As with classic SUVs, vintage motorcycles have risen in popularity in recent years. As have scooters, which is why manufacturers offer modern versions of icons like the Vespa and Honda Super Cub. But there’s another 2-wheeled form of transportation that’s also enjoying a cultural resurgence: the moped.
What is a moped?
Like motorcycles, mopeds have evolved over the years, and many modern models are confused for scooters, ItStillRuns reports. Both have step-through frames, for example, and small-capacity engines. In fact, the two are so indistinguishable, that mopeds are often simply classified as scooters with 50cc or smaller motors, State Farm explains.
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Vintage or classic mopeds, though, are noticeably different. The term ‘moped’ comes from ‘motor’ and ‘pedal,’ the two distinguishing components of a moped. The pedals start the motor, and can also provide extra power if needed, the Motorcycle Legal Foundation explains. Basically, think of mopeds as the gasoline-powered predecessors of today’s electric bicycles. Or, perhaps, the ancestors of modern motorcycles.
In the past, mopeds were typically powered by 2-stroke engines, RideApart reports. This meant, due to tightening emissions regulations, scooters like the Ruckus, full-size motorcycles, and bicycles mostly took their place in the US. However, these tiny 2-wheelers are experiencing a resurgence, enough for rider gangs to pop up, Wiredreports.
But why is that?
Vintage moped popularity
There are a number of factors that play into vintage mopeds’ rise in popularity. Firstly, in most states, you don’t need a motorcycle licenseto ride one, though you do need a driver’s license. Still, that drastically simplifies the process of using one.
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Secondly, as the Wall Street Journal explains, mopeds are cheap and easy to run. True, they’re limited to about 30 mph, which means they can’t go on highways. But that’s still faster than even some e-bikes, at a much cheaper price. Plus, they can get up to 100 mpg, and their low weight and compact size make them easy to store and maneuver.
Their 2-stroke design means they’re simple to work on. In fact, the co-founders of Janus Motorcycles got their start as vintage moped mechanics.
All these reasons are why vintage mopeds became popular in the 70s, the Omaha World-Herald explains. The US oil crisis meant gasoline was both expensive and in short supply. And because fuel was always expensive in Europe, as were vehicles in general, mopeds made great cheap wheels for young motorists.
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Although we’re not quite in that same predicament today, the rising cost of fuel, insurance, and repairs means many people turn to mopeds as cheap transportation. Especially in urban environments, where they’re easier to park than even motorcycles. But some owners, as the above video shows, take them quite a bit further.
Getting one of your own
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The most popular vintage models are the ones made by Austrian company Puch. But even a few automotive OEMs, such as Peugeot and Honda, made mopeds, too.
Today, a well-maintained Puch can go for $3000-$5000, or more, on Bring a Trailer. As of this writing, there’s a 1978 Puch Newport listed at $1500. However, it’s possible to find examples going for $2000 or even less.
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The Puch Maxi is a moped fitted with a single cylinder, 49cc, two stroke engine. The engine produced 1, 1.5, 2 or 2.4 hp and could propel the rider at speeds of 15.5, 18.6 or 28 mph (48 km/h).It was started using the pedals which could be engaged and disengaged from the engine via a starting lever so it could be ridden as a normal bicycle. Later models did not have pedals, and instead were started with a kick start mechanism.
- E50 - the classic 49cc Maxi engine with one automatic gear eg. Maxi P
- Z50 - the same engine with two manual gears eg. Maxi K2
- ZA50 - the same engine with two automatic gears eg. Maxi L2a
Displacement and top speed
- 1.0 HP - 20 km/h
- 1.5 HP - 25 km/h
- 2.0 HP - 30 km/h
- 2.4 HP - 48 km/h
- 3.5 HP - ?? km/h
- 4.0 HP - ?? km/h
- PUCH Maxi N - barebone cheap Maxi
- PUCH Maxi P - standard Maxi
- PUCH Maxi E - Maxi with rear suspension
- PUCH Maxi S - Maxi E with star rims
- PUCH Maxi L - Luxurious Maxi
- PUCH Maxi LG
- PUCH Maxi GS - fast Maxi
- PUCH Maxi K
- PUCH Maxi KL - Luxurious Maxi
- PUCH Maxi N DGR - with star rim (Automatic engine)
- PUCH Maxi N Chopper (Automatic engine)
- PUCH Maxi N Off Road (Automatic engine)
- PUCH Maxi Sport (Automatic engine - Maxi II Plus Seat)
- PUCH Maxi S Nostalgie (Automatic engine)
- PUCH Maxi S Chopper (Automatic engine)
- PUCH Maxi Super S (Automatic engine)
- PUCH Maxi Turbo Sport 4 geared engine)
- PUCH Maxi GS - 4 HP - 3 geared engine
- PUCH Maxi Casablanca
- PUCH Maxi II Plus (Automatic engine)
- PUCH Mini Maxi
In America the Maxi was sold as PUCH Newport from 1977. And in Canada it was called Bombardier.
The Maxi is a model of moped manufactured by the Puch Corporation. They were imported into Canada under the name Bombardier. Some call it "The Volkswagen of Mopeds" due to the ease of maintenance and their similarity through the years, just like a VW. Dimensions are length 66.9 width 27.2 height 39.4 weight 86 lbs
- Maxi S - The typical, full suspension commuter version with an E50 (one speed) engine
- Maxi D or LS- Same as the S, but with a double seat (factory long seat) for a passenger
- Maxi Luxe - Maxi with a stock Hi-Torque head and mudflaps.
- Maxi Luxe II - Hi-torque cylinder and ZA50 (two speed) engine.
- Maxi N - A rigid frame, with no speedometer. It was cheaper than other models, and dubbed the "Poor man's maxi"
- Maxi Sport MKII - Full suspension, mag wheels, ZA50 (two speed) engine, longer seat (but not enough for a passenger)
- Maxi Nostalgia - available 1976 only, a black/gold maxi with decals styled after turn-of-the-centruy puch motorcycle logos. The next year these were replaced with the Newport line.
- Newport - Same as a Maxi S, but with different decals and hand pinstriping and sometimes a brown saddle. They also came with reflective whitewalls
- Newport L - Updated Newport with swoop decals instead of pinstriping, black transmission cover and flywheel cover, and a puffy saddle
- Newport Auto-start/Oil Inject - Newport featuring metallic paint, oil injection, and no clutch lever
- Newport II - Newport featuring a ZA50 (two speed) engine
- X30/Condor - Comes with a Z50 engine (2 speed manual), full suspended, tube frame and only sold in Europe/Swiss market. Damn rare in the US
The Maxi's engine came in three different horsepower ratings: 1, 1.5, and 2 HP, which correspond to mopeds limited to 20, 25, and 30 m.p.h., respectively. The differences between the 1.5 HP and 2 HP versions are minor, the 1.5 HP version can be altered to effectively become a 2 HP version by derestricting the airbox, exhaust pipe, removing the head gasket, and re-tuning the carb. For detailed information, see the Puch horsepower differences.
Maxis were produced in both E50 (one speed) and ZA50 (two speed) versions. The two versions can be identified by the shape of their gearbox covers; one-speeds have circular gearboxes while two-speeds have rectangular gearboxes. Both types are automatic transmissions, operated by a centrifugal clutch, which engages once the engine reaches sufficient RPMs.
The spark plug on a Maxi should be gapped between .016 and .020 in (.4 and .5mm). Some spark plugs commonly used on Maxis include:
- Bosch W8AC
- Bosch Platinum 4214
- NGK B6HS
- Champion L86
The Maxi's fuel tank is contained within the moped's frame. It cannot be removed. Fuel tank capacity is .85 gallons.
- Transmission fluid should be changed every 3600 miles using ATF Type-F fluid, which is specified for both gearboxes.
- The E50 holds 5.74 ounces (170cc) of fluid when full
- The ZA50 holds 9.5 ounces (280cc) of fluid when full
See also: Changing Puch E50 transmission fluid and Changing Puch ZA50 transmission fluid
Please see Puch wiring for a description (and diagrams) of various wiring setups, or Puch wiring diagrams if you want diagrams and no explanation.
If you prefer unadulterated and straight-from-the-manual wiring diagrams, try these links:
Maxi Guam Edition
A few versions of the Maxi have popped up in America with VIN plates stating they were made in Guam. These actually have quite a few changes made from the standard USA models. Guam models have Honda-style controls with switches integrated into the lever and throttle housings. Also they came stock with turn signals, including special sidecovers which enclose a small battery. In addition to these changes, the swingarm is Magnum-style, but with closed drop-outs for use with sealed bearing axles, as well as built-in buddy pegs. All-in-all the Guam built Maxis are arguably better quality and more modern than the standard USA models.
The Puch Maxi is a moped that was manufactured by the Austrian manufacturing company Puch through the 1970s and 1980s that is well known for its reliability, ease of maintenance, and fuel economy (up to 120 mpg). These mopeds gained wide acceptance during the 1973 oil crisis and are still widely available for aftermarkets, and mint examples are still valued by collectors today. It is started using a pedal start mechanism where the user provides the force needed to start the 49.9 cc two stroke engine, or can be ridden like a bicycle when the engine is disengaged. The later models feature a kick start mechanism.
The Puch Maxi comes in several models:
- Maxi S: this is the full suspension model with the single speed E50 (one speed) engine/transmission.
- Maxi D or LS: same as the S, but with a longer seat for a passenger.
- Maxi Luxe: A Maxi with a stock Hi-Torque head and mudflaps.
- Maxi N: A rigid frame lacking a speedometer that was the cheapest model, and dubbed the "Poor man's maxi".
- Maxi Sport MKII: Has a full suspension, mag wheels, the ZA50 (two speed) engine/transmission, a longer seat (but not long enough for passengers like the maxi D or LS model).
- Maxi Nostalgia: was only available in 1976. It is a black/gold Maxi with decals styled after Puch's turn-of-the-century motorcycle logo. Its predecessor is the Newport.
- Newport: Same as a Maxi S, but has different decals and hand pinstriping and sometimes a brown saddle, and comes with reflective whitewalls.
- Newport L: An updated Newport with swoop decals instead of pinstriping, a black transmission and flywheel cover, and a puffy saddle.
- Newport Auto-start/Oil Inject: A newport that features metallic paint, oil injection, and lacks a clutch lever.
- Newport II: Newport that features the ZA50 (two speed) engine/transmission.
- Maxi Guam Edition: a few Maxis that showed up in the United States that claimed to be manufactured in Guam. These have Honda-style controls where the switches integrate into the lever/throttle housings and come stock with turn signals and sidecovers that enclose a battery. Guam built Maxis are claimed to be built better than the USA models.
- Maxi BMX Special: Produced as a limited run in 1976 to celebrate the success of the company's BMX bicycles, production lasted only three months due to poor public reception. It featured the single speed E50 engine/transmission.
The Puch Maxi uses a 2 stroke 49 cc gasoline engine that comes in three horsepower ratings: 0.24, 1.5, and 2 HP that limits the speed to 20 mph (32kmh), 25 mph (40 kmh) and 30 mph (48 kmh) respectively. However, these can be modified by de-restricting the airbox, carburetor, exhaust manifold, pipe, and the use of aftermarket and performance parts.
The engine is coupled to either a single speed E50 or a two speed ZA50 transmission. The versions of the transmissions can be identified by the shape of the gearboxes: The E50 has a round gearbox whereas the two speed has a rectangular gearbox. Both transmissions use a centrifugal clutch.
.Tunisian dirt Roads on a Moped - Puch Maxi Touring in the Sahara
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