People do some daft things. Drive a Mini up a mountain. Swim entire oceans. Spend days hopping on one leg. Go touring on a Lambretta.
Is it as crazy as it sounds? Lambrettas are beloved by many for their looks, sense of fun, and convenience in cities. On the open road, they are less loved. Sitting for 9 hours on a Lambretta seat can do some bad things to your internal organs and reproductive capacity. Then it might start raining, and while your legs might get protected for about 10 minutes, the rest of you will be sodden almost immediately. Then night falls. Nobody wants to ride a Lambretta at night.
So, why do people tour on Lambrettas?
There are package holidays where the lucky holidayers get to ride Lambrettas around beautiful places. Spain is popular, as is most of southern Europe. The appeal is the fact that you might go from one hotel to the next in a few hours, seeing some nice things in the meantime and looking totally awesome while you do it. This is a reasonable way to tour on a Lambretta.
You might annoy some of the locals with the cloud of 2-stroke smoke and the heady whine of the 150CC engine, but they are more likely to give you a thumbs up for riding something that is timelessly cool. That is a good feeling.
Driving anywhere that is further than a couple of horizons away on a Lambretta takes some serious planning, guts, and maybe a persuasive newspaper deal or two as an inducement.
Rome to Durham
Lambretta riders can be a cliquey bunch. They form clubs and enjoy a bit of friendly rivalry. Going to meets and gatherings is all part of it: you turn up on your Lambretta and try to look cooler than anyone else. Brits regularly travel the length of the country to meetings, but travelling 1,500 miles from Rome to a meeting in Rome is a little bit unusual.
Three Italian guys wanted desperately to go to Euro Lambretta 2000 in Durham, the event for Lambretta owners. Instead of jumping on a plane or taking their Lambrettas on the back of a truck, they made the decision to ride their Lambrettas all the way there.
1,500 miles on a 150CC scooter designed in 1947. That could be a definition of madness if it wasn’t so awesome. It took a week of driving. It was undoubtedly beautiful, but just imagining the complaints from the 150CC 2-stroke motor as it climbs the Dolomite mountain range will make many a Lammy owner wince. They had a couple of issues with condensers, which they were able to fix easily, and the whole thing went smoothly. Or so they say. Nobody envies their behinds.
There are more Lambrettas in the UK than in Italy, and the Italians are genuinely pleased that the Brits love their Lambrettas so much.
Route 66 on a Lammy, why Not?
In 2014, a bunch of nutty Brits did the entire Route 66 in the USA on Lambrettas. For anyone who isn’t in the know, Route 66 stretches for 3,945 kilometres (2,448 miles) across deserts, forests, cities, and grassland. It is one of the ultimate road trip destinations but most people do it in the relative comfort of a car or even a motorbike.
Going nearly 4,000 kilometres on a Lambretta is something reserved for people who really, really love Lambrettas, or who really, really love doing stupid things. Maybe both. After an aborted first attempt (importing scooters into the USA was more difficult than they imagined), two Brits on a LI150 and a series 2 (230CC and 200CC respectively) set off from Chicago across the USA. They had a support van full of patient partners and friends, so they weren’t entirely on their own, but they were still doing something daft.
It took them two weeks. They had a good time, didn’t fall off too many times and nobody died. Strong winds were the worst of it and they enjoyed the famous hospitality of the Americans, who seemed bemused but entertained that these silly people were here to see their wonderful country.
Around the World on a Lambretta
Feats of endurance on a Lambretta are nothing new. In 1963, Australian salesman Adrian Timothy made it halfway around the world on a Lambretta. Whether he made the whole trip is lost to history, but we certainly hope he made it. Other similarly insane people have tried over the years, including more recently by Italians Tino Sacchi and his wife. They made a 10,000-mile, 42 day trip and survived. They took 1947 Model A’s (Tino had made his from a box of bits) and had a great time. He cannot explain his love for Lambrettas.
Making the Trip
Lambrettas are fantastic in many ways. They are not designed for long-distance travel. There is no space to put a tent, food, medicines, a spare tyre, or your sanity. If you do decide to make an epic trip on your Lambretta scoot, make sure you’ve sold the story rights to the highest bidder.