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Friday, January 22, 2016

Moped Archive compiles data on Britain's oddest lot

An item on the Red Devil Motors blog recently pointed me toward the online Moped Archive.

Started by Andrew Pattle in 1999, the Moped Archive claims it "now contains more than a thousand articles about cyclemotors, autocycles, mopeds and similar feeble machinery."

You will be startled by the long list of machines, from the Aberdale Autocycle ("more assault course than autocycle") to the Zundapp 408 (with its remotely controlled cycle bell inside the headstock).

The articles it archives, many by author Mark Daniels, provide an exhaustive examination of mopeds and similar doubtful transportation devices, as they appeared in Great Britain. (Vehicles from all nations are included in the archive, however.)

But who even cares about mopeds? Especially, British mopeds which, one concludes from reading the archives, were generally terrible, unsuccessful and short-lived?

I emailed Pattle and Daniels to ask.

"I always had an interest in small bikes/mopeds, though generally was more involved with big bikes (including Royal Enfield big twins)," Daniels wrote me.

"I had several Meteor 700s, Meteor Minor 500, Constellation, Interceptors, and finally a Rickman Metisse Interceptor.

"My big bike days became somewhat compromised by a disc collapse in my back, so I started to involve myself more with smaller machines which were more manageable.

"I'd got rather tired with reading much the same old articles about the usual big bikes, and nobody seemed to be doing anything on small bikes, which often have more interesting and untold stories to tell. So I started promoting these by researching and writing articles on them in an effort to improve the pool of knowledge about lesser know makes and smaller bikes."

Pattle started the archive in 1999 and had to spread it over two websites, as the first one became overstuffed. The two websites are extensively linked and there are links from old articles to updates. What thoroughness!

The archive is related to Iceni CAM Magazine, an e-magazine about Cyclemotors, Autocycles and Mopeds (CAM, get it?), run by Pattle and Daniels that you can download for free.

The authors of the articles archived by Pattle actually track down the owners of the machines and conduct road tests. There's a lengthy report on many, dealing with extremely technical matters of how these miserable little polluters eke out their (on a good day) 20 mph.

Some of the makes the archive covers had production runs of only a handful; many will be unfamiliar to you. Safe to say, few were widely mourned.

Mark Daniels is an amusing writer, and hardly gentle with the iffy products he tests. One U.S. moped, the 1979 Indian AMI-50 Chief, "turned out to be a rubbish copy from the original Honda design," he writes.

Britain's Ambassador moped was remarkably stylish...

...perhaps because it was based on Finland's Solifer moped.
What especially turns these guys on is discovering, for instance, that the obscure British Ambassador moped was in fact a modified production of a design from Finland.

Daniels triumphantly discovers that a raven black example of the British Ambassador is showing red (like the Finnish moped) under its black paint.

Wonders! This finally explains why the black British bike oddly features a red seat cover!

The pursuit of solutions to mysteries like these have kept fans of Sherlock Holmes on the trail for eons. The Moped Archive holds just such pleasures for anyone who loves British bikes and British humor

1 comment:

  1. Good article. I enjoyed reading this. My first 2-wheeler was a Cushman Scooter rescued from a trash heap and I suffered my first crash on it when the throttle stuck and I ran into a large maple tree in my mother's yard. The Cushman was followed by an Allstate (Sears) Mo-ped on which I had big plans to ride it from Ohio to Florida. I'll bet that Mo-ped is still lurking around my neighborhood some 50 years later.

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