26th May 2010, 09:40

Mopeds by J R Kelly.

I started motorcycling in 1976 as a way to get to work and back, as public transport was almost no existent in the area I lived in. A Honda 50 was my first bike; technically a moped as it had pedals and a 49 cc engine with little power. I was soon driving about during my free time as well with other moped riding friends.

My moped was particularly slow it once hit 50 mph, but usually it would just about hit 40 mph. Top speed of two of my friends mopeds was 70 mph; these were Fantic GT’s. Other friends had a Yamaha FS1E and one had a Suzuki AP50; all these were faster than my Honda.

Having covered 12000 miles in the year I owned my Honda 50, many adventures were experienced. Like driving around a wooded area and coming over the crest of a bump, not knowing there was a lake on the other side. I pulled the bike out of the lake were it had been submerged, and happily it started up again first time. The Honda 50 never gave any trouble mechanically.

An experience was going up steep hill’s. A run up was required then as speed reduced changing down the gearbox had to be performed with some precision, so as not to bog down and stop completely. One particular hill always needed first gear that was 10 mph at maximum. Off road riding could mean having to jump off on a hill and push just to get to the top; all part of the fun of moped ownership. This did not phase me as I could remember the stories my father told me of driving cars in the 1940’s and 50’s, whose engines were so low powered it was always a gamble that a steep hill could be climbed.

My first experience of being charged by the police also happened on that moped. My first fine was £1 for having a L plate at the wrong angle.

My first bike crash also took place on the Honda 50. I had just got the bike and was amazed at how much faster it was than the bicycle I had been used to riding. I made it around the first corner and then the second, however on the third corner I ever went around on a bike was sharper than the other two, so up I went onto the pavement and crash I went straight into a fence. A concerned motorist stopped top ask if I was OK, and I was; only my pride dented. Off I went with only a bent gear stick to worry about. Some months later that same type of crash happened again, only I head butted a fence post. A kind motorist drove me to his house to recover and called my father. I was OK after half an hour and drove the bike home.

I still drive a motorcycle today; 34 years later, but my Honda now is a 500cc model.