I had had a hankering for an iconic classic scooter for some time. The classic Vespa shape was still readily available second- hand. Lambrettas were much rarer in classic form. Both scooters are now made in new Euro 6 compliant form, imitating the classic styling of the past. The new range of scooters are four-stroke twist and go with no gears. The Vespa GTS300 which I tested in the March 2016 issue, is probably one of the best top of the range classic retro imitations in the new scooter form. The Lambretta equivalent is also a great looker.
No. For me it had to be the original two- stroke, left hand twist grip gear change pressed steel framed ring a ding ding / pop pop pop sounding kickstart version!
I had just finished road testing the V100 Guzzi Mandello and was chatting to Mark Handy at Mo-Tech in Newcastle, mentioning that I’d always fancied one. I knew Mark had had scooters since he was 16 and his father in law Paul Hamilton had started Mo-Tech in March 1984, buying it from Angelo, an Italian, when it was known as Angelo’s Scooter Station. I can remember as a young teenager going in and looking at all the scooters and motorcycles and that must have stayed
with me. Angelo was a real character. His English wasn’t fantastic but he was really enthusiastic.
Mark said “what about this one?” and showed me a Vespa T5 (the sporty version of the PX) in a fetching green and white striped livery. It seemed to tick all the boxes. It was a P-reg one made in 1996 which was also the year of my youngest daughters birth. It was kicked over and it started first time. Tick box. I was pressed for time and said I would have to come back and look at it.
He said he would service it and replace a couple of parts so I took it out to Whitley Bay and back along the Coast Road and in and out of the city streets in Newcastle. It did T5-ALIVE! 46
everything that I expected it to. The big difference was the big grin behind the helmet. This is a fun scooter. I had the same feeling when I was riding the Honda Monkey Bike.
Technically this was the Sports version and the T5 refers to the Italian phrase for five transfer ports in the all new aluminium barrel engine. It produces 12 or 15 BHP depending upon which spec you read! It’s a four-speed gearbox and apparently will do 100km/h (that’s 62 mph to you and I), and this version has no electric start – it’s a kickstart only via a magneto and with no battery. Manual choke and the starting sequence is ignition on; prime and prod down with your right leg on the kickstart behind you after putting full manual choke on first. It usually kicks over first or second start and as soon as it kicks over and catches switch the choke right off and let it ping and tick tick away. Oh I forgot – you have to turn the fuel tap all the way first and when you stop it’s the reverse procedure and you have to turn the tap off and let it idle so that the petrol is used up in the carburretor. It’s fun learning.
There were three models. The Mark 1 from 1985 to 1992, the T5 Classic, which I bought, from 1992 to 1999 and the last one the Millennium for the year 2000 before the Eurocrats decided enough was enough for this type of scooter.
I did have an interesting ride on the way home, as I made a few wrong gear changes going down the box instead of up and up the box instead of down. It was a bit like patting your head and rubbing your stomach at the same time but after a couple of rides I got the hang of it.
First gear is clutch in on your left hand and click it back one click from neutral. The first gear clunks
in and you release the clutch and you’re away. Second gear is pretty low as well but third and fourth are fliers. It takes a bit of use to match the engine speeds and go up and down the box but that’s all part of the fun learning how to ride it. It’s not a twist and go! People hear you coming along before they see you and you get appreciative nods and smiles. It’s the old fashioned sit-up and beg riding position with a tool / glove compartment in front and the all-important shopping hook underneath the front seat. Two separate tanks one for four star and one for the two-stroke mix. 1980’s switchgear which is left and right indicator up and down for the main and dip beams and a horn that needs an enthusiasm injection! I was delighted with the purchase.
After a photo shoot at St Mary’s Lighthouse, where better to pull in as I cruised along the coastline of sunny North Tyneside, on a flat calm day at sea where even the paddle boards were out! It has
to be Di Meos Caffé on the quadrangle at Tynemouth where you can easily pull in. I forsook the pizza, the ice-cream and went for an over the top coffee. Mi gusto molto.
I spoke with Paul about scooters in general and he said that he bought Angelo’s Scooter Station nearly 40 years ago. Mark and Paul’s son Neil also work there and help run the business so it’s a family firm. He took on the Aprilia and Moto Guzzi motorcycle ranges which was an extension of the Piaggio Group’s scooters and now has the Suzuki franchise as well.
He tells me he always has between 5 and 25 classic scooters for sale and between
15 and 25 secondhand new style scooters plus of course the full range of new Vespa, Lambretta and Suzuki scooters.
Scoot on down there and see which model floats your boat. I’m glad I did. Now where are those keys – I must go out for a tootle! The sun is shining and the Vespa is pop pop popping along. I love the smell of two-stroke in the morning.
Mark Hipkin is a Partner/ Head of the Personal Injury and Civil Litigation department. He welcomes your e-mails or calls on the law (or your biking experiences) at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0191 2533509.