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Vintage Scooter Test: Vespa vs. Lambretta Photo Gallery

See photos of the 1972 Vespa Rally 200, 1960 Lambretta Series II TV175 and 1962 Lambretta Li150 in the Vintage Scooter Test: Vespa vs. Lambretta photo gallery. Read more in the Vintage Scooter Test: Vespa vs. Lambretta comparison review.

Slideshow
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Barry Synoground and his little purple monster, a 1962 Lambretta Li150.
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Paula Crossfield's incredibly original – and incredibly practical – 40-year-old Vespa Rally.
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Diego Torres' 1960 Lambretta is unrestored, original and very rare.
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Classic scooters doing what they do best – looking good. No modern scooter has the aesthetic appeal of the originals.
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Original ad for the Vespa Rally 200. As best as my terrible Italian can decipher, it reads, "Sardine-can-mobiles have four wheels – maybe they should have two," which is still confusing.
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San Francisco performer Karla Mi Lugo practicing accordion with our vintage Vespa as artistic inspiration. For some reason, this sort of thing happens a lot when you ride an old scooter around.
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If you don't want to go whole-hog into the vintage-vehicle lifestyle, you can get something from the sweet spot of the late '60s and '70s. The Rally is one of those choices.
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Like all Vespas, first gear is very short, and I'm all the way to fourth gear before 40 mph.
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The steep steering-head angle of the Vespa, 12-inch wheels and stumpy wheelbase mean you steer so fast it feels like you're crashing.
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Low-speed turns are fine, but high-speed sweepers can get spooky on the Vespa.
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Keeping up with city traffic isn't a problem, but the brakes and suspension limit the fun and make me choose my path along San Francisco's bumpy, potholed streets carefully.
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Riding the Lambretta Series II TV175 (left) and Vespa Rally 200 (right) back to back really highlights the difference between the two brands, as well as the startling march of automotive technology between 1960 and 1970.
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The bike is pleasant to ride, if you take it easy, but we're cut short when a fan shroud bolt comes loose and we have to return the bike.
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Lambretta introduced the TV Series II in 1959, at the height of a booming European scooter market.
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The Lambretta Series II motor used a piston port intake and made 8 or 9 horsepower at the crank.
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Shifting is difficult on the Lambretta Series II, the brakes are weak, teeny drums and it's riding on 3.5 by 10-inch tires of unknown vintage.
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The Lambretta Series II is stable and steers nicely, but it's heavy and very slow.
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An early model Lambretta is difficult to find and will be very expenseive.
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Synoground rides the living heck out of his scooter, going on 1000-mile rallies and frequent sport rides, but I found it very challenging to ride, especially in a stop-and-go urban setting.
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The 1962 Li 150 Series II was more of a mass-market product than the Series II TV and an improvement on the popular Li Series II with alterations to styling, motor and electrical system.
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Synoground put an Indian-made GP200 engine, a TS-1 225 cylinger kit, reed block intake, 32mm flat-side Keihin racing carburator and Jim Lomas expansion chamber and muffler to help beef up power on the Li150.
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Synoground also upgraded the chassis, put on new dampers and retrofitted the disc brake from a later TV model.
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Riding and maintaining a vintage scooter – like any old vehicle – is an experience fraught with heartbreak, danger, frustration, inconvenience, and ludicrous expenses... and for the committed, one that is absolutely irreplaceable with modern equipment.
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Is belonging to the vintage-scooter world worth the trouble of seized pistons, substandard suspension and long hours spent hunting down rare and expensive parts? If you're as rabid a fan as Barry (either Barry), Diego or Paula, you shouldn't even have to ask.