Ninety years of the Skootamota

Think push-along scooters are just for kids? Try mounting a 125cc engine on the back wheel, and think again!

A few posts ago, I talked about Brooklands, the world’s first purpose-built motor-racing circuit. In its day, it was a thrill-seeker’s dream, but ordinary folk could go along for a test-drive too. Ninety years ago, you might just have caught a glimpse of one of these little beauties powering up the banking:

ABC Skootamota scooter, c.1920 (Science Museum / Science & Society)

ABC 'Skootamota' scooter, c.1920 (Science Museum / Science & Society)

The ABC ‘Skootamota’ was one of the earliest motor scooters (as the name suggests). Introduced in 1919, the lightweight and extremely simple Skootamota was cheap, reliable and easy to store.  We got ours in 1948 from a Lt. Cdr. Eve. Our curator took this lovely atmospheric shot of the vehicle when he went to inspect it at Eve’s house.

ABC Skootamota pictured in 1948 (Science Museum)

ABC 'Skootamota' pictured in 1948 (Science Museum)

The designer, Granville Bradshaw, invited writers from Motor Cycling magazine to join him on the 1919 Brooklands test-ride. The journalists were highly impressed, both with the scooter’s cruising speed (15 – 20 miles per hour), and its ability to climb the Brooklands Test Hill, with its 1-in-4 gradient.

“While we never dreamed for a moment that it would make the slightest headway on the very stiff gradients, much to our surprise the Scooter proved itself capable of going about two-thirds of the way up the slope, and it was only on the steepest portion that it was brought to rest!”

If you think the seat looks a bit, well, rudimentary, that’s because it was only there for long-distance riding. Most of the time, riders would stand on the platform. At a flat-out speed of 25mph, it would have been quite a ride!

One thought on “Ninety years of the Skootamota

  1. Pingback: Stories from the stores » Go just as you are on your Ner-a-car

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