Thursday, 27 May 2010

Little fleas

Some folk dismiss our love of giro flyers, 175cc (or even less) of Latin lightweights that competed in the Italian Gran Fondo races. Typical Italian nonciness, they say. Us Brits like our steeds big and chunky. Really?

Until 1971 Brits were allowed a 250cc bike from their 16th birthday, no questions (let alone tests) asked. Cars were a no-go zone 'till you hit 17, but from '71 Big Brother decided 50cc bikes with pedals were the limit. They'd not seen what the Italian could squeeze from 50cc. And when they did (Although it was 1977 by the time they noticed) 50cc bikes were limited to 30mph.

So for a certain age group, sports mopeds were all we dreamt of (well, that and the lovely Julie who sat behind me in French. And that girl in Chemistry was..sorry, drifted off)and for me a Garelli Rekord would have completed my world (and, unbelievably, I thought would allow me to nick the lovely Julie from her Ford Escort driving boyfriend.) A good friend's dad had a Garelli franchise, and he had a blue Rekord in 1975. I stayed on for A levels so had a Puch M2...tragic.

So celebrate the Italian 'peds and ignore the claim they'd do 60mph - assuming you still weigh the 9 stone dripping wet you amounted to at 16. But even 45mph was unbelievable when a push-bike was all you'd had at your disposal before

(Thanks to Ian Scott for the pic of his fab restoration)


  1. My sister's boyfriend turned up one day with a Garelli Tiger Cross for me - for free. This was in about 1978 and I still had a couple of years to go before I was 16. The only snag was that the bike was a non-runner and, with no one to help me sort it out, I never got round to it (being, at that time even lazier, more broke and and more lacking in initiative than I am now). When I did turn 16, my dad passed on his NVT Eazy Rider and the Garelli was given away to a friend who eventually sorted it out. The NVT was the one with the dummy fuel tank, and far more tragic than that Puch.

  2. I was sick with jealousy when my brother could ride his first mopet Puch with apehangers with the duck beak headlight. Finally I turned 16 and I bought myself a bend frame Thomos the poor cousin of the Puch. One day racing against a yamaha cafe racers style mopet, laying it flat around the corner, the back wheel gave way and I ended up ramming the poor thing into the curb.The fast boys in Holland at the time were the Kreitler riders who all looked like rockers with brilcream in their hair and pointy shoes. Puch riders were considered the "hippies" specially if you rode a white one! Italian mopets were not so popular as they were expensive and no one had any money at that age. A friend and I used to buy old Solex bikes or Mobilette ladies mopets, strip them completely and hotted up the engine with max compression, pumped the tyres very hard, added some extra oempf in the fuel and raced the thigs on a back road untill the engines gave up. Then we started al over again. Great fun.

  3. Customised `peds are far cooler than getting Daddy to pay for the latest tat Broke magazine tells yoou to buy. The French do it best - like this