Banked Turns, 50cc Motors, And Good Vibes Reverberate At Mopedmetal
Photography by Máté Boér
Do you believe that just three horsepower in a vehicle is enough to wring a fun time out of it? You don’t need a powerful car or a lot of money to take part in the spirit of racing, and this year’s Mopedmetal was the perfect piece of proof.
The name is pretty descriptive as-is, but to be specific, the event is comprised of mopeds, scooters, and a few small-capacity motorcycles powered by 50cc and under engines. The max speed? 45km/h, or just about 28mph—enough to break only the most draconian of speed limits. But outright pace is not the point here. To so many young people in Europe, a moped offers the first real chance at freedom. Less strict regulations mean teens often get them registered and road legal before stepping into the world of full-size motos and autos, and the subcultures that have formed around the moped and scooter scene reflect the youthful exuberance inherent in these machines.
Mopedmetal is a perfect representation of the attitude in this scene, and I was excited to bear witness to something outside of the usual rotation of classic car and bike events. Organized by the creative minds behind Turbometal, the festivities were accompanied by cooperative autumn weather to make it one of the most fun days I’ve spent trackside.
I like to follow what the guys at Turbometal are up to because they often notice things that might be invisible or otherwise unimportant to others. Example: a few years ago they started to explore abandoned petrol stations in Hungary, and they shared series of photographs to show the charm of these old buildings and their visible histories. On other occasions they’ve shot short movies about car adventures with such quality storytelling that they won the London Motor Film Festival‘s Gold Award in 2016. This special—as they call it “metal”—approach led them to recognize how colorful and cool the world of mopeds and scooters can be, and they didn’t hesitate to spread the word and start working on an event. In 2013 this resulted in the first Mopedmetal gathering: a ride through the city of Budapest with dozens of 50cc motos. After five successful iterations done in this fashion, the event recently moved some 150km away from the capital for something new.
Mopedmetal’s so-called NASCAR edition was a joyride in a velodrome, a great location that isn’t open to motorized vehicles on other days of the year. The idea to find such a location stemmed from another event in Hungary, the Velodrom Millenáris, which was in my opinion the finest classic motoring experience in my homeland.
Some of the participants in Mopedmetal took the ride quite seriously, clothed as they were in full leathers on highly tuned Simsons, while others simply enjoyed experimenting with cornering speeds on the banked turns, an environment completely foreign to these two-wheelers outside of circus acts. As wheelies were popped and impromptu drag races took place in the background, coffee and oven-baked pizza were made fresh in the infield to fuel the conversations. At a place like this, the actual riding is often just an excuse to hang out with friends over a slice.
According to the founders of Turbometal, this event was a mix between a rehearsal of sorts and a premiere, because no one knew how many fans of the Budapest city tour would make the journey to follow the event outside of the metro area. They said they would be satisfied if 20 machines came to the first meeting, and they succeeded in meeting their goal and then some, with some of the participants electing to ride all the way to the velodrome rather than use a trailer or a trunk to transport the goods. There are already plans shaping up for next year’s Mopedmetal, and hopefully classic cars might get an invitation too, but we’ll just have to wait to see what it evolves into. There’s definitely something special here though, and if you’re looking for a change of pace from the typical classic vehicle shows and whatnot, this should be a welcome refreshment. Now back home at my computer again, the search is on for my own classic moped project. Why not?