Mopeds are a fantastic choice when looking for an affordable motorized two-wheeler to customize. Aftermarket mechanical and cosmetic parts are cheap and abundant, plus the small engines that power these scoots are incredibly simple and easy to maintain. As these three one-off Puch examples so thoroughly demonstrate, the range of possibilities when it comes to modifying a moped can be pretty endless, and more importantly a thorough transformation can be done on the cheap. Puch mopeds can also achieve some decently impressive top-speeds – with some owners of upgraded examples claiming to have broken 70mph – with the help of relatively inexpensive performance parts.
The Puch Magnum
The Puch Magnum is arguably the most popular moped in the US. Most mopeds aren’t thought of as being particularly cool, but the Magnum looks more like a hip vintage motorcycle than it does your average moped. The Magnum first debuted in 1978 with two models: the XK and MKII. The XK saw production in ’78 and ’79 and was the base model Magnum. It came in red with spoked rims, front and rear spring loaded suspension, and was powered by Puch’s trusty E50 motor. The MKII also saw production in ’78 and ’79 but was powered by the two-speed ZA50 engine which was fitted with oil-injection. The MKII also had snowflake mag wheels, hydraulic front and rear suspension, and came in a cool silver livery with green stripes. The MKII was also heavier, but the extra weight resulted in a smoother, more stable ride.
In 1980 the XK was replaced by the Magnum II which wore its predecessor’s silver and green livery and was powered by the same ZA50 engine, but didn’t have oil-injection or hydraulic suspenders. The 1980 MKII – often referred to as the Brown and Gold, or UPS version – saw a number of updates for the new decade such as gold five-star mag wheels, turn signals, and a dash with key ignition and indicator lights. The final Magnum to be released was the MKII LTD. It featured all of the previous upgrades found on the MKII models, plus it got an improved dash – that included an optional tachometer), some black chrome bits, a front fairing complete with windscreen, special white and red paint scheme, and an engraved production number plaque displaying the particular LTD’s production number out of the 500 units produced.
Collaborations between manufacturers and department stores were once commonplace. One of these partnerships was between Murray – an established department store bicycle manufacturer – and Puch – a seasoned Austrian moped manufacturer. Mopeds born out of this partnership were produced from 1979 through 1982 with Murray responsible for the frames, forks, and swing-arms while Puch took care of the power-plant and the rest of the components making up the little scoots. This particular example is a thoroughly customized Murray moped “chopper” (or “choppette” if you will) that boasts a long list of cosmetic and mechanical upgrades and modifications.
These models were extremely similar to Kromag’s Sears Free Spirit, sharing near identical dimensions and even utilizing the same diagonally mounted fuel-cell. Murray distributed its mopeds in the US and offered its 49cc two-wheeler in silver, blue, maroon, and green – which is by far the rarest factory color. Unfortunately, Murray’s frames were poorly made and as a result developed a reputation for “failing”. The highlight of the Murray was undoubtedly its engine which was a Puch E50 single. The one-speed, pedal-start engine was dependable and became a popular motor to modify for a myriad of reasons including the wide availability of aftermarket and performance parts, its simplicity, and its ability to handle relatively high RPM without failing.
This Puch Murray “Chopper” has been fitted with a new Puch X30 gas-tank, new black leather seat, magnum front headlight cowl, ape bars, a Puch Free Spirit swing-arm, new suspension – fore and aft – and stabilizer, an LED tail light, new bullet headlight with integrated temperature gauge, and a new exhaust, grips, and controls made by Lusito. The stock Murray frame was hit with a coat of semi-gloss black, while the stock “snowflake-style” rims have been powder-coated in gloss red. This custom Murray has a lot more style than the stock American/Austrian moped but is still very clearly identifiable as a Murray thanks to the stock frame.
Mechanically, this Murray “Chopper” received a massive overhaul resulting in a top-speed of around a reported 50mph. Upgrades to the rebuilt E50 engine included new bearing and seals, unstuffed race crank, 70cc Treats Reed kit, Malossi Reed intake, two-shoe clutch with blue springs, lightened starter-plate, six-wire Bosch stator/ignition coil, headset bearings, MLM intake, VM20 Mikuni carb, pod-filter, ignition-wire with NGK boot and B7HS spark plug, new fuel-tap, 5mm gas lines, 415 gold chain, new Hutchinson GP1 tires with new tubes, and all new stainless steel hardware throughout.
The Cafe Racer
This Puch Magnum example has been transformed into a cafe racer through a long list of aesthetic modifications as well as a generous amount of mechanical upgrades. Starting with a stock Magnum frame, the top-tank fuel-cell was chucked aside to make room for a tank off of a Puch 250 Twingle which has been sprayed with a coat of matte black. A downturned set of clubman handlebars serve as clip-ons and have been wrapped in high-end Domino grips, and Magura Levers. This moped build retains its stock swing-arm, however it does utilize front forks off of a Puch EBR Magnum. A black Puch Monza double-seat was added before being equipped with an LED taillight. A sporty old-school Proma Circuit exhaust replaces the stock unit, while a set of chrome mag shocks, chrome pedal arms, chrome magneto cover with Puch logo, and a pair of chrome gas caps were also added. The last cosmetic tweak was the addition of a new rectangular headlight which was mounted up front with custom brackets.
This featherweight cafe-racer’s Puch E50 engine with TCCD cylinder is said to run “perfectly”. The 50cc Austrian engine has received new seals and bearings, a six-wire stator, three-shoe clutch, a NOS Mikuni VM18 carb, a custom aluminum forward facing intake and high-flow filter, new ignition wire and NGK B7HS spark plug, fresh oil, and 17-inch snowflake wheels with new tires and tubes. After these updates this micro-displacement cafe build reportedly has a top-speed of around 40mph.
The last of these three custom Puchs is a Magnum XK scrambler build which is the most expensive and most powerful of the three. Though the ad says this example is built around a Puch Magnum X frame, it appears the chassis on this one-off moped was modified. The key focal-points on this build are its flat black gas-tank – which was borrowed from a Puch X30 – and bespoke diamond plate side panels, though over a dozen other cosmetic tweaks were made. A set of Tomaselli handlebars – with Domino grips and NOS Lusito Controls – were mounted which give this custom Puch a comfortable upright riding position. Like the cafe build, a Bullet headlight with an integrated temperature gauge has been installed, though this “scram-ped” also gets a handlebar-mounted tach with MLM bracket.
Other minor knickknacks on this build include a seat unit from a Puch Magnum that has been adorned with custom diamond pattern stitching and faux alligator leather. A black magneto cover sporting Puch’s Logo was also added, as was an LED “vertical fixation” taillight, vertical license plate bracket mounted to the bottom of the rear-suspension on the left-side, a custom MLM kickstand, and a NOS chrome gas cap.
This XK build is powered by a Puch E50 engine with a bored out Polini cylinder resulting in a displacement of 64cc’s. Various upgrades were made including an MLM exhaust chamber, new shocks, fuel-tap, seals, bearings, Puch Korado CDI, three-shoe clutch with blue springs,”heavy-duty modified front forks”, NOS Mikuni VM20 carb, four petal Malossi Reeds, rear-facing MLM intake, high-flow filter, new ignition wire and NGK B7HS spark plug, sealed wheel bearings, and a fresh oil change. The end result is a 64cc single that can spin at a cool 12,000rpm. The entire build also sits atop new spoked rims wrapped in a Mini Kenda rear tire and a racing rubber up front – both with new tubes.
Though all three of these one-off Puchs are registered as 49cc mopeds, none of them necessitate a motorcycle license (or a driver’s license) or insurance, though I would urge anyone considering buying one of these to get their M and at least liability insurance. You can find all three custom Puch mopeds for sale in Long Island City (Queens), New York:
The Puch Murray Chopper has a price of $2,950
The Puch Magnum Cafe Racer has a price of $2,850
The Puch Magnum Scrambler has a price of $3,250