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PAGE 5. 1955 Norman Cyclemate

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1955 NORMAN CYCLEMATE – the ‘mutt’ of the litter:

Many collectors hunt down the most successful racing machinery to give them pride of place in a centrally heated garage where they appreciate in value by the hour. That’s definitely not me. My storage facilities are at the opposite end of the spectrum, and what I like about the Cyclemate is that it was an abject failure in its day.

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In 1954, in conjunction with Norman Motorcycles of Ashford, Cyclemaster Ltd unleashed the Cyclemate upon an unsuspecting world. However, in this most fiercely contested area of the 2-wheel market – under 50cc – cyclemotors had at last given way to mopeds. Completely new pressed-steel frames were now introduced on many models, with a choice of colours – and they even had gears!

Whereas the Cyclemate was still a glorified bicycle, its only concession to ‘bodywork’ being an engine cover on one side. Worse still, while mopeds used 50cc engines, the Cyclemate retained the 32cc Cyclemaster engine. It plodded along way behind the pack.

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There’s nothing wrong the the Cyclemaster engine of course; it was a superb invention, and the convenience of an engine within a wheel that you could install into any bicycle was a stroke of brilliance. However, that same engine permanently fixed into a bicycle with pretensions of being a moped was a mistake. And not only was it underpowered, it was unreliable too.

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So, from market dominance at the beginning of the 1950’s with the radical new German-designed Cyclemaster, within 5 years Cyclemaster Ltd was clutching at straws, and in 1955 they split from EMI, were sold to Britax in 1960, and by 1961 were finished. The Cyclemate was no doubt the final nail in the coffin.

With a pedigree like that, no wonder it’s unusual to find a Norman Cyclemate like this one – on the road and running! We cyclemotor enthusiasts are a perverse bunch – we seem to be particularly attracted to machines that defy the laws of nature – ie the motorcycle market – the ‘mutts’ of the litter. Long live the underdog 🙂

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