Scomadi TL200 World-exclusive | ROAD TEST
Better late than never I suppose, or at least that’s what the first 100 people who put a deposit down on one of these babies will be saying once they’ve read this. I’m sure they’ve all been wondering whether the Scomadi ‘Flagship’ model has been worth the wait. They certainly put a lot of faith into an un-built, unseen scooter with no confirmed engine supplier. Thankfully that faith will be rewarded…eventually. People who placed an initial £500 deposit will also be wondering if this 180cc engine can live up to their high expectations, or the claims of Scomadi. More importantly, can it live with a Vespa GTS 300 on the road? In our exclusive ScooterLab road test we rode it back to back with one to find out.
Surprisingly good fun
Before we delve too deeply into what’s new, what’s improved and how the engine fares let me just tell you, you won’t be disappointed. This is an entertaining little scooter; it delivers more punch than a small capacity four-stroke really should. The motor has an urgency about it and feels like it wants to be let off the lead to hunt the haters. This is a modern auto with a bit of character thrown into the mix. Just what we needed…
What’s new pussycat?
The 200 has a few changes the eagle-eyed Scomadi enthusiast may spot if they look closely enough. Firstly the clocks have changed slightly, partly to get ready for the new-fangled Bosch ABS (that will arrive later), the clocks also have engine management warnings and hopefully these clocks won’t be prone to failure. On-Board-Diagnostics will be on the production model, in line with the latest Euro 4 regulations. Dealers will be able to use a Smart Phone and app to check for faults. There’s also a new mode button on the right handlebar; it offers a choice of Sport or Eco. Not that many people will be using Eco mode, we didn’t bother to be honest. Finally the fuel tank is now made from steel rather than plastic.
Not a big thing (said my missus), well it is about nine inches long and black. I’m talking about the side stand of course, all the Scomadi range come with a side stand fitted as standard now. It is actually a useful addition though (unlike the Vespa GTS suicide stand) and it feels safer than the too-easy-to-roll-it-off Scomadi centre stand.
Hunt the Haters…
What’s the Engine?
The Scomadi guys weren’t keen to talk about the origin of the new engine except to say that we’d be impressed. This is a European 180cc liquid-cooled four-stroke design. The head is a 4-valve, DOHC twin-cam fed by Magneti Marelli fuel-injection. A 4-valve engine with a twin cam will typically produce more torque, use less fuel and perform better at higher rpm than a single cam 2-valver. Paul Melici explained that the engine makes 18bhp at the rear wheel. Manufacturers usually quote at the crank. For Vespa GTS 300 they claim 22bhp at the cranks but at the rear wheel 18-19bhp is closer to the mark on a dyno. Coupled with the much-lighter weight of the Scomadi and the twin-cam it should, in theory at least be a close call in terms of performance. Just what Scomadi buyers will be pleased to hear.
Whilst we were out on the scooter we did a little bit of digging around beneath the panels. Plenty of speculative rumours have gone around about the parentage of the ‘Flagship’ engine. Just like Donatella Chong, the Italian lady in our local Chinese takeaway, origins seem strangely confused. Various Facebook groups had it down as Chinese and others said it was European, but it is something we recognised from the past. Its origins lie in the engine used to power BMW’s roofed C1 scooter. Investigations have confirmed that this engine was originally fitted to the Aprilia Scarabeo, as sold in the USA & Canada. It is, in essence, an Aprilia engine, developed for the Scarabeo just before Piaggio bought the company. So, although we’re not getting a higher capacity QUASAR engine, we are still getting a high-spec, modern design from a trusted name. This also means tuning parts will be readily available…
One half of the duo behind Scomadi, Paul Melici is also the P.M behind PM Tuning, a man who has developed and built a few exhausts in his time. Paul spent some major development time perfecting the Scomadi 200 exhaust. Not only does the catalysed exhaust have to meet noise and emissions regulations but it also had to make as much power as possible and fit within the constraints of the Scomadi bodywork and rear runner boards. The finished exhaust meets the brief and also makes slightly more power than the OE exhaust for this engine. It sounds very pleasant as well. Most standard four-stroke exhausts sound weedy, this one actually has a bit of something about it without being over loud. The only brief Paul failed to meet was to rid it of ugliness. As an aftermarket exhaust manufacturer you can’t really blame him for wanting to be able to sell some shiny, good-looking aftermarket stainless steel pipes though.
Chrome should get you home
My early memory of plastic chrome was from many years ago when PX horncasts were done in the stuff, a quick polish and you were left with a scuffed up mess. Scomadi have been using a 125 in chrome for quite a while up at their base near the cockle-picking capital of Great Britain. After surviving plenty of salty miles they’ve decided ‘molluscs to it.’ The chrome’s weathered well and is robust enough, so they’re bringing it in as an option. Frank told us it was very easy to keep clean, just wash it off and it dries without smearing. It’s a love it or loathe it finish, but either way, it certainly gets you noticed. You’ll pay an extra £300 for the luxury of having a plastic chrome Scomadi though, a carbon effect will also be joining the Scomadi options catalogue – that’s cheaper at £200 over the standard price, dual colours are £100 extra.
Underneath the scooter sits a hand built radiator housed in a new air-scoop. Frank Sanderson was rightly proud of this arrangement and reckons it’ll be cooler than a cockle-pickers pecker. The header tank also sits beneath the scooter, it looks a bit vulnerable but there’s plenty of ground clearance so it shouldn’t be an issue. If you do rip it off you’ll be saying goodbye to the rad at the same time anyway. I wouldn’t worry too much about it, because ground clearance isn’t an issue and you have to try quite hard to scrape the stand whilst cornering.
One of the most significant differences compared to the 125 Scomadi is to the front forks. On previous Scomadis the forks were a bit on the harsh side with no feel (other than the feeling of my fillings rattling). The forks on the production model will be slightly thicker in construction to reduce flex and should have a mini-sized gas shock fitted to the anti-dive unit, like the one on the prototype we rode. We’ll see if that makes a difference out on the road…
Let’s ride the beast
The first thing that becomes apparent when you start the 200 is that it sounds a bit throaty. The reworked exhaust has been designed very well and the engine sounds and feels responsive to the throttle. Scomadi also used a large air-box to improve airflow. Both mods have helped to increase performance.
Is the Scomadi 200 as fast as a GTS?
That’s the obvious big question so we took my own GTS 300 along, it’s standard other than a Scorpion Exhaust and screen. After all, that’s the scooter everybody hoped they’d be able to live with on the Flagship model, right? Responsive is the first adjective to come to mind when riding the Scomadi 200. We ran out of Superlatives; so found a band of the same name to use as a backing track for our video. From a standing start it feels quick (as 180cc four-strokes go) and there’s a kind of urgency about it, almost like riding a two-stroke. The engine pulls from the word go and gets to a point where you think it’s reached its limit, then it gets a second wind. A bit like a two-stroke power-band kicking in. Although this one is wearing furry pink slippers rather than 18 hole ox-blood DM’s when it lashes out. The Scomadi is a goer though for sure.
Riding with the GTS, the Scomadi is very close in terms of performance. The Vespa will beat it off the lights, just (which surprised us) but once it gets going the Scomadi reels the Vespa in. Riding to a rally with GTS riding friends won’t be a problem; in fact it’ll be great fun. It’s a battle to keep in front on either bike and on outright top speed the GTS had just .2 of a mph more than the Scomadi, despite giving away over 100cc. We saw 73.6mph on the Scomadi and 73.8mph on the GTS, both with the same rider on the same stretch of road using GPS. There was still more to come from the top end on both scooters though and the Scomadi was virtually straight out of the crate, whilst the GTS was well run in and had an aerodynamic screen fitted. The power to weight ratio helps even things out between the two. The Scomadi weighs 22.5kg less than the Italian and can pack a serious punch. Never underestimate the underdog.
Both myself and Sticky were impressed with the way the Scomadi delivers its power, there’s enough grunt to pull cleanly from low revs so you can overtake at will. It’s also nice and light so you can throw it around, Duro tyres sticking well enough despite the near-freezing temperatures. The front disc is 10mm larger than on the 125cc Scomadi; coupled with the rear disc they’re potent enough. It certainly wasn’t lacking in the stopping or going department.
Compared to the GTS it doesn’t feel quite as composed through corners, not that that’s a bad thing really. You just know you’re riding the Scomadi. It’s a bit like riding a Lambretta, you have to work it a bit to get the most enjoyment and if it felt and handled like a bike you’d soon be bored of the monotony of it all. Riding a decent scooter is all about the feeling you get as you’re pushing hard, that feeling is as important as the machine itself. I prefer to know what’s happening beneath my small wheels, rather than every minor imperfection be dialled out by sanitised suspension.
Whilst we’re talking about handling we must mention the new anti-dive damper. This is the one major revision that has improved the whole ride experience; the front end just feels so much better than it did before. The harshness and solid feeling has gone, replaced with a front end that works as it should – you don’t really notice it as such, which is a good thing. This modification should make it onto the production model and be available as an aftermarket accessory to fit earlier Scomadis.
Comfort & practicality
It’s the first time I’ve ridden a Scomadi with the new style seat fitted. It must be more comfortable than the original because I didn’t even give it a thought until later in the day. The redesigned profile makes it feel slightly lower as well. Height has been one of the main things putting some buyers off. You can’t really compare the Scomadi to a GTS on comfort; they’re not in the same league. A GTS is a very different animal, built for two-up long-distance travel, with built-in storage and an ability to carry plenty of luggage. A Scomadi is more like a Lambretta in this particular area. There’s no underseat space, although it has a useful glovebox and a rear rack as standard. Other than that you’re able to stuff a bag between your legs and fit a front carrier if you’re planning on using it for camping. If it was a toss up between the two, a GTS would be more useful to me, that’s because most of my long-distance riding is done two up, often with camping gear. I struggle to carry everything on my Lambretta but sometimes scooter choice is about looking the part, rather than being practical. Let’s face facts; we wouldn’t be riding scooters at all if a potential vehicle had to tick every box. Sometimes style has to take over from function.
Last year I worked in a dealership who sold Scomadi and Piaggio group scooters. I was there when the 50cc Scomadi arrived in 2015 and left just before Christmas 2015 to set up this little SLUKin’ venture. I probably sold around 40 Scomadis last year. In my experience the average Scomadi buyer was somebody wanting to re-visit their youth, often having only dabbled in scooters for a year or so as a teenager. They weren’t potential GTS buyers or owners.
I did sell 125s to a few Lambretta owners though who were looking for something a bit easier to maintain. The Scomadi and GTS are very different beasts and there’s hardly any crossover in ownership. People who buy a Scomadi are looking for a modern Lambretta style machine, they usually have no interest in a Vespa, which leads us to the point of why the Italians wouldn’t supply the GTS engine for the Scomadi 300. It’s a bit short-sighted really, after all Piaggio could have made some money from the sales. As they have done when supplying engines to other manufacturers, like Peugeot for instance. Whatever the reason it’s not harmed the Scomadi brand, neither have the teething problems with the scooters. It just goes to prove if it looks the part and is priced reasonably people will jump on board. From my experience Scomadi has put a lot of bums on seats, people have been captivated by the modern Lambretta styling and ethos behind the brand. The 200 is likely to expand that reach to full-licence holders looking to ride something a bit easier than a classic scooter. If the brand builds and evolves as it has been doing they will be hard to beat in the future.
Overall the 200 Scomadi is just the scooter many rally-going scooterists have been waiting for. It’s quick, looks fantastic, has the styling we’re all familiar with and should be able to cope with long distance riding easily enough. It may not have the engine we all hoped initially but this power plant is a great compromise. It adds some excitement to what could have been a dull 180cc scooter. If you’ve got one on order you’re in for a treat, if you haven’t and have been deliberating I’d suggest putting a deposit down because there’s already a waiting list.
First Impression Lab Rating: 8.5
I have to say that the TL200 impressed me. I wasn’t expecting an engine that gives away almost 100cc in advantage to Piaggio’s 300 to be so close in terms of performance. The secret appears to be that the Scomadi engine loves to rev to over 10,000 while the torquey Piaggio motor makes its oomph at far lower revs.
I’ve never been a fan of the sound of 4-stroke singles so in my opinion the best thing you can do with them is keep them quiet. Paul has done a very effective job of that at PM tuning; squeezing out a tad more performance from the kidney-shaped exhaust in conjunction with a new greater-volume airbox. These changes mean that there is still a little remapping for Magneti Marelli of the fuel injection to do before the TL200 goes on sale, but it still felt pretty close.
Should I buy a Scomadi TL200?
That depends on what you want it for. For practicality and comfort there are plenty of other automatic scooters that score higher. If however, you want a scooter with Lambretta-like styling that should hit a true 70mph and without all the agro associated with maintaining a tuned classic, then the Scomadi hits the spot. It’s an involving, sporty ride with the gas-shock upgrade to the anti-dive linkage offering much more feel under braking. The forks are being uprated to thicker tubing for this model which should improve the handling further, but still don’t expect a magic-carpet ride. This is still a scooter that puts form over function and if that floats your boat then I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
Engine: Single cylinder, liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, 4-valve, twin-cam, DOHC
Power: 18bhp (rear wheel)
Brakes: 220mm front and rear disc (ABS as standard on production models)
Wheels: Front 110/70-12″, rear 120/70-12″
Suspension: Twin front shocks with adjustable preload (anti-dive with gas shock) , rear twin shocks with 4-position preload
Seat height: 780mm
Dimensions: Length 1870mm, width 620mm, heigh 1115mm
Tank capacity: 11-litres
Warranty: Two years
Colours: Black, red, black, blue, dual, grey, carbon, chrome
Price: £3795 standard colours – £3895 dual, £3995 carbon, £4095 chrome (plus OTR)
The 100 Club limited edition
Many moons ago, as a fledgling company, Scomadi launched a crowd funding campaign to help get the ‘Flagship’ model to market. The first 100 (who all paid a premium and have been waiting for 18 months or so) have been left wondering if they’ll still benefit from being amongst the first to swing a leg over a 200 – rather than the 300 they envisaged. The answer to that is an emphatic yes. The first 100 bikes will be finished off by hand in the UK and more importantly be individually numbered. In addition they’ll also receive the following goodies:
- Commemorative metal plaque numbered 1-100
- Signed certificate of authenticity
- PM Tuning stainless steel exhaust system
- Limited edition decals
- Scomadi wax cotton jacket with CE armour
- Limited edition Scomadi polo shirt
- Scomadi scarf, bandana and keyring