Mopeds became a popular form of travel in the 1970s. They offered a convenient way to make short hops with a minimum of expense and hassle. Batavus of the Netherlands was among the top non-Italian companies that manufactured and distributed the Batavus Mopes as well as bicycles during the 1970ss. The operation produced approximately 70,000 mopeds annually with a higher production of up to a quarter-million bicycles. Those of us in our mid-50s to 60s can look back on that time and fondly remember the 1975 Batavus HS-50 and the fun it was to ride.
What was the Batavus HS-50?
If you can’t remember the 1975 Batavus HS-50, then you didn’t own one and you probably didn’t ride one either. It’s the kind of experience that you wouldn’t forget. Bikez explains that the Batavus was marketed as a British moped. It made its debut in 1975 with a four-year production run that concluded in 1979. It only lasted for four model years, but it was an eye-catching vehicle for its time. The Batavus HS-50 was only released from the factory in a choice of one color, and that was brick red. Although Mopeds were catching on during the time, there were still issues with marketing as the general public didn’t see their value. They were a step above a bicycle, but not quite a classic motorcycle. The vehicle landed somewhere in the middle and represented a novel change that some were not inclined to make.
The 1975 Batavus HS-50 was an all-around vehicle intended as a convenient commuter bike. It had many of the characteristics of a hybridized version of a motorcycle and a bicycle. They were cool to look at and fun to ride. It had a kick-starter with magneto ignition, for the 48cc single-cylinder, four-stroke Laura M-48 engine. It generated 2.4 horsepower with a top speed of 35 mph, which was ample for riding in town. The transmission was automatic with an air cooling system and an automatic dry centrifugal clutch. The handling was good for this time with a pivoting fork for the rear suspension and telescopic forks with internal springs. Both front and rear tires were 2.00-16. It came equipped with expanding drum brakes front and rear. The approximate dry weight was 90 pounds for easy pickup if you dumped it on the road.
Variants of the 1975 Batavus HS-50
Cybermotorcycle confirms that the Batavus HS-50 came in three versions. They were rated at speeds ranging from 20 to 30 mph, although road tests showed some could reach up to 35 mph. If you wanted to save money at the dealer, you could go with the base model or upgrade to the deluxe which offered directional signal indicators. The bikes were made in the Netherlands but British Batavus imported them. You had your choice of a few different variants of the Moped.
In 1975, a Moped that achieved a speed of 35 mph was on par, however, the centrifugal clutch created a few awkward moments for riders due to instability when the machine started to travel for the first few yards. It’s due to poor acceleration, but it didn’t take long to take hold and level off. When the engine reached the sweet spot you were good to go. It’s something riders got used to and made compensations to correct. One of the more impressive aspects of the Batavus HS50 was its cornering ability. You could turn it on a dime because of its thin tires and bicycle-like styling. The brakes were efficient for the type of light riding the Batavus was intended for. The levers controlling the brakes were handlebar mounted.
The engine featured a cast-iron cylinder barrel with an aluminum alloy head and roller main bearings, a 3-port cylinder with a reed valve, and an Encarwi-Bing carburetor. the transmission was belt-driven from the crankshaft to the clutch and a clutch lock lever was placed on the handlebars. The Batavus was petrol-powered with a fuel tank capacity of 1.5 gallons with a reserve tap.
There were a few drawbacks to the Batavus in retrospect. Although the steering is light, the handling required care to avoid making overcorrections. You had to watch what you were doing as the forks were mounted close to the vertical plane. It helped for making your way through traffic, but at slower speeds, the Moped felt a little unstable. It was a machine that was suitable for beginning riders who observed a few simple rules of the road and knew how to compensate for the few inadequacies. It was essential to turn the pedals to prevent them from grounding. Another issue was the tendency for the Batavus to bounce on bumpy roads because of its lightweight. Gusty winds were another issue that required attention to maintain a straight line and control, even at low speeds.
Other issues with the Batavus HS-50
Car Problem Zoo reports that the Batavus HS50 issued one safety recall. The issue was with the vehicle speed control. The 1975 model was one of the versions that did not conform to the motorcycle controls and displays federal motor vehicle safety standard number 123. To explain the issue more completely, the vehicles came from the factory without proper labeling of the fuel shut-off valves to indicate “on” and “off” positions. The recall was issued in April of 1978, a year before the last model of the Batavus rolled off assembly lines.
The 1975 Batavus had its share of pros and cons, but overall, it was fun to ride and it would get you from point A to point B efficiently. The small commuter moped had a top speed of 35 mph with some variants maxing out at 20 or 30 mph. Aesthetically, it looked like a hybrid version of a bicycle and motorcycle. It was an attractive vehicle only offered in a brick red color, but that signature feature made it easy to spot a Batavus.