by a Thinker, Sailor, Blogger, Irreverent Guy from Madras

Spotting a Suvega Moped or a Motobécane Mobylette

Today morning while walking around in an area which I do not frequent too often, I came across some old two wheelers – motorbikes, scooters, and a moped – rusting away.  The motorbikes, scooter and scooterettes were not of much interest, as they were of fairly recent models.  They all were made during the last 20 years or so, and abandoned as their owners probably upgraded after running them down.

But what caught my attention was the old Suvega moped, the first ever moped to be manufactured in India.  From around 1965 or so till the late 80s, the Indian Suvega, the original of which is the licenced model of the popular Motobécane Mobylette of France, ruled the roost.  I rode my first every motorized two wheeler on one such Suvega in the early 80s.

And an experience never to forget.  The unique feature of those old mopeds was that you had to pedal them like a bicycle to get them started – there was no kick starter. One hot summer day, around 2 kilometres from my home, the Suvega I had gone on a joyride broke down and refused to start.  One very advertised advantage – not actually one, but probably would be of use in those days – of the Mobylette-Suvega was that you can flip a lever / remove a nut in its main drive chain, disconnect the engine and just pedal it like bicycle (being so long ago, don’t exactly remember it, but the approximate location is marked with a circle and an arrow near the pedal).

It was not true, as without a true flywheel and gear arrangement, it could not be driven as easily as a bicycle.  The intention was to flip the lever and make the Mobylette-Suvega easy to push around.  But believing that it can be pedal-driven like a bicycle, it was a huffing, puffing, sweaty, almost a breakdown incident, in that hot summer.

Not easily forgotten.  But the Mobylette-Suvega was one of the most robust, trusted moped even on Indian roads.  Till it folded down, the Mobylette-Suvega, with just a 49cc engine, used to dominate the under 50cc races at the Sholavaram race track. The advent of the TVS-50, especially the later 80s model with kick start put paid to Mobylette-Suvega in Indian roads.  But nice to see one around – that too with the round plastic holder near the front wheel where the road tax copy used to be placed (marked with a yellow circle) almost intact.



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