It’s been a while since we featured a Readers Ride on SLUK, in fact, it’s been long enough for the owner of Readers Rides #2 Manufactured Romance to build himself another lockdown project. A scooter helped along the way by a nice rebate from the taxman, it’s always sweeter if you can do something on ‘free’ money.

Gary takes up the story…

We all love a project

No sooner had I started to ride and iron out the wrinkles of my first lock-down project, Manufactured Romance Chopper (pictured above) and we were plunged back into a period of further restrictions. Under these circumstances, I jumped at the chance to acquire another project that, although running, had huge potential as an old school cutdown.


The project in question was available for a very reasonable £500 (thanks Bob!) and largely consisted of a 1968 Spanish Li Special Frame (previously languishing in a friend’s front garden) and an LD 125 engine. Throw in some cut-down tin wear and a PX headset and it was pretty clear that a significant intervention would be required in order to get this baby back on the road. The first question was, how far to go? I could just do a rattle can paint job, buy a new seat, lights and loom, get it registered and for an additional £500 have a nice little runaround – or I could do it properly.

Time, Money and Need

As always, the answer is best defined by three dimensions; Time, Money and Need.

Lockdown provided the time, I’d had a recent tax rebate windfall so I could afford a couple of thousand if needs be and… I didn’t really need another scooter (five is probably already excessive and you can only ride one at a time), but I didn’t have a cutdown and I craved the distraction of a new build – so, concluding that the project would be cheaper than therapy, last longer than a holiday (which I wasn’t going to get anyway) and result in an asset that was, if necessary, saleable, I mentally set a £4k total budget and set the wheels in motion.

Choosing a kit

My first consideration was the type of ride I wanted to create. It’s easy to get blinded by the latest greatest, exotic cylinder kits (it’s a shame there isn’t a new book on that very subject…) so I started with looking at my other scoots and determining what I had, what I lacked and, therefore what I wanted.

I’ve got a 25bhp, quick Monza GP – great for motorways and scaring myself but stressful and not so great at pootling along to the shops. My TS1 is similar, a little better on minor roads but still a fast tourer, my Imola chop is fast and fun, and my two Casa 185s are great everyday rides but just a little pedestrian. So, I don’t want a sprinter or a mile muncher and I don’t want a plodder… I decided that a well put together RT195 would sit nicely between the bunch and provide a fast road bike for everyday use – perfect.

Choose wisely – buy once!

With this choice made, but under perpetual threat from the latest reviews of the RB20, Casa SS200, Quatrini 210, ultimate Imola etc., I engaged Oiltek to provide the parts before I could change my mind! I paired the cylinder kit with a SIP crank, new bearings, 28mm Dell’Orto, Casa performance clutch (buy the best, once, just in case I want to upgrade the engine later), SIP Vape ignition, GP gearbox, stainless expansion exhaust and a beautiful Oiltek long-range tank. In terms of handling, I went for BGM suspension back and front and a SIP anti-dive hydraulic brake (essential). Having just had a rear hub work loose on one of my other scooters, I decided to splash out on the extra safety provided by a Casa Octopus rear hub. Not the cheapest options, but reliability and safety are a must for me and I’d rather invest in the basics than have a very ‘pretty shitter’. That said, ‘looks’ are still a factor.

Dark Arc Engineering

Having worked with Aubrey at Dark Arc on my Chopper, he was the natural choice for a few fabrication tweaks. As well as adding the brackets for the ignition and anti-dive systems, I asked Aubrey to tidy up the cut edges and add a hugger mudguard. As usual, he ran riot and massively exceeded expectations (without busting the budget)! If you need some fabrication work doing click this box.

Owner on The Case

Paint and powder are obviously transformative and are the first thing to grab the attention, so, I started with a long list of options and changed them every five minutes until I arrived at a mix of cream powder coat and black cherry candy paint (over a silver pearl base). I undertook the body prep and paint myself and although I’m far from a professional the satisfaction outweighs the significant imperfections. As a theme, I went with “Smiling My Life Away” which stems from an incredible band called Case who I saw in the early 80s and the title just about sums up those heady days. Throw in some signwriting by the master that is Wayne Tanswell and I think I’ve got a looker.

Registration was complicated by a previous owner grinding out the “150” prefix on the frame – but the ever-helpful people at VMSC satisfied themselves that it was a genuine frame and provided the dating certificate that facilitated the NOVA, that facilitated the V5 – a lot of time waiting, but not too difficult if you follow the process.

The engine build fell to Bob Allayne and we tackled re-assembly together (hmmm, to be fair, I handed him the spanners and did a bit of fettling). The seat was a cheap old Snetterton re-trimmed by a local upholsterer working from his garage. Once buttoned up, Stuart at SGE put it through its paces on the dyno and adjusted things until we arrived at 18bhp and 19 ft-lbs of torque. You can watch the build and dyno in the video above

Total spend?

Including the cost of the base project, a little over 4k but significantly under 5k. Resale value? Probably 3k on a good day but in terms of the fun of doing it and the support of local artisans, the experience and memories (both old and yet to be created) were priceless. Praise be to HMRC.

Words, photos and video: Gary Norgate

Build gallery

Flick through the slider above for more photos of Gary’s handiwork. I think you’ll agree he’s done a great job on his home-sprayed lockdown project.

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