6 December 2011
I was heartened to see a picture of an MZ TS250 in September’s magazine. This has taken me back to the early 1980s when I joined my schoolmates in getting a moped to get to work. In those days, what you rode was very much dictated by fashion and labels with a new pair of black Puma trainers considered as important as the FS-1E or Honda CG125 in being part of the image.

Earning about £30 a week as an apprentice fitter, I opted for a new Yugoslavian built Tomos moped bought from Woolworths which if memory serves me well was brand new and on the road for about £200! About 18 months later I was given an MZ TS125 from a farmer in exchange for a day’s work during harvest, which, after the addition of a tyre, new battery and a bit of fettling, gave me trouble free riding for more than two years.

What I learnt from riding or driving Communist Bloc vehicles was that any car or bike built behind the iron curtain was not only durable, but cheap and easy to repair and maintain without the need for costly dealerships.

Since passing my direct access bike test about 10 years ago I have ridden big BMWs. A return to study a few years ago meant it was hard to justify running both a car and a bike, but as we all know riding is an itch that has to be scratched.

About three years ago I began looking for a bike. BMWs, Russian Urals and even MZs and Czech-built CZs seem to have become ‘classics’ with price tags to match. I thought about getting a medium sized bike and eventually opted for a two-year-old Chinese built FYM 250cc cruiser bought from the Internet with one owner and 800km on the clock and I still had change out of £600.

Again, the old derision and snobbery I found 25 years ago with the MZ still exists, but three years on and the FYM is my daily rider, has never let me down and regularly covers in excess of 300 miles a week to and from work. Other than oils and a pair of spark plugs the only item I have replaced has been an indicator bulb. China builds something in the region of 15 million motorcycles a year, which are mainly small to medium bikes up to around 400cc.

Perhaps in another 25 years my little Chinese 250 cruiser will be featured as a classic? I recall the derision my elder brother and his friends gave when Hondas began overtaking their BSAs and other British fare in the 1960s. I sense a feeling of déjà vu.

Paul Billingham Ipswich Suffolk

Meguiar’s is delighted to sponsor ‘Star letter’ and will be pleased to send a motorcycle Care Kit to the winning writer.

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The Classic MotorCycle Issue 42-01 - Jan 2015

Where legends come to life

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