review: 1978 puch maxi sport mkii (2hp)
yup, i know this isn’t a scooter. but i’m kinda into mopeds, too, and i figure that someone just getting into scooters might be interested to read about ‘peds, too.
i had this puch for just a few weeks during the spring of 2011. at the time, i was pretty happy with my 2008 tomos, but when this little puppy came around on craiglist for $600, i jumped on it. i was sold on all i read about the puch indestructibility, and the styling was definitely better than my tomos. the pedals would make me an actual moped owner instead of just a no-ped poseur.
the maxi sport was more interesting than my tomos. the left handlebar actually had two levers sticking out of it: one was the rear brake, and one was the clutch. to start it, you had to hold the clutch in and step on the pedal. while mine usually started okay after two or three kicks, i had a curious problem where it often wouldn’t restart for 20 minutes after i shut it down.
perhaps i had been spoiled by my late model tomos, but i was disappointed by performance of the puch. granted, it was completely stock (except for new michelins) but i took sooooooooo long on a flat surface to get up to top speed (around 28mph). going up slight hills was terrible; unless you went into the hill moving at a high speed, the bike would slow to a point where pedaling was a necessity. pedaling a moped is definitely less fun than pedaling a bicycle.
to be fair, i’m a big guy (250 lbs) and it’s hard to ask a stock 1978 moped to haul me around. fortunately, skinny hipsters abound in boston (as they do in many cities), and when i put this up for sale on CL for $650, i was able to sell it immediately. makes me think i should have asked for $700 or more.
veteran moped riders probably think it’s no big deal, but several times, i had the pedals in the wrong position going around a corner, and the pedal would start scraping the ground as i leaned into a turn. fortunately, i never wiped out as a result (i believe this accident is common with ‘peds) but it’s just another thing to think about, and it doesn’t really improve the riding experience for me.
as with nearly all vintage 2-strokes, you have to premix the gas and 2 stroke oil yourself. again, another thing to think about (and another gas can i had to keep around the garage) that was just sort of a hassle.
do i regret buying the moped in the first place? nah. buying a working, vintage moped is a pretty low risk proposition. you can generally sell it for around the same price you bought it for, as long as you take okay care of it. but i am glad i sold it; it was a fussy bike (as most vintage vehicles seem to be) and it couldn’t compare at all with the late model tomos i once had. and to be honest, the extra coolness i felt from having the neat vintage bike evaporated when i was puttering at 4mph up the hill near my house. if i were a smaller guy, i’m sure the hill would’ve been easier. but since 50cc engines are capable of so much more now than in 1978, it’s hard to go back.
i’d say that unless you really love the vintage bikes and are ready to sacrifice a little reliability and performance for it, stay away from the vintage mopeds. they’ll definitely end up costing you more in the long run, unless you’re good at spinning wrenches yourself.