Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Bike of the week - Yamaha FS1E

The famous FS1 was a Yamaha moped of the 1970s and the English version had an E on the end for England = FS1-E thereby fortuitously allowing it to gain the catchy moniker 'Fizzy'.  Those of you who owned one way back when, will probably remember it with love as it provided the zippy exit from a life of buses or Shanks's pony for a generation of 1970s teenagers.

Fizzy pop

The FS1 first appeared in England in 1972 as a five-speed transmission light motorcycle but due to regulations in Europe it was downtuned to a four speed transmission.

It began life as a neat little 50cc, two-stroke motorcycle with disc-valved induction, a four-speed gearbox which was simple to master for beginners and good sharp brakes. The original 1972 machine was fitted with drum brakes at the front and back but this was replaced in 1975 with a disc system.  When Yamaha reintroduced the Fizzie in 1987 though they brought back the original drum brakes.  When the Fizzy graced the seventies streets it legally had to have the ability to be pedalled like a pushbike in order to be classified as a moped in the UK.

The problem was that seventeen was the minimum age at which you were allowed to ride a motorcycle, so to get round this for years the British had been fitting engines onto bicycles.  Eventually the lawmakers decided that it was time to do something about this anomaly and eventually the law was changed to say that a motorised pedal cycle (moped for short) could now be ridden by a sixteen year old as long as it still had pedals like a bicycle and was under 50cc.

Now this presented an unmissable business opportunity to the motorcycle manufacturers of the world who realised that they could make a snappy cool fast and  really fun little high performance motorcycle which would be irresistable to all sixteen year olds who had to wait another frustrating year for their 'proper' motorcycle.  Thus the Fizzy was born and became the must-have moped of the seventies with its groovy styling and sporty speed. The disc-valved engine produced 4.8bhp at 7000 rpm - easily able to reach a mid-40mph cruise. The little bike was fantastic around town with a torquey engine and it was as tough as old boots. Coupled with great handling, fuel efficiency and genuine coolness the Fizzy was a much loved winner.  Everyone who owned one had a crazy time until in 1977, when the law changed and the government realised that perhaps sixteen year olds on fast mopeds was not what they wanted and restricted the Fizzy to 30 mph - the restriction in its speed still did not detract from its popularity with youngsters though.

Pedal power


The early English Fizzy was different from models sold in other countries, as it had more cycle parts and an ingenious pedal design which allowed the pedals to be put forward so that they would form footrests like a motorcycle when the bike was being ridden not pedalled!  To turn these footrests into pedals the left hand pedal crank could be rotated forward and locked and a drive gear engaged so that the user could pedal but pedalling was pretty exhausting for the rider as the moped did not free wheel and the pedal gearing was very low so in reality the fizzy was very rarely pedalled as it was simpler and less effort to push it along! 

He ain't heavy he's my Brother

The whole bike was only 69 inches long and 22 inches wide weighing in at a featherweight 70kg and this lack of weight coupled with great quality suspension made it a nippy ride.

The Long and Winding Road

The Fizzy was gradually improved and upgraded over the years and improvements to it included an autolube model with a two stroke oil tank and oil pump so that there was eventually no need to manually mix two stroke oil into the fuel tank.

The Electrics consisted of a Magneto ignition with a 6V AC for the main running lights. The indicators, brake lights, neutral light and horn ran separately on 6V DC from a three-cell lead acid battery that received a trickle charge from the magneto. On most models the three position ignition switch (on a key providing off, run and lights) was mounted on the L/H side panel, however the switch was moved to the conventional position between the handlebars on the FS1-E DX (front disc brake equipped model) and later FS1-E models.

The engine was top quality and the little bike handled superbly with excellent wheelie-ability!  The brakes were great too which inspired confidence for zooming about town and the little Fizzy, if the rider was sensible (highly unlikely!) was capable of 100mpg.

It was also easy to alter the Fizzie and aftermarket tuning parts were (and still are) a favourite for Fizzy owners, with whippy exhausts and big-bore kits being popular.  It was also relatively easy to change the engine for a YB100 if you felt so inclined.

All in all the Fizzy was a good bike to run on next to nothing (great for the sweet sixteen to afford on paper round money) and it was easy to return to standard, all factors which have made it perennially popular.

Make Me Smile


No words about the Fizzy would be complete without a mention of the colours.

Originally the Fizzy was only available in Candy Gold, and this was know as the SS model which stood for "Sixteener Special".

In 1974 a second colour was introduced, Popsicle Purple and then other colours followed like Baja Brown which was obviously delightful and very 1970s and then there was Competition Yellow.  If you had one in any other colour let us know...there were, more unusually, red and  blue ones...

Whole Lotta Love

To own one was to love one and Yamaha were really there with the 1970s Zeitgeist when they built the Fizzy.  it was fast it was groovy and it looked the part.  The specs were good so it really delivered what it promised, speed, lightness, great fuel efficiency and most of all it was really cool - every 1970s sixteen year old had to have one.

Check this link out for great Fizzy photos:


There is an online Fizzy community which is very active:


There is even an annual Bolney to Brighton Fizzy run - here's what it looked like in 2012 - Go Fizzies!:


and 2010...


It's going to be around May 18th-19th this year (tbc)


Let us know your thoughts


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