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Prague: ARTĚL Style

Expert recommendations and insider tips for first-time visitors and locals alike from ARTĚL’s founder, Karen Feldman, who has lived in Prague since 1994. Click on the links below for detailed reviews – from Feldman’s own unique perspective – of all the best that Prague has to offer...

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The Babetta: Vintage Style on Wheels

Published on April 30th, 2015 in Shopping

  • Babetta (photo courtesy of www.mofapower.de)

  • Babetta in front of the Summer Palace (photo courtesy of www.jawamoped.com)

  • Nóra Görbe on her Babetta, 1984 Hungarian tv show "Linda" (photo courtesy of www.vakond.blog.hu)

  • Autó-Motor magazine, 1980 (photo courtesy of www.jawamoped.hu)

  • Autó-Motor magazine, 1980 (photo courtesy of www.jawamoped.hu)

  • Moped for you [moped pro vás], Babetta advert (photo courtesy of www.jawamoped.hu)

  • Babetta Catalogue (photo courtesy of www.themarquisblogger.wordpress.com)

  • Babetta Catalogue (photo courtesy of www.themarquisblogger.wordpress.com)

  • Babetta advert (photo courtesy of www.jawamoped.hu)

 

The Babetta was a lightweight, one-speed moped that was designed by Czech engineers and manufactured in a small factory town in Slovakia in the '70s. Named for the popular song “Babetta Went into the World (Babetta sla do sveta)” by the Czech crooner Jiří Suchý it was an imitation of the French powered-bicycle Solex and was considered to be highly cutting edge for its electronic ignition—not to mention the fact that when you ran out of gas you could pedal it like a bike!

 

Largely exported to Germany and Eastern Bloc countries (it was sold in Western markets under the JAWA label), it came in big-wheeled and small-wheeled versions. A two-speed model was produced in the '80s. A mint-condition Babetta could achieve speeds of up to 50-55 kilometers per hour (about 30 miles per hour). Watch out Motocross!

 

Production shut down in the late '90s with the factory having been repeatedly relocated east to Hungry then Latvia and quality on the decline. Luckily for collectors, at this point hundreds of thousands of Babettas actually had gone out into the world and can still be purchased today, along with parts, from a variety of on-line sellers.

 

 Babetta advertisement (photo courtesy of www.jawamoped.hu)

 

In the Czech Republic, you can find them on the country's E-bay style sites like Aukro.cz and Bazos.cz. They are currently selling anywhere from 1,800 CZK to 10,000 CZK, though most fall right in the middle around 5,000-6,000 CZK.

 

As a bit of a Babetta enthusiast myself, at least from a design perspective, I was thrilled to discover this comprehensive and very fun website maintained by a British Babetta enthusiast. It is a fantastic resource for anyone who would like an in-depth look at the history of this brilliantly retro pedal-start moped, as well as vintage photos and advertisements and links to dealers throughout the world.

 

In fact, it was the Jawa Moped site that led us to this Coke promo video (filmed in Prague) featuring, what else, a Babetta!

 

 


 

 

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