Matt’s carbon GP | CUSTOM
I always admire those with innovative ideas and the skills to put them into practice. Arguably more impressive are those who don’t start out with the skills, but are determined to teach themselves to do things anyway.
Matt is a good example of that. Not only are his scooters eye-catching, but a lot of the credit is down to Matt himself. On top of that he’s not afraid to ride them either, and that includes distance trips. I’ve known Matt for a number of years now so I can vouch for that too, having ridden with him on numerous occasions to various destinations both here in Blightly and abroad.
He first built his GP back in 2004 as a S-Type street racer in black and silver. It was a tasty looking scooter, had been featured in a magazine and drew plenty of admiring glances wherever it went. However, it was during a trip to the Emerald Isle in 2006 where his GP’s crank decided to make a bid for freedom.
This happened in North Wales meaning we missed a ferry to Ireland, had to spend a night in Anglesey (a hilarious story on its own!) and eventually, despite plenty of effort, a very twisted crankshaft meant Matt ended up pillion on my Vespa for the rest of our journey to a rally in Northern Ireland. The trip home was quite a drama too for Matt – involving a recovery service with no diary, a woman who forgot her car and the Garda. I’m sure if you buy him a pint he’ll tell you the rest.
Anyway, the result of all this was that Matt’s GP was relegated to the darkest depths of his garage as punishment for misbehaving, and spent quite some time there. Them is the rules.
During that time, Matt built his Lambretta Series 1 street racer, another high mileage scooter that not only catches the eye but wins trophies too. When I say Matt built it, I mean he did most of the work; design, fabrication, sourcing and fitting of peculiar parts. And referring back to my introduction, it was 10 years ago that Matt decided he wanted to paint his own scooter using the compressor his better half bought him as a Christmas present, Matt’s Series 1 became the first scooter he’d “properly sprayed.”
That said, while Matt taught himself the technique of painting, the lack of power in the garage where he lives now meant that the Lambretta GP you see here before you was painted with rattle cans. “The base colours in your common or garden Halfords paint and then I lacquered it with 2-pac aerosol bought off the internet,” Matt told me.
But why has he redone his scooter when all that was needed was an engine rebuild with a new crankshaft? Well first of all, Matt, ahem, lost the engine. Yes, lost a complete TS1 engine. Including hydraulic rear disc brake, carbon fibre cowlings etc.
He’s moved house numerous times since the GP went off the road and with the thing going in and out of storage, the engine – which was separate from the scooter – disappeared some time back.
And yes, it is a sore subject…
Anyway, over the last few years Matt slowly started to collect the components to build a new motor and last spring began building a new TS1. Because the frame loop is cut away and having no bridge-piece he was keen on this occasion to try a direct cooling head which he hoped would be made more efficient due to the additional airflow gained from the cutaway frame, which also allowed better access to the centre spark plug.
Matt then took the cylinder to JB Tuning in Southend to get the new cylinder head recessed into the barrel as he’d had this done on his Series 1 and preferred this to having to rely on a head gasket.
While John had the cylinder on the bench Matt gave him free reign to tune the cylinder, explaining that he wanted something that was fast and fun. He explained, “It was never intended to be a touring bike but more a scoot for having a blast on. A pure street racer.”
Whilst the GP was centre of Matt’s attention once again he decided to make some cosmetic changes as well. The original side panels hadn’t fared too well in storage so new fibreglass items were sourced, cut down to expose the engine and trimmed around the hose and foam ‘Breath Sweet’ filter with the aim of creating a ram-air effect feed to the Mikuni carb. These panels were from GRP Scooters and Matt is very happy with their quality and the way they fit.
Incidentally, the carbon parts include front and rear mudguards, horncast, seat, (Italjet Dragster) screen and air scoop, are by PM Tuning, and again Matt says they all fitted well with no issues other than having to drill some holes as some parts are supplied undrilled. The panel louvres are by Matt, fabricated from sheets of carbon fibre he bought, cut and shaped himself.
If you nose around the scooter you’ll find other areas where Matt has fabricated and tweaked to create the finished scooter you are currently admiring. The legshields have been trimmed and welded at the rear, and the brake pedal hole welded and filled. A motorcycle belly-pan was cut to fit below the floorboards. The tank filler cap has been frenched into the frame loop, the control cables routed through the frame and a battery tray fabricated and located under the nearside side-panel. All this was done by Matt, except for the welding which was done when the scooter was in its previous incarnation and carried out by the original painter.
Matt continues, “I was never completely happy with the original dated Beedspeed drops and so these were replaced with a set of conventional ‘ace’ bars, retaining the Dragster screen to which I added a yellow tinted windshield made from a vintage helmet visor.”
Ah yes, ‘thinking outside of the box’ time has arrived. Bearing in mind Matt’s Series 1 features a toilet brush holder then the visor here should come as no surprise, or indeed the fact that the polished metal strip at its base is in fact a piece of stainless steel tank strap, cut and drilled to suit.
The only other part from an abnormal source is the thumb choke, formerly a lawnmower throttle. Another piece that fascinates me is the fuel tap, now activated through a side panel mounted lever which Matt made himself using a Mikuni pull choke and socket. Tidy.
At the front you may have noticed the lack of headset, meaning the offside Pathfinder lamp has been converted to be used as the headlamp main beam, with another Lucas lamp on the opposite legshield to complement it.
At the rear the back light unit uses LEDs but – using Matt’s own words – is a little “Heath Robinson.” Another piece produced by Matt, it features an aluminium sheet with holes drilled, behind which is a piece of diffuser from an old office ceiling light fitting. On top of the aluminium strip are clear bubble lenses, made from light bulb blister packets, and the aluminium strips are from an old desk calendar. So there you have it, should you want to make one yourself!
Back to the more conventional pieces and the dials were ditched in favour of a modern Gamma-tech digital speedo that also records revs, cylinder and exhaust temperatures, running time, and mileage. Because of the lack of a conventional headset the junction box needed relocating and is now hidden behind the horn cover, which in turn meant the horn had to be moved so it’s now mounted on the handlebars concealed behind the carbon screen.
And so Matt finished building his engine, fabricating and repainting the body, and his GP was ready to ride again. The street racer style may not be the most comfortable over long distances, but the JB Tuning 230cc TS1 motor with direct air-cooling and 35mm Mikuni carburettor, certainly matches the look.
Yes he’s had an issue with the exhaust but the top ridden speed achieved (in suitable, legal conditions of course) more than makes up for the teething issues during the second incarnation of Matt’s S-Type Lambretta GP. The only thing to add now is an exclusive, polished SLUKED badge!
Words & photography: Andy Gillard
If you have an interesting scooter that you’d like seen first on SLUK, please get in touch
Scooter name: It’s never had a name…
Model: 1969 Lambreta GP 125.
Engine details: JB Tuning 230cc TS1, MB ‘big’ direct cooling centre plug cylinder head, MB race-tour piston, Darrell Taylor Tassanari ‘V’ force 4 reed block on a Jimmers manifold. Mikuni 35mm TMX, Breath Sweet air filter, PM Pro-Sprint full circle 60mm x 116 crank. AF cassette 6-plate clutch,18/46 gearing through an Li150 gearbox, BGM DC ignition, Augusto 7000, finless flywheel, Franspeed race pipe, built by owner.
Top speed: 95mph
Power output: Not known, it hasn’t been on a dyno
Paintwork: By owner
One-off parts: Handlebars, screen, rear light, panel louvres, fuel tap, belly pan, Lucas Pathfinder lamps converted for use as headlamps. Carbon fibre front and rear mudguards, horn-cast seat, Italjet Dragster screen, air scoop, by PM Tuning. Panel louvres by owner.
Fabrication: Legshields trimmed and welded, at the rear, brake pedal hole welded and filled, motorcycle bellypan fitted, dropped motorcycle bars, MB Developments yoke, frenched in filler cap, control cables routed through the frame, battery tray fabricated, GRP fibreglass panels cut down, electrical junction box hidden behind the horn cover, horn mounted to the handlebars, thumb choke, fuel tap through side panel, all done by owner except the welding.
Coatings & finishes: Nothing of any significance. There’s some chrome here and there that was done by London Chroming a long long time ago but that’s about it.
Acquisition? 2001 from Scooter Emporium, Brick Lane, London.
Inspiration? This is the second incarnation of it. I originally built it in a similar ’S’ type style, in silver and grey 2004 but following a twisted crank en-route to a rally in Northern Ireland in 2006 it was confined to the naughty-step for a decade.
Perspiration? With the exception of the cylinder porting which was done by John Balcomb at JB Tuning, everything else was done by myself. With so many alterations from the standard model the knock-on effect from making one alteration is you’re inevitably presented with two new challenges to overcome! That said, there’s nothing more satisfying than the knowledge that you’ve done it yourself.
Aggravation? I’m happy with anything mechanical or bodywork related but for me, the hardest part of the project was the electrics. They are a dark art as far as I’m concerned. There were a number of occasions where I found myself pulling my hair out over the wiring of the ignition system, the light switches and getting the Lucas Pathfinders to work with with a high/low beam on the offside lamp and the nearside fog lamp switched independently. Other than that everything was relatively painless although that said, still a time consuming process considering it started off as a simple exercise in building and fitting a new engine but eventually resulted in the whole bike being stripped and re-assembeld with numerous improvements such an anti-dive up-grade to the front disc brake, SIP tubeless rims, DC ignition system being added during the process.
Celebration? I’ve only ridden any distance on it on just a handful of occasions so far (Woolacombe last year when unfortunatley the original exhaust snapped on the M5, the LCGB South Downs rally and the Isle of Wight this August), I entered it in the custom show at the Isle of Wight and was delighted when I came away with the trophy for best cut down, something I genuinely wasn’t expecting.