In the 70s there was but a few thoughts that occupied a young lads mind, of course girls was the major distraction, as was the dream of being a pop star, but getting on the road as soon as possible must have ranked up there among them. At sixteen the wide world beckoned and the only way to achieve mobility without mum and dads taxi, or a pushbike was to get a ped.
On 15th December 1971, transport minister, John Peyton decreed that all 16-year olds’ should ride only mopeds, the government of the day reckoning the legislation that required a moped to have pedals would mean that the machine would be little less than a bicycle with an engine bolted on, but how very wrong they were. The manufacturers simply added all but useless pedals to their existing ranges and the end result was a breed of nifty fifties that quickly gained cult status, and with it a whole load of bragging rights about the top speed these diminutive machines actually got up to.
The most popular of these machines was, and still is the Yamaha FS1E, even before the paint job became something that King Kenny would be proud to wear, the Fizzie proved to be the best seller by a good margin. One could argue the competition wasn’t strong, the Honda SS50 didn’t perform as well, and the faster and more expensive Italians lacked a consistent presence on the high street, leaving the Yam a clear run into the affections most teenagers. Suzuki had a good stab with their AP50, but it came with a higher price tag and was a shade more fragile under pressure. The early models sported drum brakes all round and, with little weight to haul up, these worked very well, even so the FS1DX model of 1976 appeared with a hydraulic disc brake up front. This mimicked the styling of the larger Yams a treat and was more than enough to keep the Fizzie ahead of its nearest rival, Honda responded, some two years later, by fitting a cable operated disc brake to its slow poke SS50.
In use the Fizzie is a pleasure, the engine is powerful enough to keep up with the traffic, while the chassis is surprisingly taught and sweet for such a humble beast, one can only guess the manufacturers were cashing in on banking way of thinking where people rarely left a bank after opening their first account. Many a Fizzie rider would have returned to the dealer to part chop against an RD twin a year later and with that move stay within the Yamaha camp that little bit longer. The all down, four-speed box is a little strange for those used to the usual one down and the rest up transmission, but it soon becomes second nature with neutral all the way up. In first gear it is important to keep the revs up to save the engine bogging down as the clutch is released, but once on the move the disc valve keeps things smooth and quite torquey too. Everything about the small Yam is a delight with the exception of having to carry a small bottle of 2-stroke oil around with you to add to the petrol as you fill the tank. Later models had the autolube system to simplify this task but the original Fizzie didn’t despite having the castings in the cases to enable the oil pump to be fitted. The pedals are nothing more than complex footrests, a simple loophole around the law that demands their presence, but in reality they are about as much use as a chocolate teapot. They do extend and, once a lever has been moved to engage the chain drive, will administer motion to the rear wheel, but they can never propel the Fizzie at any speed that will make walking a less attractive option.
Yamaha produced well over 200,000 of the original Fizzie, and the type lived on for a good many years after its initial rise to dominance. During the late 70s the Fizzie, like all mopeds, lost its pedals and was castrated too, with its top speed limited to just 30mph, the styling changed considerably in keeping with the rest of the Yam range and those in the know soon realised the parts needed to liberate the extra 15mph were exactly the same as those from the earlier version making it a doddle to derestrict. As the 1980s moved on, automatic scooters grew ever more popular, and the day of the geared fifty was coming to an end, they do still exist but not in any major manufacturers model range making the Fizzie obsolete for all but the 40 something’s who look back lovingly on their time with the breed.
These days, and with so many having started their biking careers on them, the FS1E is a popular restoration but with that comes some hefty price tags for mint examples. Parts are plentiful, although some genuine Yamaha parts are getting rarer and with it pricier, however with the pattern market taking up the slack it enables the FS1E to be used as a reliable day-to-day transport should that be your bent.
Yamaha FS1E Specifications
Engine – Air-Cooled 2-Stroke Single disc valve induction
Capacity – 49cc
Bore/stroke – 40mm X 39.7mm
Power – 4.8 bhp @ 7000rpm
Torque – 3.6ft-lb @ 6500rpm
Carburation – 16mm Mikuni VM16SC
Transmission – 4-speed, wet clutch, chain final drive
Frame – Pressed steel back bone
Suspension – 26mm telescopic forks, Twin shock rear
Brakes – 110mm single leading shoe, 110mm single leading shoe
Wheels – 2.25 x 17 2.50 x 17
Weight – 70kgs
Top speed – 45mph
Wheelbase – 1160mm
Fuel capacity – 6ltrs
Yamaha FS1E Gallery