The Stinkwheel Saga
David wrote this book as a result of a lifetime’s fascination with minimalist two-wheel transport, stemming from his formative teenage years at Ecolint in the early to mid-1960s.
Mobility for young people normally involved bicycles, trolleybuses, trams, parents with cars or friend’s parents with cars, none of which allowed total freedom of choice as to where or when one travelled. Swiss legislation permitted sub-50cc cyclomoteurs to be ridden from age 14 without need of licences, tests or even helmets (ah, the good old days!) so the freedom (not to mention an enhanced image with girls and the new-found ability to visit many over a wide geographic area) bestowed by ownership and use of a cyclomoteur was a complete revelation to this naïve teenager. The original thrill of independent travel was never totally forgotten.
“Stinkwheel” was a derogatory term coined in the 1930s to describe small-capacity smelly and smoky 2-stroke powered motorcycles; The Stinkwheel Saga book is a part-technical, part-sociological and part-historical survey of the nine most successful clip-on cyclemotor engines (which were fitted to an ordinary pedal-cycle) sold in Britain from 1945 to 1959. A huge need post-WW2 for affordable personal transport resulted in a plethora of more-or-less successful designs, many created by aeronautical engineers and made by industrial concerns desperate for work after military contracts had ceased. Most were unreliable, noisy and oily; the gulf between advertised dream and daily reality of use was seldom bridged.
This A4-format 245-page book was written by David Beare with collaboration and help from two fellow-members of the National Autocycle & Cyclemotor Club and took five years to research; many archives, books and magazines were plundered for arcane facts, figures, reports and adverts to describe the problems and advantages of cyclemotoring. Stinkwheel is not a boring recitation of statistics however; there is a leavening of dry humour throughout which makes this book different from many others on similar themes, reading it is enjoyable, even for a non-enthusiast. Illustrations throughout are all period though because of poor-quality originals many are not as clear as modern printing techniques allow.
The Stinkwheel Saga was also self-published because no mainstream British transport publishing house would consider producing a small-volume selling book such as this. Not only did the collaborators research and write the work, a steep learning curve had to be followed into the realms of professional book-production! Episode 2 “The Also-Rans and No-Hopers” is in preparation and expected to be published in 2007.
Ordering information can be found at www.stinkwheel.ukfsn.org