Anyone who has grown up in the last 50 years might find their time riding a Lambretta something of an experience. Designed in the mid 1940’s, their design has changed little in the 30 years they were produced in large quantities. This means they look cool and always will but still carry with them a frisson of danger.
For reasons that are best left to psychoanalysts, some people find the danger associated with primitively designed and made vehicles part of the appeal. Other (saner) people accept that a lack of crumple zones and the chance of being impaled on the steering column is part of the deal when you own a piece of history.
To make a Lambretta as safe as a modern bike would probably require you to replace a Lambretta with a modern bike but there are a few things you can do to reduce the chances of being maimed or crushed to a pulp on your Lammy.
Lambrettas are tiny and often not very visible. Especially at night. In fact, the consensus of Lambretta owners seems to be that you shouldn’t ride them at night, at all. They have pathetic lights, no reflectors, and you are so low to the ground that people often do not see you coming. With the sound insulation in modern cars, they won’t hear you coming either.
As always with two wheeled propulsion, someone in a car is more dangerous to you than you will be to yourself. It might not go with the Mod look you were going for, but a big luminous jacket and helmet will go a long way to making you at least slightly visible to drivers of four wheeled vehicles. Replacing the aforementioned pathetic front light with a modern LED safety light should help too. Some reflective lights for the back and you are about as safe as you could be on a Lambretta.
Get Modern Tires
Some purists only go for the older types of tyre but a modern tracked one will keep you stuck to the road even if you do try to take some corners at a tilt (as much as a Lammy will do that). They are more durable, less likely to pop, and have much better grip. They might not fit with the exact aesthetic you were looking for, but it isn’t 1962 anymore and nobody really cares. Be safe.
Get your Oil Changed
Lambretta engines are pretty good but they can overheat, especially if the oil has not been changed. Extra friction, soot build up, less efficient combustion, it all leads to less speed and more smoke, but it can also increase the chance of your engine dying on you. This does happen and it can be very dangerous in the middle of traffic. It might be dangerous on a motorway, but if you are going to take your Lammy on a motorway, you get what is coming to you.
Learn how to Ride It
Lambrettas are temperamental. They have “sweet spots” where everything feels amazing. They have the opposite too, so there are speeds on some models where you will be shaken to bits if you keep it there. Knowing how your Lambretta will react when you need to give it some gas can help you out of a jam. The acceleration of a Lambretta leaves a lot to be desired (unless you’ve tuned it up, but good luck cruising if you do) and anyone who drives knows that sometimes you have to step on it to get yourself out of trouble. Familiarise yourself with how it rides.
IF you are new to scootering and have ridden motorbikes before, you need to be very sure you know how to corner on one properly. You can’t lean into curves like you can with a motorbike, the footwell catches and you get flung off. They can be pushed quite far but there is a point that you have to know very well at which you stop. With a Lammy, you need to take different lines. This keeps you upright and looking suave, so it is not all bad news.
Keep it Solo
Your girlfriend, boyfriend, or whoever might look great perched on the back seat in their sunglasses but they could be in some danger. Modern bikes can keep pillion riders much safer than a Lambretta and there is not much you can do to make your Lammy safer for the pillion rider. They just have to hang on tight. It is best just to say you’ll meet them there or let them have a go, if you dare.
One neat life-saving tip is to pull out those rubbish old brakes and put some modern ceramics in. You can get some that will fit and they will respond properly, taking a long, long way off your braking distance. With modern brakes and tyres, you should be able to brake properly and not have to ditch your beautiful scooter to prevent it from crushing that old dear crossing the road. They will not spoil the looks and they could make the difference between life and death.