I got down to the Retrospective Scooters open day at their workshop/showroom in Walthamstow – London E17. The event was well attended with some nice Vespas, Lambrettas and even a Heinkel Trojan in attendance.
The theme of the day was ‘beating the (forthcoming) Ultra Low Emission Zone’ and there were lots of Electric scooters on display, both from the world leader in electric scooters, NUI, and with a couple of classic demonstrators – a Vespa and a Lambretta, both converted by Retrospective to run clean and green on electricity.
Both machines look very assured, and ‘sit’ like the classic scooters they are. Retrospective had a range of Royal Alloy scooters in attendance too… a modern auto clearly modelled on the classic GP (by way of the Scomadi of course), but The Electric GP next to them looked just like any other classic Lammy.
So what does an electric Lambretta ride like? Full disclosure, I didn’t ride one myself, but I spoke to a couple of people who did. The overall impression of everybody I spoke to was overwhelmingly positive. Everyone that rode one dismounted with a massive smile on their face. I was told that power comes on extremely smoothly, acceleration is fantastic and the whole ride feels very ‘natural’. From a bystanders point of view, it’s bizarre to see a Lambretta startup, move off, and accelerate away all without any noise, smoke or smell. Some might think these are key elements of the whole Lambretta experience – but I’ve seen the future, and it doesn’t smell of 2stroke! There is something really weird about a Lambretta zooming past you in almost complete silence – all you can hear is the noise of the tyres on the road. One issue that as a rider you’ll have to be even more aware than ever of pedestrians stepping out in front of you – as they won’t hear you coming! Retrospective are investigating including a noise generator as part of the conversion.
There is going to be a huge majority of Lambretta owners who will always prefer the traditional 2-stroke powered internal combustion engine of the classic Lambretta. And while the ‘nostalgic side of me sympathises, and agrees, I can see the way the world is changing. There are more and more places where we won’t be allowed to ride a traditionally powered scooter. Or, if we are, we’re going to have to pay handsomely for the privilege. An electric conversion for your Lambretta (or Vespa) isn’t exactly a cheap option, but I for one have started saving up!