Frankenstein Scooters to Dracula’s Castle – The Review

39375c67f1f0b9b391c7039ea18620cf1f540ff9On the strength of my post about the video publicising his book, Martin “Sticky” Round sent me a copy to review. Which was nice. This is a first for me, as it’s the first “freebie” I’ve got through the blog. To be fair to my loyal readers though, I’m determined to give this a fair review, and be as honest and forthright as I can… and not just do a “puff piece”.

This was a tricky review to write. I could sum the whole post up in four words… but that wouldn’t do justice to the book. And I could ramble on for ages pouring more and more praise onto it, because this is simply a great book, but I suspect that my review would come across as a little dull if I did.

And this book is anything but dull. As readers of his work in Scootering will know, Sticky has a fine command of the English language… and he’s had the opportunity to give it full flight in this book. I read a lot. I’ve often got two or three books on the go at once, and I devour everything from biographies to science fiction, and pretty much everything in between. Once in a while, I enjoy a book so much that I rave on about it to friends and family and pass it on, saying “you must read this!” (The last book I did that with was CJ Sansom’s Dominion, btw. Highly recommended). Frankenstein Scooters to Dracula’s Castle is up there. Right up there. I honestly haven’t enjoyed reading a book more this year.

Sticky tells his road trip tale in a highly entertaining fashion. The “scootery bits” aren’t so technical that a non-scooterist would be turned off, and just give an overview of what it’s like to own, ride and be part of the classic scooter scene without assuming any prior knowledge. A opening couple of chapters about building the scooters to take them on the journey could be as dull as ditchwater – but handled with Sticky’s light humorous tone (and the liberal use of the word “bollocks”) it’s like a very entertaining bloke down the pub sharing a great story with you.

In fact, the whole book is like that. Only they interesting bloke down the pub usually gets a bit boring after a couple of pints. Sticky’s book never wanes. While sharing his adventure of crossing Europe, from the Adriatic Coast to Turkey (and back), the entertainment factor never lets up. Sticky didn’t do the trip alone, he took his 11 year old son, Sam, and wife along. His wife, Tracy was riding perhaps the most Frankenstein of the Frankesnstein scooters, a Maicoletta with a 400cc Suzuki engine shoehorned into the old scooter bodywork. They met up with another name well known to the Lambretta scene, Dean Orton from the Rimini Lambretta Centre. Dean was riding the least modded bike… (and ultimately the most reliable of the scooters) a moderately upgraded Indian GP. And he brought his daughter, Kimberly along for the ride too.

Undertaking a challenging journey on highly modified vintage scooters is not a thing to do lightly. Let alone when you’ve got the wife and kids along. Sticky’s attitude is prepare well, and hope for the best. Things will generally work out and when they don’t, well, that’s character building. Seems to have worked for him. Still, with the author of the Lambretta repair and maintenance bible The Complete Spanner’s Manual: Lambretta Scooters and the owner of the RLC, an accomplished Lambretta mechanic in his own right, both veterans of many rallies and road trips… they were going to be alright if anything did go wrong with the scoots.

To get back to that bloke down the pub, that you initailly find the life and soul, and who you then discover is just someone who likes the sound of their own voice and has found a whole new audience in you… Well, you often find their worldview is a little blinkered too. They say travel broadens the mind, and to an extent I think that’s true, but I think you’ve got to be pretty broadminded to begin with. I found myself nodding along and agreeing with most of what Sticky said in the book… and, being Sticky he always has an interesting way of saying it. His “Dickhead Theory” I found particularly insigtful.

The trip, through Italy, Austria, Slovenia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey (and back via Greece and Albania) give Sticky ample opportunity to expound on everything from his theories on parenting to his attitudes to other cultures… with a handful of remincenses about previous scootering adventures, and a soupcon of local history along the way. His summing up of the Gallipoli campaign made interesting reading in light of all the recent celebrations surrounding the 70th anniverary of D-Day.

The book ends with Sticky being a bit down as the trip reaches it’s conclusion… and that’s how I felt as I reached the end of the book. I was enjoying reading it so much I just wanted more… Finally, there is some advice on how to plan your own adventure… and if you don’t feel inspired to at least start planning something, even if it never gets past the plannng stage, I suspect there’s something wrong with you.

Anyway… I’m not going to witter on and spoil the book for you. Suffice it to say it’s a damn good read. One that, in my humble opinion, deserves to break out from the scootering world into a general readership… You don’t have to be a scooter fan to enjoy a book this good. After all “Zen and Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” (basically a roadtrip book with a bunch of noodly half baked philosphising thrown in) became a classic… and it’s a far less entertaining read.

If I had summed the whole review up in four words they would have been “Excellent read. Buy it”. Actually buy two, give one to a friend. It’s that good.

It’s out on Kindle now, at a unfeasibly reasonable £2.95, a price that almost makes it worthwhile buying a Kindle. The paperback is also available from Scooterproducts, Amazon, and eBay. The perfect last minute gift for Fathers Day!

Bonus points if you can find the other video featuring (a very young) Sticky on this site. If you do post your answer in the comments.

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Lambrettista… Review of the year

I hope this is not too self indulgent, but this has been a big year for the Lambrettista blog.

Back in April, the old Posterous blog came to an end… when the Posterous blogging platform did. I looked around for a replacement platform, and WordPress seemed to be a no brainer. After a slowish start, (31 views and 22 visitors in April) the next month the viewing figures shot up to 2,664 views and 956 visitors… a definite improvement! Things have gone from strength tho strength since… Screen Shot 2013-12-31 at 04.41.20

Secondly… Reach… You might be interested in where the Lambrettista blog is read… Which is pretty much everywhere. The map below shows the reach of my blog. And, no I’m not blowing my own trumpet (well, a bit) but I’m blown away at the number of countries where people read my blog. I’ve still got to crack Mongolia, most of the continent of Africa, and a couple of countries in South America (come on Paraguay, you’re letting the side down!), but other than that the reach is pretty global. I hit the 100 countries mark a while back and am way more than that now. Wow. It’s probably more about the popularity of the World’s Finest Motor Scooter than any great blogging skill on my part, but it’s nice nonetheless.

Screen Shot 2013-12-29 at 08.44.05

2014 was also the year I decided to make a Lambrettista.net Facebook page and Twitter account (@MrLambrettista) to support the blog. I set these up in November, and the Facebook page has already had 750+ ‘Likes’ and the Twitter account 250+ followers. If you haven’t checked them out, there’s more, different content on both, and I’d love to have you part of them.

And now a few favourite posts…

Favourite Lammie

My favourite Lambrettas of the year… It’s truly impossible to pick. So here’s Four of that have stuck in my mind… Firstly, Chrsitian Gentilini’s stunning SX150 S-Type Screen shot 2013-07-06 at 07.35.58

Blue Ashtray; a clean mean GP from NYCBlue Ashtray Lambretta GPThis beautiful conserved resto by the Rimini Lambretta Centre… a lovely original orange SX150 Screen Shot 2013-12-09 at 15.28.01

And to show it’s not all about perfection, I loved this rat look Series 1 that was up on eBay$T2eC16R,!w0E9szNYhFVBRzF4rgFfQ~~60_12

2013 was also a big year for new Lambretta based innovations… two scoots stand out – and while they can’t be called Lambrettas for legal reasons, they are fine machines based on the the classic lines of our favourite scooter. Firstly the Scomadi – a modern auto clad in Lambretta style bodywork,turismo-leggera-300

and then the MkII Ebretta – the most stylish electric scooter you’re ever likely to see.Ebretta

Lambretta Club of the Year

Despite the excellent work of my own Lambretta Club, (The LCGB) I’ve got to award this one to the new kid on the block, The youngest national Lambretta Club in the World… the Lambretta Club of South Africa.

Lambretta Club South Africa

Favourite Photograph

There’s been more than a few great images… here are just three of my favourites. Feel free to explore the archives to discover more for yourself!Lambretta easy rider
Girl on  a scooter 1965the scooterist (104)

Oddball Scooter of the Year

This category is for any scooter that I’ve written about. Despite a strong contender in the Malaguti Saigon, and a late showing for the WFM Osa, there was only going to be one winner this year… The Tula based Scooter Caravan4b98f96dbc8bca7b64209244945b68d1

Lambretta Product of the Year

gp200_12

Not a Scootering product at all… or a pair of sock bearing the Lambretta logo, but this fine  piece of furniture from Iconic Designs.

 Looking forward to 2014

2014 Is looking good for shipping on both the Scomadi and the Ebretta II,  and perhaps for a fresh push on the Alessandro Tatarini designed Lambretta LN‘s …as legal battles seem to coming to some conclusion on the Lambretta brand. Or maybe not.

If you’re fairly new to the blog, you obviously like your Lammies, and I’d like to think theres a fair bit that will interest you in the archive… keep hitting the “Older posts” button at the bottom of the page to see a whole load more Lambretta-ey goodness! Oh, and please check out the Events Page (under the links menu) for a calendar of scootery things to do, all over the world, in the coming year.

Finally, I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Thank you, Gracias, Merci, Danke, 谢谢, ขอขอบคุณคุณ, dank u (love the Dutch), Tack, Dankon. I appreciate your support. And keep reading, sharing, liking, following and commenting, it really makes my day when you do. And stay tuned… there’s plenty more to come in 2014.

Happy New Year, when it comes. Wishing you all a Happy, Healthy. Safe and Prosperous One. Big Love… Jock.

What’s in the mags…

Whatsinthemags

A new feature this, maybe a regular if there is any interest. A bit of a rundown on what’s in the scooter mags on the shelfs, and in the bi-monthly LCGB mag Jet Set.

Scootering

I’m not pushing Scootering, but it’s a must buy for me, alway got a fresh bit of info. This month’s is the second or third after a bit of a facelift, and the mag looks all the better for it. The content is pretty much the same though, just presented in a bit more of a contemporary way.

So in addition to all the regular features, there is a nice article on a British ‘oddball’ the Pheonix, with some beautiful shots of frankly, quite an ugly scooter. As usual there are a couple of nice featured Lambretta’s, taking Disney’s Cars movie, Pirates of the Carribean and Baileys cream as their inspiration respectively. There’s also a cracking 1958 Douglas Vespa.

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On the techy side there’s an in depth article telling you everything you ever needed to know about the humble nuts and bolts that hold your machine together. There’s a nice feature on the Troglodytes SC from down in Cornwall. 

Events wise, there’s rally coverage of Woolacombe BSRA Rally, The Ribble Valley Mod and Soul Weekender, Jersey’s “Strickly Scooters” Rally, The “Ride for your Rights” protest, and a Rally in Belgium to Liege Chateau. 

For the more cometitive souls, they also cover scooter racing at Cadwell Park and sprinting at Elvington. 

There’s also a nice double page spread on the “A-Z of the Lambretta”. 

Phew. 164 pages this month… a lot of ads… including a couple of really dodgy ones from “Bradford Exchange”, but also a lot of good content.

JetSet

JetSet, the club mag of the LCGB, which you can only get by signing up… has also had a bit of a revamp lately, and is an extremley well produced, well presented publication these days. Clearly it’s going to be more focused on the Lambretta rather than scooters in general, and it does that from a quite authorative, knowlegabel position. A lot of the features cover the same ground as Scootering… the mechanical section is known as Oily Rag, features ten tools as you can trust in your workshop, there’s a featured scooter club, (Redcar Frontline), and Rally reports… Isle of Wight, York Inset, all with more of a Lambretta owners slant.

One nice feature is a tribute to the late Dave “Iron Arse” Jackson, a reprint of his account of a year on the road in his bid to become LCGB’s best supporting member. He’s not the only one recounting tales of epic journeys on a Lammie, there’s Eden who recounts a tale of the 2011 Coast to Coast ride, lets just say… it wasn’t all plain sailing… or should that be riding. Putting a few more miles on the oddometer was Pete Orchard… who rode his Series One back from Istanbul!

I’ve only just scratched the surface of JetSet’s content… it’s 48 pages packed with Lambretta relevant content. Worth the £21 a year it cost to join the LCGB alone, without all the other benefits you get for joining… (discounted insurance, parts discouts, expert advice, access to the forums etc, etc.)

I haven’t done the other mag, Classic Scooterist Scene yet… as it’s bi-monthly and been out a while, I’ll review it when the next edition comes out. 

Scooter techniques running maintenance DVD

Dvdlambrettamaintenance
Bought one of these online the other day, and it’s just arrived.
I’ll review it when I’ve watched it. If you don’t want to wait for the review you can probably pick one up from your local scooter shop, or online here.