Not A Motorcycle Shop – New Zealand | FEATURE
Not A Motorcycle Shop is the brainchild of Mike Salmon, a dyed in the wool Scooterist and a New Zealand and UK industry qualified motorcycle mechanic. In 2012 he left his full-time job with Wellington’s largest motorcycle dealership to stay home and look after his kids.
He started taking scooter jobs in his home garage, and three years later he was able to build a new bespoke workshop on his property. Mike has now grown his empire into the biggest classic scooter workshop… on his street.
FFS, it’s Not A Motorcycle Shop!
NAMS has a diverse client base, restorations rubbing shoulders with rustorations and racers, but the backbone of NAMS’s work is making scooters go faster. Mike will be the first to admit he generally leaves his customers scooters in a safer state of tune than they are capable of, but he’d rather give people an engine they can use for years, rather than a ticking time bomb.
Fortunately, this style of scooter ties in well with New Zealand’s scooter scene, and this all culminates with NZ’s premier classic scooter event, the Motoretta TT. Held annually in April, it covers 1000 miles of New Zealand’s most beautiful roads over the course of four days. This event has redefined how scooters are currently being built in NZ. A big number on a dyno means nothing when you’re blown up on the side of a country road with no cell phone reception.
Fast reliable road tunes with high teen hp numbers are the norm. The event is attracting more international entrants each year, Mike says “It’s awesome to share our scene with the world”. The organiser had decided to have a year off the Motoretta in 2020, just as well really burn it’ll be back for 2021. Check out www.motoretta.co.nz for more info.
Mike’s own scooters fall somewhere near the build philosophy he preaches. A Vespa GS160 with a NAMS ported SS 180 cylinder overbored to 68.5mm, Malossi piston, reed intake and points igntion. Also, a Lambretta Li 150 S2 with a stroked, ported, and chambered RB200.
Two-stroke KTM power
Mike’s biggest freak show is his Nzeta. Inspired by another repowered Nzeta owned by his friend BGL, Mike found a frame and over the next few years built it up with a KTM 300 EXC power plant, Brembo disc brakes, Hayabusa rear suspension, and countless one-off parts. Mike will be the first to admit it’s a bit of a whale, any decent tuned scooter will give it a run for its money on a tight windy road, but in a straight line it’s outstanding.
In the pipeline is a Lambretta Yamaha Banshee cylinder conversion. The cylinders are Chinese eBay specials and are stupidly cheap (have a look, seriously, it’s insane). Mike figured if he could adapt Lambretta cases to accept them there would be huge potential for fast cheap fun.
The casings have been modified to accept either the left or right cylinder, effectively giving twice the bang for your buck, and they bolt in with no frame modifications required. The prototype has been built and testing will begin in the near future. Watch this space.
Like the rest of the world, New Zealand’s scooter scene is ageing, but in Mike’s opinion much better for it “The older Scooterist likes a well-maintained scooter built with the best parts, and likes to stay in hotels rather than paddocks when they go away – and if you’ve ever seen a father of three let off the leash for a weekend it would make many 18-year-olds re-evaluate what it means to have a big night out”. There are many scooter clubs throughout the country which are all very laid back and welcome visitors. Any visitor from a different part of the country usually warrants a ride out, so someone from overseas would probably get a BBQ full of lamb chops thrown in to boot.
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