It’s strange to think that Scomadi, the commercial venture lead by a man who started off in business by creating scooter-based hybrids, has now spawned a cottage industry in, yes you’ve guessed it – scooter-based Scomadi hybrids.
British by design
Scomadi are a thriving new British scooter company and their TL50/125/200’s sell by the container load all around the world. One of the men behind the project is more commonly known in classic scooter circles for mating modern, more powerful bike/auto engines with a vintage Lambretta chassis.
As I’m sure most of you are aware, Scomadi started out as a by-product of a Lambretta Innovations/PM Tuning developments collaboration. A short hand built run of exotic carbon fibre GTS 250 powered scooters under the Scomadi brand name quickly sold-out at a cost of around £8,000 each. That was quite a lot of money for a scooter a decade ago when they first appeared.
Those early Scomadi examples later morphed into a run of fibreglass-bodied GTS powered hand built and numbered Scomadi Turismo Leggera 300’s. They sold out quite quickly as well and were meant to catapult the Scomadi name and ethos to the retro scooter loving public ready for a (an ill-fated) Piaggio-powered Scomadi to hit mass production.
The rest as they say is history. The TL50 and 125 were duly launched but Piaggio pulled the plug (cutting off a Roman’s nose to spite his face springs to mind) on the QUASAR 278cc engine supply deal. This left the north-west based Scomadi duo trying to find a suitable replacement engine in double-quick time. Deposits had been placed months earlier for the first run of 100 scooters, customers were waiting. Those orders were filled and the TL200 was introduced – a happy ending, without even needing a ‘massage’.
Obviously things were already geared-up for the Piaggio engine so it doesn’t take Einstein to work out that the big four-stroke GTS lump should be a straightforward fit into a modern Scomadi chassis. That’s where this tidy example comes in. It also comes in at a bargain price. Would your ears prick up if we told you it cost just £3,000 in total?
Neil Kent, lives near Mansfield and is a member of Skegby Scooter Club. He liked the look of the Scomadi and thought it’d be good to build a one-off using a 50cc Scomadi chassis, mated to a GTS engine. He managed to acquire a scooter that somebody had bought with a view of turning it into a two-stroke conversion. They’d bought a TL50 and an air-cooled Piaggio Typhoon engine but gave it up as a bad job. The scooter was in red & ocean blue paintwork and had covered less than 60 miles when Neil picked it up. He also got the air-cooled engine as part of the deal. All in all it cost him around £1500 and he could either sell the engine or keep it for another project. Neil chose the latter and has since bought another used Scomadi 50 for his next hybrid project.
He also picked up a complete Vespa GTS 300 engine and found a man to do the conversion for him in Derby, that man is Steve Robinson. We’ll show you Steve’s photos of the build in the gallery at the end. The 50cc Scomadi engine was soon removed, I think there are more of these being used as garage ornaments and paperweights than their are on the road. Steve tells us it was fairly straightforward to get the engine in, not too much of a shock but he also made a mount for the cradle and machined the silent block to accept a 12mm engine bolt for added strength. The carrier and silent block were bolted to a welded mount so they can easily be removed if need be.
Steve prefers to use the existing mounts and silent block because they help to eliminate vibration. The TL50 was already twin shock as well so that made things easier at the rear end, although the air-box fouled the left hand shock and had to be cut out to fit around it. Steve originally tried using an open Ram Air filter but Neil found it zapped power so they modified the original air-box instead.
Cooling is often an issue with liquid-cooled conversions and this scooter was a case of trial and error to begin with. The problem often lies with the shortened length of the hoses and how and where the radiator is placed. Nobody wants to see it sticking out like a huge aluminium carbuncle but it has to work. Like many – Scomadi included, Steve stuck it at a jaunty angle under the floorboards and built a shroud/scoop for it. In early testing the scooter overheated so it went back for a few modifications. These included an electric water pump mounted just behind the frame rail on the right hand side. A manual fan switch was installed in the top of the glovebox and a temperature gauge. These mods had just been done before we rode the scooter but all seemed good on initial testing.
One of the hardest parts of the project was the wiring. All those tangles of multi-coloured spaghetti are enough to worry anybody but after a few sleepless nights things started to work out and that was another hassle ticked off the problem list. Steve found ways around some of the more complicated electrickery, again by thinking outside the box.
During this time Neil shipped the bodywork off to mate, Will Thompson at WRT Custom Paint to be sprayed in a fetching shade of Mercedes grey. The colour choice was no accident, it matches the car parked on Neil’s drive and is also strangely reminiscent of the early original carbon fibre Scomadis. Being friends with a sprayer is worth it’s weight in metal-flake to a scooterist and can pay dividends if you look after them.
Will certainly looked after Neil and the bodywork came back glistening and with a subtle message hidden within the GP style panel strips. This message is also replicated on the bottom of his personal number plate. Buying the used Scomadi, a decent priced GTS engine and calling in a few favours all adds up to a tidy saving so the whole project came in at just shy of three grand. A bargain for a good-looking, 80mph rally going scooter. Since he finished this one Neil has bought another cheap 50cc Scomadi and that’s being turned into a two-stroke 172 using the other engine that came as part of this deal.
Having ridden the original Scomadi 250 and the latest crop of production 50/125/200s this scooter felt very familiar. All the switchgear, bodywork and equipment are as Scomadi intended. Aside from the engine, exhaust and rear shockers of course. You can read our reviews here: Scomadi TL200
The aftermarket exhaust sounds meaty enough, just like any four-stroke GTS really. Neil’s scooter is obviously quite a bit heavier than a standard TL50 but because the scooter carries the weight low down it doesn’t feel too heavy in use. I’ve never been a big fan of the Scomadi front suspension set up, the anti-dive does exactly what it says on the tin. Maybe ‘no-dive’ would be a better description and even backed off to their softest preload setting there’s not much feel to the front end. On a 50/125 Scomadi this set up is hard but works, it’s been improved on the 200 but with the 300 engine fitted and the extra weight and power this is one area that could be improved on Neil’s scooter. The rear shocks were also a bit harsh, bumps were felt rather than absorbed, although to be fair they could be backed off a bit. I think I’d be inclined to fit the best I could at the rear end and hunt around for something else for the front. The engine performs just as you expect the popular GTS lump would, acceleration is brisk, top end good and the chassis feels like it can cope with the extra power.
Can you handle it?
One thing I like about a Scomadi is the way it feels when you’re pushing on a bit, the 125 and 200s handle well, they have a sporty feel to them and you can have great fun around the twisties.
Despite the suspension not being as good as it could be on Neil’s bike this still didn’t dampen (no pun intended) the enjoyment. This scooter isn’t scared of corners, if you enjoy blasting around country lanes and want to hunt down GTS riding mates this is the tool for the job. Great fun. The brakes don’t spoil the party either, it uses standard Scomadi front/GTS rear and they work a treat.
I rode the scooter during one of the hottest summer days and although the engine temperature rose to around 94º as soon as I switched the fan on it brought the temp down to around 66º so I wasn’t too worried about the cooling. Even so I soon noticed the familiar smell of steamy coolant and noticed the engine was splattered with coloured liquid. Assuming the worst I took the panel off and was pleasantly surprised to find the radiator cap was loose, I found out later that Neil and Steve had been bleeding the system the day before and forget to tighten it. Thankfully no harm done and I returned it to it’s owner without it needing major surgery.
Words and photos: Iggy, build shots: Neil & Steve
Scomadi TL300 Specs
Scooter name: TL 300
Model: Scomadi TL50
Engine details: Standard Vespa GTS 300
Top speed: 80mph
Power output: 18bhp at wheel
Paintwork: WRT Custom Paint
Fabrication: Frame adapted to suit GTS engine and silent block, one off air-scoop
Accessories: Manual fan switch, digital temp gauge, electric water pump, Stage 6 mirrors
Acquisition? Bought as a TL50 complete with spare air-cooled Typhoon engine
Inspiration? Wanted a Scomadi 300 on a budget
Alteration? Surprisingly little but complicated at times (done by Steve Robinson)
Perspiration? The wiring was the biggest headache
Aggravation? Cooling issues to begin with, sorted now though
Recommendation? Thanks to Will Thompson for the paint and Steve Robinson (07773 021035) for the build.