Let’s face it, riding a Lambretta can be a dangerous thing to do. Most are not modern scooters designed with safety at the forefront. Lambrettas were designed in the late 1940’s as a way to get post war Italians on the road as easily and cheaply as possible. They look really cool but they could definitely be safer. As with any two wheeled form of transport, your biggest danger is people in cars not seeing you. So, how do you keep yourself as safe as possible on a Lambretta?
Tip 1 – Wear a Modern Helmet
Yeah, that vintage helmet you picked up at a car boot sale might have that look that you had been searching for but it is almost certainly unsafe. A badly designed helmet can actually make head injuries worse. Nearly half of the people killed on scooters or motorbikes in 2006 died because they were not wearing a helmet. Wearing the wrong helmet can be almost as bad. If you hit something head-on with your Lambretta, the chances are that you are going to go head first over the handlebars or headbutt whatever you crashed into.
A modern helmet that meets British safety standards will be made with a hard outer that is designed to crack and dissipate the force of the impact and a clever retention system to keep your brain inside your head. You can get helmets that look old but have all the modern safety features, so ditch your vintage one and invest.
Tip 2 – Do You Really Need all those Wing Mirrors?
Lots of wing mirrors look great, but do you want one coming off and being crushed into you if you crash? You might not have thought about it before, but they are a serious hazard to health. You could needlessly injure whoever you crashed into. Small, spikey bits of metal are not conducive to health.
Tip 3 – Daytime Only
If you are driving with only the headlights that came on your Lambretta, you will probably be familiar with squinting at the road. You are putting yourself in serious danger unless you get yourself a safety light, and even then it is not great. Being unable to see what is coming is dangerous but even more dangerous is other people not being able to see you. The visibility of Lambrettas is not amazing and their tail lights are tiny or non existent, so even drivers who are looking for you might not see you in the darkness.
If you really need to ride at night, put a safety light on, get a big reflective coat and helmet, and wear them.
Tip 4 – Maintenance
Your Lambretta might already have cost you a lot of money but they require constant care if they are to be as safe as you can make them. They are vintage machines, made in a different era of quality standards, so stuff breaks and falls off with expensive regularity. Using high quality replacement parts and getting a qualified Lambretta repairperson to do regular check-ups on your Lammy will hopefully stop some of those bits falling off.
The tyres need to be regularly pumped up, the oil changed every few rides, and all the joints kept well lubricated. Spots of rust quickly spread, so you need to keep an eye out for them. Rust can erode the chassis of a Lambretta in no time at all, so having a look for rust and corrosion every few weeks can keep you safe and your Lambretta alive.
The engines use dirty fuel so they need regular overhauling to stop them from crapping out in heavy traffic. Brake lines and pads need regular replacement if you use it a lot. Because of the primitive technology Lambrettas were made with, you will be fighting an endless battle to keep your baby on the road. It is worth it, of course, but spending money on safety is the best money you could ever spend.
Tip 5 – Wear the Right Clothing
Your Lambretta heroes might have cruised around in a T-shirt and shorts but what you didn’t see was the skin grafts that some of them required when they fell off the thing. Knee pads and elbow pads will save you skin, muscle and bone if you do come off (and let’s face it, you will at some point). This does not mean you have to look like the Michelin Man, you can get tasteful and stylish clothes that are also safe.
Never, ever wear flip flops, sandals, or steel toe capped boots on your Lammy. Sandals and flipflops just ensure all the skin comes off your feet if you crash, maybe even a few toes. Steel toe capped boots can pinch all your toes off when you crash, so they are well worth avoiding if you ever want to stand up straight again.
A good pair of goggles will keep your eyes safe and add to the retro look. They are practical and cool, what more could you want?
If you ride your Lambretta responsibly, follow the highway code and still come a cropper because of a careless driver and you get injured, get legal advice! Insurers like to offer quick settlements for road traffic accident claims but you shouldn’t just accept any first offer of compensation.
Getting legal advice from a solicitor can make a world of difference when it comes to compensation, and the best part is you will find most give their advice for free (in the hope of you claiming through them).