Scomadi TL125 | ROAD TEST
A modern classic
I’d not seen, heard, or read so much speculation, anticipation or excitement about a new scooter since the Vespa GTS 300 was launched. Up and down the country (and abroad as well) people had been talking and posting on social media about ‘The new Scomadi’ for the last few years.
Die-hard scooterists have slated them, some Lambretta owners have secretly lusted after them and others have sat on the fence waiting to see one up close before passing judgement.
Whichever way you look at it though Scomadi and its creators, Paul Melici (PM Tuning) and Frank Sanderson (Lambretta Innovations) have managed to pull it off. It’s a massive achievement just to get this scooter to market, to get it out there looking as good as this from day one was an even bigger fish to fry.
The British company began promising us a range of new scooters a few years ago but I’m not sure if we ever expected it to actually happen.
The fifty arrived just before Christmas 2014 and I must admit I was pleasantly surprised when I saw the first shipment. Designed in Britain, built in China, the Lambretta styled machines looked the business and on closer inspection the build quality was actually much better than I expected, although as you’d imagine there were the odd problem or two to iron out, as you’d get on any completely new vehicle. Thin headset tops meant the headlight would shine through the plastics at night and the LED dash was also too bright so the glare was distracting. The seat was way too hard, it was also high and wide and the front suspension wasn’t perfect.
Scomadi took the feedback back to their Chinese manufacturer and asked for improvements to be made, this held up the release of the already sold out first shipment of 125’s but during the first week of July 2015 the first 100 machines finally arrived and were quickly despatched to eager owners. Demand remained high throughout 2015 and by the end of the year over 400 125’s were on the road, that’s more than the amount of new GTS’s sold during the whole year. That’s a serious amount of new scooters from an emerging new brand.
First impressions were favourable; I was there as Midland Scooter Centre unpacked their first delivery of 125’s. There were a few instantly noticeable differences from the 50 to the 125.
The front shocks are longer than the 50cc ones, there’s a rear disc brake to replace the drum; it also has a single shock rather than the 50cc twin set up. The seat is definitely more comfortable, although not noticeably lower. The clocks and headset have also been revised and the stand has been improved. It’s good to see that any worries or niggles are being addressed by the company from the word go, this bodes well for the future of the fledgling company.
Between batches one and two other slight detail changes occurred, the front profile of the seat was changed, it’s slightly tapered now to make it narrower. There’s also a new side button to open it, although the catch itself is a bit flimsy. Half the second batch came with the new seat and also had a side stand fitted as standard, it’s actually a very good side stand and is more stable than the centre stand. A Scomadi can easily be rolled off the stand if it’s not parked up hill. The front Scomadi badge has also been redesigned, the original one had a misleading Italian flag at the top, the new one has a more appropriate Union Jack.
As Lambretta aficionados still find odd detail changes on rare vintage models it’s worth noting these ‘crossover model’ changes for the future. Expect more changes for 2016 when Euro 4 arrives.
In my opinion, the Scomadi looks fantastic, ok it might be wider and higher than the Lambretta GP its shape is based on but that was a deliberate part of the design to accommodate the larger capacity 300cc engine – or that was the original plan, more about that later. I don’t think the wide rear end looks out of place, just different to what we expect from a Lambretta. Remember this isn’t an Italian classic scooter; it’s a Chinese built modern classic, which bears more than a passing resemblance to the Bertone designed Grand Prix model.
So forget your preconceptions on size, height, width and heritage and think of this as something that looks more like a new Lambretta than a ‘real’ Lambretta would have done by now if the company hadn’t gone bust all those years ago. What this is is a modern four-stroke scooter that will appeal to classic scooter fans who love the look and style but don’t want to have to get their hands dirty every time they go out. It’s a scooter for the 21st century and has a right to succeed and be accepted just as much as the Vespa GTS has and is. With UK sales booming you’d better get used to seeing them out and about because there will be plenty on the roads by Easter.
The fabled ‘Flagship’ model
Before the 50cc Scomadi began to arrive in December 2014 the company began taking a £500 deposit for the first 100 hand built 300cc Scomadis. Dubbed the ‘Flagship model’ the larger capacity scooter was due to have a Vespa GTS engine fitted, a well-proven 278cc lump. The 100 pledgers were charged an extra £500 for the privilege of getting the first load of scooters but time dragged on and eventually Scomadi were forced to admit the engine deal had fallen through. Months went by as a replacement engine was sought and as summer drew to a close the Lancashire based company announced the new engine would be a European built twin cam, liquid-cooled, fuel-injected engine. It would only be a 200cc though but putting a positive spin on things it was also claimed to put out 19bhp and be comparable to the QUASAR engine fitted to the GTS.
As a ‘gesture of goodwill’ Scomadi agreed to give a free exhaust with those first 100 models when they eventually arrive. Bizarrely, most of the people who paid a deposit a year ago have decided to wait for this, less power, lower capacity model to arrive which just goes to show the kudos of the new brand and the expectation surrounding the flagship model.
The bodywork may be plastic but that means it won’t rust away and it is also very light, easy and cheap to replace and can be removed if you are working on the scooter (not that you should have to very often). The panels themselves fit well, the finish in all the colour options (orange, black, red, ocean white, dual colour and satin graphite grey) is deep, shiny and looks good up close. The side panels are screwed on, rather than clipped on like a Lambretta, so they won’t drop off and there’s a small but useful lockable glovebox up front (I’m sure it won’t be too long before we see one fitted to a Lammy). Switchgear is as you’d expect on a modern auto, not too flash but functional with push to cancel indicators, electric start, hazard warning lights etc
The digital dash is clear and easy to read, it has trip, running time, an odometer, fuel gauge speed, max speed and a rev counter, thankfully the green tinged backlighting isn’t as bright as the first ones I saw and don’t distract the rider at night. The headlight is bright enough, as is the rear LED taillight and the flush mounted LED indicators blend in to the panels very well, they have a simple clip to detach when you take the panels off (the 50cc had awkward bullet connectors). The twin front shocks are adjustable, as is the single rear. Tubeless tyres are fitted to the matt black alloy rims; the scooters come with Duro tyres as standard. There’s plenty of choice though if you want some better rubber.
On the road
The carb fed scooter needs a little bit of throttle as you start it on the button (it also has a kick-start) but it soon fires up and settles into a steady, quiet tickover. Like any new scooter it has to comply with noise and emission regulations so don’t expect a throaty sounding machine.
PM has developed a replacement stainless exhaust though – the PM88 (£265) and Scorpion have also built an exhaust for the scooter (£295.95 with lifetime warranty). Both systems make the scooter sound a bit meatier and are said to increase power marginally. Customisation is important to many scooter owners and there are already lots of accessories available including screens, levers, sidestands, racks, side protection etc. Sitting on the updated seat it feels a bit better than the rock hard 50cc Scomadi, it’s still quite high at 810mm but at 5’10” I can touch the floor easily enough and it’s only 20mm higher than a Vespa GTS. It seems high though because most people naturally compare it to a Lambretta. Hopefully Scomadi will release a lower, narrower race style seat before too long to help those shorter riders and I’ve already seen a couple of Scomadis with Ancilotti seats fitted.
Pulling away for the first time I was surprised at how well the scooter accelerates. I’ve ridden some four stroke Chinese scooters that couldn’t pull the skin off a rice pudding, the Scomadi isn’t in the same category as those, which was a relief. In fact I think it goes very well for what is essentially a basic off the shelf air-cooled four stroke. It’s comparable with a Piaggio Typhoon 125 and even whilst running in I was seeing a good 55mph on the clock and got 64.8mph with a slight downhill. There is some vibration felt through the handlebars, not enough to bother me but it’s noticeable, I reckon fitting some heavier bar end weights could iron it out though if it bothers you. The front suspension is still quite firm, even when the preload is backed off but the single rear feels well damped and is also adjustable.
The 125 has disc brakes at both ends and there’s enough feel at the levers to lock the rear wheel. On the road the Scomadi feels quite sporty really, with narrow bars and it’s light weight chassis it can get around corners well enough. There’s plenty of ground clearance as well and it handles itself admirably, so no complaints there.
I’ve not had chance to put any big mileage on the Scomadi but I was quite happy to take it down the A38 where it felt able to keep up with traffic easily enough. I’d be willing to take it further afield, I’ve certainly ridden slower and less reliable scooters to rallies in the past so it should be capable.
If you’re prepared to accept this scooter for what it is and not look back at the past with rose tinted specs you’ll enjoy owning and riding a Scomadi. It’s a great looking modern interpretation of an iconic design. It rides well, looks very stylish and is as receptive to customising as any classic scooter.
Ok the plastic bodywork won’t take a ton of lights and mirrors but in my book that can only be a good thing, because they don’t suit a Lambretta GP and won’t look good on a Scomadi either. Just subtle personalisation is all this scooter needs but even straight out of the box it looks fantastic.
Lab rating: 8
I suppose you want to know how it goes and I dare bet that a lot of haters will be hoping I don’t like it, that it’s slow and feels cheap. To be honest I’d half expected not to be impressed myself – well until I’d seen the Scomadi 50 anyway. Even though I didn’t want this British company to fail in it’s quest to bring something new and exciting to the market I was a bit unsure as to how the finished machines would hold out. Thankfully the haters can go off and annoy somebody else because I was pleasantly surprised with the Scomadi 125, as I’m sure most receptive people will be once they actually get to ride one.
Engine: 124.6cc, air-cooled, four-stroke single
Brakes: 220mm front disc, 200mm rear drum
Suspension: Twin front adjstable shocks, single rear
Tyres: Front 110/70-12”, rear 120/70-12”
Dimensions: Length 1870, width 620mm, wheelbase 1370mm
Seat height: 805mm
Fuel capacity: 11 litres
Colours: Black, orange, red, blue, dual, grey