The Motorcycle developed by taking a bicycle and putting a small engine either in the frame by a belt or chain or over the front or back wheel. As engine got bigger and the speeds increased, so the standard humble bicycle proved to be to lightweight for the job. Bearings needed uprating and the forces on frame lugs and torque led to the development of the motorcycle as we know it.
Following the second World War, most of Europe was left ravaged and the Allied and German bombing destroyed many vehicles while others were requisitioned for was service. With the end of the war came the rebuilding period as countries started to get their economies back on track. But public transport and infrastructure were not sufficiently restored to cope with the needs of the people. So people cycled or walked to work. There was a need for cheap affordable transport especially with fuel in short supply. In France Velosolex produced a range of cheap moped and Motobecane marketed a range of 50cc mopeds. In other countries Jawa ,cz and Simpson made mopeds.
Today the term moped has been replaced by the term scooter but moped actually means “Motorised Pedal cycle” and to be legal in the UK had to have pedals with which to propel it 50 yards under no power. I had a friend who built his own Moped and to register it he had to pedal the machine down a track witnessed by a member of the DVLA. It must also me under 50cc.
One of the strangest mopeds was the Cyclemaster Winged Wheel that had a small 32cc engine in the back wheel. James fitted one of these to one of its bicycles for a Post Office contract. They were tested in Liverpool but both broke down .
The heyday for mopeds was the 1960s where sales boomed for Raleigh and Mobylette selling millions worldwide but today it’s the youth who want cheap imported Chinese scooters of 50cc with indicators and disc brakes rather than the primitive machines you pedalled to get started.
Comet Restoration is trying to preserve 4 of these machines presently , A French velosolex, A Raleigh “Runabout” and 2 Mobylettes ( AV42 and 44). For
more information see the Motorcycle histories or follow our blog for restoration problems and solutions.