You may well remember part-time SLUKER, Kirk St Moritz from the early days of ScooterLab. He’s one of those reclusive characters who vanishes into his garage for months at a time and churns out some very tasty, high-spec scooter builds.
Whether they’re standard, custom, race or highly tuned he sure does build a fine scooter. Well, we’ve enticed Kirk out of retirement so he can send us regular updates on his latest project. Here’s part one as he decides he needs a Casa 135 Vega in his life. This moment of clarity comes during a quick test ride on the Casa Performance demonstrator (pictured above) as tested by Sticky here.
Vega, the fifth brightest star. Let’s see if we can knock it up a notch or two and make it shine a little brighter. I’d never ridden a Vega, nor a lui or a J range Lambretta. Although I have a Vega 75s already, I discovered that the engine casing had a slight crack in it and until I can be bothered to strip it and get it welded it’s simply sat in my garage looking pretty.
Looking pretty isn’t the way I’d always viewed the Lambretta Vega. Many years ago when I first became interested in scooters, mainly due to my liking of The Jam and a slight leaning towards the Mod aspect of things in this wide and eclectic world of scooters. I would look at the Lui, Vega and Cometa and only just manage to withhold the inevitable surge of vomit which would rise from the pit of my stomach. Putting it plainly. I thought it was fucking disgusting.
Fast forward 30 odd years, and having built a collection of Innocenti Lambretta scooters with a timeline running from the 1947 model M (A) through to the 1971 GP200 Electronic and my 1973 first registered Vega 75s, my appreciation of the Bertone design house penned Luna line Lambretta has somewhat changed.
Earlier on this year, I was made aware of some new performance upgrades in the pipeline from the Italian home of effervescent Lambretta upgrades, Casa Performance. I always keep a keen eye on their upgrades, inventions and go faster goodies. Although I love standard classic geared Lambrettas in original specification I’ve always had an interest in engineering improvements. Those fellas have made a huge difference to making Lambrettas stop and go, with massive improvements in braking and complete bespoke performance engine packages. The performance upgrades by most tuners and engineers over the years have tended to lean towards the Li type engine layout. Although some stalwarts have also attempted to improve the performance and handling of the Luna line models over the years with varying degrees of success.
Sometimes it takes someone to take a step back and a look at things from a different perspective and with their advanced rapid prototyping, CAD design and 3D printing knowledge the Casa Performance boys have been able to look at upgrades to the Luna line and J range Lambrettas through an altogether new and innovative pair of spectacles.
This has led to the conception of the Casa 135 kit. Which at the time of writing is still at the prototype stage. I have recently ridden the test scooter fitted with this kit. With no previous reference point (remember I hadn’t ridden a Luna line machine up until this point) I found the prototype testbed to be great fun to ride.
Admittedly it has improved suspension in the form of BGM dampers and a sunny 4 stud drum brake up front too, also fitted with tubeless rims/tyres, which obviously improved the handling over the perceived bouncy castle handling of the standard set up. In my short test ride, I became hooked and almost before I returned the scooter to the waiting Casa Performance crew I had hatched a plan to build one of these enhanced pocket rockets for my own amusement.
I believe this kit is going to revolutionise the small frame Lambretta and make it appeal to a much wider audience through its ability and usability in modern traffic. So where do I start with a project such as this? Do I buy a complete scooter and strip, paint and rebuild it to the new sportier spec? Nope, that sounds far too easy. Or do I buy each part individually from all over the shop and build a complete scooter using these donor parts from other scooters which have previously long met a sad demise. Yeah let’s go with that option.
A mate of mine (let’s call him Tarquin) had a frame, which he said was “ok”. That couldn’t have been further from the truth, it was knackered. It had holes drilled all over it in a non-specific pattern and without any sign of reason, it also had misplaced and badly repaired frame cross members and various brackets etc. had been removed with the finesse of a grizzly bear attack. But it had potential. With that as my starting point, I began searching my usual ports of call for other parts; internet, eBay and Facebook sites were used to drag parts from France, Italy, southwest England and various salubrious locations in the Northeast of our fair country.
All of this was done using my smartphone from the somewhat sunnier climes of the Tropic of Capricorn, whilst yet again sunning myself in the Canaries. As many other projects have also been conceived in this location (fuelled and aided) by alcohol it seemed only fitting to start the brainstorming for this latest folly whilst there. I managed to collate all of the base/core parts such as bodywork, forks, headset, hubs wheels and engine. The majority of the smaller but no less important parts seem to have been remade to good effect by Casa Lambretta, which made finding the majority of these parts fairly easy.
For the next exciting instalment of Project Lambretta Vega Casa 135 tune into SLUK where I’ll decide on the full specification of the project.
Words and photos: Kirk St Moritz
New products always in development…