In June 2018 I stumbled across my first. A dusty, minty, blue Vespa Bravo with 432 miles, tucked away in the back corner of a Honda shop that used to be an old Vespa dealer. It was listed privately on FB Marketplace for $400. I cleaned the tank and had it running in an afternoon. Soon thereafter it got a Proma pipe, 13.13 carb, and Polini variator. Oooh the 35mph fun! I was a one moped man. I was bored.
That same summer, I came across a Craigslist ad for three mopeds for sale an hour and a half away, in a podunk, tiny town in N Idaho called Peck. The owner of the mopeds had died, and his brother (a Harley guy) didn’t want them. There was a 1980 Morton Medalist, 1981 Puch Newport II, and a 1965 Wards Riverside. I bought them all for $500. None ran. In a couple days I had the Riverside and the Morton running. The Puch frame was full of holes in the tank. I missed that when I bought it; I was green and didn’t know what to look for. No biggie though. Over the next couple months I sourced a good frame, and swapped everything over. The piston was missing rings, so I replaced them, changed pucks, and flipped second gear, being careful to double check everything, including tranny shimming. I was reading and learning everything I could find about these new toys. I put a ton of time, effort, and money into them, replacing cables, tires, electrical, servicing brakes and bearings; going thru them thoroughly with a fine toothed comb, making them safe and reliable.
At this point, I had four mopeds. And an addiction. Because I couldn’t resist browsing the classifieds looking for more. I was hooked. in the meantime I completely disassembled the Wards Riverside to do a complete unrestoration. I’m going thru it bit by bolt, making everything right, but I’m gonna keep the patina and do a linseed oil finish on it. It’s a long term project, and still disassembled and catalogued.
In my searching I came across my Red-Headed Step-child moped- a 1981 Honda Express II for $150. It took two hours of tinkering (and a wave washer) and that little sucker ran like new. But it was a Noped, and I really didn’t like it. It’s the only one I no longer own at this time.
I soon found my first Free Spirit. It was the Deluxe silver model, but had been spray painted blue. I ran the vin, and picked it up for a hundred bucks. It needed a lot of work, but was mostly complete. Then I came across a nearly complete Cimatti Town Bike for $150. A few weeks later I found another Free Spirit and a Puch Newport L on Craigslist. The Free Spirit was the standard red model, and it was completely disassembled, but came with a ton of NOS performance mods that had never been installed. It was a build that was abandoned. It even came with a minty Magnum tank, I think the guy was gonna top tank it, and make a poor mans magnum. I traded the Magnum tank for other stuff I needed. I was pretty well lined up for Winter projects. I restored the Cimatti to beautiful condition and gave it to my wife for Christmas last year. The Newport L just needed a carb clean and ignition service. over the winter last year I built both Free Spirits. The red Standard got a 70cc treats kit, with all new internals. The Deluxe got a Gila. Both case matched with new everything. The Free Spirits also got all new cables, Gazelle tires, tubes, etc.
By late spring 2019 I had them both running great. At this point I had Nine freaking mopeds. I was one year into the habit. Eight of the bikes were in good running condition; only the Riverside was torn down. I was maintaining my addiction pretty well, at least in my own mind.
But that’s where I hit rock bottom. An ad with Five mopeds popped up on Marketplace, coincidentally 15 minutes from Peck, Idaho. What the heck are all these mopeds doing in North Idaho? Anyway, there were 2 Motobecane 50VLA’s, a Bermuda Hampton, a Bravo Super Deluxe, and a Ciao. Non running, of course. The guy wanted a reliable moped to putt around the fish hatchery he worked at, but He wasn’t particularly good at fixing them. I had the solution. I traded him the Red-headed stepchild Honda for all five of them. (I think I screwed up, I don’t know French). I was able to get one Moby going right away. The other was seized. The Bravo crankshaft nut was wrung off, needs a new crank. The Ciao was grubby but decent. I've been working hard on it lately to give to a little buddy of mine, and it’s almost ready. Waiting for a few final parts n pieces.The Bermuda... well, it needs a lot of love and time- another long term project.
Later in the Summer, I found another janky Motobecane 50VLA for $100. I’ll probably sacrifice it for parts for the other two.
Then, just before Christmas this year, I found another silver Free Spirit Deluxe nearby. Complete with all plastics, not running, for $100. I haven’t attacked it yet. I will probably completely go thru it and flip this one.
So, here I am in my present state. Up to my eyeballs in my addiction.15 damn mopeds. Seven of them run very well and can ride at any time. Two more are almost there. Two are long term unicorn projects. Three I hope to conquer this winter.
15 seems like a good amount for my budget, space, and time. I like variety. I have slow, stock, pretty mopeds to show off, slightly tuned cruisers for zipping around town, and a couple rippers for heading out into the countryside. Plus a few projects to keep my hands and mind busy. Budgeting is tough with this many. Lots of mopeds makes mopeds expensive. I am very picky, and everything must be done right, with the best available parts. All bikes get new tires, tubes, cables, transmission fluid, crank seals, ignition, and often seats. All brakes are serviced and bearings greased. I do State VIN records searches through the DOL and begin the title application process for all bikes. I also make a hand written log book using a Steno pad, for every bike, documenting how and where I bought it as well as everything I do to it, with Bill of Sale, receipts and records for all parts, services and expenses inside. This way I always have accurate records of how much I’ve put into every bike. Patience and discipline are mandatory, or spending could easily get out of hand. That’s why I plan to resell a bike or two here and there, to help fund the others. I maintain my bikes and records in a professional manner as if I were a legitimate shop. Maybe I will be someday. I’ve got a decent inventory ;)
I can definitely see advantages to only having one. All time and money can be focused on a single bike, which would make for a great ride. But nah, not me. There are way too many sweet mopeds to limit oneself to just one.
TLDR: Mopeds are like Lays potato chips salted with crack. One ain’t gonna satisfy.