PAGE 22. Magic Wheel October 1953 Vol 1 No. 3

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Rather than considering its racing prowess, Cyclemaster Ltd prefers to illustrate letters praising the Cyclemaster’s reliability and excellent petrol consumption.

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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.

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Did it consider cyclemotor-racing as something that ‘young tearaways’ might engage in?

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Probably it was simply that the Cyclemaster fitted to a conventional bicycle was not really very safe ridden at high speed.

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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.

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In Italy cyclemotors were designed to be raced. The Ducati Cucciolo set a high standard.

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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.

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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.

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By 1955, manufcturers had moved on from bicycles-with-bodywork to pressed-steel frames. The moped had arrived!

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Not only did cyclemotors have to contend with the new range of mopeds, but the Government purchase tax concession was withdrawn.

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By 1956, the cyclemotor market in Great Britain died.

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They only had a short reign, but it was a glorious one.

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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.

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Those motorcyclists would be in their early sixties now.

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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.

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