LML Star Lite 125 auto, first ride | ROAD TEST
LML Star Lite 125
Retro styling with a modern twist
It takes me back to those rose tinted teenage years, razzing around at all times of the day and night on our Vespa 50s. I was on a classic 50 Special, whilst my mates were on PK 50s and 125s. Back then the PK was a bit too modern looking for my liking but looking up close at the LML Star Lite 125 for the first time, this modern machine starts to look quite attractive.
There’s a reason this scooter is mentioned alongside the old 1980s PK, that’s because the LML is a clone. The body is essentially the same; not surprising really because LML made Vespas under licence from Piaggio in India but retained the right to keep on building them, long after Piaggio turned their back on their own heritage. A short-sighted move perhaps that left the door open for others to profit.
My own history with LML isn’t huge, I’ve tested and ridden a few but I’ve always owned a PX rather than an Indian built LML. The build quality on the ones I’ve used in the past has been less than perfect in some cases, but having said that I’ve owned the odd Vespa that was questionable too. I also know LML owners who swear by their own machines. They’re as staunchly ‘LML’ as I am Vespa.
So it came as quite a surprise really when I clapped eyes on this little Star Lite at Kegra Scooters. To be honest at first glance the LML Star Lite looks lovely, it’s a smallframe scooter just like the ones from years gone by. OK it has lost part of the charm by not having a two-stroke geared engine but for many potential buyers that’s a bonus. Not everybody wants to mess around with two-stroke oil, gears, adjusting cables, snapping cables and all that goes with owning a traditional scooter. Some riders just want a scooter that looks the part and does the job.
The LML does retain most of the charm though, its styling is just like the PKs of the 1980s. It’s mainly built from steel. The pale blue paintwork is just like my hazy memories remember and when you sit on it the scooter still feels like a PK did. There’s an electric start, as you’d expect on a modern scooter and the engine is four stroke. It’s also automatic and is on the ‘wrong’ side. A dummy spare wheel sits on the engine side, it’s all a bit weird if you’re used to those older machines.
Our test scooter was only for us to gain a quick first impression of the model. It’s a new entry to the LML stable for 2016. We couldn’t put any great mileage on the scooter or check fuel economy but first impressions count for a lot and in this first ride things were certainly favourable.
In full rose-tinted specs mode I went for a little test ride around Southend with a mate on his Vespa T5 (my first ever 125cc scooter at 17 years old was a T5 in red). This gave us a chance to compare the two. Remember that the Vespa T5 was THE sports scooter of its time. A five-transfer port engine giving it a characteristic revvy nature and long-distance appeal for us teenagers heading off to far off towns for a weekend of fun. It was the preferred scooter of choice for many, myself included. I rode one even after passing my bike test which allowed me to ride scooters with bigger engines.
Talking of comparisons, the natural competitor for the LML Star Lite has to be the Scomadi TL 125. Sadly Kegra didn’t have a demo Scomadi for us to ride. The Scomadi is more expensive, by quite a margin, but looks cool, rides well and will without a doubt sell more over time than the LML (around 6,000 Scomadis have been sold in just over a year).
On the road
The LML feels just like a smallframe Vespa, so much so in fact that for the first ten minutes I kept prodding a foot whilst braking, searching for the rear footbrake, just like I used to when I first started riding Gilera Runners and Dragsters back in the day. You soon get used to that though and if you’re not an old Vespa rider you’ll just use the front and rear brake levers, just as you would on any modern scooter.
The 125cc air-cooled auto is carb-fed but relatively responsive from the off. Quick enough in fact to give the T5 a run for its money from a standing start, as you’ll see on our video. The LML pulled away from the start and kept in the lead until we got to 48mph. After that the T5 pulled away and left me. I saw 58mph on the digital clock of the brand new LML as I chased the red Vespa, that was before we had to brake for a roundabout. I’d be very surprised if a properly run-in LML wouldn’t do around 62mph once it has loosened up a bit. It’ll certainly put you up there with any Scomadi 125 riders you come across. The good thing is that the LML handles well too, like a Smallframe Vespa you can throw them around a bit and the Sava tyres don’t protest when you get a bit carried away. The centre stand does ground fairly easily though, although it’s a satisfying scrape rather than a scary dig into the tarmac type job. It’s good for showing off mid roundabout whilst out with friends.
The Star Lite comes with the same branded Escort shocks as you’ll find on a Vespa PX and they do their job well enough. As does the modern front disc brake. The front disc/rear drum combination has more than enough power to stop this lightweight scooter in a hurry.
Despite only having an hour or so on the Star Lite I can’t say I had any cause to moan about anything significant. The performance was good, certainly on a par with most air-cooled four stroke 125s. It looks very stylish as well, or at least it does if you have a soft spot for classic scooters. Quality is one area most readers will be interested in, and to be honest the overall finish isn’t bad at all. The paintwork is well finished in most areas, although the plastic glovebox on our test scooter was a bit dull on the top, also where the sidepanels screw on the paint had been chipped around them. Other than that, I couldn’t really fault it from a first ride point of view. A longer term test would give us a chance to delve a little deeper and find any faults an owner might need to live with but we’ll maybe look at that at a later date.
It’s fair to say the LML Star Lite offers great value for money in what is a competitive part of the market. At £2099 it comes in at around £472 cheaper than a Scomadi 125 and a whopping £900 cheaper than a Vespa Primavera 125. That’s quite a saving, especially for somebody buying a first scooter. OK the LML may not be perfect; the paintwork could be improved and the indicator lenses look a bit cheap, the indicator switch isn’t push to cancel and the scooter will dance around on its own on the stand at tickover, but this is still a scooter you’ll enjoy riding. Smallframes were originally built for the tight-turning in the cut-and-thrust of the city and this is no different.
The retro scooter market is blossoming at the minute, just like the cherry trees where we stopped for the photos. With Scomadi, the LML Lite and various other retro models (some of which we wouldn’t even bother entertaining on ScooterLab) there’s quite a bit of choice. As with anything it’s a choice based on preference, budget and to a certain extent the franchises offered by your local (or not so local) dealer. I for one wouldn’t dismiss the LML. It’s a serious contender in the budget side of the retro marketplace, especially if you’re looking for something small and lightweight at a decent price. Give one a try.
Text & Pictures: Iggy
Engine: 125c air-cooled, 4-stroke
Brakes: Front disc, rear drum
Wheels: 3.50 x 10″ Sava tyres
Suspension: Front trailing link forks, single rear shock
Seat height: 820mm
Dimensions: Length 1760mm, width 695mm, height 1110mm
Tank capacity: 5.5 litres
Warranty: Two years
Lab rating: 8