Kamasura mopeds were imported to the United States from China in the mid 1980s (mostly 1987). The engine is a faithful copy of a Sachs 505-1A, though it lacks the mechanism for coaster-style (pedal backward) brakes. Even the carburetor is copied from the square Bing used on Sachs. The engine has either a running deer logo on the magneto cover or a "HL" set over a tri-star. The clutch cover is marked wit a large "GD". The VIN plate is found on the bottom of the seat pan.
Kamasura came with turn signals, a battery and charging system, a luggage rack over the rear fender, and a basket on the front. A unique feature was the reverse tilted rear shocks, presumably to support heavy loads on the luggage rack (which is a structural component to the bike). The Kamasura has two separate fuel tanks: a steel one mounted in front of the rider in the usual location for step-through frames and a second aluminum tank under the seat.
The overall quality of the bike is average to slightly below. The plastic components are extremely brittle and will require extra care when handled. The chrome is very poor as well and tends to flake off easily. The welds on the frame are solid but poorly finished, The factory tires are basically BMX tires and should be replaced with something more substantial. Despite these issues, the engines seem to be robust and reliable, and the Peugeot-looking muffler seems to hold up well. The electronics are overcomplicated but fairly robust and should give very little trouble other than the plastic connectors failing. The paint seems to hold up remarkably.
The Kamasura rides comfortably and seems to take average bumps well. The brakes seem on the small side at first glance, but they function well. The bike is able to exceed 30mph on a flat without modification of any type (the Sachs 505-1A it copies tops out at 25mph). Acceleration is weak but acceptable.
As parts for these are nearly non-existent, any Kamasura owner will need to make some substitutions. Many engine parts may be interchanged with Sachs, but they should be measured and compared carefully first. Interestingly enough though, the upper engine case has a slight difference in the casting that gives enough clearance for a Dellorto SHA carburetor. The controls can be replaced with standard C.E.V controls. The side covers can be replaced with ones from a Sachs Balboa or similar style covers with little or no modification. The rear fender and rack can not be substituted without modification to the frame as these support the shocks and thus the entire rear weight of the bike.
The Kamasura moped is a mysterious enigma in the moped world. There is so little information regarding the make that even its origins are shrouded in the fog of history. It is variously attributed to being a product of Taiwan, Japan, China, and lastly South Korea.
The Kamasura arrived in the U.S. in 1987, well after the moped craze, which had started in the late 70’s and peaked by 1979. The relatively high price of the European mopeds made the arrival of the Japanese moderately priced no-peds seem a bargain in the early 80’s. However the price of gasoline was in decline during this period, sinking below the $1.00 a gallon psychological barrier by 1986, removing the driving force behind moped sales and use. It was at this point that a company called Continental Marketing and Research imported into the U.S. a number of mopeds and sent out 50,000 fliers in a mass mailing to promote it. (a.)
This mailing was controversial in that it offered a “free motorcycle” called the Kamasura 250VRX for market research and evaluation, the customer would be responsible for “shipping costs” amounting to $400. The offer was further validated by the mention of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF). When the “free motorcycle” arrived it was a Kamasura Moped with a 39cc Sachs clone engine that the distributor claimed was manufactured in South Korea. (b.)
The Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) demanded that Continental Marketing and Research cease using its name as it was not associated with the company nor its promotions. (a.)
Several months later a company known as National Marketing and Research offered a “free” Yamoto Super 250GT Motor Cycle for street legal use and motocross use. A company called Global Marketing and Testing Services (which shared a phone # with the previously mentioned Continental Marketing and Research.) then promoted a “free” Emei 500 Motorcycle. In these offers if the customer paid the shipping costs of $400 they received a Kamasura moped with a 47cc Sachs clone engine, the model designations referred to the more substantial body style rather than the displacement of the engine. (b.)
This Kamasura Emei 500 was in fact a product of China according to the data plate located on the underside of the seat.
"This label is Chinese and says:
- model emei 50
- origin factory number
- origin factory date
- State-run emei tool factory”
- Translation- Racheal Roberts
There is little information regarding how the customers reacted to their Kamasura mopeds, it is reasonable to assume that most made the best of the situation and either rode it themselves or gave it to their children and made little effort to either return the moped, seek a refund, or seek compensation in the courts. The computer age was beginning to blossom and the increased communication may have blunted the effectiveness of the promotion preventing a full blown national legal backlash. I have not been able to find any lawsuits related to these three companies, they may have folded their tents and skulked into the darkness before the lawyers got there. In any case the Kamasura with its quaint style can be found from time to time in the sheds and garages of America. If you locate its original owner they might tell you the story of how they got a “free motorcycle” but don’t count on it.