PAGE 22. Magic Wheel October 1953 Vol 1 No. 3
The ‘Magic Wheel’ was a magazine produced by Cyclemaster Ltd – which was, of course, a division of E.M.I. Ltd. So the rear cover contained an advertisement for Marconiphone 14″ Super-Scenic TV’s. Compare the price-tag of 59 guineas with the price of the average cyclemotor – £25 – and I suppose we could compare this television with a £4000 widescreen TV of today.
The idea of a magazine devoted to a particular marque does have a precedent: Lambretta Great Britain went further in the fifties, and took over the Lambretta Scooter Club by offering free membership to each purchaser of a new Lambretta.
A common editorial theme within various issues of this magazine is that the Cyclemaster is not designed to power the rider without pedalling; and that it should not be considered a machine suitable for racing.
Rather than considering its racing prowess, Cyclemaster Ltd prefers to illustrate letters praising the Cyclemaster’s reliability and excellent petrol consumption.
It’s quite possible that Cyclemaster Ltd felt the need to ‘raise the profile’ of the Cyclemaster above that of the racing fraternity because it identified a greater market among the more mature cyclemotor rider.
Did it consider cyclemotor-racing as something that ‘young tearaways’ might engage in?
Probably it was simply that the Cyclemaster fitted to a conventional bicycle was not really very safe ridden at high speed.
Cyclemotors were a part of the national psyche in France, and historic races such as the Tour de France and the Championat de Triporteurs set a precedent. It was not considered gauche to race a cyclemotor.
In Italy cyclemotors were designed to be raced. The Ducati Cucciolo set a high standard.
Of course, the Cyclemaster was not very fast. British cycle-attachments were purely functional devices and although some may have been able to propel you up a gradient with a bit of a run-up, the general idea of them was as a stop-gap until customers could afford a machine with a bit more panache.
Cyclemotors ruled their niche end of the market in Britain until 1954/1955. European cyclemotors started to sprout bodywork, essentially chain and engine covers, to give the appearance of a scaled-down motorcycle or scooter.
By 1955, manufcturers had moved on from bicycles-with-bodywork to pressed-steel frames. The moped had arrived!
Not only did cyclemotors have to contend with the new range of mopeds, but the Government purchase tax concession was withdrawn.
By 1956, the cyclemotor market in Great Britain died.
They only had a short reign, but it was a glorious one.
Motorcyclists of a certain age may have have started their two-wheeled careers on a Cyclemaster or similar attachment. After mopeds such as the excellent NSU Quickly wiped out cyclemotors, these bicycle engines would have been extremely cheap – ideal for a schoolboy to use as a first motorcycle to learn to ride.
Those motorcyclists would be in their early sixties now.
In light of the above, it’s hardly surprising that most Cyclemasters, Minimotors and Powerpaks that come up for sale now have previously been stored in garden sheds for many years.