1952 Earls Court Motorcycle Show

1952 Earls Court Motorcycle Show

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Though a wide variety of models were on display at postwar motor shows, many visitors were disappointed because the top-end vehicles were not available to the home market due to the need for exports drives and much-needed foreign exchange. The only personal transport widely available was the bicycle.

However, by 1952, you could buy one of a wide range of cyclemotor engines to add auxiliary power to your trusty old bone-shaker. And, such was the variety and popularity of these engines, that a new magazine was launched to advertise and road-test the machines on offer. These extracts are from the first issue of Power & Pedal magazine, in November 1952. Being issue number 1, there were no reader’s letters, but the magazine did cover the Earl’s Court Show, so you can observe the cyclemotors available that competed with Cyclemaster. The Mercury bicycle was available on Stand 140 (below).

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The Cucciolo described above, on Stand 50, and advertised below, was the top-of-the -range cyclemotor at the time. Being a four-stroke it was much more reliable.

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Compare its price of £59 10/- with that of the cyclemaster, at £27 10/- (below)

You could buy two Cyclemasters engines for the same price, and still have £4 10/- left over for two secondhand bicycles.

The Cucciolo as a complete unit does not seem that much more expensive, given the extra quality. However, the benefit of hindsight 57 years later makes for an unfair comparison. Because, of course, the Cucciolo is now the most sought-after of cyclemotors, with a good example worth £2000 upwards, while Cyclemasters – because so many of them were manufactured – are only around a third of the price for one in good condition.

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Of course, the usual reason for buying a separate engine was to fit to your existing bicycle. But in the early years of these cyclemotor engines there would obviously have been a novelty value in buying a brand new bicycle at the same time, especially one that specifically built for the task of having a Cyclemaster in its rear wheel.

By buying these two components separately you could avoid purchase tax, which was only applicable for a complete vehicle. A Cyclemaster engine at £27.10 and a new Mercury bicycle at £13 19/- would cost you £41 9/- in total (see photo below).

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Norman Cycles, of Ashford, Kent, also supplied bicycles ready for a Cyclemaster engine. As you can see below, the complete Norman bicycle was six shillings more expensive than the Mercury. I’m not sure of its price if sold without the rear wheel

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The Norman frame used for the Cyclemaster engine may be seen below, complete with its engine (it’s one I bought for my friend Pat in France a few years ago).

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Here’s my normal Norman Gents cycle, below, to compare:

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Three years later, Norman supplied frames to Cyclemaster for the Cyclemate moped, an ill-conceived affair which was an uprated Norman bicycle with a 32cc Cyclemaster engine mounted by the pedals (see photo below). By this time, mopeds had stormed the market, and a slow single-speed Cyclemaster moped was left way behind by the rest of the pack.

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Published on January 25, 2009 at 1:44 pm  Leave a Comment  

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