110 Scomadi 400cc – The Dominator
Marrying the engine from one particular make or model with the frame from another make or model is far from a recent phenomenon. Especially regarding two-wheeled vehicles, this one is an exceptional example though...
Tired of waiting for elusive 400cc machines to come to market? Do what Neil Kent did instead… build your own!
The arch rivals of original 60s Mods, the rockers, arguably popularised the particular practice of engine transplants, certainly in Britain. Their cafe racers were notorious road ripping rides. Often, but not always, cafe racer hybrid motorcycles were based around the Norton featherbed frame. On the scooter scene creating a bespoke scooter utilising a frame from one make or model with an engine liberated from a different make or model is also nothing new. Fitting Lambretta Series 3 engines to older Innocenti models such as a Series 1 or 2 has been done and documented. Both small frame and early Fatboy Vespas have had large frame Vespa motors shoehorned in.
Lammy engines in Vespas and vice versa have come to the fore over the years. There’s been auto-engined classic scooters around since twist and go’s gained a degree of acceptance on the scene. Motorcycle engined scooters involve some seriously trick engineering, again there’s been countless examples, including the short-lived Rossa 350LC. Taffspeed’s Lammy powered, road legal fairground dodgem car is one of the most radical, extreme examples of a scooter powered hybrid that I can think of. When is a hybrid two-wheeler not a hybrid? Would it be when a one-off machine is based on an idea that has gone beyond being a concept vehicle, a work in progress that has already had a launch, in a basic format, albeit as a prototype?
You decide. Neil Kent, who rides with Skelby Scooter Club, had in mind a desire for building a high powered four-stroke scooter, which would effortlessly carry him to far distant rallies in the UK and beyond. After reading about the planned Scomadi fuel injected 400cc scooter, Neil took the decision to pre-empt the production model arriving on the market, some years down the line, by building his own version. Obtaining a TL200 Scomadi and a complete Burgman 400 fuel injected scooter in November 2016, he had the basics to embark on this project. His intention was to transplant the fuel injected Burgman engine into his Scomadi frame. Thus creating a hybrid scooter which was ahead of the game. Sounds straightforward? Believe me, it was far from straightforward!
Tie me up, tie me down
Rewinding to the summer of 2016, Scomadi unveiled a prototype 400cc scooter at the prestigious Milan Motorcycle Show. The engine fitted to that show model prototype was a 28bhp, 385cc Italian made power unit. Based loosely on a carburettor type Bergman unit, it was made under licence by Moto Morini for the Magalutti Madison. Paul Melici and Frank Sanderson, along with their European distributor have acquired the necessary rights along with tooling, to eventually produce an updated version of that engine.
The plan is to go from carburettor to fuel injected, along with a strengthened Scomadi frame and body. Looking to the future, they are aiming to comply with Euro 5, with the Scomadi 400, which includes anti-tamper legislation. Going from prototype through stages of development will, of course, be a long and time-consuming process. The earliest that a production Scomdi 400 will arrive, assuming every stage happens without any problems, is going to be late 2018.
A more realistic guesstimate of the Scomadi 400 being available through dealers would be 2019 onwards though. But, if anyone can turn the Scomadi 400 from a concept into a production model in a relatively short time frame, Paul Melici and Frank Sanderson can.
Whips and chains
Neil had the ideas for what he wanted to create. After obtaining the two donor machines, he had the key ingredients. Next was to find someone who had the prerequisite engineering skills, commitment and knowhow to transform his ideas into reality. Enter Steve Robinson, who agreed to take on the build work. As with any such attempt to join an engine from one make with the frame of another, there were a number of obstacles that arose, and eventually they were overcome.
There were three major problems which could each have easily prompted the builder to give up. Not Steve Robinson. He tenaciously, determinedly and systematically overcame all of them. Some of the accompanying build pics may illustrate a few of the issues encountered. However, the stages of build images only give an outline of them.
“In retrospect, if Steve knew when he took on the project what he knows now, if he’d told me to ‘do one’ it would have been no surprise! Almost from the very start, it proved to be a major ball ache. The first major issue was getting the Burgman 400 Fuel Injected engine to fit in the Scomadi frame.
“It seemed whatever was done, as a knock on effect, caused no end of problems. Firstly a bespoke new subframe to take the engine cradle and silent block had to be made. Along with an extra rear shock mount welded to the engine with an additional, auxiliary, one-off rear shock mount on the frame. With the engine and subframe fitted there was not a lot of room under the Scomadi frame, (and side panels), in places, there was only one-millimetre clearance! Which then made the second major problem apparent – the standard Scomadi fuel tank wouldn’t fit.
“I didn’t want a tank mounted on a bar between the legshields and frame loop, neither did I want to modify the legshield toolbox into a fuel tank, besides, I wanted it to have the standard Scomadi shape. Which meant building a tank to fit from scratch. Using cardboard templates, trimming them until it was the right size and shape to allow for everything else there already, then the fuel tank was hand built and fitted. Due to lack of space the fuel injector unit had to be repositioned.
“The third major problem was the cooling system. Initially, the Scomadi radiator was tried, but Scomadi (200) has a pressurised set up which didn’t work properly, it was causing no end of overheating. A Burgman radiator overflow bottle was tried with the Scomadi rad’; that caused the top of the overflow to keep blowing open, due to the pressure. Radiator mountings needed to be repositioned, to allow the Burgman cooling setup to be used. Which in turn needed a bit of attention to the routing of the cooling hoses.”
Cuffs and restraints
Neil’s hybrid scooter had a number of niggles that required sorting out too. For example, he chose to name his creation Dominator, inspired by the exhaust that was intended to be fitted. Name bestowed was also a statement that this scooter would dominate others out on the road in the power and performance stakes. Other fixtures and fittings were equally in need of tweaking or modifying, attention that was integral to ensuring the finished machine performed as it should
“I went with a Dominator exhaust to start with, though I was never that happy with it. I didn't think it looked right on the scooter it didn't sit right either. I recently changed the Dominator exhaust with a one-off, hand-built performance system, built to fit and suit. I was very pleased with the price NRP charged me, a very reasonable £150. Quick turnaround too, it came with a carbon fibre end cap which was a bonus, as I'd already had all the shiny stuff de-chromed and matt blacked. Although the Dominator exhaust has been replaced, I'm sticking with the name. The airbox caused a few niggles, lack of space dictated that the stock Burgman one had to be remade. Grafting the Burgman wiring loom to the Scomadi loom so all the electrics were fully functional took some doing. Given that the Burgman 400 FI engine is a heavy lump, weighing a lot more than a Scomdi 200, there was a bit of concern weather Scomadi 200 forks would be strong enough. Being aware that when the Scomadi 400 into production there will need to be strengthening to various areas, I had a chat with Frank (Sanderson) about it. Front forks were reinforced by welding steel tubing around the standard fork legs, then added carbon fibre to expand on the inside. Steve Robinson worked engineering miracles building this scooter. There was one stage of the process that held everything up, I sent a few parts off for powder coating with a quoted turn around of six days, except, despite the assured quote, they actually took between six and seven weeks to get the parts back!"
Thigh boots and rattan canes
Neil being an upstanding all above board kind of chap had registered the complete Burgman with DVLA after he obtained it. Which unintentionally could have thrown a spanner in the works of completing his project. Burgmans made during a particular timespan were being recalled for a rectification requirement. Trouble was the Burgman registered in Neil’s name was no longer a complete scooter, with the engine now residing in his Scomadi frame.
“I got the letter about a factory recall when my scooter had just been finished. It was for the rectifiers to be replaced, some machines from a particular year of manufacture had it turned out, faulty rectifiers. It could've been really problematic, as the recall was for Burgmans. Luckily for me, my local Suzuki dealer had a scooter lad working there. Although the engine was in a Scomadi the rectifiers were replaced, with the paperwork adjusted accordingly. Taking my scooter out for a road test after replacing the rectifiers, the scooter lad was
I recently changed the Dominator exhaust with a one-off, hand-built performance system, built to fit and suit.