A  History of Classic Racing  50cc Motorcycles



By: Chris Alty - Written for "Small Torque"

 Held At the CRMC's first outing this year (1998) at Cadwell Park

I  had the opportunity to test a Van Veen Kreidler Grand Prix Racer. This machine was kindly loaned to me by Mike Bowden who is a dyed in the wool Kreidler fanatic and  often enters this 5Occ pocket rocket in sprints and parades  throughout the country always with success and embarrassing bikes 5 times the capacity. 

This bike has a few modifications, which have undoubtedly given it the edge in performance over a standard GP bike. The main difference being a Hummel top end which has extra ports and is easy to differentiate from the standard cylinder as it does not have the external ribs on the cylinder or head and has HH cast into the side of the cylinder. It also has a Mikuni carburettor instead of a Bing.

Here are the specifications shown for the over the counter GP bike but bear in mind Mike's machine is modified and provides more power than standard.

Photograph, Chris Alty (Black), Steve Bedford (Red and White) at Cadwell Park when the bike was tested.

Kreidler Van Veen GP Racer 78

Engine: Single cylinder, 2 stroke, water cooled cylinder and head. 49.86cc , Compression ratio 15:1.

Carburation: 28mm. Smooth bore Bing.

Transmission : Straight cut primary gear's with 6 plate dry clutch. 6 speed gearbox. Ratios 22:33, 1:76, 1:46, 1:27, 1:14, 1:07.


Wheels and brakes: 21 cm front disc and 19cm rear disc hydraulic operation magnesium front and rear wheels. front 200 x 18 rear 225 x 18

Lubrication: 20: 1 petroil with a 6 litre capacity fuel tank.

Electrics: l2 volt Krober ignition, Krober 16, 000 rpm rev counter, 12 volt Bosch electric cooling pump with a total loss system.

Performance: 185 km 19 bhp at 16, 000 rpm 12nm torque at 15, 000 rpm.

Now, let me tell you about the experience of riding this minuscule racer. Mike started the bike in the paddock and took it through its warm up procedure, these engines are quite happy to be revved up to 16,000 rpm while being warmed up. In fact if you don't you could well foul up the plug. The excitement of riding Mike's bike was almost getting the better of me - this really is going to be an experience to savour.

Next thing to do is to paddle the bike to Cadwell's collection area making sure to try to give the clutch an easy life as first gear is quite tall. I waited with all the other parade bikes in the collection area constantly keeping an eye on the bike's temperature gauge. 

In the CRMC parades you go out with quite a collection of machines varying from Manx Nortons to Triumph Triples to BSA Bantams. I knew this Kreidler was going to put up a good show and just hoped I was going to be up to the job of showing it off to its best. The gates open and the marshals wave the paraders onto the top section of the circuit, being careful to keep the Kreidler revs at 13,000 plus. You have to ride part of the circuit through the woodland section to arrive at the start line of the circuit that is on a lower section in a valley. I could feel the Kreidler was going to be quick even though it was only a short ride down the hill to the grid.

I was first on the line and a Manx Norton pulled up along side. All the parade starts are clutch starts so a quick paddle and plenty of revs would be required. The official signalled to the first 4 of us to start the parade, Mike's tiny Van Veen was off like a shot. I was aware of the other 3 bikes around me but I was making sure to select gears and keep the revs up on the climb towards Coppice, which is a fast left hander at the end of the start line.

Successfully taking Coppice the next section is Charlies, another fast corner that is long and a blind brow midway. I looked around me to see what had happened to the other 3 bikes and to my surprise I could see only one, the Manx. It must have been about 30ft in front of me. As we came onto the part straight that has a dip in the middle, I was sure that the Manx would pull away, but to my surprise the Van Veen kept on accelerating down the straight. I made sure not to pass 16,000 rpm hitting 6th gear at the 300yd board into Chris Curve now sat on the tail of the Manx.

In general an incredible experience riding what must be the ultimate 50cc racer and in my eyes it did not get better than this. I want one, now, if I could just get that second mortgage without Paula knowing (if only).
Chris Alty