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I recently bought a Honda P50 moped, 4-cycle, air-cooled unit, down in Melbourne at A$200, complete and in good order although the engine needs reconditioning as the piston is missing. I've only seen three of these models and I'm trying to get the right year; I have an indication it would be in the 1960s. It has no rear shockers but has the pressed circular metal forks with the shocker springs for the front wheel. I certainly would appreciate some info on the P50 as they're rare in my country. I carted it home on my old FR Suzuki 80cc motor-scooter - I thought I'd buy it before someone else did.
The mopeds weren't good sellers; the best was in Western Australia where you could register them on 6 or 12 months' basis. Also popular in Queensland - in later years that is. Yes, in Australia clip-on cyclemotors declined after 1953 as cars were coming commonplace. I did see an NSU Quickly in the Trading Post in Melbourne, a '53 model, but popularity declined in mopeds by the mid-'50s. There was one lady in 1957 who rode her small BSA Dandy scooter from Sydney to Melbourne on 18/- worth of fuel: quite a courageous effort by Margo Day as it wasn't too safe on highways. The population was 9¾ million and there were 2,200,000 motor cars and trucks. Freeways, motorways or express-ways were quite unheard of. I can't be sure what the official speed limit was in Victoria or New South Wales, 50mph I think, but motorists drove like a bat out of hell. Road fatalities were commonplace, safety helmets were unheard of. The lady wore a beanie, although leather skull caps were on the market then, and before. By 1970 it was law to wear a safety helmet for a motor-bike; I think safety helmets hit the Australian market in the late '50s or '60s.
Despite all this, mopeds started to come back by 1979 because of the constant hikes in fuel prices. Nowadays, we are allowed to ride the motor-assisted bicycles without the need of a licence, registration or insurance provided the power doesn't exceed 200 watts. Yes, I recently purchased a Sachs Spartamet motorised bicycle at the retail price of A$2,200, plus A$50 extra for a computer gauge. The 30cc air-cooled 2-cycle single-cylinder unit is tuned at 195 watts and top speed in set at 25 - 27kph (15½ - 16¾mph) on the level. It's modern style transport and has a shade more power than the French VéloSoleX or the Italian Moto-Guzzi Trotter. Down hills you can coast, so you cut off the revs and fuel economy is wonderful. I admit that A$2,250 may sound a lot to fork over but money's not everything and it's my transport as well as my hobby.
The Spartamet is a beauty and I did the 35.18km (21.86 miles) from Korumburra to Wonthaggi in 1 hour 18 minutes - and it's hilly country. My best ever average is 27km/h and I did reach 45km/h (28mph) down hill.
I would like to give thanks to Brian Smith for his engineering reports on interpretation of wattage power ratings, they've been interesting and, indeed, helpful for me.
Must close for now, may God bless you,
First published - February 1995
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