DIY electric motor conversion for classic scooters

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Love your classic scooter but want a greener commute? Or possibly you live in a city that is legislating against petrol-powered transport? Then maybe Laurent from Smeets Classics in the Netherlands has a solution here for you.

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Laurent has been developing an electric conversion kit for four years or so, designed to be sold across the counter and fitted by the average classic scooter owner at home should they so wish.
Suitable for vintage Vespa, Lambretta and certain automatic scooter models, these kits were conceived with the aim of providing an economic solution when converting your scooter to electric power. This also means that it is a simply designed entry-level model aimed at city or town centre commuting, rather than long distance travel. Being sold by SIP Scootershop from Germany, they tell us; “The conversion requires a little mechanical know-how and skill as some fixings require adaptation and fabricating to fit your particular model of scooter. This is due to the fact that these motors are designed to be easily modifiable to fit a wider range of scooters.”

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Installation looks fairly simply, whether done at home or you choose to get your local scooter shop to carry out the work for you. You remove the scooter’s original engine and replace with the Bosch electric motor (1000W with 60V) which is housed in its own 10” wheel. The motor’s controller and converter units need to be located within the frame and they advise, “Some initiative is required to mount them safely.”

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The cable from the throttle grip needs then to be routed to the motors controller module and then the original wiring loom’s power supply and earth cables can be connected to the 12-volt port located on the controller.

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The positioning of the motor’s main power switch depends on the individual choice of the rider and apparently on Vespa models the fuel tap opening in the frame can be enlarged for this purpose. The Li-Ion; 60V/20Ah battery can then be placed beneath the seat in the space vacated by the fuel tank, connected to the main switch and you are ready to go!

Apparently top speed is 55kmh (a little over 30mph), the maximum range is 50 kilometres (30 miles) and the battery recharge time from 0 to 100% is approximately four to five hours.

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At the time of writing the kit to convert Vespas is already available from SIP at a retail price of £1455 (at current exchange rates, click here for more) and they have produced a video in which they chat with Laurent about the development before taking a couple of converted classics for a ride.

Electric powered classic scooters are not a new idea with ScooterNova already testing the conversion of both Lambretta (in edition 13, click here for more) and Vespa scooters (in edition 9, click here to buy) carried out by Retrospective Scooters in London, and teenager Ben Readings’ college project Lambretta conversion in Edition 19 of ScooterNova magazine (click here to buy).
But the Smeets Classics kit here is the first to be offered in Europe as a complete package ‘over the counter’ for DIY conversion at home, and one that also requires very little (if any) detrimental modification to the original scooter. It is a very interesting development indeed and we hope to be test riding one in the near future ourselves.

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The brand new edition 21 of ScooterNova magazine was published on 25 August 2020 and is packed full of articles from the rare futuristic 1960s Mitsubishi Silver Pigeon from Japan to the exclusive story behind the Austrian home-built Vespa V-twin 2-stroke engine that produces over 50hp! Add to this some archive Innocenti Lambretta material, a 1953 Vespa Faro Basso, a couple of British street racers and a ride around the Dolomites in little Lui scooters, and the 100 pages are crammed full of reading material to keep you enthralled until the next one!
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** ScooterNova is an independent scooter magazine, published in the UK by scooterists for scooterists. For more information and to visit our online shop, please go to www.scooternova.com