Andy Wallace sent us this story



Andy Wallace sent us this story from Devon UK…

So many regrettable incidents in my life can be recalled by starting with ‘it seemed like a good idea at the time, but . . .’ and this is one. About 10 years ago I was relaxing on holiday in France when I heard the unmistakable sound of a number of old motorcycles pulling into the village square. I ran up to see what was happening and one of those events happened which changes your life. A small single cylinder red 4-stroke thrummed past, and when it stopped I saw the Moto Morini decal on the tank. Now I’ve owned a 1978 Moto Morini 3 ½ from new but I didn’t know they’d made anything this small. Chatting with the rider it turned out to be a 1960 Corsarino Sport – red paintwork, tiny clip-ons, tiny 50cc 4-stroke motor – a miniature 350! I knew I had to have one. However, over the ensuing years, despite chasing a few leads down, I realised that I was not going to be able to afford one. Again, whilst on holiday in France a few years later, idly browsing eBay, I came across a little motorbike I’d never heard of – an Omer Giramondo 50cc. It was selling cheap, so it seemed a good idea to buy it. When I went to pick it up I discovered it was recently imported from Italy, unrestored, and with the patina of age and neglect a hundred youthful owners had bestowed on it for 40 years. Would I restore it – rebuild the wheels with new rims and spokes, get the frame and cycle parts re-sprayed? I decided not to – after all, this type of machine was built by hundreds of small Italian factories in the sixties, using off-the-shelf parts like headlights and seats, and were built down to a price. How do you not over restore something that when new had the thinnest coat of paint on it, flimsy chrome, basic shocks, matchstick forks and un-lacquered stickers on the tank? Trying to get the machine registered for the road became a nightmare. After three years of trying (there are no factory records, no owners club, and the IMOC could not provide a dating certificate) I turned to North Leicester Motorcycles. Stuart Mayhew agreed to get it up to MoT standard, provide a dating letter and register the machine with an age related plate for a very reasonable sum. As I agreed to it, Stuart looked me in the eye and said, “You know, it’s not worth it.” And he was right – in financial terms it wasn’t – but something about the machine and the challenge it represented made me say, “It is to me.” And it seemed like a good idea at the time. Finally on the road, the Minarelli 2-stroke engine has a hand gear change, three speeds, and a top speed of 24 mph. Friends laughed when I turned up in it and said, “Why not tune it up?” to which I would reply, “The suspension and brakes hardly cope with what little power it’s got, I don’t want any more!” The Omer became a bit of a fun joke as I used it for shopping and gentle bimbles about the Devon countryside. As the annual Welsh National Rally came around this year, which I normally compete in on either my 350 Morini or my Triumph Daytona 675, it seemed like a good idea to do it on the Omer. Certain it would break down, I entered the bike in the Rally. As the date got nearer, I started to think about the reality – big mileages, awful weather, mountains . . . not a good mix with a 50cc bike. However, the Omer took me 200 miles in 10 hours non-stop apart from refuelling, crossing and re-crossing the Brecon Beacons and Black Mountains (at one point I was holding it in first for 20 minutes up a mountain road at a constant 7mph and was overtaken by a cyclist) and the bike not only ran perfectly but also earned a Bronze Award. It also earned my respect and I no longer yearn for a shiny red jewel-like Moto Morini Corsarino – a rusty green unloved 1968 Omer Giramondo will do me very nicely, thank you. At the finish of the Welsh Rally 2010. Note the bottle of 2-stroke oil duct-taped to the rear mudguard – I carried a small bottle of 2-stroke oil in the toolbox but hadn’t realised the mileage I would have to do and had to buy this bottle at the second refuelling stop.

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