Life After Puch Maxi
- Gepubliceerd: zaterdag 16 april 2016 17:35
- Geschreven door René
This is my personal story, and does not reflect the general opinion of moped owners in the Netherlands in the 90's.
The hypothetical question was: "is there life after Puch Maxi?". We're talking mid 90's here. First of all, my ties with the Dutch importer were severed, on their request. After it became clear in 1993 that the Maxi/Macho model was ending it's production, and the plans for the rebadged Zip and Typhoon were revealed, i suggested to create a new form of club for those scooters, since that didn't exist in the Netherlands. The Puch club i had did well with loyal members and the clubmagazine 'Cilinder', but i feared for continuation, when production of the Maxi/Macho were halted. My Foundation For Improvement Of Moped Use was doing great aswel: i already had all the contacts and was a serious partner in talks around the country. Things were going great. I thought...
My faxmessage in 1993 was totally misread by the founder of the Vespa Scooter Club in the Netherlands, and he faxed Piaggio in Italy, feeling ignored. Piaggio then faxed the Dutch importer and were very clear about things. The importer on his turn send me a letter and called me furiously; what in the hell i did and was planning and that they didn't want any more contact, suggestions or advice anymore. That was it: goodbye and so long. Mediation from bikeshop owners and even salesagents from Puch wouldn't explain my plans for a (rebadged) Puch scooter club, as an extension for the Puch Maxi/Macho Club i had.
Thus my fandom came to an end. All my years of hard work and promotion, all my designs, all my advice, everything stopped. Broken and saddened by the news and the fact that i wasn't given an opportunity to explain my motivations; that some people misread my plans, it was to deaf ears. I was upset for months, got depressed and in the end i got mad. Very mad. Quite logical, since i put in every second of my spare time into the keeping alive the name of Puch, and the Puch Maxi/Macho.
Even now, in retrospect, i still think some people are complete arses the way they treated me back then, but that's all in the past now. What's done, is done. Period. Now to make things a bit more clear, here's some short outlines from the Dutch moped culture, starting in the 60's and 70's:
First of all, the Netherlands was mopedcountry #1 in the world: with more than 1 million mopeds on the roads, the fun and knowledge was big in our country. The market was divided in several regions, where different brands dominated the local market. I lived in the Rotterdam area, where brands like Zündapp and Kreidler dominated. Sturdy motorcycle-like mopeds with excellent quality and great driving characteristics. The Puch MV/SV models were in The Hague area quite popular, and the Vespa models were located in the Limburg province. Tomos had the east of the country under it's wing, and so on.
But in the early 80's, when Kreidler and Zündapp went out of business because of the strong competition and the rise of the Puch Maxi, people still wanted great quality. In my area, we wanted mopeds made with metal and lots of chrome parts, plús the advantage of accessories to boost the speed (i.e. larger cilinders, carburettors etc.). Luckily, one of the worlds largest imitation and spareparts import-/export businesses was located next to Rotterdam in the South. They experienced the same problems in dropping markets, now that Zündapp and Kreidler were gone.
I've had Zündapps before. I knew exactly what was wanted in the market. And i had the contacts. So, at first, we didn't want those Japanese machines, with their plastic spoilers and parts. We wanted real metal parts. Plus chrome, because chrome shines nicely. Sounds logical, right? So? What was the next logical step after owning a few Zündapps? The local shopowner had a secondhand Puch Maxi Super in store: 300 km on the counter, 3 years old, rode only in the harbor area in Rotterdam. Very decent, everything original. In the end, i've had it for more than 18 years...
The Puch Maxi was different to ride, much lighter, but the engine did perform. Over all the years, it drove faster and faster, reaching speeds up to 74 km/h. So i owned a Puch. And i loved it. Build in 1983, by Steyr-Daimler-Puch in Graz, Austria. I was amazed by it's performance and charmed by its appearance. How could this little moped, build for ladies, perform like a beast?!? The import-export business noticed aswel that Puch slowly became the logical replacement for those Zündapp and Kreidler owners and so, fro mthe mid 80's to the late 90's, Puch took over the marketshare, which grew from locally to nationwide.
The importer for Puch was Stokvis in Rotterdam back then. They were selling the division to Adquipment in Nieuwegein, while Austria sold the twowheeler division to Piaggio. It was a transition era. My, my friends, and colleagues all discovered the Puch Maxi and the Rider Macho. In 1988 this resulted in a letter from me to Adquipment, telling them i was very happy with my Puch and that i had several ideas to make it even better. That's where the contact started.
Fast forward to 1994. The Zip and Typhoon were introduced with big success in the Netherlands and Puch grew in marketshare. The competition was blown away, thinking Puch would not survive under Piaggio. Privately, i bought both a Zip and a Typhoon. My Typhoon broke twice in 3 weeks, so i sold it for half price. What a mess! My Zip ran for 18 months, then i sold it aswel for half price. It costed me a lot of money. Later that year, i started to work for the import/exporter as a salesman. I sold the first scooter alarmsets and wrote the installation manual for all brands. I got hold of a new Sanyang (now SYM) scooter, which we also imported.
A few years got by, i already left the import/export business and drove an Italian Puch for a while, but once again, that broke very quickly. In 1998 i got my hands on a secondhand Peugeot Buxy, a competitor to the Typhoon scooter. And i tell you something: my enthousiasm for mopeds all came back once again! That old Buxy, with a broken exhaustmount, with scratches and dents, that scooter was the best thing since my own Puch Maxi which i bought 12 years earlier. I cherished my Buxy, i showed it to everyone, this was it. With all my contacts still in place, word got around that Peugeot was the next successor to Puch.
Peugeot got noticed and with the Fox and new Vivacity on the market, their star was rising, while that of Puch was fading. I got hold of the very first Vivacity for the Dutch market, in metallic black. It drove even better than the Buxy, how was this possible? To buy the Vivacity, i sold the Buxy. The new owner totalled it in one day and we were both very sad about it, because the Buxy was awesome. But then i got the deal of a lifetime: i could buy a brandnew Honda X8R-S if i traded in the Vivacity. Go from a Volkswagen to a Porsche with no extra pay? Sure!!
In the end, i have driven that Honda scooter for more than 12 years non-stop. Talk about a quality standard in building! Today, i'm still impressed with that Honda scooter. It got totalled by a carcrash, the old lady didn't see me on the crossroad. No hard feelings, but very sad, because now my Honda was gone. that was in late 2011.
So? Is there life after Puch Maxi? For me there was. Were there better vehicles than the Maxi? Yes, that is the truth. The Buxy, Vivacity and X8R-S were all way better than the Puch, but that's comparing two totally different things. But with my own secondhand Puch Maxi Super, build by Steyr-Daimler-Puch, with a life on the road for 18 years and 22 years in total, nothing beats that, qualitywise. From 1988 until 1991, i rode 100.000 km with that little moped. Until the very last day, it performed above and beyond duty. Nothing have beaten that since, and nothing ever will.
So there you have it: i got from Zündapp to Puch to Peugeot to Honda. Each of them beter than the last one, but Puch outlasted them all in practice. And that's a cold hard fact!