Being a teenager back in the 70's and early 80's meant that your first form of transport at the age of 16 was probably one of the many mopeds on the market. Bikes like the Yamaha FS1E, Suzuki's AP50, Garelli's Tigercross,Fantic Caballero and the 4 stroke Honda SS50 to name but a few.
With a top speed of around 50 MPH these little bikes opened up a whole new world for youngsters who wanted to feel grown up. With a bit of tax,insurance and some petrol in the tank, they could travel for around 100 miles on one tank full of fuel but in reality all they ever done was to drive around the towns where they lived annoying the locals by riding around in large groups.
These little mopeds were often abused, thrashed and smashed by their young riders and as a result of this, a lot of them didn't last very long. You were only interested in mopeds until you turned 17 and then you were legally allowed to ride a 250cc bike with learner plates until you passed your test. After that, there was no limit to the bike you could ride.
A generation of cult 2 strokes emerged, bikes like the Yamaha RD250/400 air-cooled, RD350LC, RD500, Suzuki's GT250X7, RG500, Kawasaki KH250,the legendry H2 750 Triple and Honda's NS400 to name but a few.
These high performance 2 strokes were the main choice for youngsters because of their power and sports styling. A lot of youngsters were killed as a result of having little riding experience.This prompted changes in the law when in 1978 mopeds were governed to a maximum speed of 30 mph and this then brought an end to the sports moped era. In 1982, 17 year olds were restricted to ride 12 BHP 125 cc bikes on learner plates so this killed off the demand for the 250cc 2 strokes.
Over the following years, emission laws got tighter and these bikes were forgotten. Nearly 30 years on a generation of 40 something's have remembered the fun these bikes brought and are now actively restoring and riding these cult bikes again. As a result of this, clubs have been formed and the prices of these bikes has rocketed over the last few years.
Just take a look on the auction websites and you will find a mass of classic 2 strokes and parts selling for serious money. There is a whole network of people who have started businesses restoring these old bikes and make a living doing it too.
A lot of these bikes were left in the back of garages and sheds when their young owners passed their car test and forgotten about. You may know of someone who may have one of these bikes sitting in the back of their garage and could be sitting on a little gold mine.
One of the greatest things about owning and riding a 2 stroke motorcycle was the way the power came in. Low down the rev range there was very little power but when you hit a certain amount of revs, the bikes used to take off like a scalded cat. This rush of acceleration is what we all wanted. Today's superbikes are capable of outrageous top speeds but the laws don't allow you to travel at these speeds let alone all the speed traps there are about. At least you can ride these classic 2 strokes and get the thrill of a power band and not excessively break any speed limits.
If you are interested in these classic bikes, why not try one out. You may be surprised with the fun you can have.