Legendary motorcycles come in all shapes and sizes, but few are smaller or mightier than Yamaha’s FS-1E moped.
The Fizzie, as it is universally known, is an icon for riders of a certain age. It’s the bike that represents the freedom and excitement of a first motorcycle, and warmly remembered by those who rode them.
Previously 16-year-olds had been allowed to ride 250s but, back in 1971, British law was changed to limit them to 50cc mopeds (the term moped being a portmanteau of motor and pedal). The result was the emergence of the sport moped, or Sixteener Special, as they were commonly known. These bikes had bicycle style pedals and 49cc engines to meet the wording of the law, but with a 50mph top speed and immense tunability the FS-1E were the bike to have for any self-respecting 16-year-old.
Yamaha was not the only manufacturer to make a sporty Sixteener. Suzuki had the AP50, while Honda made the four-stroke SS50. Both had their fans, but neither had the cred or the following of the genre defining Fizzie.
In the days before homogenised European regulations, the FS-1E was developed purposely for the UK market (the E standing for England) to meet the country’s specific regulations. While the FS-1E was introduced in 1972, the bike upon which it was based, the standard FS-1, was introduced in 1969 and a popular model in the Netherlands.
The pedal mechanism was a legal requirement, allowing mopeds to be pedalled like a bicycle at low speed, but in reality these were locked into place and used as conventional footpegs to get around the loophole in the law. The Fizzie was a proper little motorcycle, with a four speed manual gearbox and a buzzy little two-stroke motor that rarely stayed standard.
A mildly revised model was introduced in 1975. Priced at £199 (around £1600 in today’s money) the FS1-E D featured new forks, a front disc brake and revised switchgear, while the next two years saw incremental upgrades including new shocks, tank, graphics and the adoption of an autolube system that did away with the need to pre-mix the oil and petrol.
All good things must come to an end, and in 1977 the government caught on to the Sixteeners and changed the rules on mopeds. Those pesky pedals were no longer necessary, but a top speed limit of 30mph was brought in to castrate these pocket rockets and bring them in line with what the government had originally envisaged. The Fizzie lived on for more than a decade longer (selling more than 200,000 units in the UK along the way) and even evolved into a chopper (although the least said about that, the better) but its best days were behind it. It still continued to launch motorcyclists’ riding careers up and down the country though, which is why it is so revered by riders who started out in the 1970s and 1980s.
Prices for this classic moped are strong, as collectors snap up restored examples. You’ll be looking to spend at least £2500 for a decent one and up to double that for an early minter with matching engine and frame numbers.