CASA SST 265 – Italy to Poland test ride | FEATURE
Spending close to eight grand on a new Lambretta engine is quite a serious purchase and when you’re as tight as Dangerous Dave Gould then you need to be sure that you’re spending very wisely.
It’s taken him two years of inner turmoil before making a purchase. He’s made three trips to Rimini Lambretta Centre to kick tyres (and ride an SSR 250). Followed by an extended test ride from Italy to Poland and back on Dean Orton’s own Serveta. In fact, Rimini Lambretta Centre has taken a restraining order out on him to keep him away! They’ve also stopped letting test pilots take their scooters out after a couple of incidents earlier in the year. The scooter Dave borrowed to go to Poland came complete with one of the very first SST 265 Touring engines to help loosen those purse strings. Would this trip clinch a deal?
Dave is a man of many plans and nothing he does is quite as straightforward as it should or could be. Take the purchase of this all-singing-all-dancing Casa Performance engine. He’d ridden the green SSR 250 with me in Italy a couple of years ago. His riding style errs on the side of caution though and he didn’t want to spend a fortune on fuel every time he uses his scooter for a rally so he ruled the full-power Scuderia SSR 265 motor out (after his second RLC visit) when we visited to start the long-overdue SLUK/Brogue Trader project scooter out – more to come on that soon.
Third time lucky?
Most people would read a review, maybe speak to other owners and make their mind up from that. Dave decided driving to Rimini from England was a good idea (this is after flying out there twice already). He drove out after convincing Dean that a decent test ride from Italy to Euro Lambretta Poland and back would be a good way to see if this really is the engine he needs. So back in June that’s what he did.
Picking up an unfamiliar scooter in a foreign country then riding it to Poland and back on your own isn’t something to be taken lightly but after two days driving he arrived in Rimini and loaded his luggage on to Dean’s high-mileage test bike and got ready to set off into the unknown.
Pilots (very brief) briefing
Before setting off Dave was expecting some detailed instructions on how to start the scooter and anything worth knowing for a 2,000-mile road trip. What he actually got when he asked Dean to show him around it was “Remember, it’s a Serveta, the keys go in the flat side down, then when you need to get in the toolbox it’s the other way around”. Wise words. Marco also put a few spares in the toolbox just in case, whilst Mr Gould faffed around trying to fit the homemade Heath Robinson TomTom bracket he saved a fiver on in 2015 when we rode to Croatia.
Dean encouraged him to forget about it “Don’t worry about the sat nav, just keep the sun on your back and you’ll be fine” – which is kind of what he did, although he did get lost… quite a lot. He soon realised though that it didn’t really matter on the SST. The miles passed quickly and easily.
A fuel and his money…
Dave set off late afternoon and covered the first stint whilst riding with a limp wrist, no doubt trying to save fuel and acclimatise but this had the opposite effect. Riding at a sedate pace meant the SST uses much more fuel and he ran out in the middle of nowhere after just 45 miles on a standard tank. He puts that down to his style of riding, he wasn’t revving it out through the gears. Once he realised you needed to cane it a bit fuel economy improved and he was getting closer to 65 to a tank on the motorway. Luckily the two-wheeled world is fantastic and an Italian Vespa riding couple appeared with fuel. They refused any money for the petrol so Dave (as generous as ever) gave them a scruffy old VFM shirt. If you know the couple please thank them from him.
Although he felt like he’d been taking it steady, he covered 197 miles before finding somewhere to stay for the night and his TomTom trip statistics showed he’d had the scooter up to 81mph. Not a bad first few hours.
Vespa Alp Days
By chance Dave pulled up in a small town and heard the familiar sound of scooters approaching. Not just a few scooters, a whole ride out of mostly Vespas. It turned out he’d accidentally got caught up in Vespa Alp Days and the only Lambretta rider amongst them immediately asked “Has that got the SST engine in it” word travels fast. Coincidentally the Lambretta rider turned out to be a Serbian lad called Nikolas Tonic who Sticky had met and stayed with when he broke down on his Twin Towns Courier trip to the Ukraine – like Pete Townsend’s publicist, we’re still waiting for THAT book to be published.
Austria – 200 miles
Life on the road can be a lonely place but on a scooter everybody wants to be your friend. After an enjoyable 200 miles Dave arrived at a B&B and was soon invited for a drink in the closed bar. Before he knew it he was drunk with the landlady and a few locals and hadn’t even checked into his room. He didn’t even realise he had a balcony until he woke up dishevelled the following morning.
Dave was quickly getting used to the way the Casa engine was able to make light work of long miles and by the third day he’d arrived early in Bratislava and checked into a flat where he’d be meeting Shaun Hodgkin on his own SST and Wookie on his Vespa T5. The lads would have a couple of days relaxation and sightseeing here before heading of in different directions. Shaun was having his own SST adventure riding to both Hungary and Poland (read about it here).
Holesov Czech Republic
Dave had a slight mishap here. He pulled on to a pavement outside a cake shop (there’s a joke in there somewhere) and dinged the exhaust. The impact put a decent-sized dent in the pipe and he was worried it would have an effect on performance. A reassuring phone call back to Dean at Rimini went along the lines of “Right, how big is the dent” “It’s a good half an inch deep Dean”, “Right Gouldy, stop mincing about with cakes, forget about it and just fucking thrash it…” That told him.
Having reached Poland without any hassle Dave was a little perturbed when he kicked the scooter up and it didn’t start first kick, “I stood back and thought shit, it’s broke. It started first kick every time during the whole trip. Then it dawned on me, I’d not turned the ignition on…”
“I was ready for a beer or two and luckily the Leeds Central lads were in town. I’d met a lad on a Lambretta the day before, he was going straight to Krakow but I’d arranged to meet The Mansfield Monsters, Macc Kroozers, Neil Jones, Stef and a few other friends then would be riding to Krakow the following day. God knows how many extra miles it put on the trip doing it that way around but I didn’t really care. After meeting up with everybody in Krakow we rode down to Zakapone for Euro Lambretta. The SST still hadn’t missed a beat and I was really enjoying the experience”.
During this part of the journey, the group were riding down a motorway, Stef was on his tuned Lammy. Pulling away together in first gear Stef could live with the SST but as soon as it got into the powerband in third it started to leave Stef for dead. He could see Dave’s hand change gear to fourth but by the time he was going for fifth, he was too far away.
Banská Bystrica Slovenia
Having left the rally, Dave was heading back towards Italy via Slovenia, a country said to look more like Switzerland than Switzerland (according to Neil Jones). Dave rode through some beautiful countryside and lovely twisty roads. Still with no issues. He said the SST pulls very well up the mountain roads – as you’d expect really. He was also getting much better mileage with over 65 miles to a standard tank.
Still riding with the group, they covered 120 miles and ended up in Budapest for the night. Thankfully for ginger boy, Dave the temperature had started to drop from 35 degrees down to a slightly more comfortable 25º, the SST didn’t falter though no matter how hot it was.
Having left the group Dave covered 360 miles, a lot of mileage on a Lambretta in a day. He got lost in the mountains of Slovenia but wasn’t particularly bothered. If you know Mr Gould, you know he doesn’t like to ride any further than he has to but he realised how close he’d be to Croatia so carried on to tick another country off.
Back to Rimini
On his final day, Dave cracked 180 miles off before breakfast. He accidentally found himself stopping at the very same Mcdonald’s he’d broken down at on his way to Adria two years ago and pondered at just how much easier this trip had been in comparison. The scooter started first kick every time (if you turned it on). He had ridden with other Lambrettas at quite slow speeds but with the low down grunt you have with the SST had no problems sitting in fourth or even fifth gear. As a test more than anything, he had decided to travel from Budapest to the edge of Croatia, approx 170miles on the motorway. He kept a steady speed of 75mph but accidentally crept up to 87mph (all speeds read from his TomTom). Incidentally, it was this part of the trip where the mpg was at its best.
He’d done nothing to the scooter, not even taken the panels off or changed a plug during his 2,000-mile test ride.
Did he buy one?
Back in Rimini after his extended test ride, Micky shows Dave a couple of important things. Firstly, how to remove the side panels – he’d not needed to do any maintenance, not even to change a spark plug for the whole trip.
Secondly, how to use the credit card extraction tool on his wallet. Yes Dave was impressed enough with the Touring version of the Casa Performance engine to actually spend some money and order one.
As we go to press he’s waiting for the engine to arrive, the lads at Casa have been finalising optimum gear ratios and experimenting with smaller carbs, plus finishing the production version of the SST box exhaust. Dave decided to wait until the latest developments were ready before having his engine shipped over. Once it arrives it will be going into a Series One he bought earlier this year and we’ll no doubt do an update next year once he starts using it.
Photos: Dave Gould
You can find out more about the Casa SST – Touring and SSR – Racing engines here or search ‘SLUK SST SSR’ for more and info on these high-horsepower Casa engines.
Dangerous Dave’s test ride gallery
We sell some Casa Performance products and will be increasing our range soon