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Friday, June 1, 2012

Can you help him find a Flying Flea for his mother?

Wanted: A Royal Enfield "Flying Flea," in almost any condition, to replace one lost long ago. Mark Gibson wants to give the motorcycle to his mother.

"I am searching for a Royal Enfield 125 Flying Flea, built in the '40s or '50s," he wrote.

"My mother rode one of these when she was a teenager after World War II. She turns 80 this summer and I'd love to surprise her with one.

"It doesn't matter what condition or where it's located, as long as it's in the lower 48 (I'm in Florida).

"I've attached the only picture we have of her with her Royal Enfield. She was about 16 at the time.

The nickname Flying Flea usually refers to the military version of Royal Enfield's smallest model, which was air dropped by parachute to British troops during World War II. Civilian versions were produced after the war. The RE 125 Mark seeks was the earliest postwar model. It was a two-stroke, had a hand shifter on the tank and single sprung seat, like a bicycle.

Royal Enfield's little two-stroke was substantially redesigned for the 1951 model year, becoming the RE2. It changed to a smoother motor and a gearchange lever operated by foot.

I asked Mark about his mother and her special attachment to the RE 125. Here's his reply:

"June Gibson (born June Crowther, 1932) grew up in upstate New York. She learned to ride a motorcycle from her brother Ronnie, who gave her the little RE 125 when he bought himself a newer bike. It was the perfect size for her since she only stands 4-feet 10-inches tall.

Motorcyclist June and her Flying Flea.
"She rode it all over the little town of Waterford, N.Y. through high school, even with the crazy shifter on the gas tank. After high school, she joined the Womens Army Corp (WAC), and met and married my father, who was also in the Army. Yep, as the old joke goes, my mother DID in fact wear combat boots. During her time in the Army her brother sold the little bike, never to be seen again.

"After  the Army she devoted herself to raising four children, which led to eight grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. This summer, she will celebrate her 80th birthday, and along with my dad, Leroy, will also celebrate 60 years of marriage.

"She has always spoken fondly of her little motorcycle and enjoys watching, from time to time, the movie; "The Eagle has Landed," which features the Flying Flea.

"Along with my oldest brother, David, I inherited her interest in motorcycling. I, myself ride a Kawasaki Eliminator 125, which she likes the sound of, because it reminds her of her little 125.

"Once my daughters finish college, I plan on moving up to one of the newer Royal Enfields, in her honor.

"Back to my reason for sharing all of this: I would love to find an RE 125 for her before she heads off to the great beyond, where she will no doubt scoot around on a little Royal Enfield.

"So, I'm looking for a 125, with the shifter on the gas tank, really in any kind of condition. My dad, even at 81, still loves to tinker with engines, so we thought it would be a great project to find a bike and restore it for Mom. Any condition, anywhere, in the lower 48."

Got a lead on a Flying Flea with tank shift? You can write to Mark at marwargib@yahoo.com

1 comment:

  1. I know of an Enfield Flying Flee that is still in original condition ie dust covered but structurly sound etc.in a mates shed and asked me if I could help find a serious buyer,
    I can send pix if interested
    Peter
    antiques@optusnet.com.au

    ReplyDelete

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