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Slowly by Solex

by Bob Cordon Champ

Using a cyclemotor has its problems as we all know and using one on a more-or-less daily basis introduces a few more.  My 1968 '3800' is employed for a four-mile journey each way, only supplanted on awful days by a Land-Rover - quite a contrast in speed, driving technique and petrol consumption!

Providing that you have a friendly garage, a VéloSoleX isn't difficult to tax.  If you haven't, find one, for a cyclemotor can always be failed on something.  It pays to know which bits of the MoT aren't applicable.

The advantage of a 20mph steed is that you don't need great mountains of motor cycling kit.  Ordinary clothes, plus the helmet will do.  Papers can be carried in a pair of those excellent continental panniers, £15 at any French hypermarket.  A handlebar mirror is essential since you will spend most of your timebeing overtaken.  I do, though, have an epic daily struggle with a milk-float, easily resolved in my favour if I catch him on a down-grade.

Hills are best driven round, and an equal problem can be English summer gales, slowing the Solex to cycling pace on upgrades.  Car owners think you are a modern moped and hence fair game for macho displays at no cost to themselves.  The Solex 2200's rim brakes aren't really up to rush-hour traffic in the wet, but the 3800's rear frein à tambour (drum brake) makes a difference.

As any cyclemotor owner knows, the general public either falls about or gets interested.
"Have you made it yourself?" they say.
"No, it's French, they've made eight million of them."
"Well, it looks home-made."

The kids at school find it difficult to believe that a fourteen-stone teacher can voluntarily ride so slow a bike, painted in so dull a shade.
"Why's it black, Sir?"
"Does that engine drive it?"
"Did you make it yourself?"

In eighteen months the Solex has used up a sparking plug!  The front tyre remains unmarked although the plain rib tread doesn't help braking.  A set of Solex vinyl leg-shields helps in the wet and could be made up for any cyclemotor.  The main trick is not to ride in the gutter in the rush-hour for you will be swept aside.  Let them follow.  Cyclemotor owners do it slowly.

First published - Autumn 1987

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