Lambretta’s monkey bike – The Rosella

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Information on this little oddity is scarce, but I’ve pulled together what I can. My main source is the french site moto-collection.org As is usually the case, I’m working from a position of profound ignorance, and you, my readers often know much more than me… so I’m quite happy to be be put right – just leave a comment and I’ll update the post when I can. All pics harvested from an intensive search of the web. If they are yours, and copyright, my apologies. Hopefully it’s ok to collate them all for the sake of posterity!

201112817034_squashedscooterThere seems to be differing accounts of it’s genesis… whether it is an ‘official’ machine out of the Innocenti factory (perhaps a prototype, or side project), OR something ‘knocked up’ by a neighbouring factory in Milan. It appears to have been marketed by a manufacturer of marine equipment, based – like Innocenti – in Milan… Nautica Pennati.  who are still in business. (I’ve contacted them, to ask if they have any information, but it was a while ago, so don’t hold your breath!).This would suggest the Rosella was designed as an accessory for a yacht… as once the handlebars are removed and the front wheel is turned over it is only 90cm long.

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Innovative design – perhaps the cutest Lambretta of them all?

The Rosella is a tidy little design – I love the way it integrates the fuel tank into the frame… and the front and rear lights into the fuel tank. The main frame is very neat, basically two tapering tubes, welded together. To my mind, this supports the theory that it was a factory prototype – this is a sofisticated piece of design work, made by somebody with some knowledge of how to put a two wheeler together neatly. The main, obviously Innocenti element to the design is the J50 engine / crankcase. This helps date the Rosella, as the J range was introduced in 1964. Despite it’s tiny size, the Rosella has a complete suspension system: a short telescopic fork at the front and by a hinged, damped element by the power unit at the rear. I’m not sure how effective this would be, but the Rosella was obviously only designed to cover short distances! Another nod to the Lambretta is the “D” type toolbox in the first pic, though mounted ‘side-ways’ to the frame, rather than under the seat.

Rarity and value

Information is scarce – but rumour has it there are only three (yep, you read that right, three) Rosella’s in existence. One (pictured above) sold on German eBay a few years ago, for around €2.5k – if rarity = value, somebody got a bargain.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Second of the three is (or was) in the US, and appeared at the LCUSA Lambretta Jamboree in 2006 – and the pics show it competing in the gymkana. Aparently, at some point there was quiet a nasty accident in which the rider broke his collar bone, but the bike survived.

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As for the third Rosella, I’ve been unable to track it down, so it may, or may not exist! It may be (must be!) the one pictured in the GP turquoise. If you own it, one of the other two, or have another sitting in a shed (or on a yacht) somewhere, I’d love to know more. Send info and pics please! And, if you don’t actually own one, but know more about it than I clearly do, please let me know in the comments below!

 

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Funky Moped…

benelli_moped_ebay_heroFrom the ‘Not a Lambretta, but – files’…Spotted this cheeky little 50cc Benelli Monkey Bike on eBay. It’s not UK registered, but comes with a kosher sales invoice and a NOVA certificate. You’ll need a dating certificate from the Owners Club. The engine works. And it’s a not unreasonable £1,595.00 (classified ad price).

Here it is on eBay

Mad Bixby Moto’s Deathdealer II Scootercycle with Sidecar

No, it’s not a Lammie. But it looks a lot of fun. The result of a “build-off” competition run by Dues Customs, and made from a Honda Z50 found in a skip, and a junked engine from a Chinese scooter, along with a bunch of other scrap (total budget $158), produced this wonderfully original little machine. The “hilarious” video (you may want to substitute the word “hilarious” with the word “annoying”) shows the scoots capabilities off pretty well. Although I preferred to watch it with the sound off after about 30 seconds, although I may just be experiencing a temporary sense of humour failure.BixbyMoto1 BixbyMoto2Bixby Moto specialise in monkey bikes, customs and racers… check out their website here. There’s some lovely little beasties on there.

Via Scooterfile,

The Brazil Connection – The Xispa

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Everybody knows that the Lambretta comes from Italy. Most know that it was also made in India. And many know it was also made in Spain. At a pinch you might even mention Germany and France. But Brazil? Or Brasil, as it is more correctly spelled? Perhaps it’s my Eurocentric world view, but I was quite surprised when I first found out. (For completists, Lambretta’s were also made under license in Argentina, Taiwan and Colombia).

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The history of the Lambretta in Brasil stretches right back to 1955, and in fact it has clams to being Brasil’s first automotive manufacturer. Between 1958 and 1960, in it’s heyday the factory was producing more than 50,000 scooters a year. The mainstay of Brazilian production was based upon the Italian LI Series 2, which they produced from 1960. Known from 1964 as “Pasco Lambretta” the scooter market began to suffer the same slow decline in fortunes that was happening in Europe.

In an attempt to kickstart the market and keep up with changing automotive fashions, they  launched one of the Lambretta families more unusual members (to European eyes anyway)… the Xispa. This was a kind of hybrid scooter/monkeybike with many (as you’ll see in the pics) Lambretta components.

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There was a 150cc and 175cc version which did well in the domestic market, until the inevitable rise and eventual dominance of imported Japanese motorcycles and mopeds. This all but saw the end of Lambretta production in Brazil, although their final throw of the dice was the slimline style Lambretta Cynthia (which I will feature at a later point I’m sure) and the ‘cutdown’ version of this… the MS150… the factory trimmed sidepanels and MS designation earning it the nickname “the MiniSkirt”.

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As I mentioned in a previous post, there is a healthy interest in classic Lambretta’s and active club scene in Brasil (and also Argentina, but that’s another story). There also appears to be a few Xispa’s on the market… an ideal machine for the Lambretta collector with an eye for the unusual. For instance, here’s a very nice example, going for about 4,000 Brazilain Reals (about £1,100 at current exchange rates). You’ll have to ship it over from Brasil of course! I like it, I think it’s got a certain ’70s charm… and it also reminds me of those fantastic racing “Lambretta da Corsa” scooters from the fifties.

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UPDATE:

Some useful links if you want to find out more about Lambretta’s in Brasil. Or stat tuned and I’ll get round to writing some more, espcially abut the Cynthia, and the MS!

http://www.lambrettatradicionalbrasil.com.br/historia.htm

http://lambrettabrasil.blogspot.com/