New geared scooter

at Milan

Scootering - - Front Page - Words: Mar­cus Broix Pho­tog­ra­phy: Andreas Rein­hold

Q: Why do dogs lick their tes­ti­cles? A: Be­cause they can!

In the Eight­ies the af­ter­mar­ket for scooter ac­ces­sories in Western Europe grew fast, par­tic­u­larly in the sec­tor of per­for­mance equip­ment. While it was rel­a­tively easy for any­body with some ba­sic tools and a Dave Web­ster tun­ing man­ual to make pis­ton ported Lam­bret­tas go faster it was a whole dif­fer­ent story with Ves­pas. Their ro­tary valve in­duced en­gines re­quire a bit more skill and ef­fort, which cre­ated a vac­uum for tun­ing kits. Ital­ian com­pa­nies like Polini, Pi­nasco, D.R, Malossi and oth­ers jumped on the band­wagon and pro­duced bolt-on cylin­der kits for small and large frames. If you com­bined th­ese with an ap­pro­pri­ate ex­pan­sion cham­ber, carb, air fil­ter/bell­mouth, matched cases and mod­i­fied in­let you were able to squeeze up to around 25 brake out of a 200cc large frame en­gine.

Then the next band­wagon came along; the ex­plod­ing auto-scooter mar­ket of the Nineties. The man­u­fac­tur­ers and many deal­ers (at least on the con­ti­nent) couldn’t drop geared scoot­ers fast enough to sell 70cc kits and vari­a­tor rollers. And they did well! Ev­ery su­per­mar­ket car park had spotty youths in track­suits wheely­ing up down on a Pi­ag­gio Ty­phoon... un­til the rel­a­tively sud­den demise of that trend. What’s to blame is not en­tirely clear but con­jec­tures are it was a com­bi­na­tion of cheap Chi­nese repli­cas flood­ing the mar­ket plus young­sters los­ing in­ter­est in burn­ing fuel for plea­sure. That co­in­cided with the ar­rival of smart­phones so now they could com­mu­ni­cate with friends with­out the need of a trans­port.

Les bu­rettes du chien At the same time the de­mand in the geared scooter seg­ment started to grow again; through­out Europe many peo­ple who rode them in the Eight­ies and Nineties now re­turned in a quest to re­cap­ture a piece of their youth and scoot­ers were an im­por­tant part of it. No cigars for guess­ing what the man­u­fac­tur­ers and the trade did next! How­ever, the irony of this de­vel­op­ment is that a lot of busi­nesses that tried to only spe­cial­ize in geared scoot­ers and gave au­tos a miss have died. And many of those who switched to au­tos but did not re­vert back to geared scoots have also van­ished to­day.

So what does this demon­strate? Firstly, it is a prime ex­am­ple of the im­por­tance of adapt­ing to changes in mar­ket places. Se­condly, one can em­ploy a ridicu­lously long-winded way to elab­o­rate the sim­ple and ba­sic fact that Vespa tun­ing is un­der­go­ing a re­vival. To wit, in re­cent years Ital­ian man­u­fac­tur­ers such as Qu­at­trini, Par­makit, Falc or Malossi de­vel­oped kits that pro­duce 25 ponies out of the box. With some fet­tling and the ad­di­tion of the right com­po­nents you’ll end up with an air-cooled, road go­ing 40hp+ Vespa, no mat­ter if it’s a small or large frame. To sum­ma­rize, the wet dreams of any Ve­spisti lu­natic have come true!

Markus Blau from the Rhineland in Ger­many is the owner of this PX you see pic­tured be­fore you. He started his scooter­ing ca­reer in the Eight­ies on a PK 50, which makes him a prime rep­re­sen­ta­tive for the above sce­nario with the ex­cep­tion that, un­like oth­ers, he never had a break from it. Even his ap­petite for per­for­mance tun­ing is still alive: “I al­ways wanted to ride a liq­uid-cooled scooter so three years ago I de­cided to start my own project. I pre­fer to take my time and do things thor­oughly.”

La coglioni del cane

Mar­cus’s job as a safety tech­ni­cian in power sta­tions not only gives him the skills for such a project but also caters for get­ting spe­cial­ized tasks done. For in­stance, weld­ing an alu­minium jacket around an old style Malossi 210 bar­rel. How­ever, the ma­jor­ity of work was com­pleted by the man him­self; the en­gine built, the liq­uid cool­ing sys­tem, the frame mod­i­fi­ca­tions and, most of all, the wiring and trick elec­tri­cal gad­gets. To­day cus­tom bike builders can buy al­most any elec­tri­cal com­po­nent and elec­tronic gizmo straight off the shelf but it was im­por­tant to him to make use of his sphere of com­pe­tence and make his own parts – be­cause he can.

The sub­tlety of this scooter only re­veals the ex­tent of work at sec­ond glance. The chas­sis mod­i­fi­ca­tions are a good ex­am­ple. At closer in­spec­tion you’ll find the frame has been com­pletely de-seamed, there are no vis­i­ble pipes or tubes, the ra­di­a­tor and the rest of the cool­ing sys­tem are nicely tucked away in­side the tool­box and un­der the spare wheel panel. The cut-outs and grilles for the airstream cool­ing look like they came straight from the fac­tory. Even the sec­tion be­hind the num­ber plate has been re­moved and welded back in place just a tiny bit deeper. It even fea­tures an invisible LED that il­lu­mi­nates the num­ber plate.

Los co­jones del perro

It was at the Ger­man SRFM rally where I spot­ted the freshly fin­ished bike in its flesh and ended up chat­ting to Markus: “So does it work al­right then?” He frowned: “Ev­ery­thing’s okay ex­cept the crank had to be re­placed and the ra­di­a­tor squirted wa­ter out at 90mph. But I am still at the test­ing stage so it’ll only be a mat­ter of get­ting the tem­per­a­ture con­trol sorted.” Know­ing him for many years I am sure this last ob­sta­cle will only be a mi­nor is­sue for him.

How­ever, as far as the in­evitable ques­tion was con­cerned – “Why the hell did you do it the hard way and not just sim­ply use any of the mod­ern kits?” – the an­swer was al­most pre­dictable: “I could have done that and just whacked a more pow­er­ful air-cooled bar­rel on. But the ob­jec­tive was to cre­ate a liq­uid-cooled bike with that ex­tra bit of grunt that’ll take me to a rally at trav­el­ling pace. I would have eas­ily got the 30hp that it’s making at the wheel out of any of to­day’s kits. But that’s de­feat­ing the point… I sim­ply wanted to prove to my­self that I can do it.”

Well, that sounds rea­son­able to me and it looks like Markus man­aged to cre­ate a scooter that not only suits his needs but also his per­son­al­ity; un­ob­tru­sive, while its true ca­pa­bil­i­ties lie in its in­trin­sic val­ues.

Ev­ery­thing’s okay ex­cept the crank had to be re­placed and the ra­di­a­tor squirted wa­ter out at 90 miles an hour

There are lots of sub­tle touches on this Vespa, like the cleanly mounted elec­tri­cal com­po­nents un­der the left panel (above) and the trick back lights (left).

Above left: This Vespa fea­tures fully hy­draulic disc brakes front and rear.

Above right: Ra­di­a­tor, hos­ing, brake fluid reser­voir are all in the tool­box.

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