Scooter Scene – Rimini Lambretta Centre

This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series Scooter Scene

Rimini Lambretta Centre are a well known Italian based scooter restorers and original ‘Casa’ Lambretta dealership specialising in bespoke 60’s style restoration & customising, with rare original parts & accessories. They are also the designers and suppliers of the ‘Cyclone 5 Speed’ Lambretta gearbox. The shop is based at: Via Gessi 14, 47030, Borghi (FC), Italy.

NutsMags’ Rob Bailey caught up with an old friend Dean Orton owner of Rimini Lambretta Centre for a chat about his very own ‘Italian job’.

When and how did your passion for Lambrettas come about?

The answer to that is really two-stage. Firstly, I saw ‘Going Underground’ on the TV as a 10-year-old in 1980 and that song hit me sideways. The passion for scooters came later. In 1984, walking home from school, I saw a moded-up Vespa V100. It was amazing – really mind-blowing. Lambrettas were in the family as my Father had loads during the 70s, which he bought to ‘do up’ and then sell on. From 14 I could see the differences between all the Lambrettas we had and the smaller Vespa 100. My first Lambretta – a Starstream – was given to me by the owner of the Vespa V100. That was followed about a week later by a Lambretta Pacemaker 150. The reason we had Lambrettas rather than Vespas was simply that we didn’t have the money (or were unable to convince our parents) to buy a new PX, like the older scooter boys. Potless meant Lambrettas, like it or not.

When did you turn your passion into your job?

As the mod scene in the UK dwindled at the beginning of the 1990s and the numbers attending rallies became a fraction of what we’d seen just a few years previously, our lot, the Allstars AMSC, started looking for alternative events. In 1990 Marc Boddy and I rode a GP175 over for the Rimini mod rally, taking in a European tour as we went. The trip was amazing, Marc got us arrested and we made a load of new Italian friends. Come 1992, I decided to make the move to Italy for good, and with just a few quid in my pocket I left the UK to start afresh. I found digs and got a job making neon signs. The first thing I did was buy a good, clean original GP125… and then stick a 225cc engine in it. Most of the local Rimini mods had standard 125s and 150s, so one evening I let several of them have a little spin. They were taken aback by the sheer acceleration, so in no time at all I was spending my evenings building engines and scooters. By the time my year-long contract came to an end I was already making much more from my evening ‘job’ so the premature unemployment was good timing.

RLC is famous for some the finest restoration jobs over the last twenty years many of which appeared in Scootering magazine, do you have a particular favorite?

The ‘Tollazzi’ pale blue TV175 Series 2 ‘works’ aesthetically and that seems to be liked by most people who have seen it. The two Bel-Air SX’s we did also look amazing. These are what we’d call ‘Street – Mod’ machines as they don’t have lights and mirrors. If it was to be a ‘proper’ mirrors & lights mod scooter then it’d either be Marco’s Li150 Series 1 or my own Speedball TV200. We built those to be purposely over-the-top mod bikes. It’s not just a case of ‘bolting on bling’ though. If you check out the lights & horns on the front of the Mod bikes we build, the spaces between each and every part is millimetre perfect and symmetrical. Even apparently simple things such as the racks and crash bars are ALL cut-n-shut to get them to flow with the bikes’ lines. There is no room for grey in the building process; It’s black or white, right or wrong, simple: OCD at its very finest.

How long does the average restoration job take?

If it’s a straight ‘factory resto’ then 100 labour hours will see to it. If it’s a full blown mod bike then that can be tripled, easily. Every bike is different and takes as long as it takes. We’re not willing to cut corners because we’re simply running out of time.

How many scooters do you own and does that include any Vespa models?

Time, or lack of it, dictates that there’s little point having a dozen personal scooters getting little or no use. Currently I have the Speedball TV200, the last known Innocenti produced GP200 Electronic, a TV175 Series 1 mod bike project and a French Mors-Speed 125. I also recently bought a nigh-on zero km Indian GP150 that was owned by the accessories company ‘Vigano’, who were going to use it on their last ever annual calendar. That’ll get sorted out and then used to travel to Istanbul on this summer.

Please tell us about where you are based, the workshop and the RLC team who play a vital role in the companies’ success.

As I said previously, there are five of us here at RLC in Rimini. Marco is my long term friend and partner in all RLC’s Mod type creations. He runs the workshop side of things. Isabella runs the website sales, Italian customer liaison. Mickyboy is Marco’s right hand man and is a true mechanical genius. He is one of the main figures behind the creation of the Cyclone 5 Speed gearbox. Our latest addition to the team, Joe, is still a Vespa man but we’ll soon sort that out. It’s a really mixed team. Soon RLC will be heading to new larger premises and that means we’ll be looking to take on another two or three mechanics, but those with a mod leaning will definitely have the edge. Mod is what drives RLC, no question.

RLC is an original ‘Casa Lambretta dealer’ and has worked closely with Vittorio Tessera to improve the range how did that come about?

We have worked with Vitty for over 15 years and he trusts RLC 100 per cent. He knows that we too want the entire Casa range of products to be as good as possible. If the products are bettered then so is the quality of RLC’s end work, simple. There’s no point moaning if something isn’t right, much better to look for the solution to that problem. If RLC discovers something amiss in a Casa product, or room for improvement, then it has now got to a point in trust where Vitty is happy that we contact the maker directly and get the changes instigated, without even consulting him. That means he has the workload and relative stress removed and we (and all the other Casa dealers) get a better end product to use, fit and sell. Everyone’s a winner.

How did you manage to crack the enigma and develop the ‘Cyclone 5 Speed’ Lambretta gearbox?

That is something that is on-going and the most difficult thing RLC has ever taken on. My own work ethic (and outlook to life) is, ‘be part of the solution and not the problem’. I knew deep down it could be done and working with people who have a similar outlook to my own helped. The ‘original’ Omega-made 5 speed gearboxes were (and still are) shite. Rather than trying to sort them out, we started afresh and those in the project worked to guidelines I insisted on. Once we were all clear on what the final outcome had to be, we went through the whole show, piece by piece until we got it right. It was two years from idea concept to final production and testing. The very first prototype Cyclone 5 Speed gearbox now has 25,000km on it, and it’s still in daily use.

Does the ‘Cyclone 5 Speed’ gearbox enhance the performance and work on all Lambretta models?

The idea is that your scooter becomes more enjoyable to use and thanks to the ratios we insisted on, it can be used in anything from a Series 1 Li125 Framebreather through to a TS1 240. The Cyclone 5 Speed will give you a higher top speed, it’ll give you faster acceleration through the gears (as there’s no ‘drop-off’ between gear changes) and you’ll use less fuel as there’s no need to hammer the scooter before changing up; it’s a no-brainer. Whatever engine configuration you have – standard or tuned – whatever barrel kit is fitted or whatever exhaust you have, you’ll always have an Achilles heel, and that’s four gears. The Cyclone will solve it, and that’s no sales pitch, it’s just simple fact. I challenge anyone to ride a scooter with a Cyclone and remain unimpressed.

You sell an amazing amount of spares and accessories are these all originals or are they being manufactured today?

Ninety-nine per cent of the accessories we sell on line are originals; that’s what RLC is primarily known for. Original accessories will always be top drawer and desirable and the market is important for us. The numbers of these that are available are obviously continually dwindling as time passes – but the demand is continually increasing. This makes it difficult to locate original accessories and their market prices reflect their rarity and or desirability. On our site, the accessories are divided up between original Lambretta, original Vespa and remade. They need to be (and are) kept separate and relative descriptions must be clear for buyers. RLC remakes some things, such as Pegasus seats, but not mass production accessories. We do make bespoke accessories for ourselves and for in-house restos but these are too time consuming and costly to mass produce. Also, it’s nice to keep some things in very limited numbers to make them exclusive.

Are you still able to find Vintage Lambretta models in Italy and do you end up keeping them for your own collection or restoring and selling them at RLC?

It’s as hard to find original scooters as it is to find original accessories nowadays. We’re obviously here to do business and keeping scooters isn’t the way forward. However, if one of us is considering doing a project and a scooter part comes to light that he or she wants, we have no objection to this. At the end of the day, we really enjoy what we do and I positively encourage all at RLC to have a scooter project on the go. This ensures everyone stays on their toes and a healthy competition between us can be very creative.

Where do you see RLC heading over the next decade and any exciting projects in the near future?

One of the reasons I detest things such as facebook is that it all seems such a celebration of the past. That’s okay, we all had a laugh on the rallies back then; but I’m more interested in what I’ll be doing tomorrow. It’s what I’m going to do next that really counts; RLC needs more space so it’s exciting times with the move to bigger premises.

Fortunately some of RLC’s customers are keen to give us free reign to come up with scooters that we want to build them and that’s amazing: being paid to create your ideas. It’s also satisfying to see customers’ faces. In-house (non-customer owned) scooter projects include a full blown, tuned, mirrors and lights TV Series 1, two near-identical fully enclosed 50s style racers, a Vega chopper (can I say that in here?) plus a mad sidecar combo; it’ll be an interesting year.

The RLC shop is currently situated in the foothills overlooking Rimini on Italy’s eastern coast. For more information see the website and social media contacts at the top of the page.

Links:

riminilambrettacentre.com and lambretta5speed.com

facebook.com/pages/Rimini-Lambretta-Centre


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drrobert

I run The New Untouchables organization and events like the Brighton Mod Weekender, Le Beat Bespoké Festival (and compilation series of the same name) and I co-organize Euro Ye Ye with the Trouble & Tea crew. I have run many clubs over the last 20 years in London, where I live and current nights include Timebox, Zoo Zoo, Crossfire, 100 Club and Mousetrap allnighter which has just celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2011. I have been lucky to DJ all over the globe including Japan, Canada, USA and Europe and met some great people on my journey. I run RnB Records to offset my vinyl addiction: newuntouchables.com/rnbrecords for rare vintage vinyl.

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June 10, 2013 By : Category : Cars and Scooters Europe Front Page Interviews Picks Scene Tags:, , , ,
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A Beginners Guide to pre-winter scooter maintenance

This entry is part 2 of 3 in the series Scooter Scene

If, like me, you’re someone who ‘lives to ride’ in an Easy Rider way (minus the shotgun incident or tassled jacket), then it might be fair to say that the aesthetic and need for pleasurable experience may outweigh the knowledge base required to keep your beloved mid-century lawnmower on the road.

First things first – if your scooter is going to be in the garage for a few months over the winter you may want to turn the engine over to keep internal components lubricated and free moving every couple of weeks. But before you pack it all away over the winter it pays to do some basic checks and make sure it’s in the right condition to be stored.

Wheels & Tyres

Check your tyres. Do they look flat? If so check the pressures using a gauge and pump them up to the manufacturer’s suggested pressure (for solo riding, this is usually around 20psi on the front and 30psi on the back) with a hand/foot pump or compressor. Flat tyres left unattended can split over the winter and are unsafe if left in that condition for any length of time then re-inflated in the spring.

Remember that low tyre pressure doesn’t necessarily mean a puncture. Top ’em up and take the scoot for a spin around the block (after you perform the rest of the checks of course!). If tyres remain inflated, then all is good.

Also, check the nuts while you’re down there (Mrs! – Ed). If you can move the wheel from side-to-side then it’s time to check the nuts are all tight, followed by tightening up the hub if necessary. This varies for both Vespa and Lambretta but here are a couple of handy links explaining removal/tightening of the entire rear wheel (obviously don’t go that far unless you’re comfortable to do so… in which case you shouldn’t need to read this article).

vespamaintenance.com/body/rbrake/
scooterhelp.com/lam.rear.brakes

Oil

Check gearbox oil levels. A dead easy way to see whether you may have a leak is to look for a big puddle underneath your scooter in the spring. Better to check now. A leak usually means a loose or worn threaded ‘sump’ bolt or rubber washer that provides the seal. What you don’t want is a seized gearbox when you turn it over the day before your first run of 2014. Follow the steps via the relevant link below to top up/replace your engine oil. You will note that it is easier to check the levels on a Lambretta (but easier to get anywhere on a Vespa – Ed).

scooterhelp.com/vespa.oil.change
scooterhelp.com/lam.oil.change

If you have an oil leak that you can’t trace, and you’re not about to change out of your white jeans and driving shoes, then perhaps at this stage you book it into your mechanic.

Battery

Batteries do have a purpose! Not relevant on all scooters, but most British market Lambrettas and some Vespas including and especially the GS/SS models were produced with batteries to conform to government regulations at the time. They usually power the horn and rear light/brake light, with the main light and spark provided by the flywheel. Unless of course you have the pleasure of the aforementioned Vespa Sports models, which, much to the credit of Piaggio engineers at the day, require a battery to power the entire electrical supply, including the spark for ignition. Dead battery = a long walk home at 3am.

Over the winter remove the battery and store safely out of reach of children. Unclamp your battery from the tray and look at the unit. Motorcycle batteries are usually translucent and you can see the levels in the ‘cells’. There should also be a black or etched mark on the unit indicating the full point. If any of the cells are low, wearing proper eye-protection, not your Gucci specs, grab some distilled water and pour gently via a funnel into each cell to top up to the full point. Remember to wipe up any excess on the battery or funnel using a cloth that you’re happy to discard immediately.

Health and Safety Executive advice: hse.gov.uk

Cables

Arguably the most annoying component of any scooter. My advice to avoid regular replacement of snapped cables is invest in a set of nylon outers for your bike. Especially throttle and clutch cables. Of course this may be moot if you’re reading this while standing in your garage next to your scooter that suddenly can’t change gear.

Check how easily you can change gear, engage clutch and use the throttle, rear brake and front brake. These are all cable based functions. If any of these are loose/not working, here are a couple of How To links:

scooterhelp.com/vespa.clutch.cable
scooterhelp.com/vespa.gear.cable
scooterhelp.com/lam.throttle.cable
.scooterhelp.com/lam.choke.cable.

Fuel

This one sounds bloody obvious but even the most experienced scooter rider can forget with the passage of time. Check that you have enough petrol and two stroke to make it around the block a few times as fuel evaporates, even in a tank. Some oils can settle at the bottom of the tank and clog up the carb so give you machine a wiggle at the same time as you turn it over as above. I’ve found that straddling the scooter gripping the handlebars, placing your feet on the ground (stand up), and rocking the scooter from left to right a few times helps to mix the petrol with the two-stroke.

In the spring, when the cover comes off and before you disappear into the country lanes to reacquaint yourself with your metal mistress, remember to tighten up any bolts/nuts/washes on your rear carriers/flyscreens/accessories. The last thing you need is to lose that chromed Ulma under an 18 wheeler. (That’s from experience, by the way). See you in the spring, and if you’re an all-weather rider, wrap up well and watch that black ice!


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Nicky Bubbles

Nicky Bubbles was bitten by the bug as a young lad in Australia. With the sounds of Otis, Diana and Marvin in the background of his youth, it was a deep seeded passion for Tamla that helped propel him towards the Mod scene in his mid twenties. The love of scooters was also apparent from a relative obsessed with Vespas. This led to Nicky joining and subsequently taking over the reigns at Central London’s only dedicated geared scooter club as ‘El Presidente’- Bar Italia SC. Based in Soho, the spiritual home of the Mod/ern/ist, the club meet on sundays at the iconic all night coffee bar, drink some of London’s best ground blend, and plan/ride through Central London throughout the year, as well as collaborate with fellow clubs in the South East region. The club, now approaching it’s tenth year anniversary as an official club, has a heavy influence by the scene and represents the more sussed part of the scootering fraternity. All other clubs are welcome, as well as any solo riders, Mod or otherwise.

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September 20, 2013 By : Category : Articles Cars and Scooters Front Page Style Tags:, ,
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Margate Scooter Run Fun

This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series Scooter Scene

There are scooter ride outs planned over the Whitsun weekend for The Margate Event with details below.

Blackheath Tea Hut is synonymous with all night revelry, fizzy drinks full of sugar and greasy food. Perfect for a Mod hotspot then! This listed institution has been serving the likes of original Mod Tony Foley (pictured) and the SE London lot who regularly used the tea hut as a point of congregation through the years. As with many traditions, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it so why not meet here to start a bank holiday ride out to Margate! That’s right, the New Untouchables team have revived the Margate fun and Bar Italia Scooter Club is leading the charge down to the coast for a long weekend rave up.

We leave at 10am SHARP on Sat 23 May (after consuming plenty of food and fizzy drink) and make our way along the country roads, via Medway scooters in Strood (at around midday) to collect more friends from the area, then on to the coast for a late lunch! Expect the usual high calibre of daytime events on arrival that will continue throughout the weekend.

For more information on the outer make sure you check back here or via the Facebook group Bar Italia Scooter Club London.

Full tanks please!

We at Thanet Area Scooter Services or T.A.S.S. as we are known were delighted to be asked to help and get involved in the Margate mod weekend, especially with the scooter ride out and custom show, and one of us being an old Nuts regular too. Obviously having a shop in Margate, selling, restoring and servicing everything Lambretta and Vespa, and a chance to show off our island (for once it was an island); we are very much looking forward to it.

So for those wanting to take part, here’s the plan. Meet up at the Piazza opposite Margate harbour, which is just near The Westcoast and Black Cat Club shortly before midday on the Sunday, when we’ll set off, with Roger and me from TASS and other locals leading the way, with help from members of The South Coast Pirates Scooter Club. We’ll lead you up out of Margate past The Turner Centre, following the coast road along the cliff tops to Palm Bay, before a short detour inland around Northdown Park, rejoining the small twisty cliff top road, then along the lane that runs through the middle of the golf course, round the bays and beaches of North Foreland and past the wonderful Light house and into the flint walled small streets of Broadstairs, Charles Dickens former home, and much still looking as if it was still the Victorian era. Then it’s back onto the cliff top road round to Dumpton, where we have to make another detour, before arriving into historic Ramsgate, with its magnificent royal harbour and Marina, the ride down into the centre is superb, past the waterfalls and sweeping along to the front, where we’ll park up for a time.

Once refreshed we’ll head up out to the Westcliff and lead you down past the Viking ship at Pegwell bay, before we head inland, across the island and through the middle of the Battle of Britain airport of Manston. From there it’s just a short ride back to the outskirts of Margate, where we’ll come in from the other end of town and parade along the seafront, arriving where we started… We hope.

Then hang out, enjoy the afternoon entertainment with The Faithkeepers and Turning live, DJ’s, market and food and refreshments, whilst our judges will wander through the scooters and deliberate on the result of Best Lambretta, Best Vespa, Lambretta and Mod scooters sponsored by TASS and Bar Italia. The trophy ceremony will be taking place at 3pm in front of the main stage. Don’t forget your cameras!


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Nicky Bubbles

Nicky Bubbles was bitten by the bug as a young lad in Australia. With the sounds of Otis, Diana and Marvin in the background of his youth, it was a deep seeded passion for Tamla that helped propel him towards the Mod scene in his mid twenties. The love of scooters was also apparent from a relative obsessed with Vespas. This led to Nicky joining and subsequently taking over the reigns at Central London’s only dedicated geared scooter club as ‘El Presidente’- Bar Italia SC. Based in Soho, the spiritual home of the Mod/ern/ist, the club meet on sundays at the iconic all night coffee bar, drink some of London’s best ground blend, and plan/ride through Central London throughout the year, as well as collaborate with fellow clubs in the South East region. The club, now approaching it’s tenth year anniversary as an official club, has a heavy influence by the scene and represents the more sussed part of the scootering fraternity. All other clubs are welcome, as well as any solo riders, Mod or otherwise.

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April 28, 2015 By : Category : Articles Cars and Scooters Events Front Page Style Tags:, , ,
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