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Fortunately, Mini-Motor engine mounting hoops are now being re-manufactured, but why have so many hoops "done a runner" over the years? Some of this mystery can be put down to the Track-bike craze in the mid to late '50s, when every up-and-coming youngster rode a track-bike; if possible with a humpty back frame, up-ended saddle, cow horn handlebars, roadster type rear wheel with knobbly tyre and chrome front crash bars. My trackie had a much admired Freddy Grubb frame. The year was 1956 and I'd just been given a seized-up Mini-Motor. At thirteen years old I knew next to nothing about engines but had been told by a Teddy Boy friend to put paraffin through the plug hole and let the piston soak for 24 hours; then tap it down with a piece of wood. This I did, which freed the little unit up. With great excitement I fitted the Trojan to the rear of by track-bike, put in some petroil mix and pedalled off down the road with great expectations. I can well remember the excitement that I felt as I pulled back the throttle lever and felt the compression of the engine thumping through the bike.
Exhausted and thoroughly disheartened half an hour later, I gave up and decided to take it to my uncle who had a 98cc New Hudson. He would know what was wrong with it, I thought. Uncle Bert gave me a few minutes of his time and told me: "There's no spark from the mag, the coil's down, that's why it was given to you." My dream was shattered. Later the same day the unit was removed from my trackie, save for the hoop that I left on my bike. There was a reason for my doing so. I slackened off the wheel nuts with the traditional box spanner, pulled down the hoop to the horizontal position and locked it in place. I now had a crash bar to protect the rear wheel of my bike; this was important as it stopped other kids crashing into the rear wheel of my bike just for the hell of it, a hazard you had to endure if you rode a trendy track-bike. So there you have it: one hoop at least that was severed from its original purpose.
I can also recall seeing a bicycle with its hoop being used to tow a box on two pram wheels. Some may even have been turned into rear carriers. What ever the reasons, a lot of Trojan centurions have lost their rearguard support.
First published - June 1995
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