- Gepubliceerd: dinsdag 19 april 2016 07:18
- Geschreven door René
This is the (sad) story about the Korado.
First, a short introduction. In the 50's and 60's, the former Czechoslovakian company Jawa produced some of the best post WWII motorcycles out there. These license-build machines really were great value for many and are much sought after by collectors today. Jawa started to produce the smaller moped, model Babetta, which for a East-European country back then, was of decent quality. In the mid 70's, when Puch swept the moped-world with the Maxi, Jawa decided to join the competition and introduced model 210, for local markets a new Babetta.
(left: Jawa 210 from 1974, right: Jawa Jive from 1987)
Very cheap to produce, very cheap in quality, but for the time quite modern for the East-European markets. 20 years later, after the fall of the Iron Curtain, Slovakian manufacturer Manet who already did engine and electrical parts production, moved the entire moped production line to their own factory. The -for West-European markets- modernized version of the 210 was produced, with alloy rims, a kickstarter and a plastic headlampspoiler. It was called the Jawa Jive, but locally still the Babetta.
It costed much less than a Puch Maxi (30-40% cheaper) and people fell for the competetive price in the Netherlands. However, by the time the entire stock was sold to local dealers, the importer of Jawa in Holland wetn out of business. The small engine failed miserabely and the quality was poor to very poor. Within 6 months, most owners saw their 999 guilders investment getting reduced to 75 guilders of scrap metal, due to the lack of spareparts (i.e. no repairs possible). It came and went...
Now, do a flash sideways. Manet started to develop their own mopeds and were quite serious about it. The good intentions were there, no doubt. And so, in the late 90's, a new moped was released. For Eastern Europe, it replaced the 210/Babetta, and for Western Europe (export) countries, it got fitted with an in license produced Maxi motor. Piaggio had sold the rights to Manet to produce Maxi motors in 1998. And since Puch Maxi was much better known on the local markets, the Piagiio-Puch importer in the Netherlands imported it and added it to it's own modelrange, called the Puch Z-One.
(left: Puch Z-One, right: Manet Korado)
Costing half the price of the old Puch Maxi, it was put in place as the price-competitor to Tomos in the Netherlands. Cheap as hell, lots of luxurious options. Sounds to good to be true, right? Well, it was. The Z-One was exaclty the same quality as the Jawa mopeds were, substandard for Western Europe. The Maxi motor was produced very poorly, in fact só bad, that it damaged the Puch brand forever in the Netherlands. We've had our share with the redesigned Italian Maxi and Macho versions, and now Manet couldn't produce a decent moped with a good Maxi motor. The same engine they build and sold to Piaggio, for assembly on the Italian Maxi and Macho models, now known as the Z-Two, Zenith and Zap.
So the Slovakian Maxi motor did not only do damage to the image of their own Korado/ Z-One models, but also the the Italian-made versions. In retrospect, that killed the Maxi forever i think to believe. Piaggio-Puch stopped after only one year with the Z-One, but the damage was done. People felt ripped off by this 'imitation' Maxi, and got that same feeling with the Italian build models, which were overpriced aswel. Now, that being said: Manet really learned from their mistakes and in later years, really improved the build of the Maxi motor. They got a lot of the Austrain quality back into the final product, and fro Western Europe, it was sold under it's own name as the Manet Korado, by a different importer.
But the worlds largest customer of Puch Maxi's and Macho's, the Netherlands, were done with it. The Maxi had been killed due to several reasons and it was never coming back. Puch was dead for us. In retrospect i really believe Manet has tried their damnest best to produce a good quality moped, but it was an effort too little too late in the end. The Manet factory stopped production in 2008, and that was the year (40 years in the making!!) that the last Maxi motor was ever build. The Korado would have been a nice little moped, but in the end, quality spoke. It was the end of the Austrian legacy. Or was it?
In 2016, when i wrote this article, we live in the internet age and everyone's buying over the web. International trade is very normal nowadays. One of the biggest sites in trade is Chinese Alibaba, where you can order literally everything. Here we enter the aftermarket: a place where service and spareparts are number 1. Here, the legacy of Puch Maxi lives on! Every gasket, exhaustpipe, cilinder, or ignition or other part, you can buy in low volumes for a very cheap price! Now, for the army of Maxi lovers out there, it is heaven on Earth!
Since Piaggio and Manet have stopped with the Maxi, the Chinese have got their hands on all spareparts and you can order them online in various qualities and priceranges. This is the area of experts, so don't rush in with your creditcard and start ordering blindly. Know your materials, know the dimensions, know the specifications and know the metallurgy. Only then you can have the best spareparts money can buy. Thanks to the Chines, we can keep Puch Maxi -in all it's glorious versions- on the road for many more years. Thank God for that!