A vintage Douglas built Vespa may not be most people’s first choice when it comes to a 280 mile round trip. Thankfully tuning parts and kits are readily available now for the early Vespa models and it makes them much more useable on longer journeys. Roger Green just completed the Vespa Club of Britain, Two Channels Dash on his Bollag Motors equipped 92L2. Here’s how he got on, we’ll be taking a look at his engine modifications in a separate feature soon.
Two Channels Dash
Organised by the Vespa Club of Britain South West region, the Two Channels Dash, from Weston-Super-Mare to Weymouth seemed like the best way to give the 92L2 a proper workout and to test the reliability of the Bollag Motos engine. The journey would be a round trip of approximately 280 miles, taking in my favourite book shop in Glastonbury, visiting in-laws in Aller and stopping at the mid-point in Yeovil for a cream tea.
I started off at 6am from Newbury aiming to get to Weston at 9am, which would leave me with enough time to have a mooch with people before the Coast Dash began. This first leg was 96 miles going via Shepton Mallet and avoiding getting lost in the labyrinth that is Bath, the morning was very foggy and the outline of Silbury hill and round stone barrows dotted around the Neolithic Avebury landscape were a slightly eerie sight as I headed West down the A4.
Perfect conditions for a 2-stroke
The weather forecast looked like it was going to be amazing sunshine, so I didn’t wrap up too warmly and regretted my decision once the fog had clung to my clothes. At the petrol station in Devizes I was so cold that my teeth were chattering and my hands were shaking uncontrollably! On the other hand the 92L2 loved the cold, damp air and was running like a dream.
I wasn’t pushing too hard at this point because the engine only had around 100 town and carb set up miles on it and technically was still in the running in period, although Ralph Bollag (the kits designer) says to go full throttle from day one!
Arriving in Weston I was greeted by friendly faces and the sun was starting to warm me up a bit. Stage 1 was complete and I was confident in the scooter’s ability to complete the dash and get me home.
I got my first stamp and goodie bag (thanks VCB South West!) and headed to the Isle of Avalon, A.K.A Glastonbury, one of my favourite places in England. The scooter attracted a lot of attention and I managed to get a book for my two year old son. I know the roads well around this area due to my father in law living in Aller, which is in roughly the same direction as Yeovil so I headed there and had a quick chat, he was impressed that the plucky little scooter had made it this far from home! Soon after I arrived in Yeovil for a quick lunch stop and stamp number 2, 60 miles covered on this stretch.
The next stretch to Weymouth would be the most testing due to the large hills, this wasn’t a problem for the 92L2 though. The Bollag Motos kit kept the little 8″ wheels turning on quick A-roads, roads which would have been almost suicidal to attempt with a standard engine. This stretch was 29 miles and we made it to the Smugglers in Wyke where I received the last stamp and was very pleased that the mission was accomplished and the engine reliability was proven, just the question of the long trek home to Newbury now.
I didn’t hang about but thank you again to all of the organizers of the event and all the people I chatted to who had nice things to say about the scooter.
The road is long
Now the goal was achieved I relaxed and pushed the scooter harder down the long straight old Roman roads, via Dorchester and Salisbury. I sat at a GPS average speed of 50mph with enough in reserve to get to 60mph should I need to, and remember this is GPS speed. Your PX speedo would be reading 55mph+ at 50mph.
This was one of my favourite stretches and it dawned on me just how capable the 92L2 was now. The sprung single saddle and wide handlebars are perfect for my stature and the scooter makes for a surprisingly good tourer. It was really comfortable, most people fear 8″ wheels but I didn’t have any qualms at all, and in fact in some respects the lower centre of gravity helps the scooter to feel more balanced.
The sun was still shining and knowing that I very rarely get to do a big scooter trip like this (due to grown up responsibilities) I decided to make the most of it and added on a few extra miles after Salisbury, heading home via Amesbury, Tidworth Barracks and Hungerford – racking up 94 miles on this stretch.
The trip total was an impressive 280 miles and to be honest with the sun shining and the scooter running as well as it was I could have easily done another 100 miles!
Words and photos: Roger Green