The Deckson – The original Aussie mini-bike | Bike Tests | Used Bikes
If you were a kid growing up in the 60s and 70s, this was a machine to envy
The Deckson was just one of a number of oddly shaped, pull-start, lawnmower-engine-powered machines lovingly referred to back in the day as a mini-bike. To own one made you King of the kids. It wasn’t until the advent of bikes like Honda’s XR75 and Yamaha’s PeeWee 50 that the old square-framed mini-bike, with its little fuel tank and oversized seat, began to look a bit odd – even daggy. Many were taken to the tip, or simply rusted away. These days they are lovingly restored by people with fond memories of learning the basics of motorcycle riding on one.
The Deckson is believed to be the only Aussie-designed and built mini-bike that was available in the 1960s. John Deck had a Sydney engineering business and a passion for motorised equipment. Among his many inventions was a two-stroke rabbit fumigator and a self-propelled mower.
Early examples of the Deckson (Deck and sons) were so simple they included a lawnmower friction-type throttle with no return spring. They had no brakes or suspension. Drive from the engine was usually via chain and centrifugal clutch to a jackshaft with different-sized sprockets, and then onto the rear wheel. On early models the front fork continued up to form the handlebar, but later models had folding handlebars.
If you wanted to have the fastest mini-bike in your gang, a range of hot-up parts were available, including a high-compression head and tuned exhaust.
Examples of original mini-bikes now swap hands for healthy figures. If you still have one in the back of your parent’s shed, we would love to hear about it.
One afternoon in 1974, aged seven, I took my first wobbly ride on a mini-bike, and I’m pretty sure it was a Deckson. It was my first ride on a motorised vehicle of any type, so I took all the necessary safety precautions: no adult supervision, thongs, shorts, no shirt and no helmet. The owner of the bike (another seven-year-old) started it for me as I had no idea how the pull-start worked. I jumped on, twisted the throttle and promptly crashed into the fence sustaining a nasty gash to my right foot.
It’s unusual to feature a bike in these pages without actually riding it, but I’m happy for my childhood memories to guide me in this instance. Undeterred by the fence-crushing incident I progressed to riding around the local bush trails. Back then I thought it was the most powerful and best-handling machine on the planet. Even when the vibrations loosened the clamp screws on the fold-down handlebars and the exposed sparkplug wire caused a serious misfire, I knew it still had the go to beat any roadbike around. I often had dreams of competing in the Castrol Six Hour on that mini-bike. And it wasn’t even mine! I have no idea what happened to it – or the friend.