Friday, January 20, 2017

Morocco's Love Affair With The Moped


The moped, the iconic Peugeot 103, has been around for so long in the country that most Moroccans do not notice it. Yet, it is still a popular choice for people, both in rural and urban areas
Photo: Sandy McCutcheon

The first models of the Peugeot 103 were made in France in 1971, intended for older people living in the countryside. But the model caught on fast, overtaking its predecessors the 101 and 102, becoming a must-have among youth and blue-collar workers.

"They started arriving in Morocco in the eighties," says Habachi, a mechanic in central Rabat, "the model became popular among the working class and low-ranking public servants. Today it's become a bit outdated. But it's so solid, it still has a lot of followers."

"We adore the 103," says Mohammed Ngaire, a salesman at a used motorbike and moped market in Rabat, showcasing the most beautiful specimens of the Peugeot 103 still in circulation. "Come and see, we have them all".

No permit is required to drive the moped, which can be spotted at virtually every street corner in Morocco where they zip around in their legendary glory -- starting pedals, 49cm3 engine, miraculous petrol tank back-up, 45-kilometre-per-hour (28-mile-per-hour) speed limit and all.
Some models have been customised in new chrome colours, but the must-have item is a special kit to boost the engine's carburator. Urban legend has it that all thieves in the southern city of Marrakesh once pimped their mopeds like this, so police were ordered to arrest anyone riding at more than 80 kilometres an hour.
Photo: Fadel Senna

France stopped producing the 103 in 2011 and Morocco followed suit three years later when it shuttered its DIMAC-Peugeot plant in Casablanca.
The Rabat motorbike market, worries are high over a new arrival in town, the cheap Chinese scooters which have invaded the country.The Asian two-wheelers zip all over the capital, but at the used bike market, vendors are unanimous.
"Chinese bikes work, but they're not quality. They're like disposable razors."

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1 comment:

Phil Shaw said...

Anything on two wheels...