Hitting the road
● By J. Chambless
A friendly group of people belongs to Chester County Mopeds.
For the members of the Chester County Mopeds club, it all starts with the thrill of the hunt―long trips to check out mopeds that have been stored in garages, sheds, or barns for years, waiting for someone to come along and restore them. Or the members scour online resources to find mopeds that are for sale to anyone willing to pay to take on the task of refurbishing them.
According to Rob Frazer, a resident of Landenberg, once a new moped is acquired the fun really starts. He and some of the other members will have a work night at one of their garages, meticulously going through the process of restoring and refurbishing the mopeds, one by one. When the bikes are restored and repaired, and ready for the road, the members will take them out for a ride through the rolling hills of the Chester County countryside.
Frazer explained that the mopeds are typically made with good metal and high quality materials, and when they are repaired and cleaned up, they can still look really sharp.
The group traces its origins to July of 2016, when Dan Lyons, a resident of Unionville, received a telephone call from his 80-year-old mother telling him that one of her neighbors had a moped and didn’t know what to do with it. Would Lyons be interested in fixing it up?
Lyons and one of his sons went over to take a look at the bike―an Italian model manufactured by Piaggio Ciao. The moped had originally been purchased in Italy, but was eventually put in a shed and was not used regularly for years.
Lyons has a mechanical background and soon had the moped in good running order. One day shortly thereafter, he rode the moped over to Brian Cheyney’s house. When Cheyney took a moped out for a ride, he, too, was hooked. Chester County Mopeds was slowly starting to take shape.
Whenever people saw Lyons or Cheyney or Frazer out for a ride, the mopeds attracted a lot of interest, and the group grew to include more members.
It's easy to understand why there would be interest in the bikes. The mopeds themselves are very cool-looking, and they offer a lot of fun. Mopeds became increasingly popular in the U.S. in the late 1970s, as gas shortages pushed consumers to seek out other, less expensive modes of transportation. Consequently, a lot of the mopeds that the group is able to track down now date back to the late 1970s or early 1980s, when they were being produced in large quantities.
Lyons said that most of the mopeds are purchased for between $75 and $600, depending on how much repair work will be necessary. The conditions of the mopeds vary greatly when they are first found by one of the members.
According to Frazer, the group members are actually happier if the mopeds aren’t in good condition when they first get them―that raises the level of difficulty in restoring it, and they like the challenge.
When they start to work on on a moped, the first step is to clean it and analyze the amount of work that will be necessary. In some cases, a bike might need simple repairs to get it to run, but in other cases, it could require a major overhaul.
The work includes cleaning and de-greasing the mopeds. One of the members usually needs to fill in paint where there are scratches, or repaint the bikes entirely if the damage is significant enough. A member will take the engine off and check out the condition of the wires. Once all the individual parts are thoroughly cleaned, an assessment of what that particular moped will need can be made. Mopeds are relatively simple machines, and the work on an engine and other parts can sometimes be completed in just an afternoon.
Some of the parts may be worn or damaged beyond repair, so the next step is for one of the members to start scouring the Internet to find the parts that are needed.
“What’s amazing is that you can still get the parts,” Brian Cheyney explained.
The goal, according to the group members is to restore the mopeds to how they might have looked when they first rolled off an assembly line many years earlier.
“We like to go for an authentic look,” explained Lyons.
So far, the club has restored nearly three dozen mopeds. When the mopeds are completely refurbished, they are ready for the road. The top speeds of the bikes are usually no more than 25 or 30 miles per hour, so the members avoid heavily traveled roadways. Safety is always the top priority for Chester County Mopeds.
The club always welcomes new members. Each person finds a way to make a contribution, based on his particular skills and interests. Lyons, for instance is very mechanically inclined. Fraser is very good at fine-tuning the mopeds. Cheyney handles the graphics and designs the t-shirts for the group.
The youngest member right now is Tiernan Daly, who serves as the unofficial supply change manager for the club. “I’ve been able to learn a lot about mechanics,” he explained of the experience working with the other club members.
When a person joins the club, what they find is that everything about the process, from the search to the purchase to the restoration work to the riding is fun. The club members say that they really enjoy spending time together working on the mopeds or riding. They also make a habit out of stopping by local eateries in the area, which isn't bad, either.
The club is also always willing to help moped enthusiasts out. They have parts that they can sell if someone is in need of a specific part, and they’ll even help make repairs if someone is having difficulty.
“We’ve helped out a lot of people,” Lyons explained.
The club has a website, chestercountymopeds.com, as well as a Facebook page for anyone who is interested in more information.
To contact Staff Writer Steven Hoffman, email firstname.lastname@example.org.