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Friday, 3 April 2015

Friday bike

In January 1972, The UK Government raised the motorcycle riding age from 16 to 17, the same age for driving a car. As this would prevent 16 year olds starting work from using powered transport, the law allowed them to ride mopeds, and defined a moped as a two wheeler with an engine below 50cc and with pedals.
The Government had in mind something like an NSU Quickly, a low powered moped that was little more than a bicycle with an engine.
However, manufacturers quickly started expoliting the law by building ever more powerful 50cc motorbikes with a pair of pedal added on. Best of the bunch was probably the Yamaha FS1E, (known as the Fizzy), thousands of these were sold.
The Italian manufacturers had a wide range of very powerful, noisy and shoddily made bikes on offer, from the bizarre Fantic Chopper,
to the super cool Malaguti Olympique, this week's Friday bike.

Just look at it - clip ons, huge tank, sporty seat hump, twin exhausts - and this was reckoned to be the fastest moped you could buy. Most of the other mopeds could (maybe) manage 50 mph (80 km/h) with the rider flat on the tank down a steep hill, but the Olympique was reputed to do 60 mph (100 km/h), (although this was taken from speedo reading and the owner's wild imagination!)
When I was 16, this was the bike I wanted. However, I was still at school, had no money, and had to make do with a pushbike until I started work at 17.
Needless to say, lots of moped owners tried to 'tune' their bikes which resulted in airfilters being discarded, barrels butchered with inept 'porting', and painfully loud exhausts being fitted.
You used to be able to buy these expansion chambers that gullible owners thought would increase the power, but, being unsilenced, just made a racket and attracted the Police. Imagine a wasp in a Coke can amplified to about 120dB - that's what they were like!

Most of these moped were crashed, blown up, and suffered all sorts of owner neglect and abuse, so very few survive today. In 1977 the law was changed again to restrict mopeds tp 30 mph (50 km/h), and the brief era of sports mopeds was over.


  1. Cool. I'd never heard of a Malaguti this side of the pond.

  2. Norman

    I bought a Jawa moped years ago for my 7 mile commute at the time. I bought it from Coatbridge and had to ride it back to Helensburgh avoiding motorways. I'm sure people were laughing at me it felt embarrassing at the time.