It looks like Lambretta International is re-doing their site and letting us watch. They’ve got their new logo on there, and that’s the Due50 (aka Adly Panther) in the foreground and the Uno150 (aka Adly Noble) in the background. Check quickly, they might pull it down if they see hits coming, and I can’t legally republish the photo here. I don’t know what Julie Christie is doing there, she must be lost. (FPO, by the way, means “For Position Only,” a designer term meaning that the image is just a placeholder for the final image). Here’s more info if you haven’t heard the story of the “New” “Lambretta.”
In my post about Khurana’s “new” Lambrettas last week, I said:
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, and even the American rights are questionable. (Note the logo on the bikes and the Lambretta USA site reads â€œLambretta International,â€? and the site reads â€œOfficial Factory Web Site of Lambretta,â€? which seems to be tempting international legal doom).
Even though I mentioned the promise of a future bike from Scooters India Limited (SIL), it never occurred to me that the Khurana family may have actually struck a deal for the name with SIL (who apparently DO own the international trademark). According to a few sources, that is indeed the case. With that news, the picture becomes a little clearer, if not any happier.
So it appears that the Khuranas, after abandoning the CMSI/PM Tuning project because of doubts about the name, decided that a good name was worth more than a good product, and set off to work out a deal with SIL, who is still in business producing “Vikram”-branded three-wheelers, but no longer producing Lambretta scooters. Presumably, the Khuranas got SIL excited about the U.S. scooter boom and convinced them that getting a Lambretta scooter back on the market (even one not produced by SIL) would pave the way for the rebirth of the SIL Lambretta (I imagine a reasonable amount of money changed hands as well, and/or a large percentage of Adly sales profits were promised.)
This would explain the boast â€œOfficial Factory Web Site of Lambretta,â€? and also explain the promise(again, we’ll believe it when we see it) of an Indian-built ‘real’ Lambretta down the road. While there may still be a battle over the name, it appears they have a pretty legitimate claim and would be likely to come out on top. While Lambretta Clothing and Denny Kunman (if he’s still around) seem to own the name in England, they appear to be licensing the name from SIL as well, meaning any complaints they have with the Khuranas’ use of the name are already settled, or would have to be taken up with SIL.
The name is, sadly, very likely being used legally, though that still doesn’t resolve the fact that they’re using it to sell a rebadged, unimpressive scooter that’s already available on the market. Not illegal, but still depressing. Even if the best-case scenario comes true (SIL starts making high-quality, GP-styled, mustard-colored, tastefully-striped, metal-bodied Lambrettas, dare to dream that they’re 2-strokes with manual transmissions), they’re going to sit on showroom floors with plastic twist-and-gos bearing the same name. Even Piaggio knows better than to call their entry-level discount 50cc scooters “Vespas.” It’s still bad news for the Lambretta name, and as many have pointed out, it’s unclear who’s going to pay a premium (no pricing info has been released, but why use the name “Lambretta” if you’re selling it cheap?) for a Lambretta-badged Taiwanese/Chinese scooter in a market full of better-designed and more reasonably-priced Taiwanese scooters.
If the Lambretta tent video we posted a few months ago was inspiring, but a tent just isn’t “all-mod-cons” enough for you, check out this video from the same source (Britsh Pathe Archives): a Lambretta towing a pop-up camper. I can’t imagine that it was wise to load a 150 or 175cc engine, even when factory-fresh, with a pop-up camper AND a boat AND gear AND a pillion passenger AND a sidecar with a child. (Thanks, Dan Epstein, who sent this so long ago he surely forgot about it.)
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.
Reports are popping up that a new “Lambretta” is about to be unveiled in America, allegedly some sort of run-of-the-mill Chinese bike with Lambretta badges. It’s unclear who’s bringing them in, and equally unclear who owns the rights to the name in the United States. If these rumors are true, it’s a shame that CMSI’s L-Series has barely made any progress in more than four years, after several name changes, while someone else is likely to drag Lambretta’s proud name through the dirt. This will be interesting, and probably not in a good way.
Since a week has passed and I still haven’t been able to collect my thoughts on the ginormous mindblowing extravaganza in Indianapolis, here’s POCphil‘s writeup. I’ll add my comments in italics where appropriate. -2SB
We were so excited to get to the Indianapolis Dealer Expo this year, we were running about 2 hours early. We took that time to go visit Speed City Cycles in Indianapolis, only a few minutes from the Show. Mike and Marybeth Tockey have created a fantastic shop with an ingenious use of space and rural/industrial feel that leaves room for a snack bar, lounge and a ton of scooters and accessories. Mike also builds award winning metric cruisers. Just hanging around his IWL Berliner is a treat. After a great tour and some bench racing we were back on our mission to deliver two scooters to the Scoot! Magazine/ Corazzo booth and still arrive early enough at the hotel for some hottubbing before showing up in time for the open bar at 4PM, whew!
Continue reading “2007 Dealer Expo: POCphil’s review”
Here are our photos from the 2007 Dealer Expo. If you’re a 2sb member, you can log in with your user ID/password to leave comments and rate photos (it finally works). Enjoy, and look for our story soon!
The Scoop points out that CMSI’s “L-Series” Website has been updated. Not much, mind you, they’ve added a posterized photo and a couple press releases, but it’s a start. POC Phil insists the new “L-Series” is the same prototype they’ve been showing off for years, with some minor cosmetic changes, and even CMSI’s Seattle neighbors Microsoft have never stalled a release this long, but Lambretta fans remain hopeful, and we look forward to the chance to talk to CMSI at the Indianapolis Dealer Expo.
Birmingham, UK, transport chief Coun Martin Mullaney made a name for himself by demanding that other public officials use the bus system, but he admitted to the local paper that he usually rides his vintage Lambretta because public transportation is so backed-up. “Birmingham is seen as anti-bus, and some of the things we have done have added to that perception,” says Mullaney. Um, yeah. (Thanks for the story, e*rock.)
The Scooterscoop has translated a translation of a translation of a press release about CMSI/Lambretta Laboratories’ “L-Series” modern Lambretta.
PM Tuning (Lambretta Innovation) has a series of photos of the L-series “new Lambretta,” showing various stages of assembly, and more photos from the EICMA show (Thanks, Stephen and Chad) The engine is, in fact, the Piaggio QUASAR 250ie motor found in the Vespa GTS, Piaggio MP3, and several other Piaggio Group scooters. The bike is being evaluated by Piaggio for engine approval and another Italian company is preparing drawings and production plans. Several years in the making, the new Lambretta is getting tantalizingly closer, but there are still a few hurdles ahead.
Steve at The Scooter Scoop reports that CMSI (parent company of TNG scooters) had a prototype “Lambretta” on display in Milan. Not big news if it was the same Lambretta prototype they’ve been showing off for years, but it looks to be a new prototype (comments appreciated). You may remember that CMSI, losing a major investor and finding themselves unable to use the Lambretta name, but teaming up with PM Tuning and looking at a more global market, abandoned the name Lambretta USA and were marketing the scooter as “Scomadi” for a while, but the Scomadi site now features an “L-Series” logo and “coming soon.” Hope springs eternalâ€¦
Follow-up: Looking at the photos from the 2005 debut of the Lambretta prototype, the scooter in Milan is pretty vastly different. It appears to be more orange than red, (or poorly color-balanced) and the speedometer, rear turn signals, and glovebox, among other details, would indicate that this is either an entirely new prototype, or the old one was heavily modified. Any engine nerds want to take a stab at what’s inside?
Energy drink/bar commericals are generally pretty silly, but this dwarf-on-a-Lambretta commercial for FFWD energy bar (mmm, Guarana!) takes the silly cake.
Following worldwide scooter news, I’ve occasionally seen stories from Sri Lanka, usually in business news or stock reports, mentioning “Lambretta (Ceylon) Ltd.” or “Lambretta Motors.” From what I can tell, Lambretta (Ceylon) Ltd. once manufactured Lambretta scooters in Ceylon (now known as Sri Lanka), but was acquired in 2000 by a dairy company. It appears that company was renamed “Kotmale Holdings Ltd” in 2005, but I still see financial reports referring to “Lambretta Motors.” Surely there’s not an assembly line in Colombo secretly churning out SX200s, but I’d appreciate any information regarding Lambretta (Ceylon) Ltd and/or Lambretta Motors, if only because I’m curious about the name, whether they’re the same company or two separate companies, and what they’re doing these days.
Again, sorry we’ve been kinda slow here, it’s been a nutty couple of weeks. I’m taking the Blur camping this weekend, and while I’m not nearly as stylin’ as these two fine ladies and their Series I Lambretta tent (so simple even a woman can assemble it!), I’m looking forward to a nice long ride on the Blur. I’m really enjoying the Blur, and I have a lot to say about it, when I get time to organize my thoughts. (Thanks to Aimee for the link, the video is from the amazing British Pathe Archive.)