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If you’ve ever fancied yourself a moped enthusiast, you probably like to fix things. To devoted tinkerers and gearheads, their advancing age and likelihood of breakdown is part of the charm, but finicky maintenance needs keep the little motorbikes relevant to only a niche audience. Well, that and the fact that they’re basically bicycles with a tiny motor.
“Mopeds you see around now are kind of unreliable,” says Daniel Kastner, who runs 1977 Mopeds in Kalamazoo, Michigan. There’s good reason for that, he says. “That is specifically because they are 40 years old.”
According to Kastner, the moped boom—such as it was—of the late ’70s and early ’80s ended when the scooter came back. Mopeds were down, but not totally out, and small pockets of passionate enthusiasts have kept them going in the decades since European and Japanese manufacturers stopped churning them out. Kastner is among them, and in the late 1990s he helped start a group called Moped Army that shared his passion. But passion didn’t make products, so Kastner founded 1977 Mopeds to keep his Army outfitted.
In the salad days of the early 2000s, 1977 had four storefronts across the country, but like so many other businesses the shops took a beating in the recession. Despite losing his brick and mortar hubs, Kastner’s business kept providing all manner of parts and lifestyle accessories (e.g. moped magazines, hats, clothing patches, etc) for the devoted rider. So it only seems logical he would want to resurrect American moped culture by making his own model—one that he believes may well be the only domestically produced moped ever.
Enter the Indigan Trail Roller, a frame designed and manufactured in conjunction with the Indigan moped collective in Kalamzoo. “The cool thing is this is like the fun of the moped without the wrenching,” says Kastner. The Roller runs on a two-stroke Peugeot motor, provided by 1977.1977 Mopeds
“You don’t have to worry that you’re not going to make it to wherever you’re going at every turn,” Kastner promises. For one thing, the motor uses an electronic ignition instead of old-timey breaker points.
Kastner owns the shared workspace, called the Reality Factory, where the Indigans are built alongside a literacy non-profit and a small ceramics enterprise. And while the company gets its EPA clearance and state-by-state certifications worked out for vehicle requirements (engine size, title and insurance requirements, etc.), you’ll have the added pleasure of being able to assemble your brand new moped as well. The motor and frame have to be shipped separate until all the paperwork gets sorted out, but that just means you can devote a whole day to your belated Christmas gift once all the wrapping is ripped off the boxes.
And while the Indigan will enter the very rare/possibly unprecedented class of domestically produced mopeds, it won’t be the last. Kastner says 1977 has two more models in the works, and plans to eventually have new models available for new seasons. But for now, the Trail Roller will set you back $1,849 and take you 220 miles before you have to refill its two gallon tank. Kastner is exploring new retail space options since he’ll actually have mopeds to fill them with again, but he says if you’re in the Kalamazoo area you can drop by the workshop and say hello.Go Back to Top. Skip To: Start of Article.