As a classic car reporter I rarely get the chance to wax lyrical about the joys of the motorcycle world.
A gathering of over 110 sports mopeds from the 70’s and 80’s descended upon the Billing Aquadome, Northants, for a meeting of the species.
The moped culture of the early 70’s left the biking world with a host of great memories. The greatest tales of all have to be those concerning exactly which was the fastest machine out there. Stories of 50cc bikes achieving 70 mph were commonplace and yet, not once, to our knowledge, has any such event ever been witnessed by a third party, let alone officially recorded.
It wasn’t all fizzers in the 70’s, the Italians had a fair bit to say on the subject too. CP catches up with a cracking Garelli to see what all of the fuss is about.
The KL50 had been around for some time on the continent but hadn’t made an appearance in the UK due to the legal requirement for all learner legal sixteener specials to have pedal power.
Introduced in 1968, the Yamaha YAS1 defies all motorcycle logic, even by today’s standards of miniaturisation. As a development of the previous Yamaha roadster twin designs, the vertically split, twin-cylinder engine is compact and powerful, this in turn is wrapped in an equally diminutive frame that does its best to hold the wheels inline and weighs next to nothing in the bargain. Looking around the AS1 chassis you cannot help but notice the amount of parts that wouldn’t look out of place on a moped.
37 year old Neil Pullen’s affair with this RD50 began two years ago when he bought a Yamaha DT50M as a little bit of fun and also as a practical machine for his wife Sarah. Being a bit short in the leg department the DT seemed the perfect choice for her to get her biking experience upon. Having lavished the DT in new parts costing many hundreds of pounds the novelty of the 45 mph machine soon wore off for Sarah who then graduated on to a Yamaha TW125 leaving the by now immaculate DT50 to sit in the garage and later to be sold.
Cast your mind back to 1971 for a minute, as a nine year old I don’t particularly recall the exact events but apparently the government of the day, led by Edward Heath, had changed the rules concerning what a spotty faced youth could legally ride.
A true icon of the 70’s the fizzie became the must have for any 16 year old of the period, and now the root of many a mid life crisis and middle age desires too. 48-year-old Tony Collins is a talented paint sprayer, who describes himself as being stuck in a seventies time warp “I love old sports mopeds” he laughs. “I have been restoring and painting cars since I was 17, this all started when a mate of mine wanted stars and stripes on his crash helmet, I do own a Suzuki GT750 as well as the fizzys, but my true love is my Fantic choppers i have four of these to date.
Malaguti have been making stylish small capacity machines since the late 50’s. Although exported throughout the world since that period, the brand didn’t fully appear in the UK until 1974, with the first of a four-model range being introduced to a market place hungry for stylish and fast 50cc machines.
In the 70’s, Fizzies ruled the roost; there can be no doubt that, the Yamaha outnumbered the rest. Suzuki AP50’s and Honda SS50’s proved a great support act but none of these could hold a candle to a Garelli on song. The stylish yellow and black machines turned heads wherever the piston port motor belched its hollow tune.