After several years as a trendy merchandise and clothing brand, Italian-origin Lambretta has returned to our market with a range of scooters, topped by the V200 Special.
The range includes V50 and V50 Special ($3590), V125 and V125 Special ($4290), V200 and V200 Special ($4990) and limited-edition Pirelli ($5390). (All are retail prices and do not include on-road costs.)
That’s very competitive for an Italian-origin scooter that comes with a steel body and frame, LED lighting, USB port, Bosch ABS and Pirelli tyres.
While the elite scooterist congoscenti may argue that the modern Lambretta is not truly Italian, what automotive company is truly a complete product of their origin nation?
Cars and bikes are made all over the world with components from a host of nations. Even Harley-Davidson now makes some motorcycles in India. And Italian scooter competitor Vespa is making more and more models in Vietnam.
Lambretta began in the fashionable Lambrate division of Milan in 1948, a couple of years after Vespa.
The company is now owned by the Swiss Lambretta Consortium and the Austrian KSR Group.
Their scooters feature reliable Taiwanese SYM engines and are designed by Austrian company Kiska who also design for KTM, Husqvarna and CFMoto.
Same sleek design with that aggressive, masculine, bomb-style rear shell and an aura that reeks of Quadrophenia attitude.
About the only difference is the absence of a gear shifter on the left grip and a flex fender that turns with the wheel rather than a fixed fender. However, true believers can also choose a fixed fender version.
To remind the rider of its origins, the name “Lambretta” is simply stamped, painted or stickered everywhere.
It feels sturdy with a steel semi-monocoque body and plenty of steel parts and aluminium front grill, handlebar components and trim.
The V200 Special controls feel a bit notchy, but the paint, badges and details are all good quality.
The LED taillight with integrated indicators is an absolute work of art. I wonder how they got that through ADRs!
My only concern with the design and finish is the rear mud flap extension that looks like an add-on, while the panel around the number plate looks like a piece of trim is missing.
The V200 has audible indicators that beep to remind riders to switch them off. That’s a good safety feature as many riders forget to cancel their indicators and then wonder why motorists drive out in front of them at intersections!
It did get a little annoying after a while and some may prefer to disconnect this feature.
The 169cc SYM single-cylinder engine has just 8.8kW of power and 12.2Nm of torque.
It needs to be fed some revs before taking off, but it responds smoothly and quickly. It hits 60km/h in about four seconds which is ample for around-town duties.
The air-cooled engine requires oil changes every 3000km with a major service every 12,000km.
Those frequent oil-change intervals might lead some owners to skip maintenance, especially time-poor commuters.
The engine is linked to a continuously variable transmission as used in many scooters and small cars.
CVT doesn’t have gears as such but keeps the engine revving in its sweet spot and smoothly adjusts the final ratio to accelerate.
Some twist-and-go scooters snatch when engaged, but this has smooth power delivering, allowing for confident feet-up u-turns.
Out on the 80km/h roads, it buzzes along nicely without vibrating the mirrors or sending a tingle through the bars. If pressed, it will get up to highway speeds, but labours on hills.
Despite being a single-cylinder engine, it doesn’t feel overly stressed on the highway, nor noisy, thanks also to the belt final drive.
While original Lambrettas had leading link suspension, these feature conventional telescopic forks with dual rear shocks.
It rides ok without any clatter or wild head-shake, and it copes quite well with most potholes.
However, the 12-inch wheels don’t like the big hits and send kickback through the bars.
Brakes are excellent with smooth Bosch ABS activation in the front.
Like most scooters, there is more effective braking from the left lever or back brake because of the engine’s weight over the back wheel.
Riding position is comfortable for my 182cm frame, although the bars are a little close and my knees almost touch the front cowl.
Big rubber floor grips ensure your feet don’t slip when it rains.
Comfort is assured with a generously padded seat for both rider and pillion.
The 800mm seat is also quite wide which can make it difficult for some people to put their feet down when stopped.
However, the beauty of a step-through scooter is that you can slide forward off the front of the seat when stopped and easily plant your feet on the ground.
The front cowl features a lockable glove compartment with a steering lock and a USB charging point for your phone. However, my plus-size iPhone wouldn’t fit.
Lockable under-seat storage has enough room for a full-face helmet, plus gloves.
Instruments sit on top of the headlight nacelle and are a combination of LCD screen and analogue speedo.
They feature a lot of info, but are set almost horizontal so they are difficult to see. The screen also reflects a lot of glare from the sun.
The numbers and letters are also spindly which makes them even more difficult to see.
I’ve ridden many scooters and this looks and feels more like an Italian scooter than some cheap Asian knock-off.