My scooters past and present

Show photo's of your scootering history, dont be shy, we all looked stupid back in the day :)
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GP Kevo
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Posts: 425
Joined: Wed Mar 11, 2009 7:48 am
Main scooter: 1969 150 DL / GP225 TS1
Location: Warsaw
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Wed May 12, 2010 5:06 pm

My first scooter, a 1979 Vespa P200E (just after painting it). I got into scooters because I had sold off both of my '68 Camaros and I wanted a mechanical hobby again but something where the engines weren't so heavy. Being into 60's culture and industrial design I started noticing the Vespas in town and met Kal, the no. 1 of the local club, MADASS, in Madison, Wisconsin. I found a faded but straight P200E just round the block from my mom's house and I left a note asking if it was for sale. It was and I bought it for $375. I thought it was a lot of money for it but Kal assured me it was in good condition. It was my first week on any motorbike on a hot August day that found me riding around one of the lakes and looking down at the speedo to see how fast I was going which isn't a good idea on a twisty road. Me and the scooter went tumbling down the grassy hill leaving me with a lot of roadrash on my arms and hands (all I was wearing was a pair of Levis and my Chuck Taylors) and dented up Vespa. I didn't like the faded silver paint anyway so I brought it to a local body shop that used to work on my Camaros, and I decided to paint it in Imron, 1965 Chevrolet Corvette Nassau Blue. The body shop did the body work and priming, I did the surface prep and they sprayed it. I still have the receipt somewhere in storage. It was around $220 if I remember, for all the bodywork and paint. Those were the days.
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I also had a 1966 Li 150 Special which I had for 2 years but sadly I've no pictures. I bought it off a guy in Rockford, Illinois on a cold October morning, then I rode it all the way back to Madison which took all day and into the evening battling a Northerly headwind that kept me at 45 mph. I was wearing my parka with the extra lining and some deerskin hunting gloves, and a ski cap for the cold. I remember how nice the warm right hand sidepanel felt against my leg on that ride, my first long one. I rode it for a year or so and then started having problems starting it. I didn't know anything about Lambrettas back then so I sold it the next Spring.

Me with a couple of members of the scooter club. Gawds, I was sporting the city cave teen look, but I was in a band back then.
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I used to put out this little scooter fanzine. It only lasted two issues but the idea was to promote the vintage scooter scene and scootering in general.
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After a while I tarted up the Vespa moddy style, but upgraded the engine which went through a couple of iterations finally ending as a 25 mpg gas guzzling tuned Malossi 210. For a while I commuted on it to work on the LA freeways which were so worn out and full of debris that all my mirrors vibrated off. I once dodged a refergerator lying across my lane and ran over a muffler and tailpipe from a car.



I used to ride with my friend Dean of Deanspeed who had a Jet200 converted to GP bodywork, rearsets, 208 Suzuki cast iron race tuned barrel, AF electronic, DJ exhaust, and 34 mm Mikuni TM flatslide carb.
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I thought my Vespa was fast at 83 mph but Dean's Lambretta would pull past me topped out in 4th. The only time I thought I was faster and overtook him on the freeway was when he fell back and then I saw the reason; khaki trousers and black boots of a CHiP (California Highway Patrol) officer on a Kawasaki KZ1000 matching my speed. I looked at him and he wagged his finger at me and I slowed down while he jetted off at what looked like well over 100 mph.



The Vespa was fast but it drank fuel at twice the rate of my friends' tuned scooters, destroyed clutches & broke exhausts almost regularly. I remember one night that was the closest to death I've yet come. A group of us were riding home on the 405 I think it was from OC to LA and my Vespa ran out of gas right where another major freeway merged into the one we were on. I was stuck with a dead scooter between two of 10 lanes of fast moving traffic. All I had was the turn signals and tailight and brake light to warn speeding traffic that I was there. Cars were flying past me only feet away at 80+ mph, swerving at the last minute to avoid me. Finally I saw Dean had ridden his Lambretta up the far right shoulder and spotted traffic for me so I could run, pushing my Vespa, across the lanes of freeway and join him on the hard shoulder, where he got his bike behind me and used his leg to push me along the road and down an exit to a gas station. It wasn't long after that Dean asked me, "Geez, Kev, when are you gonna get rid of that thing and ride a real scooter?"
I finally sold it so I could get my TV200 running, which I had aquired earlier by trading a Vespa SS180 that I had bought for $200. I searched for about two years but I finally had a TV200 and it was only $1 per cc. I was pretty chuffed, even if it didn't run. The Vespa ended up on the ASRA race circuit a couple of years later. By that time I'd already moved out to Southern California for work and to enjoy the sunny climate and scooter scene and had been living out there a couple of years. This is the late Mike Amato, No. 1 of Hard Pack S.C. on his big spender SX225. He was a real mover and shaker for the Orange County and SoCal scooter scene and the club he co-founded is still going strong.
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It was a revelation riding with the club as they were really about fast Lambrettas more than anything else. It made it easier to decide to sell my Vespa. The next Image is borrowed from Hard Pack SC.
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This image is cribbed from the intarweb, but it was Mark Ito's street racer. He lived in Pasadena and used to ride with Hard Pack once in a while and he'd show up at rallies. This was a style I first saw in Southern California in the mid 90s though I think it was going on a couple of years before then. It was a big influence on my scooter tastes even though I was still on the P210E at the time. The street racers would show up to rally events as a group and it was always impressive. I was a F.I.M. GP race fan even though the races weren't televised in the USA but we had Motorcycle and Road Racing Technology, more of a newspaper than a glossy magazine, that reported on the GP races every two weeks. I bought a copy regulary. Mark was obviously a fan as well.
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In the meantime, I went to a couple of Euro Lambrettas, in 1997, with my mate Dean courtesy of my generous mate Brian who lent us the scooters for the trip. Dean and I rode 2-up on an Li 150 with a Deanspeed 190 conversion. We took 4 days to ride from Southampton to Milan and opted for taking the high Alpine pass from France into Italy.
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Here we are upon arrival in Milan: tired, wet, and sore.
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1997 was my first Euro Lambretta Jamboree and I'd never before seen so many Lambrettas in one place nor have I since. It was the 50th year of Lambretta, after all. The wine came out to only about $2 per bottle so most of us had a nice, healthy wine buzz for most of the weekend.
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I managed to get a spin on this famous Lambretta:
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I rode this, my 1966 Silver Special to the next EuroLambretta in Ireland. I bought if from Howard Chambers for £800 and rode it from his house in Southampton all the way to Holyhead in one day (really one night and one day as I left just after midnight). I was up in Snowdonia when I took this picture.
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I broke down only 10 miles or so to the ferry sometime after taking this photo. A kind Welshman who worked at an auto repair garage saw me pushing it and gave me a lift to the ferry in his truck. The Welshman refused any payment, except that I might buy him a pint the next time I was in the neighborhood. He set me down right in front of Harry Barlow, who kindly sorted out my Lambretta carburettor and refused any payment as well. Harry told me he had just moved back from the USA and was getting back into scooters. :-)
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I met loads of good people at the EuroLambrettas, including these guys. :-) Hey, there's Ernie from Liverpool in the background, I wonder how he's doing these days?
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I rode my Li150 Special all over Ireland and really fell in love with the place. Sadly, I had to sell the scooter before I flew back home to LA. I made my £800 back and that helped defray the cost of the holiday.
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"The Pile" as Nyle called it, was my 1964 TV200 with 6000 miles on the odometer. I acquired it years before from ScooterWorks of Chicago. Before they found it, it was laid up in a shed with a seized engine since 1968. I stored it in my bands rehearsal space for years, then brought it out to California. My friend Dean Suinn rebuilt the engine and his SX190 as well the night before we were to leave. We rode from his house through Compton to get to the Pacific Coast Highway and had to run all the red lights as whenever we were stopped the local kids would come running to us demanding that we let them ride our scooters. We ran them in on the ride from LA to King's Classic '98 in San Franscisco, 600 miles up and, for me, 500 miles down (different road and different travelling partner. Halfway back to LA, we pushed the bikes into a desert motel as we were afraid of the scooters getting nicked at night. Johnnie's Vespa was leaking fuel and the fumes were so bad it's a wonder we woke up the next day.
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Over the next few years I left LA for good (It can take a few years to leave that city), keeping my two Lambrettas in storage and I ended up in Ireland working the summers and back home in Wisconsin for the winters. By this time I had 4 scooters: my TV200 and a 1980 GP150 street racer project in storage in LA, a new 1998 GP200 that I imported from Canada to Wisconsin, and a 1969 200dl that I bought in Ireland. This was when it was a stage 5 Taffspeed tuned Honda 205. I rode it every day commuting to work and I did a couple of tours on it as well as a few of the Irish rallies, where I met some great people and made some good friends.
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Then I crashed it on the M6 on the way to EuroLambretta 2000. It was late at night, raining, and I was slipstreaming a lorry trying to make better time and I had started to use less 2T as I was running low and there were no motorbike shops open at night. The engine siezed and by the time I pulled in the clutch I was going sideways at about 70 mph. I had time to say, "Oh no!" then the bike highsided me onto the tarmac where I slid along next to it for what seemed like minutes. The truck driver behind me (yes, I was doing that between lorries!) saw it all happen and slowed his truck while blocking the lane and protecting me from traffic. I was up and picking up my scooter when he came running up to me to help. I was lucky to be alive and lucky that my scooter was still rideable, once I'd aligned the shattered headset on the forks. I booked into a hotel in Wigan, taped over the damage on the headset top, took a hot bath, and slept.
The next morning I could barely move but after a hot shower and breakfast and lots of coffee, I was back on the road. I finally made it to Co. Durham and the Euro Lambretta but I was pretty rattled the whole weekend. These Lancashire scooterists were kind enough to watch my back for part of my ride back to Eire.
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Once back in Ireland I felt better and made it back in time to be early for work.


I felt so bad about trashing my 200dl that I left it with Taffspeed all winter for a full customisation / restoration / TS1 engine.
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This time, around '99 - '02 were some of my happiest scootering and rally times. Most of the scooter rallies were only 30 minutes to maybe 3 hours by scooter. I was working as a water ski instructor and staying in a pretty central location for the runs. The Irish scene was really good, the rallies were full-on celebrations. Good times. :-)
Carlow 2001, fine weather, dunno why I'm not smiling.
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I rode to a couple of rallies with The Outcasts, (mainly the married couples George & Sinéad and Dave & Mary) as I was only about 5 miles from their town and they never seemed to mind that I was always the 5th wheel. My TS1 was down at the time, so I was on my boss's ItalJet Dragster 180. :-) We were on our way to the Southern Alliance rally if memory serves.
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Most of my photos from this time are in storage 4,000 miles away or I'd scan and post more.

This is 3 years after that, on a short stay in Ireland, crossing the Wicklow mountains. The Wicklow Gap was my favorite road to ride and my best friend lived over the mountains.
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My friend George once again looked after my bike while I was away. I just didn't know how long that would be this time.

Well, life intervened as it does and I decided to stay stateside where I could help my mom though I did move to Minnesota. That didn't work out so well and there was a scooterless period, where my scooters were all very far from where I lived and I wasn't using any of them. I was jobless. I began selling them. First went the GP150, then the S.I.L. GP200, then I sold the TV200 :cry: . There were a couple of years that I didn't ride a scooter at all. I finally found some work and later, while working at a motorbike shop, I picked up this for $200. :-)
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I rode the Primivera for 2 years and got used to slow scootering on a standard bike. I have to say it was fun riding it and I liked nothing better than stuffing it up inside a biker on a Harley chopper on the twisty river roads only to have them blast past me when the road straightened out. I did some long rides on it, even a 700 mile roundtrip that had me vowing never to do that on a smallframe again. Here we are parked up for a rest and a healthy Wisconsin snack. ;)
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Car drivers were always dangerously overtaking me and sometimes I would ride after them and give them a good dressing down. I was on a long rideout, the New London to New Brighton rally (I kid you not, these are real towns in Minnesota, real, shitty towns) when an old man driving a car nearly killed me by overtaking me at high speed on a bridge where construction had closed down all but one lane. I rode after him and caught up to him at the red light, where a redneck in the pickup truck in front of us got out and he and the car driver attacked me, screaming at me to keep my shitty moped off the road. I suppose I deserved it for yelling at the car driver. Nobody was hurt as I was in full riding gear with armor, gloves and helmet. I resisted head butting the redneck reigning useless punches on my Akito jacket. My buddy phoned the cops and the attackers drove away. The cops came right away but threatened to arrest me even though they had recieved lots of calls from motorists reporting that I was attacked. After that I started missing my TS1.

I missed riding fast and especially missed riding Lambrettas and now that I was gainfully employed I started looking for another Lambretta which for the first time I had to finance with a loan from the bank. West Coast Lambretta Works, still owned by Vince Mross in San Diego, auctioned by invitation this SX200. I was outbid by $2000. I love the picture as it shows the Southern California scooter and surfing lifestyles so well.
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I lost the SX200 auction, but I ended up with this :-)
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I gave my Primavera to my friends as payment for a big favor; helping me move in with my mom one state over so I could care for her as she was terminally ill with cancer.
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That was a couple of years ago. I'm now living in Europe. I may be down to only two scooters, but I'm now happily married, life is good and I get to keep my Lambrettas. :-)
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All paid up and improved on a little at a time.
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[edited for spelling and content] ;-)
Last edited by GP Kevo on Sun Dec 22, 2013 12:42 pm, edited 13 times in total.

J1MS
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Wed May 12, 2010 5:17 pm

Good pics and fantastic reading in that post.

Ernie is still on the lambretta's. I was with him that year in Ireland, and this year he is riding with us to Spain for the euro in June. :)

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GP Kevo
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Posts: 425
Joined: Wed Mar 11, 2009 7:48 am
Main scooter: 1969 150 DL / GP225 TS1
Location: Warsaw
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Wed May 12, 2010 5:24 pm

Thank you. Give Ernie my best and have a great ride to Spain and back! Can't afford to do that big of a ride but I'll see you and Ernie in Ireland next year, I hope. :)

blue
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Wed May 12, 2010 6:36 pm

Great post,looks like chris penn in the flight jacket in the same photo as ernie,havn't seen him for years anyone know what he's up to?

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Andy Pickering
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Wed May 12, 2010 8:14 pm

Awesome post Kevo and exactly what this was set up for...bit dissapointed it hasnt taken off like we expected but this makes up for it ...great history mate.
Ricspeed, gone but never forgotten RIP my friend #59

J1MS
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Wed May 12, 2010 8:48 pm

blue wrote:Great post,looks like chris penn in the flight jacket in the same photo as ernie,havn't seen him for years anyone know what he's up to?
It is Chris in the picture, he was on his TS1 that year.
The next year Germany he was riding his Vespa. I havnt seen him since about 2001. not sure what he's up to now but he was into his records.

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RICSPEED
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Wed May 12, 2010 11:18 pm

Great post , like the lucky strike and blue/orange gp's (seen it on you tube) 8-)
Its in bits scooter club: www.facebook.com/groups/132415046859320

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Toddy
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Thu May 13, 2010 6:17 am

Cracking read , great pictures a great history of your scootering past well done :D :D :D
As my Dad used to say "Each to their own lad"

Train Driver
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Sat May 15, 2010 6:46 pm

Yes agree great write up and brilliant pictures.
It's dropped off the page so if you didn't see you won't know its here

peter357bikes
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Tue Jun 08, 2010 4:22 pm

nice slice of history...Met Ernie last year and he looked well.

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