New Lambretta L70 – what do we know? | NEWS
This feature is from April 2016. For a more recent update please see this article on the Lambretta V-Special.
We know that there’s another new Lambretta due for display at EICMA in Milan later this year, probably for sale in 2017. The model name mooted on the Lambretta.com website is L’70; celebrating the brand’s 70th anniversary. There was previously a countdown clock running on the site but that has now disappeared. (Update 16/04/2016 – the clock is back with 17 days left to run; thanks to Crocodile Jock for the heads-up).
What this new Lambretta isn’t going to be
The new Lambretta L’70 is not going to be a geared scooter and it definitely won’t be a 2-stroke. Current emissions regulations will mean that simply can’t happen. Also, the majority of components are unlikely to be made in Italy. The situation with the global economy means that most European brands are now sourcing many of their components from elsewhere.
On the bright side we also understand that the new Lambretta is not going to be a rebadged, commonly-available plastic scooter like the dreadful Lambretta Pato (made by Chinese brand Znen). Nor will it be based on the recent Tartarini-designed LN125. That was a rival product produced by Motom, without the approval of the current brand holders Lambretta Consortium.
What the new Lambretta is likely to be
According to our digging, the design for the L’70 is rumoured to come from Austrian designer Gerald Kiska, who was the man behind the styling of many recent KTM motorcycles as well as several Generic (KSR) bikes and scooters. Kiska Studio’s designs are usually top notch. I’d expect the styling to be even more reminiscent of original Lambrettas than the LN125, but possibly not as close to Innocenti’s layout as a Scomadi.
Will it be made of metal?
This is a key point for many people. Steel bodywork, like that of the Vespa, carries a certain cachet and we expect this scooter to be marketed as a similar high-end product. In our expectation the new Lambretta will feature steel bodywork and probably include removable side panels.
What will power it?
There’s a 99% chance that it will be a 4-stroke single-cylinder with automatic CVT transmission, probably with a 125cc engine and hopefully also with a bigger option. With Piaggio pulling out of engine supply to rival brands, and the big Japanese firms traditionally taking the same stance, there is a high likelihood that the engine will come from a major Taiwanese source or possibly mainland China.
Our guess on a power unit would be an air-cooled 125/150 similar to that used in the SYM scooter on which the LN125 was based. It would be good to have a 200-300cc engine for full licence holders but this would probably mean water-cooling and radiators, further compromising the styling. More than one model maybe? Whether there is likely to be a 50cc option is still not known, but certainly the Scomadi 50 has sold well despite a depressed moped market.
Where will the new Lambretta be made?
Most likely either in Taiwan or in a collaboration with a Chinese factory. While traditionalists might prefer Milan, the reality of the situation is that it’s simply not cost-effective to make scooters in Italy at the moment.
Who is behind ‘new’ Lambretta?
The whole messy fight over the Lambretta trademark is enough for a book in itself, but let’s park that for the moment. Winners of the epic and hideously expensive trademark battle over the name appear to be Lambretta Consortium lead by Dutch brand specialist Walter Scheffrahn. Scheffrahn has gathered together support and assistance from some of the most influential people in the traditional Lambretta world to aid his new scooter project.
What is SLUK hoping for?
We at SLUK like scooters, as you may have noticed. We are going to keep an open mind and will take the L’70, or whatever it turns out to be, on its own merits. I’m sure that another oriental scooter wearing a Lambretta badge will have traditionalists up in arms; particularly if it is more commercially successful than previous attempts.
The whole issue of branding is a thorny one. Personally, I would prefer the word ‘Lambretta’ to be left to history but that won’t ever happen given the strength of the brand and the money that has been spent fighting over the trademark. If Lambretta can’t be left in peace then I’d prefer that it was used on a good scooter than a bad cuckoo-clock.
The issue about whether the L’70 will be a good scooter is fundamental. There is every chance that it will be a 3rd-party product because Lambretta Consortium are not going to be able to build a new scooter factory from scratch. Instead, the new Lambretta will probably be based around a known platform and proven components, and built by a company who know what they are doing. As a result, it will probably be competent, but not technically ground-breaking; much like the LN125.
My main issue with the LN125, aside from the badge, was the price point. At launch in the UK it was priced at £3,300, however beneath Tartarini’s design flair were the main components from a £1,500 SYM scooter. WK Bikes were the LN125 importers until Lambretta Consortium took legal action in 2012 to prevent the sale of LNs in the UK. Once WK were prevented from selling the Lambretta-badged LN125 they began importing their own look-a-like machine called the WK Bellissima. To the uninitiated the LN125 and the Bellissima share a common aesthetic, but the main difference between one and the other is the price. At launch the Bellissima 125 was £1,399 and WK now sell a scooter that looks similar called the Retro for £1,099. So if you bought an LN125, did you pay £2,000 extra just for a Lambretta badge?
The lessons from the LN125 debacle are clear. If the new Lambretta is a nicely-styled, competent, metal-bodied scooter based on oriental technology then it can succeed in the market, but it needs to be priced fairly. If it isn’t priced fairly then another oriental firm are likely to ‘take inspiration’ from Kiska’s work and undercut Lambretta by a huge margin, selling something that looks very similar for a lot less money…