Alex Moulton's famous small-wheeled bicycle
was launched in November 1962. Raleigh, who
had reneged on an agreement to manufacture the
Moulton, were stunned by its success and in
July 1965 launched their response - the balloon-tyred
RSW16 (Raleigh Small Wheels 16" diameter). CWS,
the Co-operative Wholesale Society, responded
to the RSW by producing a somewhat similar machine,
the Co-op Commuter, but which had a mixte frame.
That is, instead of having a single main beam
linking the seat tube and head tube, it had
a downtube and twin laterals - a pair of small
diameter tubes running from the head tube via
the seat tube to the rear wheel dropouts.
In May 1967, three months before Raleigh bought
out the original Moulton bicycle concern, the
Nottingham-based company launched a motorised
version of the RSW16 - the Raleigh Wisp. Clarks
Masts of Binstead, Isle of Wight, then decided
to make a rival to the Wisp, as a way of diversifying
from yacht mast manufacture. What better basis
than the nearest pedal-powered rival to the
RSW16? Clarks therefore contracted CWS to produce
a slightly modified version of the Co-op Commuter
to which the Isle of Wight company attached
a small petrol engine of their own design. Thus
was born the Clark Scamp moped. Opinions about
Scamps differ. One writer has described them
as "horrible things which flexed alarmingly
when you rode them and were hopelessly underpowered
so you had to pedal like mad to get up any incline."
J.S. Lycett, however, argues that the Scamp
was "quite a usable machine and undeserving
of a poor reputation." He has an interesting
article about the machine on the Moped Miscellany
The Scamp had a gear-case in the rear wheel,
with the engine mounted on the side of the gear-case.
The petrol tank was in the upstand of the luggage
rack, below the saddle and above the rear wheel.
The tyres were 16 x 2" moped type. A Sturmey-Archer
BF 90mm hub brake provided stopping power for
the front wheel, whilst a simple long-reach
calliper brake provided rather less for the
rear. According to Lycett, the Scamp would cruise
at about 26 mph (43 kph) and climb moderate
hills without pedalling if "taken at a run."
He considers that it "falls naturally into place
between the clip-on cyclemotor and the NSU Quickly
type in the evolution of the moped."
However, neither the Raleigh Wisp nor the Clark
Scamp were commercially successful. They faced
fierce competition from superior Japanese imports.
Clarks produced only some 3,500 Scamps before
they ran into financial difficulties. These
were not helped by failures of the Scamp's starting
mechanism, caused by breakage of a plastic pawl
on the centrifugal clutch. In 1968 Lloyds Bank
therefore appointed a receiver/manager who disposed
of nearly all the finished machines and all
the spares. (See Ken Mettam's short article
on the Moped Miscellany website.) The descendant
company, Clarks Masts Teksam Ltd, is still based
at Binstead and specialises in "mobile mast
installations for every purpose", especially
mobile communications. They have representatives
in Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, France and
South Africa - but no parts for Scamps.
After Lloyds sent the receiver into Clarks,
the Co-op was left with a surplus of frames
and other parts (other than the engine) for
the Scamp. Bob Thom managed to get about 200
of the frames, which were finished as pedal
cycles and sold as Vikings. Anybody expecting
a small-wheeler with a dash of Viking lightweight
sportiness was in for a shock. These machines
were essentially unpowered Scamps: the tyres
were Avon Moped Grips, the CLB handgrips included
a twistgrip throttle and the saddle's vertical
adjustment was minimal. Even the rubber-sleeved
fixing pins for the fuel tank were there. Despite
the lack of variable gears, the Viking weighed
in at a formidable 35 lb (approx 16 kg).