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Briton Bees Motocyclettes

Posted on June 25, 2011 by Scott in Classic, Moped. 26 comments

Briton MotorDrone “#2”

The first thing that came to mind when reading about Briton Bees Motorcyclettes was, “what the heck is a Motorcyclette?” Then, like they had read my mind, I found the answer on their website: “Elementary, my dear boy. Moto: from the Latin “propulsion”, cycle: “movement by wheeled means”, and ette: from the French, “small or smallish”. Giving us a small engine-propulsed two wheeled vehicle.” Briton Bee are the latest in a swarm (sorry) of young builders using mopeds as donor bikes. These sweet handmade bikes are built in Asheville, NC using a mix of parts from Europe and the U.S.

Here’s how Briton describe what they are creating; “A fresh take on an old classic, Briton’s combine the best from the world of professional bicycle racing with the motorized features of European mopeds, all in a stylized package reminiscent of the early 1900’s board track racers. These are not your father’s mopeds. Yes, they still have the same gas-efficient 2-stroke engines, capable of 100-120 mpg. All controls are hand-operated, and they are street-legal 50 cc engines (check individual states’ requirements for license and DMV registration). But the weight difference between our new-technology frames and the old-school moped allows more power for your ride, while our fully customizable designs means you create your own look.”

Briton MotorDrone “Kobiak”

At this stage, they offer two versions of the ‘Motorcyclette’: the MotorDrone, which is a board-tracker style bike, with a Puch 17” front and rear spoked wheels; and the BioCyclette which is their “green” bike, with 26” tires, and an engine that runs on bio-fuel. It is also built with a pedal-start so it can be purely people-powered when the motor is not running.

Briton Puch “Gun Show”

Briton Bees frames are constructed from 4130 Cromoly aircraft-grade steel and all come stock with the Franco Morini S6T engine, Dell’Orto carburetor, Magura controls, and a classic Brooks saddle and saddlebag. These classically styled motorcyclettes weigh in at a very light 50-75 lbs, making it super easy to carry these things up the stairs to your apartment – as long as your queen bee doesn’t mind having one in her hive.

Puch “Mean Street”

  • Den

    Some cool ideas there, they look like fun to run around city streets on.

  • SR85

    Very cool!

    *as long as your queen bee doesn't mind having one in her hive.

    sort of sounds inappropriate.

  • revdub

    I have had the pleasure to check out these bikes firsthand and they are pieces of art. A lot of work goes into each one. And if you are expecting that they top out at a speed fit for a school zone, think again. These bikes easily rip close to highway speeds!

  • Thanks for the heads up , there is a new website in the works, almost there (here is a sneak peek : ) should be up real soon. We have evolved and grown since these bikes were built , we are still doing mopeds but also moved into small displacement bikes (upto 250 maybe 300 cc) , this coming fall we are bringing in 10 to 12 (1930's thru 1955) motobecane,Terrot motorcycles in the 175 to 250cc range ,should be pretty fun , working with a few RD's smaller stuff with custom parts and the works…fun little stuff for the People ! Again thanks

  • I must be very confused, but I can't figure out how these vehicles stop. I see no calipers or discs on the front wheels. Do they use drum brakes?

  • revdub

    @Rick – drum brakes it is. Properly done and maintained, the drums work fine.

  • Raúl Vicente

    Lovely comeback for lightweight 50cc's!!! I would love to own a two-seater one of these… But how much do they averagely cost? As I read in the site, they are not new and may need parts replaced soon after the purchase.

  • psbero

    very cool, i love them! id be interested to find out what they cost

  • That's almost too pretty to ride…

  • Well to be honest the only used or old part on our bikes is the engine bottom end case half (when we are not using new engines) and sometimes the frames. A custom ped from any good builder , should have new bearings ,seals,crank piston,cylinder,manifolds and carbs, new sealed bearing in all the wheel hubs, new brake shoes, tires tubes and controllers, exhaust …it should be like new or better . Prices for custom or complete rebuild peds are around $1200 to around and up $2500

  • psbero

    Wow thats really cheap, do you deliver to Australia? 😀
    I might have found something to buy myself for Christmas haha

  • AlwaysOnTwo

    There ya go. A techy frame, functional forks, even a model with a kickstart and no pedals. An old school look worthy of a Harley riders mantra of retro tradition with a good dose of where a lot of us started and a little humor to boot. Functionality and looks beyond just doing it on the cheap. I wouldn't ride them myself, but I can appreciate those that would.

  • Mike

    Can anyone tell me why the front fork braces arch all the way down to the bottom, near the axle? I would have though that a relatively horizontal brace up just above the tire would be more effective…

  • revdub

    @Mike – Only reason is that the forks/brace came that way stock. I'm guessing it's a matter of: "If it works, why redesign it?" I have had this same setup on several bikes and have had no issues with "the wobbles" – even at fairly high speeds.

  • the 'mean street' puch magnum was actually not built Briton Bees, but by Andy of the landsquids out of CA. Bees just owned it for a little while

  • AlwaysOnTwo


    While I have already posted what I can describe as a positive comment, I'm wondering….

    With the recent trend, from my perspective, is Pipeburn a motorcyle blog or a moped blog? Not that I'm complaining, just want to know the drift.

    What's the deal? Going moped or what?

  • @AlwaysOnTwo Oh snap! You got us! Well spotted. Yes folks, from now on will feature all mopeds, all of the time. We'll also be reviewing the latest turtleneck sweaters, berets, and thin cigarettes. And before I forget, we'll also be publishing everything in French from now on, so you all better get studying. Au revoir!

  • Raúl Vicente

    @Britton Bees: Thank you so much for the info. To me, your product as described IS better than new. The low weight & price advantage, for those without a garage, seems unreal but you've made it 🙂 Godspeed!

  • As soon as I saw the first one, before I read the article I was going to say they look like something from the early 1900s and well they do.

  • Seen-The-Bees

    The Briton Bees bikes are unquestionably beautiful, but the tuning skills of the Briton Bees team is questionable. Including the belief that seizing an engine is part of the tuning process.

  • this is in reply to "seen the bees" , the information above is incorrect and i question the persons source. I have never in anyway said that seizing is part of the tuning process in fact it is to be avoided at all cost, on a newly built engine the tolerances are so tight that we recommend never going over 35mph for 200 miles or 1 1/2 full tank of gas, never fully keeping the throttle open for to long on a new kit ,nor cutting off fully the gas to slow down (shuts down lubrication to the running engine) , every year we build a bike that only one person seems to break putting the blame on us, we have taken care of these clients and expressed to them our concerns either with their choice of gas ratio or how they choose to break in their bikes, now as for tuning and performance we have built consistently some of the fastest mopeds in the USA and we have the time sheets to prove it. Now personally i have spoken to a few folks on the phone on how i soft seize my Polini kits on my personal race bikes on purpose with in the first 10 mins, so that i can then find the high points in my cylinder and issues with my piston, IT IS THE ONLY KIT that i do this to and ONLY ON MY PERSONAL BIKE, this was taught to me as a method of breaking in this KIT for racing purposes ( i was the first in the States to break 60mph with a polini kit and a 15mm bing carb on the flats ") yes this was the famous kit i soft seized as part of my tuning process", now if i have had this conversation with someone on my method of tuning my bike and if they took it as it is the way all bikes should be tuned then i am sorry but they did not truly understand what and how i do it, perhaps if they raced themselves and had the mentor ship of experienced tuners they would have been told the same, again i will state : THIS IS NOT A METHOD WE RECOMMEND for the inexperienced. be good and be safe…. and MR seen the Bees anytime you want to race to put your mouth where your bike is i would be happy for you to see the red of my tailight.

  • Seen-The-Bees

    My information must have been incorrect. Thank you for clearing up the issue. The information above is in-fact very good advice for all motorcycles.

  • Peter G.

    @ Briton Bees and Seen-The-Bees. One of my friends gave me the link to this article (Seen-The-Bees). I had some unfortunate problems with a basket-case moped, but Briton Bees helped me through all of those problems, going above and beyond what one would normally expect from a shop of any kind. In the end my basket-case bike turned into a show-piece that sold for every penny put into it (just about).

    I will be going to ride the tail of the dragon near the Briton Bees shop in about a month and I would love to visit them and thank them for their integrity and help and show them my new big-bike (which is only slightly faster than one of Emannuel's builds).

    Seriously – if you visit the US – go visit these guys in North Carolina.

  • Saint

    These are really cool lil bikes, and a refreshing sight to see. Theres always gonna be a critic here & there that became that way from misinformation from the internet. Take it with a grain of salt.
    I hope more moped looking bikes come back to the side of the scooters that seem to be popular now in the city. They make a lot more sense really.
    I love the board & cafe bike influences, great job.

  • Lichie107

    they just officially closed last month how sad

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