Classic scooters quit smoking: Battery conversion for Vespas and Lambrettas

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No two-wheelers are better-suited to electric power than scooters and no scoots are cooler than classic Vespas and Lambrettas – and now you can get electric versions of both thanks to these British kits.

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They’re the brainchild of London-based classic scooter specialists Retrospective and involve swapping out the original, two-stroke motor for a bespoke battery/electric system. A complete machine can be ordered or a conversion made on a supplied scoot. Prices start at £3450.

And with a top speed of 55mph, range of up to 70 miles (according to spec), running costs around 1p for every five miles and road tax and ULEZ exemption, they not only perform almost as well (but with better acceleration) as the ‘oil-burner’ originals, they’re cheaper and cleaner to run.

Retrospective scooter battery conversion

Retrospective were founded in Walthamstow in 2000 as classic scooter specialists, restoring, servicing, selling, and even hiring out for films and TV; classic Vespas and Lambrettas, plus also selling modern and electric brands such as Royal Alloy, Niu and Super Soco.

Now, as owner Niall McCart explains, they’ve married the two together to come up with these kits.

"The plan was to convert our classic scooters which we love to modern technology – electric power. We wanted to keep the design of the original but hide under the ‘bonnet’ this new technology.

"We also didn’t want to do any damage and be able to revert to the original set-up if need be. So there’s no cutting or welding.

Retrospective hub mounted motor replacement

"We also had to make this conversion easy for the novice mechanic, a kit which was basically a plug-in and play product that required minimal tools to install.

"Looking forward, with the laws that are changing, with ULEZ etc, we needed to do something to keep our classic scooters on the road. That’s why we did it."

The hub-mounted 3kw motor is claimed to be the best currently available but is also designed to be upgradable if a better version comes along in the future.

The conversion is completely reversible

This is combined with either a 64V/28Ah battery with a realistic 30-mile range or a 72V/31.5Ah version with about 38 miles, but most models can combine two batteries for a longer range.

The kit includes everything necessary for the conversion; a new swingarm, hub motor and tyre, replacing original drivetrain, plus a battery/tray which fits under the seat in place of the old fuel tank. You also get modified electrics including controller and even a new LED headlight and digital dial.

All models of classic Vespa and Lambretta are compatible including the ‘large’, ‘small’ and classic ‘wide’ frame Vespas, plus the Lambretta Li I, II, III, GP series and J range.

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Phil West

By Phil West

MCN Contributor and bike tester.