An electric scooter with gears? If that sounds familiar it is because British student and scooterist Ben Readings developed his own such conversion a couple of years ago as part of his university course, and before the global pandemic struck.
We first wrote about Ben in edition 19 of ScooterNova magazine back in 2020, and followed it up with a road test in edition 27.
Ben certainly wasn’t the first to think of electrifying a classic scooter. Smeets Classics in the Netherlands are one company that offer a kit, while here in the UK Retrospective Scooters in London have been offering conversions for Vespa, Lambretta and other classic scooters for a few years now. In fact we’ve test-ridden a couple of the Retrospective converted scooters, the Vespa in edition 9…
and a Lambretta in edition 13 of ScooterNova magazine. And jolly decent they are too.
But unlike Ben’s conversion these involve a complete engine replacement for a new electric motor with automatic transmission.
Ben decided he preferred gears, so developed a way of converting a tradition 4-speed Lambretta engine with an electrical power source. His project involved retaining the engine casing and gears, but replacing the piston and cylinder with an all new electric motor. By driving the top end electrically, the original bottom end of the scooter works as normal.
Here is a video of Ben’s geared electric Lambretta ….
As it turns out, the path that young Ben took a few years ago as part of his university course is also the one that Italian scooter-tuning giant Pinasco have now followed too…
To be presented at the forthcoming EICMA Milan Motorcycle Show, a recent Pinasco press release announced they are to reveal their new Pinasco Eureka Retrofit kit (patent pending) at the event. Pinasco state that their product can be retrofitted to a geared Vespa scooter and they are in the process of having the vehicles homologated, which means that in Italian cites where 2-stroke scooters have been banned, those with a Pinasco conversion should be allowed back in. Of course for those of us who love 2-stroke engines that is of little consequence, but for riders who still want to ride a geared classic scooter rather than modern plastic, then it does at least offer an alternative.
The scooter they are presenting first is a Vespa 50 Special to which Pinasco technicians have developed an electrical retrofit kit to replace the Vespa 2-stroke cylinder and crankshaft, keeping the crankcase original as well as maintaining the gearbox and the clutch.
The Pinasco kit here uses a 3000W brushless electric motor mounted via a flange to the base of the crankcase that transmits motion to the gearbox and clutch unit through a bevel coupling.
On the right side, Pinasco kept the flywheel cone to which they attached an aluminum cooling fan that conveys fresh air to the electric motor by means of the plastic cowling that is very similar in style ot the standard 2-stroke cowling.
The gearbox has been modified by removing 1st gear, so the sequence of use is as follows: Neutral, 2nd, 3rd, 4th. The kick start lever is maintained only for the aesthetic factor.
Pinasco claim that the speed of their Eureka Retrofit on the Vespa 50 Special has been configured as per homologation, therefore not exceeding 45Km/h. So this means in Italy it can be ridden by 14-year olds on a moped licence. The 48v battery is housed in the space vacated by the petrol tank, and has a claimed range of 50km, and is therefore aimed at daily use in the city. The charging time is claimed at around four hours from 0 to 100% via normal household socket.
Here is a video of the converted Pinasco scooter:
So whether you believe that electric powered vehicles are the future or not, if you enjoy a geared classic scooter it seems that the options in the modern world might well be growing. As for someone who has been test-riding electric powered-two-wheelers since the 1990s now, I can tell you that some of them are very much fun to ride indeed. Granted there is not the sound or smell of a 2-stroke to go with them, but the power can be immense with impressive acceleration too, and as for Ben’s geared Lambretta, that really was a pleasure to ride. And I do like to enjoy the ride…
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