'We have more smiles per mile at 30mph' - Northern Ningers

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A biking tour can be a great way to add to your #ride5000miles total, experiencing new places and roads often with friends. But instead of cramming everything you’ll need onto a bike and setting off into the unknown, a dedicated band of riders is challenging the usual touring stereotype by heading off on bikes under 125cc.

Founded in 2012, the ‘Northern Ningers’ are a bunch of small-capacity bike fans who take part in tours all over Europe on either mopeds or ‘monkey’ bikes.

"It all started when a number of us did a charity event from Redcar to Whitehaven on old mopeds," 52-year-old Malcolm Wright told MCN. "We had a right laugh and thought there was more to it than just doing charity runs.

Northern Ningers group ride

"The ‘ning’ name comes from the sound the bikes make, as they’re often two-strokes," he continues. "We’re not a club, just a Facebook group of friends that have a common interest and attitude."

Malcolm started the group in 2017 with a few friends. It has since grown to over 500 members. He’s gone on to buy four Puch Maxis, one Puch Free Spirit, a 1962 Lambretta Li 125 and a 140cc monkey bike.

Each year the group holds a ‘European Adventure’ tour, the first being a trip to Arnhem in Holland and back. That was followed by a ride to Ypres in Belgium for the WW1 centenary.

Northern Ninger wheelie

This year’s trip was a little closer to home: a three-day trip around the Lake District, which attracted over 40 riders from across Europe. A 35-mile trip to Haweswater was followed by two 70-mile rides over the following two days.

"We had only two breakdowns all weekend," Malcolm adds. "It’s only a real breakdown if you need to get the bike recovered on a van. If you can get the bike going again, it’s just a ‘technical interlude.’" Power really isn’t everything in the pursuit of riding happiness.

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Dan Sutherland

By Dan Sutherland

Senior Writer (motorcycling), sportsbike nut, currently riding a FireBlade