Casa Performance – CP One35 Extreme product testing | FEATURE
Lots of companies release new scooter tuning parts every year, ready for us road riders to finish off their R&D at our own expense. Not all of these tuning goodies are as thoroughly road tested as Casa Performance products. They’re definitely not as publicly tested as CP. Earlier this month the lads from Rimini (from left to right, Dean, Micky, Marco and Luke) set off on a very cold 1500 km road test on four slight variants of their new Lambretta smallframe tuning kit the CP One35. Their trip was shared on social media, warts and all but here’s the full story, as told here by Dean Orton.
One of the big events in the European scootering calendar is the ‘Scooterist Meltdown’ rally held in the small town of Kalkar in Northern Germany, just a stone’s throw away from the Dutch border. This rally appeals to a lot of Brits as its only 100 miles from most of the ferry ports and the fact that it’s held at the start of February means that snow and ice are usually the order of the day. As such there are probably no more than 30-40 scooters ridden to the event (mostly Brits) as most opt to arrive by aeroplane or by car.
For those who do actually arrive by scooter, the satisfaction of pulling up at the entrance alongside those burdened down by their Hello Kitty duvets and pillows, taken from their nice warm cars is incredibly satisfying.”
At RLC we pride ourselves on the fact that we actually ride our scooters everywhere for both work and pleasure. By ‘work’ I mean that we get to test our products by actually using them for thousands of miles prior to putting them into full production.
This all looks great on paper as the company pays you to scoot around Europe on your jollies, but the downside is that if it all goes wrong, you can end up sat in a one-horse town in the middle of southern German for three days waiting for parts to arrive. Which is exactly what happened to me last summer when an original crank failed in the 135cc Lambretta Lui I was using to (test) ride over to England. Ever the sucker for punishment, this year’s grand plan was to ride four Lambretta Lui (Vega) models to Kalkar, all the way up from Italy so if the same shit hit the same fan, I’d at least have some company.
Recently we have been working hard on a complete range of new products for smallframe Lambretta J-Range and Luna Line models (most of which have been featured here on SLUK). This trip would serve as a good test, both for completely new untried products and as a final test for those literally about to go into full-on production. The complete list of products fitted and used on the trip can be found HERE.
Our primary reason for riding there was to prove to people that smallframe Lambrettas could now be used not only for daily commuting but also for cross-European touring, as all four would be fitted with a pre-production ‘CP One35’ (135cc) cylinder kit. The fact that the whole show was to be undertaken during the coldest month of the year, with two Alpine passes to cross along the way would only make it all the more appealing.
Last year we rode to the event on a couple of SSR265 Scuderia & SST265 Lambrettas, as reported HERE on SLUK and that experience gave us some idea about this year’s pre-trip preparation. This consisted of having to completely rebuild all the scooters with as many new Casa Performance ‘CP’ parts as possible. We chose (internally) different exhausts on three scooters and a modified 80s Fresco for Mickyboy as he’s more ‘racing’ than the rest of us. As we also needed to check fuel consumption, different carbs were fitted, which ranged from a 24mm Polini fitted to two scooters through to a Dell’Orto 28mm.
It’s common knowledge that if you tune a Vega or J-Range to anything over standard the vibration levels go through the roof and it certainly makes for a white-knuckle ride. But not in a positive sense. Therefore Mickyboy and Lorenz spent the best part of two weeks working on crank balance factors, completing over 20 engine builds in that time until they got the scooters running with an absolute minimum of vibration. Sorted.
Snow tyres were fitted, which are a legal requirement for Germany and those with tubeless wheels were then filled with ‘monkey-spunk’ anti-puncture liquid so we could avoid taking a spare wheel. Each scooter was fitted with a petrol can and a luggage net inside the legshields to hold waterproof clothing, 2-stroke oil and a minimum of personal belongings.
Although we’d have a backup van following us, this would leave two days after our departure so initially, each of us had to be self-sufficient.
Five days before the event and we loaded up and set off with 1500 km to cover. As two of the four scooters had 50cc number plates it meant we were limited to using minor roads for the whole trip and this also made navigation more difficult. At that point in time, most of mainland Europe was in the grips of a particularly cold spell and a beady eye was kept on the huge snow forecasts due in Austria. The first stretch of Italy was across the Northern Italian flatlands and these were both bitterly cold and covered in thick, freezing fog. The temperatures remained constantly below zero for the whole way up to Trento where we stopped for the night, having covered 350 km.
Book as you go
Our travelling method is to ride as much as possible until 4 pm, then calculate how much further you can get by 5 pm which is when it gets dark and the roads freeze up again. Pre-book a hotel at that last stop using Booking.com in the destined location, making sure they have secure parking for the ‘peds and you’re sorted.
The scooters were running well and it was interesting to see how similar scooters with the same barrel kit performed differently depending on what exhaust and gearing had been fitted. My Lui was particularly smooth thanks to the crank balancing work that had been carried out but the fastest two scooters were Micky’s orange Lui and Luke Salvin’s green ‘ped, who was also running completely different gearing ratios to the rest of us.
After just a few hours we already saw that the two scooters fitted with the Polini carbs (Luke and Marco, with his turquoise Lui) were MUCH more fuel-efficient than the others fitted with Dell’Orto’s. They could hold the same cruising speeds as Micky and I (55-60mph) but when we ran bone-dry the scooters fitted with Polinis still had to go onto reserve! Even with the Lui’s small petrol tank, they could easily cover over 100kms at decent cruising speeds. The only minor issue we had was my 4-plate clutch, which was far from perfect, but at least it held out.
Day 2 and -8
We set off towards the Italian-Austrian border in Brennero. It was bitterly cold (-8c°) and how Micky and Luke could ride without handlebar muffs was a mystery. By the time we reached the Pass it was early afternoon and our intention to enter Southern Germany by nightfall was looking ever less likely.
The ‘B’ roads and intense traffic were seriously delaying progress and on the ascent down towards Innsbruck Micky’s Lunatronic electronic ignition decided it’d had enough. The exposed position combined with the lack of a rubber cover made his CDI coil easy prey for the slush being thrown up by his rear tyre and in the middle of nowhere his scooter stopped dead.
The freezing conditions made it worse as having to remove his gloves to work on the scooter meant that after less than a couple of minutes he could no longer feel his hands. Drying the terminals out, connecting the HT lead directly to the top of the plug along with a non-resistance type spark plug were enough to get it running (badly) once again and we pressed onwards.
An hour later we’re in the Innsbruck afternoon traffic and incredibly we weren’t the only ones on two wheels. Although, we were the only ones ridingb50-year-old mopeds though. All of us that is except Micky, who’s scooter backfired for one last time right outside a kebab shop, so he wasn’t actually that upset. Whilst he and Marco had two kebabs each, I got onto the interweb with a plea for any local scooterists that might have an idea where to purchase a new stator coil set and a CDI locally (these parts are used on a variety of scooters and small capacity bikes).
I could see from the insights that the regular posts we were making on the ‘socials’ were being hugely followed and in next to no time, we were inundated with both messages and calls. As ever, it was my old mucker Stoffi who came up trumps by putting us in touch with Mike Rottner, a local scooterist who also runs a scooter workshop in the city. He came over to see us and whisked Micky off to fetch a new coil. What a star. However, it was to be the stator plate that was the final issue.
Calling for back up
Despite a local scooterist kindly offering to remove one from his freshly restored scooter, we opted to wait for Gegio (who runs the ‘Scooterismo.it’ website) in our back-up van as he had the necessary spares with him. He had made good progress and was due to arrive in Innsbruck by late PM. By the time he arrived to save the day the sun was fast disappearing behind the stunning surrounding mountains, that had recently seen six metres of snowfall. Once Micky’s Lui was fixed, fired up and back on the ball, with Mike’s help we located a nearby hotel and stopped the night there. Due to the mechanical mishaps and an overdose of kebabs, we’d covered little ground that day although we also knew that the mountainous stretches between Northern Italy through to Southern Germany were always going to be the most arduous and time-consuming.
Our bright idea to set off nice and early Tuesday morning wasn’t the best we’d collectively come up with as it was -13c° outside, the slush on the roads was absolutely solid and best of all, the controls on the scooters were frozen stiff. Therefore we wandered off by foot into the city for some breakfast, leaving the scooters to hopefully defrost a bit in the weak morning sun. By 9 am we were on the road, trying to avoid the treacherous strips of black ice that regularly crossed the road diagonally, from where water had run across the day before but had frozen up overnight. This apart, the roads were relatively free of snow. Micky, however, was having problems with ice forming inside his glasses from where he was breathing out, so had to ride with his visor open.
By the time we climbed up into The Alps that divide Austria from Germany, despite the cold we were having a real ball and the scooters were performing incredibly. On average they had 11bhp each and performance was on par with a good, standard Lambretta GP200 or Vespa P200. That power in a machine that weighs the same as a gnats ball bag is always going to be fun. Being able to accelerate up a hill, fully loaded, is certainly an all-new experience on a Lambretta Lui. We passed through crowded ski-resorts and frozen, white landscapes with high spirits.
We were enjoying ourselves no end and perhaps had become a little too complacent when it all suddenly went a bit Pete Tong. Exiting from a long, dark tunnel on a busy A road, I was following the others when I suddenly saw Luke’s scooter broadside and then flip up into the air. On the ground, there was a huge patchwork of compacted ice and snow, several cms thick. He’d hit this at 55mph and had no time to take evasive action due to the speed we were travelling at and the heavy traffic around us. I instinctively went for my brakes but they were both frozen solid. Applying more pressure freed them both up but by now I too was on the same ice and both wheels just locked up. Down I went, head first onto the ice and the next thing I can remember was spinning round and round alongside my scooter until we came to a halt just a few yards from young Luke. Micky had dived off to the right against the guard-rails that were full of compacted drift snow so he just slid along against that, remaining upright until he stopped, narrowly avoiding Luke along the way. Incredibly Marco missed us all, managed to remain upright… and carried on! The cars immediately behind us did well not to run over Luke and I. Picking the battered scooters up off the ice we realised how lucky we’d been and other than some serious bodywork alterations to Luke’s scooter with his headset top getting ripped off, all was reasonably well. They might look lightweight, but Lui’s are tough cookies and there was nothing that a little gaffer tape couldn’t sort out. We asked Luke if he wanted us to load his scooter into the back-up van but his answer was, “My scooter runs and is rideable, so there’s no way it gets loaded into a van”. Hard as nails these Yorkshire lads.
By the time we got to SIP Scootershop in Landsberg am Lech, it was getting dark and the freezing fog was penetrating us right to the bone. Gegio had arrived before us and ordered a massive spread of (Italian) food in their ‘Siperia’ restaurant. SIP sell a lot of Casa Performance products and we’re good friends with several of the staff there. Their welcoming was magic and in no time at all, we’d warmed up. Whilst our Gegio was given a guided tour of the premises by SIP’s engineer Jesco, Micky made use of their workshops to clean a blocked jet in his carb. After the obligatory pics in front of the huge ‘SIP’ concrete letters in front of the building, we headed off to our hotel in a nearby village to get cleaned up and check our bruises. Riding in temperatures that never go above -5°c all day can physically and mentally wear you right down but Bavarian cuisine is a wonderful remedy for that.
Our arrival at SIP signalled that we were halfway into the trip and Wednesday’s challenge was to cover another 300km’s up into central Germany to the town of Heidelberg. When we went to set off, we found the controls on all the scooters were solid and they took some freeing up. Whilst the temperatures remained sub-zero, at least the snow and ice were only present for the first 100km’s as we headed north. The countryside looked like a mystically frozen version of Tuscany, completely wrapped in freezing fog. The only thing missing in this veritable ‘Middle Earth’ setting would be a breakdown. And so it was to be, as Micky’s ignition decided it wasn’t having any of it once again, and gave up the ghost for the second time. Whilst he set to with silicone spray, gaffer tape and expletives a-plenty, young Luke showed Micky how well his own scooter was running and went off-roading in the surrounding fields to see if he could fall off for the second time in 24hrs.
The water-proofing bodgery worked and we made good progress, finally getting to Scooter Center just before their closure.
Their Teutonic hospitality machine was in complete overdrive with Ulf’s own Lui’s all set up in the SC window display, hot drinks aplenty and we were asked to park the scooters right inside the showroom – despite their less than ‘showroom’ appearance. It was like the scooter pikeys had arrived with waterproofs, protective clothing and baggage everywhere. And everything was white with salt from the road spray. Phil was the perfect host and put all of us up for the night in his Mod hotel, with Ulf also joining us for a late night meal in the centre of Cologne.
Friday morning, with just 130km’s to cover to Kalkar, we were in a relaxed mood and abused Phil’s vintage coffee machine to the limit. Once we finally got to SC they gave us full use of the workshops which was ideal as I wanted to check my clutch, which hadn’t been right since we’d left. Although to be fair, it was now 18 months old with another European tour under its cork-lined belt. We were also having a few issues with two exhausts as well but again, good Vega pipes are near-impossible to find and we were having to use ‘parts bin specials’ that we’d modified internally when testing prior to the trip. The fact Marco’s pipe had ‘Frankenexhaust’ written on the outside summed them all up. Micky had split the small ‘O’ ring on his Dell’Orto pilot jet and this tiny part had been giving him untold problems with his carburation for the last 100km’s.
Once we were sorted out, we hit the road again for the last leg of the trip to the Scooterist Meltdown event. This was reasonably uneventful and we rolled in late afternoon to the usual superb welcoming. The satisfaction was immense as anyone arriving their by scooter will testify.
VIDEO | A little off roading with the CP Circus
Mechanically speaking, the issues were all stupid things really but that’s one of the reasons the trip was undertaken in the first place. We do the problem solving and fine-tuning of both the parts we actually manufacture and to check those that we out-source (such as the carbs). For example, we now know which carbs work well and consume less, which exhaust configuration works and which ones don’t, what (electrical) parts need protecting better, which crankshaft balancing factor doesn’t vibrate etc. etc. We also know that the ‘CP One35’ cylinder kits are bomb-proof and combined with the right carb and pipe, can hold 55-60mph all day with good fuel consumption.
As one person posted up on FB during our trip…
You know what’s best about this? You lot are prepared to go and breakdown in the middle of nowhere so we don’t have to! Big thumbs up from me.”
Extreme product testing for products that will take smallframe Lambrettas into a new era?
Words: Dean Orton: RLC/Casa Performance
Photos: Dean Orton and Gegio, Scooterissmo.it
SLUK Lui screen development
It looks like 2019 might just be the year when those forgotten Lui’s make a big comeback. We’re just about to start work on a Lui screen down in our secret SLUK Plastic’s Bunker. If any of you smallframe freaks have any ideas on how you’d like a Lui screen to look you can either get in touch at Editorial@ScooterLab.UK or comment on this post. Have a look at our current range of screens for inspiration. We’ll also make a SLUK Support whilst we’re at it, seeing as it looks like they’ll soon be covering some decent distances and you’ll be wanting to carry your luggage.
Read more about this trip in ScooterNova issue 12
The trip to Meltdown gallery – Photos by Gegio and Dean
New products always in development…