I’ve not seen, heard, or read so much speculation, anticipation or excitement about a new scooter since the Vespa GTS 300 was launched. Up and down the country (and I imagine abroad as well) people have been talking about ‘The new Scomadi’ for the last couple of years.
Die-hard scooterists have slated them, some Lambretta owners have secretly lusted after them and others have sat on the fence waiting to see one up close before passing judgement. Whichever way you look at it though Scomadi and its creators, Paul Melici (PM Tuning) and Frank Sanderson (Lambretta Innovations) have managed to pull it off. It’s a massive achievement just to get this scooter to market, to get it out there looking as good as this from day one was an even bigger fish to fry.
Since 2014 the British company have been promising us a range of new scooters in 50cc, 125cc and 300cc and so far the first two capacities have materialised. The fifty arrived just before Christmas and I must admit I was pleasantly surprised when I saw the first shipment. Designed in Britain, built in China, the Lambretta styled machines looked the business and on closer inspection the build quality was actually much better than I expected, although as you’d expect there were the odd problem to iron out, as you’d get on any completely new vehicle. Thin headset tops meant the bright headlight would shine through the plastics at night and the LED dash was also too bright so the glare was distracting. The seat was way too hard, it was also high and wide and the front suspension was too hard. Scomadi took the feedback back to their Chinese manufacturer and asked for improvements to be made, this held up the release of the already sold out first shipment of 125’s but during the first week of July they finally arrived, albeit only one container load, the rest will follow shortly. So how are the new Scomadi TL 125’s?
First impressions were favourable; I was there as Midland Scooter Centre unpacked their first delivery (incidentally the scooters come well packed and boxed up on metal stillages). There were a few instantly noticeable differences from the 50 to the 125. The front shocks are longer than the 50cc ones, there’s a rear disc brake to replace the drum; it also has a single shock rather than the 50cc twin set up. The seat is definitely more comfortable, although not noticeably lower. The clocks and headset have also been revised and the stand has been improved. It’s good to see that any worries or niggles are being addressed by the company from the word go, this bodes well for the future of the fledgling company.
In my opinion, the Scomadi looks fantastic, ok it might be wider and higher than the Lambretta GP its shape is based on but that’s to accommodate the larger capacity 300cc engine when it arrives. I don’t think the wideness looks bad, just different to what we expect from a Lambretta. Remember this isn’t an Italian classic scooter; it’s a Chinese built modern classic, which bears more than a passing resemblance to the Bertone designed Grand Prix model. So forget your preconceptions on size, height, width and heritage and think of this as something that looks more like a new Lambretta than a ‘real’ Lambretta would have done by now if the company hadn’t gone bust all those years ago. What this is is a modern four-stroke scooter that will appeal to classic scooter fans who love the look and style but don’t want to have to get their hands dirty every time they go out. It’s a scooter for the 21st century and has a right to succeed and be accepted just as much as the Vespa GTS has and is.
The bodywork may be plastic but that means it won’t rust away and it is also very light, easy and cheap to replace and can be removed if you are working on the scooter (not that you should have to very often). The panels themselves fit well, the finish in all the colour options (orange, black, red, ocean white and dual colour) is deep, shiny and looks good up close. The side panels are screwed on, rather than clipping on like a Lambretta, so they won’t drop off and there’s a small but useful lockable glovebox up front (I’m sure it won’t be too long before we see one fitted to a Lammy). The digital dash is clear and easy to read, it has trip, running time, an odometer, fuel gauge speed, max speed and a rev counter, thankfully the green tinged backlighting isn’t as bright as the first ones I saw and don’t distract the rider at night. The headlight is bright enough, as is the rear LED taillight and the flush mounted LED indicators blend in to the panel’s very well, they have a simple clip to detach when you take the panels off (the 50cc had awkward bullet connectors). Switchgear is all as you’d expect on a modern auto, not too flash but functional with push to cancel indicators, electric start, hazard warning lights etc. The twin front shocks are adjustable, as is the single rear. Tubeless tyres are fitted to the matt black alloy rims, the scooters come with Duro tyres as standard. There’s plenty of choice though if you want some better rubber.
I suppose you want to know how it goes and I dare bet that a lot of haters will be hoping I don’t like it, that it’s slow and feels cheap. To be honest I’d half expected not to be impressed myself – well until I’d seen the Scomadi 50 anyway, even though I didn’t want this British scooter company to fail in it’s quest to bring something new and exciting to the market. Thankfully the haters can go off and annoy somebody else because I was pleasantly surprised with the new Scomadi 125, as I’m sure most receptive people will be once they actually get to ride one. This one is the demo bike from Midland Scooter Centre www.scooters.co.uk and is exactly as they come out of the showroom.
The carb fed Scooter needs a little bit of throttle as you start it on the button (it also has a kickstart) but it soon fires up and settles into a steady, quiet tickover. Like any new scooter it has to comply with noise and emission regulations so don’t expect a throaty sounding machine. PM/Scomadi have developed a replacement stainless exhaust though so hopefully that will make it sound a bit meatier, there are already a few accessories available including screens, levers, sidestands etc. and more will follow. Sitting on the updated seat it feels better than the rock hard 50cc Scomadi, it’s still quite high at 810mm but at 5’10” I can touch the floor easily enough and it’s only 20mm higher than a GTS. It seems high though because most people compare it to a Lambretta. Hopefully Scomadi will release a lower, narrower race style seat before too long to help those shorter riders.
Pulling away for the first time I was pleased that the scooter picks up speed quite quickly, I’ve ridden some Chinese scooters that couldn’t pull the skin off a rice pudding, the Scomadi isn’t in the same category as those, which was a relief. In fact I think it goes very well for what is essentially a basic off the shelf air-cooled four stroke. It’s comparable with a Piaggio Typhoon 125 and even whilst running in I was seeing a good 55mph on the clock and got 64.8mph with a slight downhill. There is some vibration felt through the handlebars, not enough to bother me but it’s noticeable, I reckon fitting some heavier bar end weights could iron it out if it bothers you. The front suspension is still quite firm, although I left it on the factory settings, it bounces a bit over bumps but it’s still an improvement over the 50cc front end, the rear feels well damped though and is also adjustable. The 125 has disc brakes at both ends and there’s enough feel at the levers to lock the rear wheel. I prefer a rear disc to a drum brake any day of the week (unless we’re talking Vespa Sprint/Primavera with it’s stonking rear drum of course). The Scomadi can get around corners well enough, there’s plenty of ground clearance and the chassis handles itself admirably, so no complaints there, although we’ll have to see how it handles the larger capacity engine when that one arrives. I’ve not had chance to put any big mileage on the Scomadi but I was quite happy to take it down the A38 where it felt able to keep up with traffic easily enough and I’d be willing to take it further afield, I’ve certainly ridden slower and less reliable scooters to rallies in the past so it should be capable.
If you’re prepared to accept this scooter for what it is and not look back at the past with rose tinted specs you’ll enjoy owning and riding a Scomadi. It’s a great looking modern interpretation of an iconic design. It rides well, looks very stylish and is as receptive to customising as any classic scooter. Ok the plastic bodywork won’t take a ton of lights and mirrors but in my book that can only be a good thing, because they don’t suit a Lambretta GP and won’t look good on a Scomadi either. Just subtle personalisation is all this scooter needs but even straight out of the box it looks fantastic. If you want to get your hands on a Scomadi 125 this year you need to get a deposit down at your local Scomadi dealer as soon as possible. Dealers have been taking deposits on the second batch for a couple of months and I expect in a week or so they’ll be as hard to get hold of as a new 50cc Scomadi, so get your name down on what is the current hottest new scooter in the country.
As I write this the ‘Flagship model’ 300 Scomadi is still not available. The planned Piaggio engine deal fell through so the dazzling Lancashire duo were forced to look elsewhere for a replacement. Orders for the first 100 were taken way back in January, £500 deposits taken through a crowd funding site (a move that made the haters hate even more). Despite an original delivery date for June having passed weeks ago and the replacement engine still not having been announced, customers have been waiting patiently to get their hands on this first batch of 300’s, which shows just how popular the Scomadi brand already is. If it lives up to the hype and the company can keep up with demand, honour any warranty issues, deliver spare parts on time and of course supply the full range once production is established the company will deserve every success and owners of these first few machines might well have a sought after model in years to come.