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In the UK during the 70s, the government became increasingly concerned with the performance of motorcycles. Bigger faster bikes were being made every year by the manufacturers hoping to gain market share. In an attempt to keep speeds under control, the government introduced many road restrictions--but to no avail.
100 mph 250s
To keep fast bikes away from beginners, the government introduced a 250-cc maximum, but very soon after, manufacturers were offering 250s capable of nearly 100 mph.
In an attempt to cap high speed learner bikes, a 125-cc limit was introduced. Manufacturers responded with fast (80 mph) 125s.
A smaller capacity limit was considered the only way to keep speeds down, and so a 50-cc moped (motorcycles with pedals) rule was introduced. But it wasn't long before even mopeds were capable of over 60 mph. A final attempt by the legislators to restrict speed was the introduction of speed-restricted (30 mph) mopeds for learners.
The inevitable happened, when owners and tuners found the restrictors and removed them: back to 60 mph with a few minutes' work!
With no option for beginner motorcyclists but to start on a moped, the sales were excellent; and with market share very important, manufacturers started to tune their mopeds.
Two mopeds in particular became popular with the sports moped-buying public: the AP50 Suzuki and the FS1E Yamaha.
Expansion Chambers and Bigger Carbs
Both machines were mopeds for all intents and purposes, but the pedals could be folded away (they were never used anyway) and the restrictors removed.
With a little tuning (expansion chambers, bigger carbs and increased compression) the little 50s had excellent performance. Reliability suffered, but parts were cheap so engine rebuilds were common.
Today, the FS1E and the AP50 have become classic collectors' bikes. The availability of machines and parts has made the sports mopeds ideal for restoration too. In addition, the small bikes are relatively easy to work on, having a basic 50-cc 2-stroke engine.