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The Story of U00 342

by Colin Atkinson

The next in the list of bikes I have owned, UOO 342 was a 1963 NSU Quickly model S, which means that it was one up from the basic model, with semi-vaenced mudguards and a blue & grey colour scheme instead of the two-tone grey of the basic model (which I actually prefered).  It was just two years old when I bought it for a price I couldn't refuse, which was why I got it when I never really intended to.  Still it would make a good 'go to work' bike, so leaving my Francis Barnett for the weekends.

When I first got it, I thought that it had been badly neglected for its short life as rust was already breaking through the paintwork and chrome in lots of places.  I soon found out that the thin paint and poor chrome was one of the few shortcomings of the Quickly and it was an uphill battle to stop the rust from taking over completely.  Built with a pressed steel spine type frame with pressed steel front forks and leading link front suspension.  There was no rear suspension on this model, but the sprung saddle with its rubber construction seemed quite comfortable - or maybe I was more hardy in those days.  The engine was an unstressed part of the bike and was slung under the main frame member.  It was a 2-speed 50cc unit with twistgrip gearchange and clutch lever.  A conventional ported two stroke with flat topped piston, it had an alloy head and barrel with a chrome plated bore.  Lighting was by direct flywheel generator (as was the ignition) and the horn was an AC squawk unit, so there was no battery.  Behind the square forward facing front number plate there was a tiny tool box, just big enough for a plug spanner and spare plug (essential items for the wise two-stroke rider).

Now we come to the next weak point of the Quickly: the centre stand, which was a silly bent wire thing bolted underneath the engine.  True that it let the bike stand upright, in a wobbly sort of way, but it wouldn't take much pushing over (or blowing of a strong wind - which mine did more than once).  The silencer was quite a revolution in its day, because compared with most mopeds of the day the Quickly was almost silent.  It had a long attractively shaped and chromed silencer which, motor cycle style, led the exhaust gasses well back to the rear of the machine.  The only problem with its silence was that it also choked up very rapidly and I had to fit a new silencer to mine after the original became so badly carboned that it was impossible to clear.  Intake noise was kept quiet by drawing air in through the frame of the bike in the way common to pressed steel frames of this type.  Lubrication of the two-stroke engine is by a 25:1 petrol/oil mix and the gearbox by SAE30 grade motor oil.

On the road the Quickly gave about the same sort of performance as a restricted moped of today, that is to say 30-35mph.  It was considered very good in its day and its two speed gearbox gave it an edge over the single-speed mopeds on acceleration and its popularity finally finished off the cyclemotor in the commuter market.  Its drum brakes front and rear were also better than those on most mopeds at the time of its introduction, which often had only cycle type brakes on the front, if not the rear wheels.  When the Quickly was first introduced to Britain in 1954 it took the market by storm and thousands of them were seen on our roads.  They were the equivalent of the ubiquitous Honda 50 today, doing stirling service day in and day out.

The third weak point that I found on my Quickly was due to the 26 inch wheels used on this model.  The good performance of the Quickly combined with the solid rear suspension and thin tyres put such a strain on the spokes that they soon became out of tension and let the wheel buckle.  Eventually mine got so bad that the strain on the wheel hub caused the brake drum to come away from the rest of the hub, so leaving the wheel to collapse on my way to work one day.  Mine was far from being the only one to suffer from buckled wheels and many were Seen wiggling their way along the road.  One other niggle that I had was that the fuel cap was never properly fuel tight on mine and even a new cap and washer never fixed it.  The position of the fuel tank (as per conventional motor cycle) meant that unless you wore overtrousers all the time you could never be certain that you would not get a sinear of oil on your trousers or skirt (being an open framed machine it was quite suitable for riding with a skirt).

Lest these complaints of mine should give you the impression that I did not like the bike, let me assure you that nothing could be further from the truth and if I wanted a moped tomorrow the Quickly would be one of those at the top of my list, because with today's legal restrictions on moped performance it is at no disadvantage and on the later models they cured the problems of the flimsy stand and wheels by fitting stronger components (the new stand was cast alloy and the wheels were smaller diameter with alloy rims and wider tyres).  However when the Honda 50 came onto the market it offered more weather protection and a cleaner line than the Quickly could (even with the bolt on legshields the works were not completely and cleanly out of the way).  Nevertheless, it was still a good seller and with further development it could have still kept up vith the newcomers in the sales stakes.  Unfortunately the company decided rightly or wrongly, that its fortunes lay with its cars.  Bike production was rapidly brought to an end and the Quickly was no more - which was a great shame, for in its market and time it was the best and it still is as good as most today.

This article was first published in the June/July 1986 edition of The Independent, the magazine of the British Two-Stroke Club.

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