Regular contributor Eddy Amey wonders how many readers might have owned a power-assisted bicycle in the 1950s,
He did – a Cyclemaster – and he’s sent me a picture of one here along with other similar strange-looking contraptions from the era which might spark memories.
Eddy, of Northwood Square, Fareham says his was one of a number of the ‘bolt-on’ types with two-stroke mini engines for power assistance.
The Cyclemaster was built into the back wheel while the others were powered by a roller which was driven on the tyre.
Eddy says: ‘Engines were all started in the same way. The rider pedalled to get up speed before engaging the engine.
‘People mixed their own two-stroke mixture and as a consequence, starting difficulties because of an oiled-up spark plug were common.’
He adds: ‘I had a workmate nicknamed Flash because he did everything at a snail’s pace.
‘Flash had a front-mounted Solex engine on his bike. The plug was unscrewed so often that the thread in the engine was quite worn.
‘One day, standing on the pedals, head down over the handlebars in an effort to generate starting speed, he engaged the drive, the spark plug blew out, and he swore it went past his ear like a shell from a Bofors gun landing somewhere in Guildhall Square.’
Eddy says that in addition to the bicycles there were also hundreds of former government, Airborne Regiment, mini-scooters on the roads.
A little more upmarket were micro mini ‘bubble cars’.
He continues: ‘However, when the Austin Mini appeared on the scene, the likes of Heinkel and Messerschmitt were seen off just like their Second World War ancestors had been.
‘The Mini was so agile that you were frequently overtaken and then had to view a rear screen sticker saying: ‘You have just been Mini’d’.