To aspiring motorcyclists growing up in the 1970s and 1980s, sports mopeds were the ultimate 16th birthday present. Machines like the Yamaha FS-1E, Suzuki AP50 and Puch Grand Prix opened up a world of freedom at a time when it was easy to get on a motorcycle and even easier to derestrict one. With their 50-ish mph top speeds and life changing freedom, these sports mopeds have become bona fide classics for dewy eyed dads looking to recall their youth, with ‘Fizzies’ in particular becoming hugely collectable.
The Rieju MRT 50 is one of the few spiritual descendants of those Seventies Sixteeners. It’s one of the last remaining two-strokes you can buy today and one of the few geared mopeds still on the market.
With tastes and legislation changing over the decades, the majority of mopeds have gently morphed into mundane twist and go scooters, with their top speeds capped at 28mph. Indeed, many non-motorcyclists incorrectly interchange the words ‘moped’ and ‘scooter’ these days, and while the Rieju is classed as a moped (by definition up to 50cc and a 28mph top speed, and can be ridden by 16-year-olds after passing their CBT), it is certainly not a scooter.
The Spanish company has a range of five MRT 50s, priced from £3,299 through to £4,149. We rode the Supermoto style £3,849 Pro SM, which has better suspension and a few chassis improvements over the £500 cheaper SM model. There are also two versions in Enduro spec, with bigger spoked wheels and off-road tyres, and the range topping SM Trophy, which has fancy spoked Supermoto wheels and lashings of anodised parts.
All bikes use an updated version of Moto Minarelli’s venerable AM6 motor. The Italian made engine has seen service in sporty mopeds like the Aprilia RS50 and Yamaha TZR50, and has a whole aftermarket in tuning parts developed for it. The Rieju we rode was standard but derestricted using the manufacturer’s official kit, making it good for around 50mph.
As motorcycles go, the Rieju is basic. There’s no electric start, so it only comes to life after turning the ignition key and using the old fashioned kickstarter to fire it up with a ring-a-ding-ding. For older riders, the sound of a two-stroke and the resulting smell brings back fond memories – although quite what 16-year-olds make of it is another matter!
The dashboard is basic, with only the speed readout to inform the rider of what’s going on. The Rieju weighs just 85kg and the derestricted bike pulls away cleanly. As an experienced rider, it’s fun to ride. The six-speed gearbox is sweet but needs to be worked hard to keep things moving quickly. Drop out of the powerband and the motor will bog down a little, but snick down a cog or two and the Rieju can really start singing.
Back in the day, it was all about the top speed. The speed of the Rieju depends on a number of factors, wind, inclines, weight and size of the rider… Down a slight incline we saw 56mph on the tiny little dash, although it was 42mph going the other way. Somewhere around 45mph is a good average, making it capable enough on the backroads as well as around town.
One of the issues of buying a moped for 16-year-olds is that they have a tendency to grow out of them. The Rieju allows the 16-year-old to ride as a moped, with the £300 derestriction kit (consisting of a new exhaust and gearing) allowing the rider to get more out of the bike when they turn 17 (although they will need to inform the DVLA and their insurance company). It’s not quite as quick as a sporty 125, but it has enough go about it to make it a fun and capable learner machine. Derestricted, it’s also a lot of fun for full licence holders, bringing the smell and sound of our youth to life – for half the cost of a restored Yamaha FS-1E.
And the MRT is so simple there’s not too much to write about. In derestricted trim it zips up to 30mph quickly enough, going through the urban speed limit in third gear. With just 85kg (plus the rider, of course) to haul around, the Rieju is easy to flick around and can more than keep up with city traffic. The Supermoto style machine is ideal around town and is great fun on the back roads. The suspension is good quality, with long travel upside down forks up front and a good quality rear shock absorber. The brakes are plenty powerful enough for the lightweight machine, and look pretty trick too with the wave style discs from racing company Galfer. Rubber come from Czech company Mitas, with the Bogart tyres offering plenty of confidence inspiring feedback and grip in the dry conditions, although we didn’t get an opportunity to sample them in the wet.
Geared 50s are something of a niche in today’s motorcycling landscape, but there’s still some demand, which the Rieju (and the similarly powered Fantic XM50) are able to fulfil. For 16-year-olds looking to get into ‘proper’ motorcycling, it’s one of the most fun and engaging mopeds out there. It’s a well-built product, made in Europe and equipped with nice quality components which belie the modest engine capacity and £3,849 price tag.