The motor bicycle of 1901 started as a bicycle with engine attached, and the humble bicycle evolved into many of the vehicles we use today. So, though this is a bicycle museum, I find it impossible to ignore the existence of ‘crossover’ bicycle variants, such as the tricycle and moped. In the 1890s, tricycles became motorised and evolved into cars. As the first cycle boom of the 1890s ended, many cycle builders went on to become motorcycle manufacturers, with BSA and Triumph in particular becoming the world’s top motorcycle companies. Of course, bicycles also helped the development of flight as, in America, cycle builders the Wright Brothers invented successful airplanes.
After WW2, the motorised bicycle turned into the ‘mo-ped.’ Europe was in a disastrous state at that time, and its vehicle requirements in many ways mirrored those of the early years of motorised vehicles: ie there was a a large population without transport, hence a need for cheap vehicles. Additionally, in the 1940s, Germany was not allowed to make large motorcycles, but it was important to kickstart the country’s manufacturing base. So low capacity motorcycles dominated the German market, including commercial variants.
Cycle attachment engines enjoyed only a brief existence, from the end of the forties until the launch of the much more efficient ‘mo-ped’ in 1954. The mo-ped was essentially a bicycle with a strengthened frame and forks, better brakes and …the piece de resistance …gears.
The evolution of the mo-ped of the early 1950s followed the same pattern as the first ‘motor bicycles’ at the turn of the twentieth century: they started out as bicycles with engines attached, but after just a few years it was realised that everything on the bicycles needed upgrading to cope with the added stress of motorisation. For example, soon after you’ve managed to start your Cyclemaster or similar cycle-attachment, you realise that bicycle brakes may no longer be adequate for stopping it.
Mo-peds had evolved from cycle-attachment units such as the Ducati Cucciolo, a very upmarket four-stroke engine that fitted above the pedals: many French cycle ‘constructeurs’ developed special variations of their bicycles to house this engine. While we may think of mopeds as being cheaper alternatives to larger motorcycles, the four-stroke Cucciolo was as expensive as a motorcycle, but suited a market for rich customers who wanted a small lightweight machine that was nevertheless efficient.
Of the dozens of new machines offered for sale in 1954, the NSU Quickly was far and away the most efficient and successful moped. It was initially imported into Great Britain by Vincent HRD Co Ltd, makers of world-famous Vincent Motorcycles. Their 1948 Black Shadow had been the world’s fastest production motorcycle, but they needed extra capital and had launched their own cycle attachment unit, the Vincent Firefly, with limited success. Unfortunately for Vincent, their new import was so successful that it decimated sales of all British cycle attachment engines, so the Firefly was no longer a viable proposition. To rub salt into the wound, after the first year of sales, NSU took over selling it themselves. In 1955, Vincent discontinued motorcycle production after experiencing heavy financial losses.
NSU dominated the moped market until the early sixties when an even more efficient moped was introduced, this time a four-stroke machine made by Honda.
The 49cc two-stroke moped market was still buoyant in Europe even after Honda dominated sales. In France and Germany, commercial variations of the moped were also manufactured, including three and four wheeled 49cc vehicles. The Messerschmitt Mokuli was an upmarket commercial three-wheeled 49cc variant – ‘transportmoped’ in German – whose ‘Type 200’ model used parts from Messerschmitt’s other, better-known three-wheeler, the Cabin Cruiser.
The Mokuli was sold in Great Britain by Testwood Motors of Southampton. Apparently, after production had ended, Testwood Motors sold them with freezer compartments as ice cream vans. They also negotiated a contract with W.H Smith in the 1970s to use up the last of their Mokuli transportmopeds as station delviery vehicles.
With the Messerschmitt cabin Cruiser now commanding sales prices over £20,000, this rare Mokuli three-wheeler transportmoped has achieved cult status in its own right …as the only affordable Messerschmitt.
1965 FMR Messerschmitt Mokuli ‘Type 200B’ Transportmoped
Sachs 49cc Three-Speed Engine
Chassis Number 26767
Engine Number 4787458
This rare Messerschmitt 3-wheeled transporter is in good all-round condition.
I bought it from a friend in France who owned it for over 30 years, and I sold it in 2013.
As vehicles under 50cc were exempt from licensing in France, it is not registered.
This unique ‘transportmoped’ starts easily ands runs well (you can see a video below).
It’s powered by a three-speed 49cc Sachs engine.
The front end is from the Messerschmitt Cabin Cruiser
German vehciles have chassis plates that include the year of manufacture.
MESSERSCHMITT ROAD TEST
The first surprise we had driving the Messerschmitt is how fast it is! It feels more like a 150cc machine than a 49cc ‘transportmoped.’
It starts easily, though you need the decompressor when you start pedalling it because of the compression.
When you are pushing the machine without the engine running, there is a small bracket you can flip over to hold the clutch in (below).
The other surprise was how effective the brakes are. The brakes are the opposite to motorcycles: ie the brake lever on the right handlebar stops the rear brake, while the back-pedal brake stops the front wheels.
The steering bushes appear to be in good order, as the steering is responsive and does not wobble at speed. Bear in mind that, although it is fast unladen, this Messerschmitt was not built for speed – for that you would have bought a Messerschmitt Cabin Cruiser.
This machine was built to carry a 200kg load, and I can see from its gearing and its very efficient engine that it would be a very effective light delivery vehicle, even when transporting a heavy load uphill.
The Mokuli is in sound condition all round. The only job to do is to service its electrics, which my mechanic will do before it is sold.
I can arrange delivery anywhere in the world: for Europe it would be by road transport; further afield by sea-freight.
HISTORY of the MESSERSCHMITT MOKULI
The Messerschmitt Mokuli, a tricycle design with front-positioned major cargo area, is particularly economical due to its tax, license and registration freedom. Even apprentices can convey with this rugged delivery moped 130 kg payload. Thousands of businesses, artisans and authorities have the advantages of the Messerschmitt -Mokuli recognized and also the export of this low-load vehicle is constantly increasing the Mokuli is available in five colors at a price of DM 860, -. factory with wooden pallet bridge and stile railings and for DM 830, -. delivered without railings to perform with a variety of special bodies
The history of the Mokuli actually begins before it was produced, with Fritz Fend’s Fend Drierad Roller (above) in 1949.
Fritz Fend and Prof. Willy Messerschmitt subsequently went into business together. But the Fend commercial three-wheeler soon ran into regulation problems – being a heavyweight machine, it became classed as a truck.
This led to the development of a lightweight 130kg machine which became the Mokuli.
The first Mokuli, introduced in March 1957, was known as the Type 130 (the three illustrations below). The name ‘Type 130’ referred to its payload of 130kg.
With the success of the Type 130, there was soon a demand for a three-wheeler that could carry heavier loads so, in 1960, the company introduced a new vehicle. They managed to provide a more stable front end by using the front axle and wheels from the Messerschmitt Cabin Cruiser passenger vehicle, which created a lower centre of gravity.
As a result, its payload was increased to 200kg, and this new Messerschmitt was therefore named the ‘Type 200.’
As you can see from the illustration of the Type 200 below, variants were allocated suffix letters A-D according to the style of loading bed at the front.
The example featured here, with an open bed with rails around it, is a 200B.
MESSERSCHMITT MOKULI FRONT AXLE & UNDERNEATH:
PHOTOS FROM THE FRONT
MESSERSCHMITT MOKULI FRONT AXLE & UNDERNEATH:
PHOTOS FROM THE REAR
Thanks to the Mokuli website for illustrations and history – http://www.mokuli.de/