Scooter Review: Lambretta LN125
Scooter Review: Lambretta LN125
By: Iggy; ACTION SHOTS: Henry Maplethorpe
Iggy’s been a classic scooter fanatic since he was 13 and has always been on the Vespa side of the fence, simply because he grew up with them. Even so he’s always loved the timeless lines of a classic Lammie, and has owned a few over the years, but will he be tempted by the young pretender?
Scooter Review: Lambretta LN125
The development of the new Lambretta has been ongoing for a while and we’ve heard plenty of rumours and speculation regarding the eventual look and capacity of the resurrected marque.
Die-hard scooter riders have been tossing and turning for months, wondering what sort of ‘damage’ would be done to their beloved machine when it is finally revealed. One thing was for sure, it was never going to turn out to be a complete replica of a 1960s classic, complete with geared two-stroke engine.
Even if the original Italian, Indian and Spanish Lambretta factories had continued production, as Piaggio has done with the Vespa, the Lambretta would have evolved over the years and there’s every chance it would resemble this new four-stroke, automatic Lambretta LN125.
I must admit that even after being pleasantly surprised by the images I’d seen I was still a bit sceptical about the whole project. As I rode across country on my Vespa to the Lincolnshire HQ of the UK Lambretta importer, which also runs WK and Quadzilla, I was thinking ‘Whatever it’s like it’ll never be able to compete with a GTS.’ On arrival the cream and green Lambretta was standing in the early morning sunshine and it looked even better in the flesh than it did on the photos. Maybe I was going to be surprised…
LAMBRETTA IN DRAG
My first impressions were that the overall look of the scooter really does work, not surprising really when you consider the designer behind it, Allesandro Tartarini, is also the Italian behind the iconic Italjet Dragster.
For those who don’t know one end of a Lambretta from a Honda Vision, then let me guide you a little. The rear panels and back end are recreations of the outstandingly beautiful Lambretta SX; that part of the scooter really does work well for me. Look to the front though and the mudguard isn’t quite as pretty as it could be, neither is the horncasting, they look a bit more like the aforementioned Vision. Despite the front profile not being quite as aesthetically pleasing as the rear I still like the overall look of the LN, so hats off to Mr Tartarini.
The scooter has a few nice touches, like the flush mounted LED front indicators (it also has an LED rear light), the chunky handlebar grips are embossed with the famous Lambretta logo and have more girth than most grips. The scooter also benefits from a modern dash, complete with clock, speedo, fuel gauge and battery condition. The speedo surround, horncasting grille, headlight surround, rear grille and rear light surround are painted to mimic the alloy finish of an original Lambretta and they do look okay; the factory will be producing some chrome or stainless items though in the future.
There are also plenty of other aftermarket goodies in the pipeline, items like front and rear racks, screens and a Scorpion exhaust for starters. Like a traditional geared Lambretta, buying the scooter is just the start of ownership and personalisation is big business and addictive.
As original the Lambretta came with a four-speed two-stroke engine with a lovely sounding exhaust note; sadly the two-stroke engine is all but a distant memory. As such the LN comes with an automatic, air-cooled four-stroke engine. The engine is built by SYM in Taiwan; the scooter is assembled in Taiwan as well, but parts come from around the world and the well constructed and solid feeling metal bodywork comes from Italy. The SYM engine is well proven so there should be no cause for concern about reliability or spares, and Quadzilla will be keeping 100% spares availability in the UK once stock arrives later this month. At the moment engine capacity is limited to 125cc but there will be a 150cc coming soon and there’s the possibility of a larger displacement in the future. A 300cc engine would certainly worry Piaggio…
The scooter has an electric start (could you imagine buying a modern scooter without one?) and it started easily enough on the button. The engine had a slight flat spot until it got warm, but once I’d covered a few miles it settled down and ran very well. The scooter picks up surprisingly well and although the speedo didn’t read more than 54mph while I was on it I thought it actually felt a bit faster than that so wouldn’t be surprised if it was under reading by a few mph.
Our test scooter was the first Lambretta in the country and was a pre-production model built for the importers to show potential dealers and the press. As such some of the panels weren’t as well finished as they should have been, or as they will be on production models, but to be honest the quality still looked very good. The suspension did let the ride quality down though. The front forks were way too soft (something that the factory is aware of and will be addressing) so they bottom-out very easily. The rear suspension was a bit on the soft side as well but at least that could be adjusted. The LN has a front disc brake, which was quite powerful, and a rear drum brake which was good enough to stop it easily enough, but a disc brake would be nicer.
Even though the suspension wasn’t up to scratch I found it fairly easy to throw the scooter into corners without worrying. It’s more slow speed bumps that cause the forks to have a problem, so I didn’t worry too much about it, and I’m sure the factory will beef things up a bit by fitting some different fork internals.
We’re used to plastic bodied scooters these days (other than the Vespa GTS) but the Lambretta is crafted using steel, just like the old ones. Admittedly the panels aren’t removable and engine access is gained by removing the underseat storage bucket, but you won’t need to tinker with the engine like you would on an old Lambretta, so that shouldn’t cause a concern.
While riding the scooter everything felt solid and well built, there were no creaks or annoying vibration from the metalwork and it all felt quite a substantial bit of kit. Would it replace my Vespa GTS? I think if it was offered in a 300cc with enough nice looking goodies to style it the way I want and the price was right I’d be tempted. For now the learner-legal retro scooter fan should certainly have a look at one, it really needs to be seen up close to appreciate its beauty.