolger, a 2004 inductee into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame, died Tuesday, April 21, from complications resulting from a fall at his Barre, Mass., home, his family said.
He was 90 years old and had been in failing health the past few months.
“He was always happiest when he was in his shop,” his son, Brent Bolger, said. “He could handle all sorts of problems with engines, and people came here to get their engines fixed. He loved helping people.”
Mr. Bolger was a five-time New England Scrambles Champion in the mid-1960s and the 1970s.
He also was a self-taught designer and engineer who worked in metal and wood in a small shop behind his home.
In 1974, Mr. Bolger created a linked, rising-rate, long-travel suspension that was put into production as the OSSA BLT, meaning “Bolger Long Travel.”
He also designed an “equalizer” that reduced or eliminated chain flex, which was often the downfall of the early motocross machines with long-travel suspension.
Also among the many patents he held was one for a bead breaker for those troublesome big tires on small ATV wheels.
Mr. Bolger was born in Charlottestown, Prince Edward Island, Canada in January 1930.
Although still a Canadian citizen, Bolger served in the U.S. Army from 1951 through 1953 and was stationed in Germany and France.
Mr. Bolger started racing in 1956 aboard a 500cc AJS. He was a proficient racer and won the New England scrambles championship in both 1964 and 1965. As an organizer, he was instrumental in establishing popular Northeast vs. Canada off-road racing events in the 1960s.
With his specialty-part design and manufacturing business growing, in 1972 Mr. Bolger sold his interest in the retail shop to devote himself fulltime to engineering and design. He designed special tools made to work on particular parts of motorcycles, several of which were picked up by Honda and made available to dealerships.
During his storied career in motorcycling, Mr. Bolger also was a contributing editor for Cycle World and Cycle Sport magazines