This tasty looking German Vespa may be small in frame but Blue Lightning is big on horsepower. It has 28bhp under those nicely proportioned panels. Just enough for some serious two-stroke madness.
Like many scooterists around the world, I learnt how to ride scooters on a smallframe Vespa 50 Special.
A local farm track at 15 years old became my proving ground. Crunching gears from fourth to first at full chat was never good for the engine. Riding that scooter to school not long after wasn’t a good move either, although thankfully I kept away from the village bobby until I was legally allowed out on the road a few months later.
30mph wasn’t really fast enough back then and it certainly isn’t nowadays either so a little home ‘tuning’ by a friend in his shed and the fitting of a ‘sports’ exhaust gained me a couple of mph, it all helps.
This 50 Special would have been a much quicker way to get to school though. It’s owned and built by Carlos Fernández Laser, unsurprisingly he comes from the land of the well-tuned, perfectly formed smallframe Vespa. Germany. A country famed for making a mockery of their stringent type approval laws, albeit done by the book.
This scooter is quite special because it’s Carlos’ first scooter, he only bought it six or seven years ago so he’s a relative newcomer to the scooter world.
If you were unfortunate enough to come into scooter riding too late to take advantage of the handling characteristics and power to weight ratio of a smallie I’m afraid to say you missed out on one of the finest Vespas to have left the factory in Italy. It’s never too late to get some smallframe action though, so maybe you should give one a try.
There’s a very good reason that a smallframe is the chosen machine for most Vespa racers (albeit usually using the stiffer chassis of a 90SS), they just handle so well. Add a smattering of extra power and it can turn them into a tool fit for any hooligan rider.
This one boasts 28bhp, that’s serious two-stroke power in such a light chassis. Carlos did most of the work himself as well, which makes it all the more impressive.
We’d better find out what else is going on beneath the 1980s style paintwork then…
You don’t make 28bhp without some serious tuning, so the standard Piaggio engine casings were welded, drilled and milled out to make the best use of the chosen heart of the motor, a Polini Evo cylinder and crank. The lungs were provided courtesy of a 35mm Keihin PWK Airstriker carb mated to a meaty V-Force 3 reed block.
Whilst the pulse comes direct from a Vespatronic ignition, gearing is by DRT. Dumping those spent gases into the atmosphere is the job of a Big Bertha pipe. All the ingredients for a fun motor.
There’s plenty more trick stuff and engineering inside this scooter though. Brakes and suspension were uprated, which is hardly surprising. The front end sports a full hydraulic disc with Malossi RS24 shock and modified mudguard to hide, or at least accommodate the fat shock. After all why would you want to completely hide that tasty looking suspension? The rear is a Bitubo and fatter tyres are used at both ends.
The suspension isn’t just for show though, it’s a critical part of harnessing and making the best use of the power of a peaky motor. When that power is barely contained within such a lightweight chassis you need a complete package to get the best from it on the road.
Aside from the mudguard being fettled, Blue lightning also had a fair few modifications to the frame. It was made wider and the engine position moved forwards. That means there’s a bit of extra room for the fat rear wheel and the mass is centralised for even sharper handling. When you’ve got 28bhp to play about with all these little modifications add up to a more rideable machine.
Riding something like this is what it’s all about, looking good is just half of the battle. It’s fair to say that the scooter does look good though, albeit in a 1980s style metal-flake paint job. Whether that’s deliberate or not we don’t know but the owner certainly wasn’t around back in the day when this kind of paintwork was in vogue on the UK scooter scene.
That sparkly paintwork was carried out by Style Deluxe Custom Industries, with a brief of ‘Mexican lowrider hits the racetrack’. No matter what the inspiration, it’s certainly an eye-catching design that was finished very well in varying shades of metallic blue with pin-striping, speed blocks and airbrush effects.
All this was enough for Carlos to scoop Best Paint at the Scooter Centre custom show earlier in the year. He hauled away a big trophy with his first scooter at its very first show. To say he was pleased is a massive understatement.
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Scooter name: Blue Lightning
Model: Vespa V50 Special
Engine details: Original Piaggio case, drilled, welded & milled, Polini Evo direct cylinder, Polini Evo crank, 35mm Keihin PWK Airstriker, V-Force 3, DRT Gears, Vespatronic
Top speed: 140kmh
Power output: 28bhp
Paintwork: by Oliver Kaps from Style Deluxe Kustom Industries
One-off parts: Self made seat
Accessories: Malossi RS24 Front, Bitubo in the back. Big Bertha Pipe, Full hydraulic disc brake (Grimeca with AJP Pump)
Acquisition? About 6-7 years ago, all in bits and pieces
Inspiration? Mexican lowrider hits the racetrack
Alteration? Widened the back by 1.8cm, shifted the engine 1.2cm towards the generator, 120 back tyre, 100 front tyre, Cosa superlow fork, drop bars
Perspiration? Putting it together without scratching the paint job haha
Aggravation? Use Jagwire cables instead of the regular ones, they make the inner liner run way smoother
Recommendation? Style Deluxe Kustom Industries for Paint and Flying Classics for parts and knowledge
Celebration? My whole Spielzimmer Crew, Oliver from Style Deluxe, Helge for answering all my stupid questions over and over again
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