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Spotted at the Coprolite Run - 19 Sep 2010

Gimson Sports

We seem to keep featuring Dave Watson's bikes in "Spotted" - is that because he has a taste for the unusual ... or just because he has so many?

This one is a Gimson and no one at the Coprolite run had seen one before (or wasn't admitting to it, anyway).

It's Spanish.  Hermanos Gimbernat was a small Catalan cycle factory that produced mopeds between 1956 and 1982.  It has "Gimson, lic. Flandria" cast on the crankcase covers; that gives a clue about its origins.  Gimson introduced a couple of models - The Sport Lujo and the Tourist - in 1963 using a Flandria-licenced motor and a T-shaped pressed steel frame.

And that's where our knowledge runs out.  It's not simply a re-badged Flandria: Flandria favoured tubular frames for its sports mopeds and, although the Flandria Rally had a pressed steel frame, the Gimson's frame is not the same as that.

It seems more likely that Gimson would have bought frames in rather than press them themselves ... but where from?

First published in The MAC in December 2010

Spotted at the Wetheringsett Run - 5 Sep 2010

Lohmann and Cucciolo

Here's a scene from the Wetheringsett run with Carl Harper and Mark Daniels deep in discussion about cyclemotor engines.  Of all the production cyclemotors available in 1950s' Britain, the two in the picture are probably the most exotic.

The main one under consideration is a Lohmann: the tiny 18cc compression ignition motor - the smallest and simplest cyclemotor of its era.

On the other hand, sitting in the box in the foreground is a Ducati Cucciolo.  This is right at the other end of the scale: a four-stroke with a pre-select two-speed gearbox.  That makes it the most complex and most powerful cyclemotor.

These two cyclemotors, at opposite extremes of the range, were both handled in Britain by Britax.

Of the machines that made it onto the market in Britain, these two must be the most sought-after by today's enthusiasts.  The two examples in out photo had both been recently acquired - and at prices that weren't outrageous, which shows that there are some still out there if you look for them.

First published in The MAC in December 2010

Spotted on the Isle of Wight


Gavin Osborne, the organiser of our Isle of Wight section, has sent in this picture.  It's a British Salmson Cyclaid that belongs to another of our members on the island.  Gavin has been helping him to restore the machine and this is the result of their efforts.

At 31cc the Cyclaid was one of the smaller cyclemotors of the 1950s.  The engine and belt drive are licensed copies of the German-made Rex cyclemotor.  The rest of British Salmson's design was entirely original: its horizontal engine driving the rear wheel being completely different from the Rex's vertical mounting over the front wheel.

First published in The MAC in March 2011

Spotted at the Mince Pie Run - 2 Jan 2011

ZID Voskhod-2

The Mince Pie Run has been running for 28 years.  Although it was originally called The Boxing Day Run, mince pies have been compulsory from the very first run.

Another characteristic that has stayed with the run from the beginning is that it's the taking part that counts, not what you ride.  Bigger bikes, microcars and scooters have always been welcomed on this ride.

So, that's our excuse for including this machine.  It's not a cyclemotor, autocycle or moped ... though many will say that a moped would be more reliable ... and faster.

This is Chris Day's ЭИД Восход-2 (ZID Voskhod-2 but more often called a Cossack Voskhod-2 in the UK).

Regulars at our Felixstowe evening meetings have been following the saga of this bike's restoration as Chris tells us all about all the different ways it finds of falling apart on test runs.

After five rebuilds, Chris decided it was ready to make its first public appearance.

Much to everyone's surprise, it completed the run without any mishaps ... though some of the mopeds could easily overtake it.  Chris seemed very pleased at its achievement of completing a run without anything breaking.  (Mind you, at our next evening meeting, he told us he'd had to replace the piston on the day after the Mince Pie Run.)

First published in The MAC in March 2011

Spotted at The Radar Run - 10 April 2011

Paloma DASL

Dave Watson can always be relied upon to find unusual machines (and we're expecting him to be bringing yet another rarity to the Horham Bygones Rally).  This one is a Paloma DASL dating from 1960.

Paloma was a relatively short-lived company, founded in 1954 and bought out by Cazenave in 1964.

The DASL, along with the TTA, were the first two Paloma models imported to the UK, arriving here in February 1959.  Imports of the DASL continued until July 1961, when it was replaced by the Paris.  Like most Paloma mopeds, the DASL is powered by a Lavalette engine - Lavalette had an 80% holding in Paloma.

Other Paloma models brought to the UK included the PAL, PA Minor, PAT and Flash.  However, back in France, Paloma made a massive range of different models.  In 1960, an agreement between Lavalette and Franco Morini, ushered in a further range of Paloma Sports mopeds.  The best-known of these, because it featured in a Johnny Halliday film, was the Super-Strada Flash. 

Changes in French legislation effectively wiped out the demand for sports mopeds, which left Paloma in difficulties and led to the takeover by Cazenave.

First published in The MAC in June 2011

Spotted at the East Anglian Run - 15 May 2011

Shuang Ma

David Whatling brought this very unusual little cyclemotor to the East Anglian Run.  It's Chinese and the writing on the frame declares it to be a Shuang Ma … and that's pretty much all we know about it.

However, the petrol tank looked familiar, could it be a copy of the Honda People?

Checking through the archives afterwards, our suspicions were confirmed.  Not only the tank, but also the engine were the same as the Honda.

The 25cc roller drive Honda People didn't make it to the UK, but we've seen some in New Zealand and examples have turned up in the USA too.

From the saddle forwards, the Shuang Ma and the Honda are almost identical.  The most obvious difference between the two versions is at the back.  The Honda People has a rigid frame (at least, all the ones we've seen do) but the Shuang Ma has swinging arm rear suspension.

There are small differences in the engine too - mostly relating to the roller-drive engagement mechanism.  It's quite likely that this change was needed to accommodate the change to rear suspension.

Obviously, the performance of a cyclemotor like this isn't going to be sparkling, but it seems to be quite a practical little machine, ascending hills without recourse to the dreaded LPA.

First published in The MAC in June 2011

Spotted at Sars Poteries - 5 June 2011


Club member, Dave Watson, sent this picture that he took at this year's Sars Poteries Rando Cyclos.

Cocymo placard

There were lots of makes of French mopeds like this and it can often be difficult to identify them.  Even distinctive features can be misleading: see that rear engine mounting?  It's no help - It would have been supplied by Le Poulain along with the engine, so several makes would use exactly the same feature.  However, in this case, the moped has a head badge, so we're off to a flying start.

The badge says "VBF" and "St Etienne".

Cyclorev-VBF was one of many moped and cycle builders based in St Etienne.  They built mopeds using Le Poulain Cyclobloc engines from 1951 to 1954.  In 1955, Cyclorev-VBF merged with four other companies to form Cocymo.  Cocymo is probably more famous for its advertising than its mopeds: one of its placards has been much reproduced as posters and postcards.

This VBF was the raffle prize at Sars Poteries.  Bernard Michiels was the (lucky?) winner and is working on restoring it so that he can ride it at next year's Rando Cyclos.

First published in The MAC in September 2011

Spotted at Horham Bygones Rally - 11 June 2011

Italjet Class

In the last issue we said we were expecting Dave Watson to be bringing yet another rarity to the Horham Bygones Rally.  He did ... but this isn't it - we like to feature other people's bikes sometimes!

This is an Italjet Class.  Italjet produced two versions of this bike: the Class and the Tiffany.  The Tiffany has a woman's style of frame but is otherwise the same.

Examples of the Class and Tiffany that we see in the UK have usually been bought on the Continent and brought back - but they were officially imported too.

Italjet introduced the Class and Tiffany to the UK in 1993; some of you may remember them having a full-page advert in Buzzing in December that year.

These machines were designed to be practical to use as either a pedal cycle or a moped.  The idea behind this was that you could ride it on the road into town, then switch to pedal cycle mode and ride it on cycle paths and in other traffic-free areas.  A nice idea, but one that the UK's legislation could never really cope with.  Here, a moped is always a moped even if you're not using the engine.  Imagine pedalling this while wearing a crash helmet and you'll see one reason why they didn't catch on over here.

First published in The MAC in September 2011

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