Scooters v Mopeds – and what about Scooterettes?


The new styles of scooter introduced in the fifties were so popular that all the manufacturers wanted to cash in on the craze.

This was around the same time that cyclemotors were evolving into mopeds (early to mid-fifties): mid-engined cyclemotors had their petrol tanks moved forward, engine covers were added …and bingo it was a moped. Though that style was immediately superceded by real mopeds, as by 1954 the first pressed-steel frames were introduced. (See the photo of my 1955 Elvish, above, with integral fuel tank).

The moped market was very competitive, and those with 2-speed gears and fast, reliable engines dominated sales. NSU Quickly was a market leader: see the picture below, illustrating the ‘NSU Lecture/ Service vans’ which toured the country.


Styling innovations are always a good way to increase sales in a competitive market, and it wasn’t long before moped manufacturers started to copy scooter styling. What separated the two? The answer is engine covers, leg-shields, running boards, dual seat, perhaps a bit of extra plastic around the headlight and a new name.

The 2 prototypes in the photos below illustrate how Elvish, a very small (though typical) French manufacturer, tried out a scooter using the same 48cc Ducati Cucciolo 4-stroke engine as in their cyclemotor.
The cyclemotor style in the first photo was outdated by the time they reached the manufacturing stage, because pressed-steel frames were now all the rage. So the actual production model was the Elvish moped seen in the photo at the top of this page.
Though these models are now very rare, the 3 styles illustrated present a good example of the mid-fifties evolution of cyclemotors, mopeds and scooters and how their styling merged.



Belgium, in particular, provided a very good market for the ‘scooterette’ – mopeds with scooter bodies. On page 19 of this magazine you can see a good example of this – compare the 1962 59cc Cheetah ‘Scooterette’ which sold for £99 17/- 6d, with the 50cc MS 50 Nomad moped (£82 10/-).

So the lines between mopeds and scooters is sometimes a bit blurred. Of course, Honda’s new mopeds of the early sixties incorporated all the above and both the European moped and scooter market died almost overnight.


For more photos of the Elvish, and the lowdown on cyclemotors and mopeds: PLEASE CLICK HERE




Mopeds, Cyclemotors and Scooters Meet at the Scooterette…


In my opinion, nothing epitomises this merging of the 3 genres better than the Starlett.


Not only was there a full body enclosure to hide the oily bits that might offend potential female purchasers, and leg-shields that flowed into running boards, but the engine fired up via an unusual handle (reminiscent of the early Velocette LE models) that I’m sure was designed to give it the appearance of a car.


The Starlett was fitted with a 98cc Villiers engine, which was known in France as the Comet engine – the early 1950’s James Comet (with 98cc Villiers power) was well-promoted in France, both because of Britain’s postwar export drive and because France already had a well-established market for 100cc motorcycles.


The Monet Goyon scooter was also sold in Great Britain, and for a short while it enjoyed some success.

Published in: on September 16, 2007 at 6:32 am  Leave a Comment