The Lamberd brothers grabbed our attention when they pulled off triple-digit mph runs at the Bonneville Salt Flats on their unique stand-up scooters.
It is a fair generalization to say that brother inventor teams tend to gravitate away from the nasty end of the invention spectrum. For example a pair of brothers didn't invent the machine gun, mustard gas, or the hydrogen bomb. Instead, brothers seem to focus their collaborative efforts on a shared hobby or lofty dream, like the Wright brothers' pursuit of aviation or the Davidson brothers and some fellow named William Harley who put their heads together to come up with a motorcycle design. Following in that vein of fun-loving brothers pursuing their passion, you can add Robin and Gary Lamberd and their Extreme Scooter designs.
It's not hard to notice the Lamberd boys because they kind of stand out in a crowd when piloting their unique two-wheeled creations, stand-up scooters powered by big dirt bike engines. It also doesn't hurt that both brothers, who hail from the Buckeye, Arizona area, about 15-min west of Phoenix, are easily approachable and eager to answer the inevitable questions their machines bring about.
We first ran into the Lamberd brothers two years ago during the inaugural International Motorcycle Speed Trials by BUB
out at the Bonneville Salt Flats. Not many people thunder down the famed speedway standing up, so when two brothers do it on their one-of-a-kind prototype, you tend to take notice. When we returned the following year
so did they. Now with Bonneville a couple of months down the road, it occurred to us to give the Lamberd boys a ring to see what they were up to and get a more in depth explanation of their Extreme Scooter design.
The Extreme Scooter was dreamed up when inventor, Robin Lamberd, rode his dirtbike at the Imperial Sand Dunes of Southern California and wondered if he could create a scooter to do the same thing. After an impromptu design was sketched out and some long hours were spent in the shop, the answer was yes.
The inspiration for the Extreme Scooter came to older brother Robin while he was riding his dirt bike at the Imperial Sand Dunes of Southern California. Sitting at the base of "Competition Hill," one of the largest dunes at Imperial, Lamberd had an odd thought: Could he build a stand-up scooter capable of tackling the dunes?
Unlike most people with similar passing thoughts, Robin Lamberd has the distinction of turning his abstract idea into a solid tangible form. The first step involved committing the idea to paper and, like who knows how many great ideas in human history, the genesis of his was jotted down on a napkin. The impromptu rough draft evolved into the beginning of a fabrication process that still continues to this day as their initial design becomes more and more refined.
With a general idea laid out, Robin enlisted the help of little brother Gary in his efforts. The first step involved coming up with a frame. Chromoly steel tubing formed the skeleton of a chassis which had to accommodate a standing riding position, as well as harbor a drivetrain. No easy task considering a standing riding position isn't exactly orthodox and the drivetrain design was a work in progress just like the frame. In spite of all the inherent challenges, Robin, with the help of his brother, managed to come up with a workable design.
After coming up with a frame to accommodate a standing riding position and house a drivetrain, Robin crammed in the 508cc engine from his 1992 Honda CR500.
With a frame hammered out, Robin and Gary were inspired by their progress and took the next logical step by installing a powerplant. Robin chose the 508cc engine from his 1992 Honda CR500. The concept for the Extreme Scooter may have been dreamed up and mapped out on a fast food napkin, but the project reached the point of no return when Robin put the torch to his beloved CR. "It was hard making those first final cuts," admits Robin.
The big-bore two-stroke motor was already a proven masher out at the dunes, but now the challenge would be harnessing that power into a workable scooter design. Robin faced something of a dilemma on where to place the motor. In his original plan the engine would be situated in back, but instead Robin decided to place the engine up front so that there would be room for the rider to stand in the back unencumbered. Secured to the frame with a urethane-rubber mount, the Extreme Scooter now had a beefy two-stroke at the ready and the Lamberd boys got to work fabricating components as needed for their prototype to take life.
The Extreme Scooter team (from left to right) is older brother Robin Lamberd, the brothers' life-long friend and collaborator Willie Cooper, and little brother Gary Lamberd.
Instead of listing all the components the Lamberd brothers made from scratch, it is easier just to mention what they didn't have to come up with on their own. As mentioned above the cannibalized CR gave its motor, but also donated its fork and its 11 inches of travel as well. A 1986 Ninja 1000 radiator helps keep the 508cc two-stroke cool. Hydraulic disc brakes sourced from mid-'80s Honda 200X three-wheelers provide the stopping power as well as a rear shock with 8.5 inches of travel. The scooter utilizes various ATV-style wheels depending on the riding terrain - although for the Salt Flats they use high-speed rated airplane tires.
Clutch, throttle, and front brake are in the familiar motorcycle positions, but with a twist. One challenge Robin faced in his design was how to minimize the amount of foot controls found on a normal motorcycle. The one action still actuated by the foot on the scooter is gear-shifting. Located at the front of the standing deck, a wide shifter lever allows the rider to toggle gears up and down with a quick tap of the foot on either of two round pedals located on opposing sides. The front brake lever activates both the front and back brakes when pulled, allowing the rider to use his other foot for more important tasks, like standing upright. Through trial and error the Lamberds discovered that because of the scooter's unique qualities the brakes were more effective reversed, with the stronger brake located in the back. As such, the dual-piston hydraulic brake is fitted to the rear wheel and the single-piston to the front.
Gear-shifting on the Extreme Scooter is foot-controlled, with the rider toggling up and down through the gears by tapping their foot down on the round pedals located on opposing sides of the shifter lever.
Engine power is delivered to the back wheel via a clever double-chain drive system. The front chain connects from the motor to a jackshaft, with the rear chain running off the jackshaft to the rear wheel. The point at which the two chains converge is also the pivot point of the swingarm, thus eliminating any chain slack. The exhaust exits under the back tail.
The Extreme Scooter fulfilled its initial design intention as a sand-dune-capable machine, but has far exceeded those expectations. Since its inception in 2000, besides trips out to the sand dunes, the Extreme Scooter has been through trail rides and runs at the Salt Flats. Robin and Gary have developed different tires and wheels for the varying terrain they encounter. Right now the 500 is being utilized in the Lamberd's latest motorsport inclination - drag racing at Phoenix's NHRA track, Speedworld Raceway Park.
"Drag racing the quarter-mile is not as easy as it looks," said Gary of their drag racing experience, a statement echoed by our very own Duke and Ken who have been on a drag racing kick of their own as of late. Standing on a scooter can't make it any easier, but Robin promised it's more stable and less difficult than you might imagine. Although a little nerve-wracking at first, when the lights start to change and you jump off the line, he assures us that it is quite a thrill. As for their reception at the track Robin said, "It's an odd thing standing behind a dragster or a funny car, but everyone likes it."
The brothers have taken their two-wheeled design through all sorts of terrain, including the 90-mile Crown King loop, a grueling trail ride north of Phoenix.
Rocketing down the drag strip Robin says that you don't pay too much attention to wind buffeting and the scooter is stable when it pulls off the line without much arm pull. Because of its high gearing, pulling wheelies is not a problem on the scooter but Robin is working on a wheelie bar anyway. Unlike most machines, because of the scooter's unique starting considerations, the wheelie bar Robin has in mind will be used as a steadying device on the starting line. As it stands right now, Robin and Gary perch on the deck of their scooter during pre-staging with one foot up front on the paddle gearshift and one toe on the ground. When the yellow light hits both feet are back on the deck and the Lamberd boys are ready to launch. Square-shouldered drag-racing tires help, but a wheelie bar would eliminate the need to balance while trying to time the launch. Like almost everything else on the Extreme Scooter, Robin will make the new wheelie bar from scratch. The planned design will feature spring-loaded wheels which will click up and lock after the start.
Of his experience taking the Extreme Scooter out to the drag strip, Robin says, "It's an odd thing standing behind a dragster or a funny car, but everyone likes it."
When the light turns green, it's time to burn rubber. The latest challenge for the Lamberd brothers has been drag racing the 508cc Extreme Scooter at the local NHRA track where they've run in the low 14-second bracket.
Out on the strip the scooter is able to run in the 14s down the quarter-mile. Robin's best is 14.3 at 88-89 mph in the quarter, with a speed of around 80 mph at the 1/8-mile mark. Younger brother Gary has been a little quicker (to the good-natured chagrin of Robin) and gets up to 90 mph and the low 14s. In the immediate future, besides the wheelie bar, Robin plans to convert the drag racing scooter to alcohol and the two brothers will be shooting for quarter-mile times in the 12s.
Aside from adding another fun and challenging activity to their scooter's growing repertoire of skills, drag racing has allowed the brothers to further refine their design. Runs on the drag strip displayed the need for a better cooling system. They also had to straighten out the wheel alignment, something they discovered the hard way on a drag strip where the slightest deviations can shoot you off course mighty quick. Going in a straighter line should also aid in the Extreme Scooter's results at Bonneville.
Racing in general serves another purpose for the brothers. Besides the inherent thrill of the sport, racing is a vehicle for them to get there name out and to be noticed. It is a sound strategy (to which this article is an example) because their curious design commands attention wherever they may roam.
This is never more true than at Bonneville, where in the midst of big-budget rocket-ship streamliners and racers hunting world-records, the two brothers can be seen turning heads as they cruise through the pits on their two-wheeled designs.
Out at the Salt Flats during the Motorcycle Speed Trials, the scooter runs in the special-construction partial-streamliner modified class - put there because no one really knows where else to put them. The Lamberd boys leave Bonneville scrutineers scratching their heads and grinning. If you have seen The World's Fastest Indian, you know that tech inspectors live to examine every entry in meticulous detail to make sure the machine is safe and falls under the narrow guidelines of its specified class. Lucky for the Lamberds there isn't a class they have to worry about adhering to, because they are literally, forgive the cliche, in a class of their own.
Racing serves a dual purpose for the Lamberds. Besides having fun and the thrill of competition, being out in the racing scene the Extreme Scooter garners a heap of attention from whoever sees it.
Not that the Lamberd boys would mind the competition and camaraderie of a potential scooter rival showing up. "We would love to see it," said Gary. "Nothing would thrill us more." Gary's encouraging attitude is echoed by Robin, "We would welcome the idea. For our purposes more racing competition would be good."
Like many competitors, the point of racing for the Lamberd brothers is not money but the simple challenge of seeing how fast they can go and getting their idea some exposure out in the marketplace. Their first time out to Bonneville the Lamberd's just missed cracking triple-digit speeds with a 99.329 mph best. Undaunted they came back last year upgraded with airplane tires rated to go up to 120 mph, and Gary was able to rattle off a 103.086-mph run. In 2006 they plan on utilizing a new alcohol fuel system, a wide-ratio gear transmission from Mad Man Engineering, and a Hayabusa-like fairing for the front end. Throw in a rocket-straight wheel alignment along with a refined cooling system (honed during their recent drag racing forays) and the brothers have a new top-speed goal this year of 115 mph.
Last year at Bonneville Gary was able to get the Extreme Scooter up to 103.086 mph. In 2006, with a new alcohol fuel system, wide-ratio gearing, and aerodynamic fairing on the front end, the brothers are shooting for 115 mph top speed.
While the larger 508cc Extreme Scooter gets the lion's share of attention, the Lamberds have created a second prototype, a tamer 200cc sibling. If production were ever in the cards for the Extreme Scooter design (and the Lamberds assure that interest has been expressed by manufacturers), the 200 would be the version for the masses. "You don't sell a monster truck to the public, you sell a pickup," explained Gary.
While the 200 may have a smaller motor, it is still capable of way more than you would ever expect from a scooter. The 500 might be the flashy drag racer, dune buster, and Bonneville warrior, but the Lamberds have taken the little 200 on plenty adventures of its own including the 90-mile Crown King loop, a grueling trail ride north of Phoenix.
Powered by an air-cooled 4-stroke motor culled from a 1984 Honda 200M ATC three-wheeler, the smaller Extreme Scooter boasts an electric start. The fork was taken from a 1995 CR125, and like its elder sibling, it utilizes a three-wheeler rear shock and brakes. Like the 500, the front and rear brakes have been reversed, but unlike the 500 both function independent of the other. The motor's automatic transmission eliminates the need for a clutch, so the left lever actuates the rear brake and the right lever the customary front. The toggle gearshift is the same, as well as the double-chain drive system.
The Lamberds have a second prototype, sporting a smaller 200cc powerplant, which would be more marketable for a potential production machine.
The 200 excels on trail rides and can also be equipped with paddle tires for the dunes. Out at the Flats, the boys used the 200 as their pit bike with the brothers' life-long friend and part-time project collaborator, Willie Cooper, giving an impressive display of the little scooter's maneuverability and handling.
In real-world applications the scooter is best suited for off-road duties. Robin believes the advantages of his design are that it rides a lot like a dirtbike but is a new and exciting option for the off-road enthusiast. Touting its off-road chops, Robin likens the scooter's performance to a trials bike. It doesn't naturally loop out, wheelie, or nose-dive and Robin promises the controls are intuitive and easy to get used to, comparing the riding style as similar to that of a stand-up Jet Ski. "99% of everybody on this thing hasn't had a problem with it," said Robin. "Anyone that dabbles in motorcycles can figure it out and ride this thing."
Extreme Scooter inventor, Robin Lambert, promises the stand-up riding style is intuitive and easy to get used to, likening the maneuverability to that of a stand-up Jet Ski.
As for the standing riding position, you would figure that without a seat fatigue would be a factor, but Robin assures that is not a big issue. Endurance on the Extreme Scooter may be something he can find out this summer, as the Lamberds are toying with the idea of competing in a 100-mile enduro race, the Stumpjumpers Desert 100 up in Odessa, WA, just to see if they can do it.
That adventurous spirit exhibits perhaps the coolest thing about the Extreme Scooter story - the Lamberd brothers themselves. These are not spoiled trust-fund brats with nothing better to do than play with toys. Both Robin and Gary are real-world regular Joes who hold down 50-plus-hour a week jobs, Robin in commercial construction and Gary as a truck driver, which hampers their ability to devote time to the project. A recent family illness has been a further setback for the brothers, but they continue to soldier on, managing to find time and apply their enthusiasm for a passion that cannot always be their top priority.
On the business end of things, the concept has yielded its fair share of highs and lows.
Although a patent was rejected for the overall design, a potentially patent-worthy component on the Extreme Scooter is the double-chain drive system, with the front and rear chains converging at the pivot point of the rear swingarm to eliminate chain slack.
"We learned a lot about patents," said Gary summing up the frustrating patent process. As it stands now, the patent-pending status on the overall design has been rejected. In his explanation why, Gary drew an apt analogy, "Honda doesn't have a patent on the dirtbike or Ford on a pickup truck."
And while they don't have any patents yet, the Lamberds have developed some pretty solid components for their design - like their double-chain drive system, which may very well merit a patent in the future. Patented or not, the Lamberd brothers still have their name attached to an interesting concept which has the potential to be a moneymaker if it were able to carve out a niche in the market. As mentioned earlier, the Lamberd's have received some interest from manufacturers in regard to marketing their one-of-a-kind design, however, nothing solid is on the table quite yet.
Manufacturers, however, are not the only ones to see promise in the Lamberd design. The Extreme Scooter won the Gold medal for best invention in the transportation category at the INPEX (Invention & New Product Exposition) trade show in Pittsburg, PA almost 3 years ago.
The Lamberds are easy to root for, with both brothers being easily approachable and enthusiastic about their invention. They also each sport 50-plus-hour a week jobs on top of finding time to devote to Project EXS.
As to the future of the Extreme Scooter design, Robin and Gary are two likeable and easy-going guys, so nothing would please us more than to see them cash out on their concept and make a big heaping pile of money. Until then you can expect them both to keep plugging away undeterred on their unique prototypes, and the two assure us that they will be back at Bonneville ready to go faster than ever.
For more information on the Extreme Scooter design, check out the website at www.projectexs.com
Give us your thoughts on this article in the MCUSA Forum