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1978 Motobecane Moped

Posted on April 24, 2011 by Scott in Moped. 48 comments

There’s not many vehicles in Australia that would earn you a police search and a close inspection of the business end of a boom stick, but believe it or not this bike would. Because it’s illegal. Actually it would also be illegal in Britain, Sweden, Austria, Germany, Netherlands and even Canada. Not because it exceeds any noise or build restrictions but because those big-ass brass knuckles under the seat. You see, knuckle dusters are illegal in most countries. In France where the Motobecane Moped rolled off the production line 30 years ago, brass knuckles are legal, but carrying them requires a license – not a bike license either. The French term for knuckle dusters is ‘coup de poing américain’, literally ‘an American punch’. So we think it’s fitting that an American, Jarrett Petty of Austin Texas gave this French moped a serious make over. You could call it an ‘American Punch’ to the eye balls.

The brass knuckles may look like a fashion accessory on the bike, but they are actually functional as well, being used as a handle to lift the bike. Usually people use the plastic seat which puts a lot of pressure on the cross bar. Jarrett was inspired by some brass knuckles he saw on another bike that where being used as a choke.

There is not much to these mopeds, but Jarrett has managed to stamp his style on nearly everything he possibly could. Including new chrome forks which are made by EBR, striking angled cross-bar, customising a seat from a Polini racing pocket bike and new ‘freshly squeezed’ orange rims. It’s not all show either. Jarrett having previously worked at Austin Mopeds as a mechanic also took the moped well beyond its stock performance. Replacing the original AV7 crank cases with a set of AV10’s. He also opened the airtake and then matched the transfers to a 50cc Doppler cylinder. A machined Doppler endurance crank was used because the bike hits very high RPM’s and cheaper cranks can’t handle it. The exhaust is from a Ninja G3 and helps the two stroke engine scream out louder than ever before. The moped as stock should have a max speed of 30mph. After Jarrett finished with it it now hits 50mph. Lastly the gold 420 racing chain was chosen to match those gold brass knuckles for the final visual punch.

[For more on this stunning moped, check out this Hell for Leather article]

Photos by Mike Torres

  • P.F. Flyer

    I like it, but where are the footpegs? Also, with that hard seat and no shocks, I don't know how long you could ride it.

  • AlwaysOnTwo

    Well, he proved he could do it and he did it well. Obviously a few Red Bulls too many and lots of spare time to kill. Beautifully pointless unless you're looking to buy a six y/o the ultimate first bike. I'm thinking the buyers of mopeds are far and few between that would have the denaro for this build, or even have a clue that it could be built. Interesting.

  • AlwaysOnTwo foot pegs required, the little tike rider just curls his tiny feet up on the frame backbone!

  • Jimmy C.

    Definitely style over substance. But how can you not love it.

  • bum

    one of the coolest mopeds iv seen. and with that 50 mph its respectable at least

  • Norm

    I would also be illegal in Canada as mopeds are restricted to 35 MPH maximum speed. Pretty piece of machinery, but not very practical.

  • SammyD

    These builds are fun, they're like the bonsai tree of motorcycles. It's kind of impressive how many aftermarket products there are for these old mopeds, check these out.

  • Bob Hesh
  • James

    This bike looks nothing like any of Chicara's Motorcycles. It's also based off of an existing moped, not a custom fabricated frame, that comparison is meaningless.

  • Glenn

    Love it!

  • New kid on the block

    I saw this build posted on Moped Army a while ago… so awesome!

    As for you naysayers… Mopeds, while being small, have a pretty big pool of enthusiasts and are growing in popularity. I ride motorcycles but I honestly put more time and effort into mopeds… There is something quite beautiful about cruising 30MPH with high handlebars and a goofy seat on a stock bike, and something terribly exciting about going 50+ on a machine designed for 25-20mph…

  • Bob Hesh

    James is stupid. Just saying.

  • AlwaysOnTwo

    @new kid on the block…uh, I went to the site…what a waste. Seems like every member/blogger there was posting "like wow man, I don't go to work but luv doin stuff cheap on cheap or less" There's always a fringe element lurking in every sport, and true to their own delusions they perceive themselves as a major force. Stuffing GY6 clone engines into a Honda Ruckus, taking Chinese clone bikes to 79 mph on nitrous, etc. building potato guns and using paste on tats.

    But c'mon, how serious can anyone be when they reach age 20 and they are still playing with the next step up from putting playing cards in the spokes of a KMart 12 speed?

    Disconnecting from the Hookah Pipe couldn't hurt.

  • JT

    The form on this is really strong and pretty cool. I think the brass knuckles are sort of pointless. Unless, of course, your buddy or neighbor has built the exact same custom moped. Then you get to say, "Ah, but do you have brass knucles on yours?"

  • Peter

    There are lots of young, hip, moped riders with no moto-license and a sweet ride. I had a 45 Mph+ Ped with a lot of the same improvements and modifications. Now, I've got my motorcycle license and my hobby is a lot cheaper. It's way cheaper to keep a real bike on the road.

  • New kid on the block


    The thing with mopeds is that for the most part you do everything yourself… there aren't too many shops you can go to do to the work for you on these things, because on a practical level, they aren't worth it. You earn the speed and it is just fun, plus not everybody can go out and buy a brand new bike and have their local dealer do all their work on it. I never said it was really cool, nor did I claim it was any measure of manliness, it is just fun. No reason to hate. I mean, come on, that is why people ride motorcycles instead of cars anyway… I suppose you probably think riding bicycles are a waste of time too. Just don't take yourself so serious and you might see how it could be fun.

    I don't smoke, I have a job, I am working on my masters. I bet you are way more serious though, as stated by your leather jacket and HD flames skull cap so maybe don't bother. Just let us have all the fun.

  • Lowflying

    Ha! That'll show those OCC boys…

  • KJ

    It's like New Kid said. You earn the speed. Almost anyone can jump on a motorcycle and roll out of a show room with enough cash, but not everyone can case match and adjust port timing on a 2-stroke. Heck, 95% of people don't even know the difference between a 2 and a 4-cycle engine!
    It's not a matter of getting there the fastest or being the best. It's a matter of building something to be your own and taking something worthless to most people and turning it into a work of art. If it's not your thing, that's cool, but don't be so harsh. I'm sure if someone called you out on your hobby, you'd have something to argue with as well.
    We're all on two wheels here. Let's just get along.
    Besides, mopeds came first!

  • Ljupa

    Nice build. To be a real moped, it misses pedals but anyway.
    I love mopeds. I have a motorcycle, a scooter and a moped. Guess what: Moped is closest to my heart.
    I think it a stupid discussion whether moped are cool, toys or whatever…. C'mon! Also, it does matter how old are you.
    If I think about why I love my moped so much I think the answer is:
    I got it for free. It was wreck. I made it run. I made it look good. I made it run faster. I made it look even better. I made it run even faster.

  • Sachs Madass is pretty cool too.

    I moped in Europe on the bike lanes. Speed is limited to 25 kmh (15mph). I just bought a Tomos Quadro to tool around here on. I'd have bought the Sachs Madass, but it seems silly riding something that looks like it'll run 100mph at 15mph.

    Mopeds are a waste in the US because they can't keep up with traffic (unmodded) and the auto mentality and lack of bicycle infrastructure makes it extremely dangerous to bike or moped there IMHO.


  • Jesse=B

    Us moped riders do all of the building ourselves! Not need to overcompensate with a bike bike. I mean gas is almost 6.00 bucks a gallon! Who's laughing now?

  • AlwaysOnTwo

    Ah, moped dudettes running amok in defending their toys. I was grinding the ports of a Tohatsu and a Jawa long before you got the first whiff of engine oil. I don't ride a Harley. The leather jacket isn't a fashion statement, it's part of decreasing the damage from road rash should things go badly, like using a helmet. Have my own machine shop (which you would know if you read tis blog often enough) so I certainly do my own work even today. And horses came before the model T, but I'm not going Amish, either. And those that don't know the diff between 2 or 4 stroke aren't riding motorcycles or mopeds, they're cagers.

    If you live in Taiwan or the Philippines or India or anywhere else that has severe restrictions on displacement, I feel your plight. But in the end, this is a motorcycle blog, and so I'll point out that a moped really doesn't belong in the first place. There are tons of sites for "you guys". And if your mantra is railing against $6/gallon gas, get yourself a quality 21 speed bike. Hell, this old man still cranks a Cannondale at an average speed of 18 mph and I guarantee I can pedal up a hill that will leave your mopeds going nowhere with the centrifugal clutch in ruin.

    And since I make a really decent living working on other peoples machinery, I'm not the least bit worried about getting more than 40 mpg when I'm cruising on the freeway instead of bangin along in a bike lane next to grade school girls on Schwinns, Now for the bloke that gets a freebee and gets it running, or the baby-wrench-head that is learning to get more out of a motor, Kudos…now move on and master something bigger than a weed whacker.

    But, if you want to play with little 49cc motors and such, fine. They are still toys, still mopeds, not motorcycles. By definition. And at some point, say about age 13, you should grow out of such things. And I know, somewhere out there is a 45 y/o Rain Man that still plays with putting chainsaw motors on bicycles, so save your breath.

  • shouldster

    SHOULD! you SHOULD do this and SHOULD do that! we all know that if something is faster than something else, any grown up SHOULD ONLY opt for the faster thing. plus your interests are silly because they're not exactly the same as mine are, so you SHOULD be embarrassed about them. believe me i know as i own a machine shop. also have fun in the baby lane with your centri-fugal clutch.

  • know what else?

    i own a huge diamondback bmx bike that i can ride so fast.

  • Alexander

    I don't know why you're even arguing with this guy. He's a joke. One of his points is actually that mopeds are lame because they aren't expensive enough. For all his machine-shop owning bluster, it doesn't sound like he's ever touched a two-stroke, or he'd know that regardless of size, they require a lot more skill and finesse to tune than bolting parts onto a big four-stroke. Why are you wasting your time trying to convince some internet tough guy that your hobby is cool?

  • tdc

    oh, the old motorcycle vs moped argument. here's my side.
    i live in a big city (sf), and i ride a moped.
    it will do 60mph in a block, though it's rare that i get to see those speeds in the city.
    it will leave any over-inflated ego on a cannondale choking on strawberry scented 2 stroke smoke as i fly past him on any hill this city has to offer.
    i built it with my own hands.
    i am way more nimble and speedy on my moped than you are on your motorcycle.
    i can legally park on the sidewalk, chained to a bike rack, while you pay your metered motorcycle parking in the street.
    it's $19 once for a plate. no paying tabs every year.
    i can almost guarantee i get more looks and compliments on my little moped than you do on your "not a harley", unless you're ride is some kind of rare old relic of a motorcycle. somehow i doubt it you do. you may own a rad old motorcycle, but i don't think it's your daily rider.
    i, too, make a decent living working on other people's machines, but that doesn't mean i'm all for throwing money in my gas tank. i'm more than happy paying $5 every two weeks on gas.
    i would go on, but meeeh.

    you did spend a lot more money on your ride than i did on mine, and couldn't possibly be having as much fun, so i can see why your granny panties are all up in a knot. i do kind of feel bad for you.
    you can go ahead and talk a bunch of crap and try to make yourself feel like you're better than me because i ride a moped, but i think even most motorcycle enthusiast would see how silly you're making yourself look in doing so.

  • AlwaysOnTwo

    Gosh, you must be correct because you make so many assumptions. And if you have a 50cc moped that does 60 mph in a city block, then you need to post your work, because it is without question the world's fastest moped ever. That's much faster than a fully race prepped 150cc scooter, so it's pretty clear who's talking crap.

    And it seems your big hole card argument is that being being cheap is the same as having fun. Well, you can have cheap fun, but you get what you pay for, right?

    And while you are being more nimble than my VMax, and getting admittedly much better gas mileage, you really think you're having MORE fun? Maybe you just have a very limited experience of life. Hey, I've been there, I was 12 once upon a time, too.

    But let me ask…

    When was the last time anyone rode a moped coast to coast?

    When was the last time the CEO of any corporation had his picture taken arriving on a moped in front of the office?

    When was the last time any celebrity arrived for a photo shoot on a moped?

    When was the last time anyone took a date to Campo de Fiori in Aspen on a moped?

    When was the last time any really hot looking woman jumped on the back of a moped for a ride to the Catskills?

    Answer to all….NEVER…..

    And you claim to make a living working on other peoples machines but PREFER to hump a moped??? I don't think so…hey, I've posted my website before, where's yours, mouth?

  • Matt

    Alright you two. Clearly both of you enjoy the hell out of your rides. That is what they are for. One enjoys the usefulness and frugality of his well suited ride. He takes pride in what he has modified and made his own. The other enjoys his by using it for other reasons, apparently by taking hot chicks up the coast and then across to the catskills. His is also useful for many other of his own personal reasons like promoting his position as CEO and getting photographed in fromt of his corporate headquarters, extending his "manhood" and achieving self actualization through buying aomething that he feels has "bitchen factor". All this and he still has time to crap on someone else having a good time. Congratulations on your promotion.

  • New kid on the block

    Look, mopeds are fun, that's all there is to it… why all the negativity? A Vmax is fast, and fun,no doubt about it. That is fine that you have one and go fast, nobody is hating on you for it. Mopeds are in a lot of ways, toys, but toys are fun. There isn't any reason to hate that someone has a different kind of fun.

    Your argument that you should grow out of one kind of fun is pretty far fetched. That is like saying people who still read books with pages are weak, because you can read it on a kindle, and that makes you a REAL reader.

    Just because you can do things one way, doesn't mean you have to do it. Nor does one choice over another dictate how much fun an individual will have… it is completely subjective.

    This moped looks cool. That is what I think.

  • admiralfancypants


    When was the last time anyone rode a moped coast to coast? Check out Mopedia – Also several riders have done it. Also from San Francisco to South America.

    When was the last time the CEO of any corporation had his picture taken arriving on a moped in front of the office?
    The founder of Kevin Rose. Moped enthusiast.

    When was the last time any celebrity arrived for a photo shoot on a moped?
    You really care about what celebrities ride? Uhhh, does this count?

    When was the last time anyone took a date to Campo de Fiori in Aspen on a moped?
    Really? When was the last time you did that?

    When was the last time any really hot looking woman jumped on the back of a moped for a ride to the Catskills?
    Last night when I picked up your mom. Please see above picture of twiggy.

    Thanks and goodnight.

  • AlwaysOnTwo

    @admiralfancypants that is so childish. So slacker. A "yo momma" joke, reeaallly? Mopedia?? A tired old 60's fun promo shot is your idea of a celebrity on a moped? And when I said make a cross country trip, I meant without multiple breakdowns and being carted in the back of a pickup between breakdowns! My my. And although Mr. Rose bought a chromed moped, I have never seen a picture of him riding it, let alone riding it to work.

    And I'm not trying to crap on anybody having a good time. But when someone starts belching pure fantasy then it's time to take off the sweet-cuddly-nurturing-everybody-be-nice-face and check in on reality.

    So I'm still waiting to see a vid or a website from New Kid On The Block showing his supermoped doing 0-60 in a city block. BTW, since I worked in the planning department for the City of San Jose while attending college, I know that the standard size of a city block in San Jose, Sacramento and San Fran was set over a hundred years ago at 330 x 330. Yes there are long blocks, like Ghirardelli Square, but the most common and numerous are 330…..that's 1/16th of a mile. New Kid, you put it out there, now back it up. Let's see a YouTube vid if you're squeezing pennies and can't afford a website. I want to see your wailing bad ass moped doing 60 mph in 1/16th of a mile. There's nothing subjective about backing up your claims.

    Am I going to see the proof or just more cute rhetoric? Tell ya what, just admit that you got a little carried away and exaggerated the hell out of both your skill as a two-stroke builder and the capability of your moped. Just man-up instead of playing make-believe and I'll drop it, no hard feelings.

  • betterthanyou

    why must this AlwaysOnTwo guy have to be so stuck up about his experience, machine shop, website, credentials? sounds more like an attention whore to me… and yet hes telling everyone else to grow up… real smart.

    anyway, sweet bike, love the colours! put some pedals on that before you rip your jeans up.

  • Jesse=B

    I have a 50cc Motobecane 50v. IT will do 60 in less than 1/4 mile. Turkish dude's do over 80mph on these bikes! Hardly Toy's!

  • AlwaysOnYourMom

    Tell ya what, just admit that you got a little carried away trying to defend on opinion based on a predisposed dislike for something that you would never admit to being wrong about. We can post TDC past work and his blogs but would you even look at them and admit that does know what he is doing and speaks the truth? Nope. Because your not trying to argue but attack. Most likely because your deep down a self conscious prick who lashes out for no reason. You're the kind of prick who throws stuff at me when I ride. My question is when will you grow up and be mature about other peoples hobbies and interests instead of being a perpetual teenage bully? Oh and your mom asshole is considered a work out at the local gym.

  • Graham

    Ha ha, dude rides a vmax!

  • New kid on the block

    I never claimed my moped could do 60, nor do I EVER claim that, because my bike can't. I don't think I have anything to prove- I don't even own a motobecane… The closest thing I said was "going 50+" Which I have done, and it was fun (Subjective).

    My bike is a Puch has a 65cc kit with some porting/polishing/ different gearing/bigger pipe/carb… which is pretty standard stuff in a moped build. It isn't as fast as it could be but I am fine with it, and I have too much other stuff on my plate to bother right now. I don't have a speedometer on it because that doesn't matter to me. I normally don't bother commenting on blog posts either, but I gotta support people doing stuff I like, which was all my original post was… saying mopeds are fun.

    That was someone else who claimed 0-60 in a city block. I believe it though, especially with a variated bike (which a lot of motobecane's are…)

    I don't have hard feelings, all I was trying to do was encourage you to look at it in a different way and maybe be less negative considering the work that went into this project. This site IS about looking at sweet stuff that people have done with (mainly) old, 2 wheeled machines. It ISN'T a dick measuring contest, last I checked.

  • tdc

    actually, the block in front of my house is 528 feet. thanks google maps!
    while my moped is nowhere near the fastest moped in this city, let alone 'the world', i have, in fact, beaten more than a few "fully race prepped" 150 scooters on the track with my mopeds., knock yourself out. is my little vespa ciao build blog. is the build blog for another moped i built. this one could break traction at the rear wheel if i wanted.
    now, i'm not trying to sit here and show off my mopeds. moped kids already know about them, and any motorcycle guys who read this probably don't care. i'm only posting them up because you asked for them.
    as you look through these blogs, the first thing you're likely to notices is how not pretty any of my bikes are. paint and polish are not my style, so feel free to talk shit about that too while you're at it.
    also, i'm not really sure how you think you can call people on making assumptions when you make an awful lot your self. i never once said cheap was more fun. i built bmw 2002s before mopeds and know that you can still have a lot of fun while burning through money.
    i just know that there's no possibly way you could have anywhere close to the amount of fun i have on my mopeds on your silly vmax.
    and i have had more than a few 'really hot looking woman' jump on the back of my moped, but we were usually headed to some dive bar to get pbr on tap.

    and, for the record, i don't hate motorcycles. i love motorcycles. they are great. i may just get one someday, though i'm not really sure why i would.. which is why i haven't. if i do, it sure as shit won't be the penis car of motorcycles, mr. vmax.

  • New kid on the block

    TDC builds rad mopeds, I love his stuff because it is fast, and not flashy… the best kind, in my book.

    Here's my average moped build, since you are so concerned. The parts in the back are for my '68 BSA Lightning project, if that makes any difference to you…

  • LOLX

    AlwaysOnTwo is like Crazy Wayne's crazier cousin with insecurity issues. Awesome.

  • 16v

    A cruiser bike rider making fun of mopeds. Hm.

    I'll just drop this here.

  • 16v

    Also, on another note, if you need a motorcycle to pull b!tches or feel big, tough and famous(?), you've lost the game called life.

  • Jesse=B

    LIke I said he needs that big bike to compensate for something!

  • Ty

    Good lord, this is my youth…You can imagine that in France, especially in the south, this was every teenager's dream. I can remember stories of my cousin hitting 130kph on his 51 (peugeot equivalent). I actually believe with the right design, these could come back. Good to see them on your site. Thanks

  • American Fist

    French for brass knuckles is "poing américain", so is not american punch, but "american fist".
    cool moped, reminds me my teen years…

  • Jesus Sierra

    2 words… "swarm and destroy"

  • eric harmer

    i used to have wet dreams about fs1e( yamaha)….known as fizzies…..gillera …but these french babes ….i want one …need one

  • Denise Villarreal

    I live in Reno, Nevada and would like to know where you could purchase the rims that are just liike this.

  • Real riders respect two wheels and a motor….regardless!