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KTM-powered Lambretta first test

Published: 05 June 2009

Updated: 19 November 2014

Dactek’s 45bhp KTM-engined Lambretta is one of the most powerful in the world – and we’ve ridden it.

A standard Lambretta only makes 9bhp, and tuning it to within an inch of it’s life gives an unreliable 30-35bhp.

Norwich engineering firm Dactek created a simple solution – cut away the crankcase from the combined engine/gearbox/swingarm, and weld in a new billet alloy crankcase to accept the cylinder, head, piston and electronic power valve from a KTM 250 two-stroke enduro bike.

The KTM parts are left in standard tune and mated with a special crank, so while the engine far outstrips a standard Lambretta the new engine is not under excessive stress, so it will be reliable enough for road use.

The best bit is it mounts straight in to a standard Lambretta chassis – so you retain the classic style but gain modern performance. Here how it rides:

Sleeper
Dactek’s demo might have trick Magura master cylinders, a disc brake and hydraulic clutch conversion and larger billet wheels but it still feels like the standard shopper. Clonk the hand shift in to first and slip the clutch a little to get it rolling, and the KTM’s powervalve provides useable low rpm power – it crackles along happily in slow traffic.

Wheelies
Give it a bigger handful when you’ve got some space and the motor screams, lifting the front wheel in first and shooting forward at a rate enough to beat most cars and feels faster than it is. It stays on the boil as you shift through the four gears (an experimental gearbox only giving a slight hesitation when you select third), and makes you laugh out loud as the expansion chamber’s shriek makes pedestrians shake their head in disapproval.

Wobbles
It wouldn’t be a Lambretta if it didn’t wobble and feel a little bit dangerous at speed – the Dactek bike doesn’t disappoint. Larger wheels help, but being forceful or trying to corner fast will end in tears. But fighting the chassis’ desire to do the opposite of what you want is part of the fun. The brakes and tyres are good enough to prevent real problems as long as you’re not too stupid with it.

Head turner
Riding a Lambretta for the first time makes you realise how cool the design still is – the crackling expansion chamber turns heads, and their gaze stays locked on to the GP200’s bright red panels. But they’re even more amazed when it rockets away from traffic lights raising the front wheel and leaving a cloud of blue smoke!

Pricey
It might be small, but a Dactek engine isn’t cheap – for a complete supplied engine with new internals you’re looking at £6000 – the bike we rode is worth around £10,000 in total. Not cheap, but there’s a queue of enthusiasts who have placed deposits. They’ll definitely enjoy it.

Details: 01206 325 895.

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