|Very original Squire Squirrel.|
The Squire Squirrel was a product of Squire Sidecars conceived in the late seventies and brought to the public in the early eighties. Times were lean in motorcycling back then and the manufacture of sidecars cannot have felt like it was a business to be in if making profit was your motive. So, no doubt, a mini bike seemed like a useful bit of product diversification.
The first model was a take on the Stateside mini bike concept. This had already been done in the UK some twenty years earlier with the Trojan Trobike. The 'Squirrel' as it was to become known bore a close resemblance to its American cousins which were generally powered by sidevalve lawnmower engines fitted with ripcord starters. The big difference was that the Squirrel used an motor genuinely designed for use in two wheelers, the Peugeot 103 moped engine. A well proven unit that was produced in large quantity.
|Any colour so long as it is yellow...|
The early model was marketed under the Squire banner (it wasn't until 1988 that the company merged with Watsonian sidecars to become Watsonian Squire) as the Squirrel and it was aimed at children. Whereas many of the American bikes and the Trojan could be registered for road use (though it has to be said were totally unfit for it!) the Squirrel made no such pretensions with its solitary rear brake and complete lack of frills. The Peugeot motor in the Squirrel was fitted with quite an effective centrifugal clutch but being designed for a pedal start moped there was no starting option for the Squirrel but to push. The engine was geared down by the expedient of a v-belt drive to a countershaft and then chain to the rear wheel. There was a simple expanding brake in the rear hub which was operated by a lever on the right handlebar. Other controls were a twistgrip throttle and a decompressor on the left bar for stopping and starting the motor.
The front and rear mudguards along with the chainguard and petrol tank (under the seat) were fibreglass moldings, a simple job for Squire. The frame is a simple bent and brazed tube job, the steering bearings plain, the wheels probably industrial and the seat is plywood with sponge and a cover.
|Showing very basic seat and petrol tank with filler cap|
seemingly from an old oil can.
A later model was introduced, marketed as the PRV and with no mention of Squire in the name. This model was more squarely aimed at children as the top frame tubes dropped back to the rear axle in a straight line from the headstock giving it a lower seat height. The bodywork was a moulded one piece 'tank' and seat unit in the style of a mini sports bike, though in reality it still had the same petrol tank as the earlier model situated under the seat.
All in 450 Squirrels and PRVs were made. Extremely basic little things that did as they said on the tin and nothing more. Production stopped when Peugeot upped the price of the engines.
I have a Squirrel and from experience they start, go and stop, little more can be said. I question the suitability for children as the Peugeot engine actually feels slightly too lively for the running gear (yes really!) The inbuilt safety device though is that a child small enough to ride the PRV comfortably probably wouldn't be strong enough to start one on their own.
|PRV minibike. Colour probably correct, decals not.|
Many thanks to the ebay seller 2009isobel for use of the Squirrel pictures. Also take a look at the icenicam page
for more info on Squire minibikes. Both of the machines pictured are still available for sale at time of writing and owners should be contactable through ebay if the listings are not still up.