We recently asked SLUK readers to get in touch with their ‘Reader’s Rides’ to show where you’ve ridden to in the past, or what you’ve been building recently. Gary Norgate built this tidy chopper over winter – ready in time for the first rally… obviously he’s still waiting for its maiden trip to the seaside.


Anyway, here’s Gary’s story…



As is often the case, the project started with a recurring itch for a new challenge. Ideas started forming in my mind and all I needed to get me going was a cheap base upon which to focus. A random search on a well-known auction site turned up a likely candidate in the form of a non-running chop that was crying out for a refresh.


A quick bid before I could change my mind and the deal was sealed. I used a courier to collect the scoot and when it arrived I was delighted to find that it had been painted with a Meteors theme that (given my musical tastes) made me think that it was meant to be.




The first step was to sort the engine out. True to the description, the scoot had been fitted with an Imola 186 top end, which I was excited to try. I added a Casa Cooling kit and an AF 6 plate cassette clutch, which when combined with the Sterling expansion pipe should provide a good blend of performance and reliability. In terms of handling, I added BGM adjustable shocks, front and back and refurbished the scoots RS hydraulic disc brake. So far so… Bland! Now to add my own personal stamp.




Darc Arc


Having been hugely impressed with the scooters produced by Aubrey at Dark Arc Engineering, I reached out to him to discuss fabrication. Aubrey had loads of ideas and added hugger mudguards, a fabulous dagger side stand, a neat and functional sissy bar/back rack (after all, this is to be a rally scooter, not a show pony). He also boxed in all the essential electrics and enabled a complete reworking of the seat. The new single-seat being much more comfortable and increasing the distance from the original design to that of my own.




Psycho art


When it came to the tank, it seemed a real shame to paint over the original artwork, so I mounted it on the wall of my office as a historic artefact and sourced a new tank of suitable shape and proportions. Now the project was ready for paint. I had spent months sketching out different designs, schemes and themes that ranged from a metalflake “Radioactive Kid” to matt black with hot rod flames. This process was a huge part of the joy of the project and I found that the pressures of work and life just melted away as I mulled and explored the options (I’m convinced a scooter project is cheaper and more effective than therapy!).




Local band


In the end my mind kept coming back to “Manufactured Romance” firstly because they were a great band from the late 70s/early 80s, secondly because they had a passionate following from my home town of Harrow and nearby Hayes/Whitton/Uxbridge (they felt like our very own house band) and thirdly because the title of their only vinyl single just seemed to sum up my Lammy love affair.




The Ford Focus RS Nitrous Blue was applied by Colin Gould (great job, great guy, great price) and the signwriting by Wayne Tanswell, both local to me in Bury St Edmunds. The rest of the parts were powder coated in gloss black, which should provide a bit of toughness and resilience. Bob Allayne did a masterful job with the careful reassembly, kindly tolerating my clumsy interventions and contributions. I love having a go where I can, but you can’t beat a seasoned professional when it comes to safety and knowing a way around the inevitable problems that arise.



From that to this… Not a bad transformation


As planned, the scooter was ready to ride to the first rally of the season… which, of course never happened! That said, the anticipation of riding to a rally when we do get re-started will keep me going through these dark days. I’m always massively impressed with big-budget custom builds, but I personally can’t justify that sort of spend. For me, scooters are not meant to be hugely expensive luxury items, they come from a time when I was earning peanuts and had to make do, hence, no matter how far I may have come, I get all my kicks from working with local friends and craftsman to put together something that isn’t a million miles off from what I could have done back then.


All told, the whole project owes me less than £3.5k, it’s filled the idle moments of the last six months with happy thoughts and I’m left with something that really makes me smile and that will add fresh impetus to the new season of fun and adventure. Does any ‘investment’ get much better than that?! 


Words and photos: Gary Northgate


VIDEO | Gary's chopper build

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