“A few years ago, if you had told me that i’d one day own a French 60’s pedal moped I would have laughed in disbelief.”
Last summer I went to view another motorbike with Dad. It was a scorching hot day, in a barn near Ash in Kent. I spotted this gold odd looking thing in the corner and was drawn straight too it. The gold colour was very 70’s, it was a pretty and stylish little thing. I loved the white wall tyres, chrome fuel tank and the little speedo.
I was only in my 30’s, I’d never ridden a motorbike with pedals before. We had Honda 90’s to buzz the around the fields on as kids. I had know idea what all the drive chains were for. Ignoring the Suzuki GN250 we were actually there to look at I found myself questioning the old boy about this one. He’d owned it a while. He said it ran, but not very well. I persuaded him to show me just out of curiosity. He climbed on and began pedalling this flimsy old frame. The chains and wheels spinning away and nothing much happening. He appeared not to know how to start it whilst fiddling with the throttle. I had no idea either of what he was doing. After a few attempts pedalling and me thinking he may keel over at any minute in the heat trying, the little 49cc two stroke engine burst into life and the rear wheel accelerated into action. The brick building was filled with a blue haze of lovely two stroke smoke and I watched the engine in amazement as it pivoted backwards and forwards as he repeatedly revved the little bike.
That was a work of art. What a piece of engineering! Was it actually meant to do that I remember thinking at the time?
Is this one for sale then? was my next question.. He said it had been for a while but had no real interest. I vaguely remembered seeing it on Facebook market place. He probably wanted too much money for it. We viewed the other bike that we were there to look at and said we’d go away and consider the purchase over a drink.
Whilst in the car driving home, after a quick phone call to Dave, a fellow Moby owner, he said it was a bargain. A very rare colour and if you don’t buy it one of us will! With that pressure, suddenly my interest rose! I didn’t want to miss out. Dad suggested, let’s offer a deal and buy them both on the basis that if you don’t like it, it seems like you’d probably have no problem selling it.
We returned the same day with a cheeky offer and bought the pair. It worked out the Mobylette owed about £600.
We got it home to Dads. We tried to start it. It wasn’t having any of it. After some research online and speaking to Dave again. I learnt the basics of the AV7 engine and how to operate it. I was still pretty amazed by the engine design and simplicity of this little machine.
Dad, offered it to me to keep and get it going as he could see I was fascinated by it. Plus I secretly think he would have never got round to doing a lot with it!
Whilst examining the “barn find” with excitement still, I noticed the original 70’s tax disc in the holder. £2 road tax, bargain I thought! Even better than that when I opened the tax disc holder I had a real treat. Every tax disc bar one year up until 1982, in order! What a lovely touch of history to have found.
I met Phil, one of Daves biker friends who was the guru of Mobylettes. He had a few and what he didn’t know wasn’t worth knowing. With his advice and the odd visit to his house fault finding in exchange for ‘dinner at the cafe” (bargain), it became apparent people had already played with it before and the wrong points and condenser had been installed. With Phil’s expertise the little French moped soon burst into life and ran like a dream.
I ordered new cables, fuel tap and fuel line etc from some old boy who basically still deals moped parts from his shed at home! After fitting them and a new more modern Gurtner carb as recommended by Phil it ran even better. I however ended up stripping the engine and fitting an Airsal 66 cc barrel and piston purely to improve power on hills!
I found the Moby being the bike of choice for the summer and I rode it everywhere. I loved the attention it got from people in the street. It was so simple and easy to ride.
Dad surprised me some weeks later with news that he’d bought another one. I think he’d realised the fun he could have been having. His one was an English version of my Mobylette AV89. It was a Raleigh RM5 Supermatic. This moped was a real project but with the knowledge gained from Phil and Dave, and the fact that this was almost identical I was ready for the challenge of reviving his 1964 moped.
Some weeks later after a few weekends together we had it running like a little sewing machine and fit for the road. The rest of the year we’ve been buzzing around the country lanes of South East Kent having a whale of a time.
A little ride out is a real adventure on these and I’d highly recommend anyone to try it. Not much bigger than a bicycle. You only pedal to start it and it will propel you along the summer country lanes at a good 45 mph. Perfect for a pint of ale and a pork pie at that little pub you’ve never stopped at before.
I actually love this so much, I now fancy an Austrian Puch maxi to keep it company!
See my other posts relating to the fun small bikes bring.