The disappointing new “new Lambretta”

The Lambretta is back, at least in name.

On Monday, May, 21, 2007, a couple Modern Vespa bulletin board users started to tease readers with some information about a new Lambretta that was to be unveiled Tuesday night at a local club meeting (via San Francisco Scooter Centre and a Scoot! Magazine test-ride/review.) Others reported seeing the bikes earlier at SFSC with taped-over logos. Thanks to their hints and some tips from our network of spies, 2sb has pieced the story together and it’s sadly not the fairy tale rebirth of Lambretta scooterists have always hoped for.

First off, let’s make it clear that we’re not talking about CMSI/TNG’s “L-Series,” formerly known a “Scomadi” and originally known as the “new Lambretta.” CMSI’s plan to build a modern Lambretta (whatever they end up calling it) is still underway. That bike is exciting, if way over budget and years behind schedule, and just about any scooterist would be thrilled to see it (finally) on dealer floors.

This new “new Lambretta” shares its origins with the “L-Series,” however. At the genesis of that project, CMSI was working with the Khurana family, owners of a Seattle car/scooter dealership called Maharaja Motors/Scooters of Seattle. The Khuranas backed out of the venture in February, 2006 when CMSI determined that the Lambretta trademark was too volatile to use for a project with global sales implications. CMSI (with british engineering assistance) kept moving forward (slowly) on the newly-dubbed “Scomadi,” and the Khuranas went back to selling used luxury cars.

Until yesterday, that is. The Khurana family is apparently behind these new Lambrettas, which appear to be rebadged Adly Moto scooters, manufactured by the Her Chee Industrial Co. of Taiwan. Her Chee is ISO Certified and publicly owned, but appears to have some manufacturing ties to mainland China and probably falls short in quality to the better-known Taiwanese brands (Kymco, SYM, and PGO), though is hopefully superior to the truly garbage Chinese manufacturers. The Lambretta UNO 150 is a 150cc 4-stroke Adly Noble, while the DUE 50 is a 50cc 2-stroke Adly Panther. At first glance, one would think that the Khuranas have matched Genuine Scooter Co.’s flair for marketing Asian scooters in the American market. Pictures show the DUE in solid orange or black, and the UNO in solid red or white with a minimum of graphics. Even though the Lambretta crest badges look ultra cheap, the other graphics (in white, presumably vinyl) are tastefully designed, placed and restrained.

But where Genuine took good-quality new-to-us scooters and and creatively rebranded them for the U.S., The Khuranas are selling bikes from a slightly-lower-tier maker, using one of the most beloved names in scooterdom. They almost certainly have no global rights to the Lambretta name, [alas, they do, we later discovered -ed.] Note the logo on the bikes and the Lambretta USA site reads “Lambretta International,” and the site reads “Official Factory Web Site of Lambretta,” which seems to be tempting international legal doom. Their logo is technically original, though clearly derived from several variations of the original Lambretta and Innocenti logos. If Genuine was behind such a project, at least they’d source some quality three-dimensional badges, seeing as how the badges are the top selling point of the product. The whole enterprise lacks originality and attention to detail. On top of all that, Adly is already available here (and has a fairly low reputation, likely due to the questionable retailers that generally sell them).

Let’s assume for a moment that the Khuranas do legally own the name [they do -ed.] and that the Adly is a fully-respectable quality scooter. This may even be the case. If so, why is this so wrong? Simple. The Lambretta is almost indisputably the second-most famous and respected motorscooter ever produced. It is an icon of style, history, and performance. While the most hardcore vintage Lambretta fans will be shocked and disappointed with anything new, there is a place in the market for a “new” Lambretta, even a plastic-bodied twist-and-go. But it at least deserves an original design and first-rate engineering. This product shows no respect for the Lambretta name, and couldn’t be more clearly a cash-grab. CMSI’s Lambretta is much closer to the target, though perhaps it’s devotion to the original Lambretta may be unrealistic.

What will these Asian “Lambrettas” cost? It’s safe to bet they’ll cost more than an Adly. With all the nondescript Asian scooters on the market, there’s nothing to differentiate these scooters but a name. And that’s part of they mystery why the Khuranas would risk this trademark battle. At least when Schwinn put their own brand on “their” Chinese scooters (and further desecrated that hallowed name) it was a name with which Americans were familiar. Unlike “Vespa,” which is nearly synonymous with “Scooter,” and despite its worldwide cachet, “Lambretta” is a fairly-unknown marque in the U.S. Those that know the name will cringe at the sight of these bikes, those that don’t know it will simply wonder why they cost more than the other six bikes next to it that look the same.

And even if the Khuranas can build a great dealer network, will parts be available? Even Genuine and KymcoUSA have a hard time getting what they need from India and Taiwan sometimes. And I’m willing to bet a company that would put cheap Lambretta badges on a Taiwanese scooter isn’t going to be building a solid dealer network, or developing their infrastructure. Sure, they’re courting the trusted dealers now, but how long until they’re unloading them at Internet scooter shops, feed stores, and (ugh) Pep Boys?

One key to the success for the “Uno” and “Due” may be a “Tre:” the Khuranas are promising a SIL-design metal-bodied Lambretta later this year. Whether that’s reality or pipe dream remains to be seen, but I’d hope prospective dealers would demand some pretty solid evidence before buying into that, especially after more than four years selling TNG scooters waiting for the L-series. or bringing Diamo into their shops on the promise of the new Italjets. Even Piaggio floods dealers’ floors with Typhoons and Flys while keeping the GTS in demand. Hopefully dealers are learning their lesson, that a good scooter in hand is worth a dozen Chinese knockoffs in the bush. Unless you’re in it for the money and don’t want to stick around for the long haul, which appears to be the Khuranas’ plan.

When Piaggio returned to America, their greatest asset could have been the goodwill of American scooterists, but they took a pass. The Khuranas seem to be trying to capitalize on that power by getting current scooterists interested in their product (after all, glasseye’s first post on the BBS was “I have been asked to post up about the new Lambretta.”) But this ‘teaser’ campaign isn’t doing them any favors, it’s just angering scooterists by making a promise (New Lambrettas!), then delivering something so uninteresting (Adlys!), it inspires disappointment and/or rage. Hopefully dealers and magazine reviewers and customers will take the high road and stand up for the Lambretta name. Hey, even if the scooters are halfway decent, the Adly-branded versions will almost definitely be a better value.

27 thoughts on “The disappointing new “new Lambretta””

  1. Great post. It appears you do match Gerber’s analytical skillz!

  2. To the enthusiast or even quasi-initiate, the Lambretta name may mean something. To anyone else it will mean very very little. When it hits the floors of the rest of the junk dealers it will just be another viaggio, verucci or roketta. People who know the name expect better and people who don’t will only be looking for something cheap. I think both projects fall short and somewhere between would have worked. Both projects have used existing platforms and tried to reverse engineer an attractive product. One did it with a welding torch and the other did it with adhesive.

  3. Awesome report. I appreciate that you pull no punches.

  4. Now if importers sent him scooters to review maybe there could be an unbiased report. Then again he somehow ended up with a Blur…f-ing sellout.

  5. Some would call it “hating.” I wish the positive side of my surprisingly-balanced personality came out more in this blog.

    Also, I wish I had the time and resources to do better research and actually contact some of these people and get their sides of the story. What you see here is nothing resembling “journalism,” though it’s hard to find that anywhere these days, I guess. Conviction is free, but it doesn’t pay well. I could argue that striking up a relationship with some of these people would put me in their service, but that’s just a stupid excuse.

  6. See, the Blur was an example of the positive side. I have plenty of bad things to say about Scooterworks and Genuine, but overall, I think they’re on the right track and care about scooterists. In the end, my attention to that particular bike was driven by my personal attraction to it and had nothing to do with their marketing efforts, though they were happy to let me ride it around the parking lot and share info with me. Almost every Blur owner I’ve met said they read my article before buying it, and they’ve sold… well… dozens of them! So I’m good for something. : )

  7. Yes, I know you’re not a sell out yet (he’s taking bids but I only have enough to make him take his top off). Sorry if my comment in jest could be taken for otherwise. The people we met in Indy from scoot seem to be stand up folks too, I’m just thinking it’s a fine line to tread.

  8. The next best thing to a man who cannot be bought is a man whose price is exorbitantly high.

    I, too, applaud Genuine’s commitment and marketing approach. Their products (aside from the once-and-future Stella)? Notsomuch.

  9. (And why didn’t you title this article, “Truly, Adly, Deeply”?)

  10. Yeah, I dig Josh and them, and it’s a good magazine, maybe as good as a commercial magazine can be. I like Bryce and Bev, too, and ScooterWorld keeps getting better. I just think there are compromises you have to make to publish a magazine for profit, and I don’t hold that against them, but it bums me out that maybe scooterists don’t get the most honest direct opinion from those magazines. But I don’t hold that against them, its just a fact of life. Consumers should be able to tell the difference between PR and reality, but sadly, most can’t.

    Plus, by the time a magazine comes out these days, the news is generally old. Magazines need to survive by raising the bar so far above ‘blog’ journalism that it’s worth the wait for the news, heh. Luckily with American Scooterist, we figure Piaggio never even reads it, and most of our stories are about things that happened 40 years ago, so it’s not a problem, ha. Big props to Piaggio and Kymco and our other advertisers for supporting what is essentially a pretty weird magazine.

  11. Great article! Very disappointing news though.

    I think the Duo/Panther looks kind of familiar? Could it be a clone of something else? I almost think Peugeot made something like that.

    Why couldn’t the new lambretta just be an air cooled 150cc in a metal body. It seems like that would have required less reworking than the 250cc megascooter L Series?

    Good work Bb!

  12. Those that know the name will cringe at the sight of these bikes, those that don’t know it will simply wonder why they cost more than the other six bikes next to it that look the same

    Bingo! So why do it? This whole “new Lambretta” thing is the scooter parallel to General Motors’ attempt to revive the Pontiac GTO. Those who know (and care) about the original GTO were gnashing their teeth and rending their garments because it was a modern Holden coupe instead of some retro-styled thing that looked like ’65 or ’66 GTO. The rest of the world asked, “what’s a Pontiac GTO?” GM sold fewer GTOs over its 4-year run than they thought they were going to sell annually.

    By the same token, as you point out, most folks who know what a Lambretta is are goiing to be appalled at for a variety of reasons (Piaggio engine, among other things), while the rest of the world goes, “huh? It costs how much?” The market is going to be so limited that I can’t imagine a business case that would make any sense at all… and that, folks, is how the world works, much as we’d like to think otherwise. Ultimately, it’s all about the bottom line…

  13. i would be surprised if they were actually developing anything – shocked really. if anything, maybe they are simply going to import some SIL GP200 2-strokes and sell them along side the Adlys? this actually has the potential to give them instant legitimacy – at least in the eyes of a prospective buyer. “see, we’ve been making lambrettas for a long time – we know what we’re doing. tell me sir/miss, what can i do to put you on a scooter today?”

    ew – i just threw up a little

  14. Ya, they are very similar to other bikes. That 50 looks very much like the peugeot ludix. At least as much as the Blur looks like the jet force though. The more minarelli 2 strokes the better is my take on it. If that ludix lambretta clone actually had support and was 1899+tax I’d think it would sell even if it had Servetta badges on it! Hmmm, who owns the Servetta name?! Bb, get on it!

  15. It’s SERVETA with one T! I’ve had to make people who own them look at the badge before they believed me. I just got a new book from Veloce Publishing (review coming soon) that spells it with two Ts. Yes, I know, even the british importer spelled it wrong sometimes so you see it with two Ts in ads, but I’ve never seen a badge with two Ts.

  16. Like Velveta? Ya, I noticed the mono-T spelling after I tried to look up if they were still making washing machines somewhere. Maybe Matt can tie up a relationship with his sewing machine connections.

  17. It appears that i will be able to test drive one of the new “Lambretta’s” this sunday…I have an “in” with certain people in the Puget Sound area that miiiiight have something to do with it…

    and no…I am not going to be biased about it…just because i have an “in” does not mean I will like the thing…i think my phantom will totally kick its ass

    I will be able to give my personal opinion on it…I have not heard of Adly until I read about it on this site…but do know a thing about Chinese scooters (I owned three…one was stolen)…own a Bajaj Legend…and have ridden everything else at least once…

    Granted…right from the get-go…Lambretta is a classic name…and so is Vespa…are there any similarities between the new Vespas and the vintage (besides the PX…that does not count…LOL)?

    I would love to see more vintage scooters on the road…but at the same time…I look at it from an everyday riders standpoint (and yes…i am an everyday rider…sun…rain…snow…and even ice a few times)…so being practical and reliable is important (ever try to ride a shifter when it is 20 degrees?)

    i see both standpoints…but i would rather see more people on scooters than not on scooters.

    If the person is up to it…I am also going to race my Phantom against the new 150 Lambretta…and mine is (nearly) stock.

  18. Granted…right from the get-go…Lambretta is a classic name…and so is Vespa…are there any similarities between the new Vespas and the vintage (besides the PX…that does not count…LOL)?

    The new Vespas maintain, at the most basic level, the styling of the original Vespas. But more important than that, they are undeniably and literally the natural styling and design progression of the Vespa, from Paperino to handlebar to GS to Rally to P to Cosa to ET to LX to GT. They’re legitimate, made by the same company with a high reputation for 60 years. They have their faults, but they remain among the best scooters made, with a (mostly) metal body.

    The ‘new’ “Lambretta” on the other hand, has no basis in the Lambretta design or history. Its quality is questionable (maybe “decent” at best), and it wasn’t even designed specifically to be a Lambretta. The “L-series,” while maybe not a legitimate heir, was at least deisgned and created by people who clearly understood the attraction of the Lambretta and felt a certain amount of love for it. The Adly “Lambrettas” are Lambrettas in name only, the actual scooter was surely an afterthought.

    I think that difference is clear. If you buy a 2007 Ford Mustang, you’re getting a Ford Mustang. It’s not a 1968 Mustang, but it’s a Mustang, with however many years of heritage and Ford technology behind it. If some yahoo in Seattle paid whoever owns the Studebaker name a billion dollars and then started selling Kia Rios with Studebaker Avanti stickers on it, (at $10K more than the price of a Kia Rio, which is still available on the market) would you buy one and really believe it was a Avanti? I’m not saying the Kia Rio is a car without merit, but it’s not a Mustang, and it’s not worth $10K more if you put an Studebaker Avanti badge on it.

    The only chance Khurana has to redeem themselves in my opinion is if they actually coerce SIL to commence production of their GP Lambrettas. If I knew that was going to happen, I would write these off as a cheap ploy to get a foothold in the market as they prepare the “real” Lambretta. But I honestly think there’s very little chance we’ll see a new SIL Lambretta (which, to be honest, weren’t the greatest Lambretta ever made, but they’re hells of better than rebadged Adlys and have at least *some* legitimacy to them.

    i see both standpoints…but i would rather see more people on scooters than not on scooters.

    I have ABSOLUTELY nothing against “modern” scooters. I own one and ride it far more than my vintage bikes. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I see nothing wrong with a modernized Lambretta. But that brand name deserves better. I don’t think putting stickers on an Adly makes it a Lambretta.

    Khurana doesn’t give a shit, they’re apparently within the limits of the law and there are enough naive people out there that will probably buy them right up. Dealers will probably jump on them, falling for the “there’s a SIL GP on the way” line. But that doesn’t make it *right,* not by scooter standards. They’re destroying the reputation of a legendary marque and grubbing for cash, hurting the long-term success of the American scooter industry every bit as much as the Vietnamese chop shops and the people dumping disposable Chinese bikes on the market. If they have any interest in trying to defend themselves (or prove beyond a doubt that an SIL Lambretta is in the works), they’re free to contact me, but I have a feeling I won’t be hearing from them.

  19. Oh, and, of course we’d love to hear what you have to say about it after your test ride, and any other information you can gather about pricing and other differences between the Lambretta and the stock Adly.


  20. ok…I finally got to test ride last week after some scheduling (and laziness on my part)….and I have to say that I really liked it.

    The seat height is a lot taller than any of my scooters, and that took a little bit to get used to…but since it is taller…you can lean a lot farther into turns without dragging the kick stand (which i do a lot on my scooters) and i did not get too crazy because it only had 21 miles on it when i started. (got it to 50 on a side street behind the new Lambretta Office)…but I did notice a lot more power than I expected (its a GY6 with a 4 valve head)

    I don’t have any complaints (well…the kilometers are the primary numbers on the speedo…but that is not that big of a deal)…the paint looks fantastic (i rode a red one) and I like the fact they did not go overboard with stripes or lettering…just one simple “lambretta” on it…they did spend a few extra bucks for some upgrades (michelin tires…improved battery…upgrated wheels…the better quality paint…etc)…the under seat storage would not quite fit my helmet…but I have a big melon and wore my huge helmet (it does not fit any scooter i have been on)…

    I did not test drive the 50…because well…its a 50 (just a personal thing)…but the one with the funny front end looks pretty cool i have to say

    as for the price…that was the deciding factor for me…2699 for the 150 (and i think about 2 grand for the 50).

    so the price is great…the scooter rides great…it looks great…so i have no complaints :)

  21. I purchased a Lambretta UNO 150 back in July 2008. I ride it almost every day for my commute to work and back (14 miles each way) in San Antonio, TX and on every trip I can where I am by myself and i don’t have to carry much After 5 months and over 2000 miles I am very happy with the scooter. My only issues are with the km/hr speedometer and km odometer. My helmet fits fine under the seat so I guess I have a normal size head. I paid $2700 for it after shopping for 4 months and making several comparisons to Vespa & Kymco scooters. I borrowed a Vespa 150LX for a few weeks before I purchased and the dealer I bought it from also had Adly’s so I was able to ride other scooters. Side by side, the Lambretta UNO and Adly have the same shape but that is about it. They ride completelty different and have different engines, tires and wheels at the minimum. The UNO hits 55-60 mph easily and I have had it up to 70 mph with a good tailwind. I have been tracking fuel use religiously and have never got less than 74 mpg with a best of 82 mpg. Overall I get around 76 mpg driving mixed speeds of 35-55 to work and back each day. The UNO is lighter than the Vespa and I can feel the UNO being moved around more by the wind but I only got 60 mpg in the Vespa driving the same route at the same speed over two weeks. The UNO also has better acceleration than the Vespa and Adly. I bought the UNO over a Vespa because of the price, the appearance, two year warranty over a one year warranty and did I say the price. I wanted a Kymco Bet & Win but could not find one after they stopped making them. I did not want to wait until the newer Kymco Super 8 came out so I went for the UNO. Good thing because the dealers in San Antonio did not get any Super 8s until late October. Both the Vespa 150LX and the UNO have a rough ride. Never riding a motorcycle or scooter before I don’t know if this is normal for a scooter. I thought the Kymco Super 8 would have had a smoother ride with the larger tires/wheels but I’ll likely never know. Caring only about qualtiy for the price and not about the Lambretta history I recommend riding this scooter before you judge it as crap. The only problem I had with this scooter so far was with the emissions filter box where a hose runs off the muffler into the box to filter some of the emissions. the hose keeps falling off the box. The heat from the exhaust spilling out of the loose hose melted the emissions filter box. I took it back to the dealer and had a new box in place in less than 2 weeks with no cost. It appears as if parts are accessible and the warranty is honored so far.

  22. I purchased 2 of these scooters last summer. One has only about 400 miles on it. The other has been ridden a ton and has 2600 miles on it. At 300 miles we took it in for it’s 1st service and it had a dry seal. A month later it went in and had to have a new blinker flasher put in. It was serviced at 600 and again at 1800 miles. I was riding it at 45 mph a couple weeks ago and died. Back to the shop. Had to pull the whole engine apart. My 4 stroke bike has a 2 stroke head!!! You read that right. That is how they are ALL made according to Sonny Khurana. Bike ran fine when the timing chain was new and super tight but 2000+ miles later the timing chain stretches and BANG piston starts hitting until it finally bent. Sonny talked to my mechanic and told him we must have reved it to high. 45mpg on a straight road with 145lb person on the bike was TOO much for this bike that is suppose to do 65mpg + according to the website.

Comments are closed.