JOHN CAMERON: Like a Lambretta to the slaughter

A Lambretta SX150
A Lambretta SX150

COMMENT: People need to have viable alternative to driving

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With ‘summer’ upon us, and me being a fair weather rider, there have been a few opportunities to get out on two wheels, or three.

During the May Bank Holiday weekend, we’d planned a D-Day beaches tour on our scooters for my friend Andy’s 50th birthday.

To reduce the chances of breakdowns, I suggested an all important scooter-maintenance-weekend to check tyres, brakes, sparkplugs, oil levels, cables and on-board spare parts essential for any long distance trip.

All seemed okay with my Lambretta SX150 but, just to be on the safe side, I decided to ride her to work from Warblington to Southsea.

All was fine until I reached the roundabout at the Eastern Road-A27 and noticed white smoke billowing from my exhaust. I made it to the saleroom, however, by this time the best Volkswagen technicians couldn’t have reduced my exhaust emissions.

With only two days to our D-Day trip there was no time to investigate the problem so I opted instead to take my Lambretta SX200 but first I would have to call on my scooter guru friend Vince Doody to fix the headlight that had been working intermittently.

The problem proved bigger than anticipated and Vince had to replace the entire lighting switch and cables.

There’s an old saying in the Lambretta world, ‘if you think you heard something fall off you scooter, stop because something just fell off your scooter.’ Scooters rattle and vibrate so regular checks are essential to ensure all nuts and bolts are tight and haven’t worked loose. With our wives riding pillion, it was a rendezvous at the Portsmouth Ferry Port to catch the Thursday overnight ferry to Ouistreham (Caen). As you disembark the ferry you literally hit ‘Gold Beach’ then it is the most amazing ride along the Normandy coast and through the villages and the other beaches of Juno, Sword, Omaha and Utah. We rode as far as Sainte-Mere Eglise and managed to take in all the important sites and allied objectives though by the time we docked back at Portsmouth and rode home our wives were all scootered out.

Last Saturday morning, with my Lambretta SX150 scooter still in the auction house where I’d left it, I decided to ride the SX200 to work and back taking advantage of the morning sunshine. She had served me well on the recent D-day trip and was fast becoming my favourite scooter, however, as I approached the big roundabout near Havant College on my return journey I felt the rear wheel wobble but managed to stop before completely loosing control. It was a schoolboy error, I had neglected to check and tighten all the hub and wheel nuts following our D-Day weekend and would now have to call roadside recovery, again! With a full diary and two scooters now off the road, I have no choice but to ride my three-wheel scooter van for tomorrow’s fundraising rideout from Portsmouth to St Mary’s football ground in aid of Andrew ‘Pepe’ Bache. When my son learnt of my recent scooter maintenance failings he took great pleasure in reciting one of my favourite sayings, ‘A stich in time saves nine.’

I think perhaps that might mean one of my nine lives!