Scomadi TL200 vs Vespa GTS 300 – 1,000 miles road test | FEATURE
You all know the story…The Scomadi Flagship was designed around the Piaggio GTS 300 engine but then ended up with a mystery 180cc engine. I had already ordered one and was offered my money back, or the option to go with the new 200 model. I decided to gamble. However the wife was not amused, our garage and back yard are full of scoots. She said if you get a new scoot one of the others has to go… reluctantly I agreed, so the wife went (only joking).
I had planned to attend Paddy Smith’s Sun Run in the Bordeaux region of France and was going to ride there on my GTS. I’d done it before but now I wondered would I dare try it on a new make of scooter? That’s if it got here in time. It would be an 1100-mile round trip for me, the missus and all our kit. That would be an ideal test for any scoot. Then our friend Marcus (who didn’t even know I had ordered the Scomadi) said he and his missus would do the trip with us on his GTS 300. I immediately realised this would be an ideal comparison between the two scoots. At Meltdown in February and at the Teignmouth rally I spoke to Iggy (drunkenly) and made the offer to use my scoot on this test and report on it. Of course, the scoot wasn’t even in the country and was still aboard a ‘slow boat from China.’
Having done this trip before I knew it would be long and uncomfortable so I ordered a Dan Medica South air-filled inflatable motorcycle seat pad (£69) and a gel filled seat pad (£39) which slip over your seat and should help. I decided I would try one on the way down and the other on the way back. I had also ordered Pressure Alert valve caps for my tyres (£3.99).
Then I turned my attention to my panels and the toolbox door that may get scratched with all the kit I was strapping to the scoot. You can get a front rack for the Scomadi but I reckoned any weight would then be on the legshields, so I rejected that thought. I would go with what the scoot comes with as standard; a sprint rack and as usual an overpacked bag on the floorboards. I looked at getting my side panels and toolbox door wrapped in clear vinyl then I found UK Wrap and saw what they can do so changed my mind.
They could wrap the panels, glovebox door and provide another wrap to any design, with delivery for under £220. So I rang Kaye at Scomadi and they agreed to send the panels and door to UK Wrap when the scoot arrived, so I waited and waited, and waited.
I was then told my scoot was going to be delivered to Wildcat Scooters in Newport and I soon became acquainted with Bob and the gang as I pestered them with any news of my Scomadi and the slow boat from China. I was beginning to twitch now as the rally was only a few weeks away and I could see me doing it on the GTS once more. Eventually I was told my scooter had arrived, my panels and toolbox door were being sent to off to be wrapped and I could pick the scooter up from Newport on Thursday June 2nd less – than a week before I left for Paddy’s. This would give me six days before we caught the evening ferry to France from Plymouth. Six days to get her run in – 500 miles and no time for a service… that would have to wait until we got back…. if we got back.
D Day – 6
I got a van and headed up to Newport to meet my new scoot, looking naked without her panels and toolbox door and I met Bob and the Wildcat gang who were still doing their final checks on the scoot. They had already changed the front disc for a new one when I got there as they felt the original was rubbing slightly. Wildcat had also fitted the flyscreen and new PM Tuning brake levers I had ordered and a 12-volt outlet on top of the toolbox so I could use my GPS for navigation and to get true speedo readings. It also meant I could charge my mobile, light a cigar or boil a kettle … Bear Grylls eat your heart out. Anyway, full marks for Wildcat, cheers guys.
I loaded the scoot in the van and drove back to Exmouth very gently and then with the wife’s help unloaded her and really noticed that the Scomadi is much lighter than my GTS. It was late now and I took her for a quick spin before tucking the scooter up safely in the garage.
D Day – 5
The panels and the toolbox door arrived Friday afternoon and I was well chuffed with them, Alex and the Guys at UK Wrap had done an ace job. I had recently found some old family photos of my dad aged 18 in Malta in 1942 on his way to North Africa. I also found a photo of my grandad who fought at the Somme in 1916, in 1939 he joined up again and fought all the way through both World Wars. This year is the 100th Anniversary of the Somme so my scoot was a tribute to my dad my grandad and all their comrades. On seeing the scooter with the panels my wife decided to call her ‘Poppy’ and I think I like that.
Now, to fit the panels all you need are a Phillips screwdriver and an allen key. There’s a screw in the middle and an allen key bolt at the front and back of each panel. I like this system, because classic Lambretta panels are so easy to steal, however it would be nice if the small toolkit the scooter comes with included an allen key. Next I fitted my TomTom Rider GPS to the right hand mirror stalk, I’d decided that all speeds I quote here are taken from my GPS. In my experience most scooter speedos exaggerate, my GTS 250 speedo would read 85mph when my GPS said 75mph and my GP200 Lambretta was even more erroneous. I then spent some time setting the mirrors up so I could see past my elbows and once satisfied I had a look at the toolbox.
The inside legshield toolbox is PX-ish in size and I found I could pack all my tools, tyre weld, tie wraps spare bulbs and a two litre fuel container in it all quite easily. I think if you read Iggy’s adventures on this trip he could have done with a two-litre fuel container on his GTS road trip.
Anyway, I took the scooter out properly for the first time now it was fully-dressed. I decided to keep to just under 50mph, (which was around 6000rpm) for the first 300 miles then slowly notch up the speed. I quickly found the smaller piston in the 180cc engine gave less torque than the GTS, so you had to rev it more to get her going. The Scomadi moved off at just under 4000 rpm but I quickly got used to this, it was just a different engine and once I adjusted to it she could accelerate just as quickly as my GTS does.
Sure enough I was glad I had the GPS, as the Scomadi digital speedo was uber-sensitive and rarely settled at 50 mph – jumping from 46 to 54 mph continuously. However, when it did settle, I found it fairly accurate, only one or two mph out across the entire range. I liked the rpm indication, the fuel gauge and the coolant temp. However, there were I think a few problems… firstly the trip milometer reset itself randomly to zero every time I stopped, luckily the overall mileage was both accurate and stayed true. Secondly, the default setting is not in mph but kmph, so every time I turned the scooter on I have to reset the speedo to mph, which was annoying and easy to forget. Then lastly there was the turn indicator signal lights on the speedo, which with the chrome surround on a sunny day can easily be missed. Now I’ve got to say Frank and Paul at Scomadi know this and are chasing new speedos to fix these faults and all Scomadis will be retrofitted for free. It’s a new scooter and these things happen. Some early Vespa GTS’s had faulty ECU chips and some had a propensity to catch fire when their daft exhaust gasket disintegrated, which is why the exhaust now has a flange on it to deflect hot air when this happens.
My first impressions of riding the Scomadi were that it felt lighter than the big Vespa and she liked being flung about….it handled like a dream. It reminded me of the time I got off my first scooter, a Vespa Rally 200 and tried my mates Lambretta SX200 around a roundabout…wow! The Scomadi brakes, hydraulic front and rear were ace but I decided not to go too mad as I wasn’t sure about the tyres yet. They are called Duro and I’d never heard of them but the last time I went to the South of France it had been baking hot so I shouldn’t have to worry about the weather or it being wet at least…
D day – 4
I decided to take her up to Bristol airport that evening, as it would be quieter and this would help notch up the miles. She was fine on the back roads and on the A303 I blipped her up to 70mph a couple of times, then some twenty miles on the scooter started to splutter and the digital speedo went dark. After a few seconds it recovered and the speedo lit up again and I breathed a sigh of relief. After another mile though she did it again, spluttered, dying and the speedo went blank….fuck, fuck, fuck. Again she picked up but then died completely. By now I was trying not to panic. What the fuck do I know about Scomadis? What if this happens in France?
To cut to the quick, what I did know was it had to be electrical because the speedo went blank and that lights up without the engine running, it wasn’t a fuse because when a fuse goes it goes permanently, so hopefully it was a connector. I had that problem years ago with my Rally 200. With the right hand panel off where all the electrics seem to live I turned the scoot on and wiggled every wire near a connection. Sure enough near the top of the panel where the three fuses live I wiggled the wires to the bottom fuse and the speedo lit up. The connector, a simple spade connection seemed loose and the wire was twisted so it was under tension and more likely to come loose. I untwisted it and nipped up the connector then refitted it and now it felt very tight. I checked every other connector and nipped up a couple more. The scooter fired up straight way and I breathed once more, however, I decided not to do the intended trip now as it was late and I was nervous. Gingerly at first I turned her around and headed home but the scoot seemed fine and I hoped I had cured the problem.
D Day -3
I rang Bob at Wildcat and emailed Scomadi and they said ‘Thanks for me letting them know’ and they would check for this problem in the future. I also posted on Facebook when someone else had the same problem.
So off I went again to Bristol airport, but, yes, I was nervous now after the previous night, but the Scomadi behaved itself and my confidence was slowly restored. Then I rode it to Weston and the Lambretta museum before heading home to get as many miles up as I could. By the end of the day my total mileage was around 300 and I felt happy again. Also one up the seat seemed quite comfortable, despite having done over two hundred miles that day. Of course, it’s two up that makes the difference when you can’t move around as easily. I also noticed the fuel usage at these speeds was pretty minimal and I was doing a hundred miles before I was getting down to last fuel bar on the speedo indication. I wondered how accurate this was and I decided to check it before I left for France. Of course, work was interfering in my testing so I had to call it a day.
D Day -2
I took the scooter up to 75 mph on the dual carriageway and she felt good, I also took the wife out for the first time. I wasn’t sure if she would be comfortable or how the scoot would feel two up. We had got some footpegs fittings from the Guys at UK Wrap but the wife preferred keeping her feet on the runner boards. The scoot seemed fine two up and Poppy (as the wife calls her) felt comfortable over these short distances and two up she again blipped up to 75 mph on the dual carriageway so I was feeling good.
I then decided to go for an endurance test, so filled it up to the brim and with a 5-litre fuel container strapped to my sprint rack I headed up the A-roads to Taunton, then up the M5 to Bristol airport then across to Weston. On the A-roads now I was doing 50-60 mph, then on the motorway 70mph and at 100 miles the fuel indicator fell to its last bar. After Weston I headed back down the M5 at 70 -75mph and at 140 miles I noticed the last bar started to flash. Normally I would slow down but I tried to keep my speeds to 70mph. I came off the motorway and rode around Exeter. I was impressed. At 170 miles she died. Ok, I was one up with no luggage, but – OMG – 170 miles! I had once accidently ran a GTS dry going from Luton to Exeter that had covered 149 miles. Of course, the Scomadi has an 11-litre tank to the big Vespas 9.5-litre tank and this was a big difference.
D Day- 1
Today I fitted the seat pad covers, the gel filled one in the front and the inflatable one for the wife on the back, which I would reverse for the trip home. I blew up the tyres, 34psi on the rear 32psi on the front and I fitted the indicator caps…green good, red bad. I checked the oil level SAE 10/40, it was good but I packed a litre bottle and a syringe and tubing so I could top it up easily without removing the panel. The coolant level was fine and could easily be topped up with a syringe, or the weird funnel the scoot comes supplied with. I opted for another syringe then we packed and repacked our bags.
I loaded up the three bags and with me and the missus we met Marcus and his good lady at Exeter services at six thirty before heading down the A38 towards Plymouth. Anyone who knows this route will know Halden Hill. In winter conditions trucks often can’t get up it as it is very steep and sure enough our plucky little 180 engine slowed going up it and so did the GTS but with its extra 100cc’s and extra torque it didn’t slow quite as quickly or as much. However, as I reminded myself, Poppy was only really five days old and there wasn’t much in it.
We both filled our scooters up in Plymouth and agreed I would write down how much fuel we used in each of our scooters so I could work out our MPG and ranges. The figures are at the end of the article and show range, economy, top speed and other useful info.
When we got on the ferry I noticed they strap your scooter down over your seat and I was glad I brought my scooter cover, which I used to prevent the straps scratching my panels. It’s a good idea to supervise this part of loading. They like to rush and hardly give you time to get anything you may need off the scooter.
D Day +1
We sailed overnight from Plymouth to Roscoff and at 8.30am on the Thursday we began our trip down south. We’d decided to stop overnight at Saintes, approximately 350 miles away and stay overnight at a hotel. This would leave around 140 miles to Paddy’s rally, which we would cover easily on the Friday. On the return trip on the Sunday me and the missus would leave Paddy’s and drive back in one hit by ourselves to Roscoff…
On our way and once the scooter had warmed up I found she was happy at around 70 to 75mph on the flat and before you ask I was in performance mode. This could drop to 60mph up some big hills but the good side to every big hill is there is a downhill side too and down one hill I clocked 81mph on the GPS. The GTS with its extra 100cc’s was a bit better on the hills, by a small margin but the Scomadi felt solid with no noticeable vibration and we were happy.
However, by our second fuel stop I noticed a difference I’d expected between the two scoots. The GTS warning light was coming on early, after about 70 miles and Marcus didn’t want to risk running out of petrol. This though was understandable as there had been industrial action and some garages weren’t open, plus on the open road out of cities French garages are further apart than at home, twenty or thirty miles between garages is not uncommon. I noted our petrol consumption and on the A-roads the Scomadi was just ahead but on the motorways they were roughly the same. Sometimes on hillier roads the GTS was slightly ahead but overall there wasn’t much in it. The main difference was Marcus with his big Vespa felt he had to pull in and fill up before I did.
That first day we stopped and filled up five times but on the last time I opted not to bother as I was sure the Scomadi could make it to Saintes and we did… Remember I had ran my scoot dry only a day or so ago and my confidence in the Scomadi was growing. One thing that was not growing however was my comfort factor and the gel filled seat pad I was sitting on seemed to be doing bugger all for my numb bum and the wife disliked the inflatable pad as she said her little legs were struggling to comfortably rest on the running board as it made her sit too high.
D Day + 2
At our last stop before Bordeaux we decided it was a pain to go through the town and we would use the A roads and back roads to get to the rally instead. Of course, it now began to rain. I wasn’t sure about the tyres, so at first I was a bit twitchy. New scooter, two up, fully loaded new on tyres. The roads soon got twistier. However, after 10 minutes or so I started to feel better, the Scomadi was enjoying it and so was I. It was raining and there was mud on the roads but I still had a smile on my face, this was fun. Then I checked in my mirror, up to now Marcus and the big Vespa were usually right behind me but now he was falling behind, in fact at times he was dropping out of sight. I had to pause at junctions so he could catch up. At one stage I wondered what was up , maybe he had a problem? I flipped up my lid after waiting and called out to him. He quickly told me the that big Vespa with its standard suspension couldn’t keep up with the Scomadi around those wet and twisty roads, it was bouncing around the corners and I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself.
We arrived at Paddy’s rally campsite after covering just over 500 miles from Roscoff, thanks to a few detours. In total we stopped seven times for petrol. I was wet, my bum was very sore but I now had real confidence in my Scomadi, she had done it. I decided to celebrate and after meeting up with lots of old and some new friends I decided to get blind drunk. But hey whatever happens in Allemans-Du-Drop stays in Allemans-Du-Dropt.
D Day +4 (two days later)
Sunday morning and today we would head back to Roscoff in one go and we would be alone with no big Vespa for company. I checked the engine oil, tyres and coolant – all good. Next I swapped the seat pads around. I would have the inflatable one the wife the gel pad one. However, I wasn’t confident about these… money wasted I thought. We would take a detour on the way back to avoid some terrible roadworks we had hit on the way down at Nantes but this would push our mileage up to 510 miles in one day. I reckoned this would be the clincher for the Scomadi, 510 miles two up with bags. I mean Plymouth to Edinburgh is only 480 miles.
Wet & wild
Well folks, it rained the whole way back, we were both soaked and at times there were some vicious winds but the Scomadi did it. Not only that but we did it with only five fuel stops. I deliberately nearly ran her dry again and worked out the range on that tank was 145-miles, which was ace. For that one time I used the economy setting and she averaged around 66mpg, not as good as last time but this was two up. Iggy by contrast got barely 100 miles on his GTS when he ran dry but of course he was carrying more kit on his scooter than NASA gave Neil Armstrong when he landed on the moon. Also I found the inflatable seat pad worked a treat and I could have rode on further so that’s it for me long distance get an inflatable seat pad…ace..
After we got home I headed up to Wildcat Scooters for her very late first service, the scooter had 1700 miles on the clock and it should have been done at 600. It also gave me the opportunity to ask the gang at Wildcat to have a good look at the scooter to see how she had fared. First off, I have to ask has anyone changed a spark plug on a warm GTS? Let me tell you its both a pain in the arse and painful, as the access is shit. On the Scomadi it is a doddle and it uses a NGK PMR9B. Thanks to Wildcat we can also confirm what Sticky and Iggy surmised was correct in their original Scomadi TL200 road test. As the drive belt came off and as you can see in the picture it says Aprilia and the engine casings are stamped ‘Piaggio’ on the inside. So all the haters who said this is a just a cheapo Chinese copy are wrong… this is a genuine engine, perhaps made in the Far East, like many Piaggio engines but it’s still an Aprilia derived lump.
On the Dyno
Straight after that I headed back down to Weston and met up with young Stuart Lanning, with his GTS 300 we headed over to Paul Baker at SRP Racetech near Bridgewater and put both scoots on the Dyno. Piaggio say the GTS produces 22bhp at the crank, whilst the print out Scomadi sent me was saying the TL200 was putting out just over 17bhp at the rear wheel. Anyway, that’s a big difference and on different days on the same Dyno you can get a different reading. However, today we would put the two scoots up on the same Dyno under the same conditions and see where the chips fell.
(Blue curve – GTS / Red curve – Scomadi)
Scomadi VS GTS300 – who won?
To compare the two scooters it has to be said that the big Vespa just pips the Scomadi in performance for now. Also I have to say that in terms of carrying capacity with its underseat storage etc. again the GTS wins. So if you want to cruise long distances with maximum load on motorways you might think the GTS is the better choice. Once you come off the motorways the Scomadi is streaks ahead. Also with its larger tank the Scomadi has a better range and over a 500-mile trip you can make better time than the Vespa because over that distance you will make less stops. Leading on from this, if you are talking about handling, the Scomadi is also ahead of the big Vespa and, lastly, when it comes to looks then it’s a slam dunk to the Scomadi again. Finally, if your talking price the Scomadi wins there too.
- The loose Spade connections were an annoying but quick fix and now they know the next batch of Scomadis should be checked and ok.
- The toolkit should contain an allen key to get the panels off.
- The Speedos need replacing but I am assured this is in hand.
- The sprint rack needs a bit of a rethink as the seat overhangs it and our bags were scratching the seat, an inch further back would sort it.
Some people hate autos or four strokes, I remember some hated the Vespa T5 and so some people will always hate the Scomadi. I parked mine up at a scooter do and quietly listened to a few of the comments and found it interesting indeed. However, I know she did over 500 miles in a day, two up loaded up and with no problems. I firmly believe the Scomadi is good for our scene and I say that even if you hate it. The Scomadi will force Piaggio and perhaps LML to do something, I mean something other than some new decals and paintjobs, or the ABS brakes they had to put on to meet Euro 4. What else has Vespa done to the GTS? It needs a bigger tank and a bigger engine if it wants to really beat the Scomadi. I predict we will see a lot more Scomadis on our roads and at our rallies and then perhaps Piaggio will react. These are great times, new scooters and new Lambretta engines are available and we should salute the people behind these things. Remember the guys behind Piaggio are big businessmen; the guys behind the Scomadi are scooterists, so I say ‘well done’.
Do not do what I did. Really you should run your new machine in carefully then get it serviced before you ride 1100 miles in a few days and try and blow it up.
Oh and I decided to keep Poppy, so my lovely GTS is up for sale…
Words and photos: Bill Mac
Running costs and data, Scomadi TL200 compared to GTS 300
Best Price: £3888
Seat height: 780mm
Tank capacity: 11 litres
Claimed power: 17.18bhp
Best speed GPS: 81mph (downhill)
Best cruising speed: 70-74mph
Best range: One up 170 miles
Best range (2 up): 145 miles
Worst range: 130 miles
Best mpg: 70 mpg (62 mpg on sport)
Worst mpg (2 up): 54mpg
Vespa GTS 300
Best Price: £4692
Seat height: 790mm
Tank capacity: 9.5litres
Claimed power: 22bhp
Dyno: 18.15 bhp
Best speed GPS: 81mph plus
Best cruising speed: 75mph
Best range (one up): 145 miles
Best range (2 up): 130 miles
Worst range: 110 miles
Best mpg: 65 mpg
Worst mpg (2 up): 52mpg