welcome to mylk[][][] Vespa project

I have loved vespas since I was 15 and bought my first one. A god awful PK50 that looked like a purple turd, sounded like the apocalypse and was lucky to reach 25 mile an hour going downhill with wind behind it. My current scooter is a scrappy PX 125 that has literally been tuned to death. It's currently in pieces with the frame base coated a really quite unpleasant shade of green waiting for me to get my shit together and rebuild it 










Follow my Vespa customising exploits as I attempt to create a full custom streetracer armed only with a haynes manual, colourful language and a chirpy disposition [][][] 











My Vespa PX

The story so Far [][][]

This is my current Vespa as it was when I bought it back in 2006. Was an eBay find, A  99' PX125 disc, less than a 1000 miles on the clock, brand new gloss black paint job, and just down the road from where I live. The guy had rebuilt and re sprayed it himself for his wife, and it was a really nice job, The paint in particular was excellent, much better than factory. Unfortunately he had a bad crash on his T5 which put his wife off the whole idea of riding a scooter. So i got a really nice PX put together with the kind care and attention  reserved only for nearest and dearest for a very reasonable price.I drove it round bog standard (apart from cosmetic mods) for about 2 years.

I couldn't drive at the time, so this was my only form of transport and I used it pretty much every day rain or shine.

 Now a standard px125 is NOT fast, but I did drive it as fast as it would possibly go everywhere I went. I went to quite a few Rallies on it, even drove it all the way to the Isle of White and back (from Leeds) and it never skipped a beat.

Modifications - [round 1]

 I had been thinking about doing something with my scooter for a while but sometimes you need a catalyst  get you started. For me it was wrecking the front mudguard coming home from work one morning after a night shift.  Steep hill + Icy road + under inflated front tire = Smashed mudguard + red face. To be honest i never really liked the P range front mudguard much anyway, It's the the ugliest part of the bike. The  T5 mudguard is better but not great. I Have always really liked the German small frame street racers with no mudguard so after a bit of a think I decided that was the look to go for and ordered a chrome front hugger  (to keep the spray at bay) from S.I.P in Germany  and set about Hacksawing the old front mudguard off..............yeah you read that right!


I know.....i know, hindsight is 20-20. All i can say is  it seemed like a  good idea at the time. I had never stripped the whole front end down before and was imagining a far more complicated and lengthy job than i later discovered it to be. Anyway  after about 6 hours sawing  away the old mudguard, the hugger went on  without incident. However it soon became apparent that I was gonna have to strip the whole front end down anyway as the front fork and shock, now exposed in all their rusted grey powder coated glory did not look good.

I didn't have lot of money at the time as my wife and i had  just bought out first house, which  was badly in need of decorating as you may be able to tell from some of the photos. Getting rid of the manky living room carpet and replacing the frankly fucking hideous kitchen was bigger priority, so instead of sending things off to be powder coated and professionally painted,  it was a trip down to Halfords for some spray cans and sandpaper. 


My only previous custom painting experience was at 16 when me and two mates sprayed my un-preped, un-masked, lilac (read pink) Vespa PK50, a slightly less effeminate shade of purple along with most of the drive, much to my poor mums dismay. So after checking the vespamaintenance.com sites excellent tutorial on stripping the front end down (which you can find here), I spent some time reading up on the correct way to prep and paint and got cracking

The scooter was off the road for about a week but most of that time was spent waiting for the lacquer to dry and to be honest when you are using spray can lacuer  you should really give it double that to harden properly.


Given my lack of expertise i think it all came out really well, it wasn't perfect by any stretch of the imagination. The lacquer on the headset wasn't great and the more i tried to sort it out the worse it got. Surprisingly though the bits that really should have been powder coated actually turned out really well and  lasted a lot longer than i would have expected. On top of the painting  I also  changed the grips, the ugly rear light which, i swapped for one my mate Eddie gave me from some kind of small frame. The chrome leg shield trim got ditched in favour of a more austere black one and i changed the indicator lenses from clear to black. 


And that was it for a while.... apart from re-spraying the headset a couple more times, and getting a new Ancilotti seat, this is how my scooter stayed for about a year.  it wasn't until after the isle of white rally in NOV 2008? that i turned my attention to the engine. 

 In many ways The Isle of White trip was the begging of the end for my little scooter. It was both its finest hour and darkest day. Although it revved its little heart out for hours on end and never complained or gave up, 55mph is just not fast enough for motorway cruising. Now with the benefit of hindsight (there's that word again) it shouldn't have really mattered. 99% of the time spent on  my scooter does not involve trying to keep up with Vespa P200's and TS1 lambrettas on the motorway. Rationally i know this, but the the seed was planted on the trip down and fertalized an the way back when the standard exhaust gave up the ghost and started blowing. This had 3 immediate consequences, 1) The noise level went up 2) The overall power went down and  3) My scooter would now rev to 62mph instead of 55 making it easier to keep up with everyone. 

 For anyone who doesn't know  much about 2 stroke engines, which would include me.  2 strokes have a very intimate relationship with the exhaust pipe. The exhaust design and function is integral to the engine and it's power delivery in a way that just isn't the case for 4 stroke engines. I won't get into all the technicalities here as i will cover the subject in depth when i get started on the engine rebuild, but it's all to do with the back pressure created by the exhaust pipe which in conjunction with the crank, piston  and cylinder design does the job normally done by the valves on a 4 stroke engine. 

The hole in the exhaust pipe although reducing the power and torque (not enough back pressure at lower revs) it  allowed the engine to breathe easier and  rev on a bit more at the top end giving me an extra 5 or so mph on the flat or downhill sections. The standard Vespa exhaust is all about compromise, it  provides decent power and torque right across the rev range which is perfect for what Vespas are designed for..... cruising round the piazza's and nipping to the shops, but by replacing the exhaust pipe (which i was now going to have to do anyway) with an aftermarket expansion pipe you can completely alter the characteristics of the engine

With a decent expansion pipe like the PM Tuning pipe i bought from eBay, you can get the extra 5mph over rev (created by the hole in my exhaust) but also get  2 or 3  extra Horsepower and  a much more exciting power delivery. 2 -3 Hp might not sound much but when you consider a standard Px125 puts out about 5-6 Hp at the rear wheel that 2 extra Horses start to look a lot more appealing.

...........And that was how it all started....with a £50 second hand exhaust pipe and the resulting massive grin. It didn't take long after getting the pipe to make the decision to take the scooter back of the road again for a couple of weeks. By this point i had already bought my first airbrush and painted a couple of lids, so i was itching to update the paint but more importantly i had bought a Malossi 166 cylinder kit and a bigger carb from my local scooter tuning emporium  Chisel speed.








Buy a Haynes Manual

My advice to anyone who owns a vespa (or practically any other vehicle for that matter) is to buy a Haynes manual. They are the best thing since sliced bread. In fact if it was up to me the phrase "best thing since sliced bread" would be changed with immediate effect to "Best thing since the Haynes manual" You will not find the same level of quality information contained within, on any website anywhere on the t'interwebz. Buy one, and buy one now. From changing a brake cable to stripping and rebuilding an entire bike, all laid out in glorious black and white technical illustrations. It's the little red book of awesomeness . 







Modifications [round 2]


Even though I'd got the airbrush, I still wasn't brave enough (or more likely I was just too lazy) to strip and paint the whole thing. So I just decided to paint the removal bits again, although i did spray some of the frame, which I wish I hadn't. Turns out Black isn't just black......who new? Black comes in a million different shades of black, shades of black so subtle that you can't tell them apart until you spray one on top of the other. Wish someone had pointed this out before I tried to spray a third of the frame what I thought was just plain old, one size fits all, does what it says on the tin.........black.

While the lacquer was drying I swapped the standard cylinder for a malossi 166 kit. I didn't do the ports at this point, just bolted the kit straight on. I swapped the carb for a bigger P200 one and changed the standard shocks to a pair of Sebacs. Had already removed the centre stand and replaced it with a more sporty side stand and added a little chrome headlight peak. Also had to alter the ignition timing and adjust the jetting to suit the new kit. Although it seemed to be running well I took it to chisel speed to get the carb set up properly on the dyno. I don't actually think they changed anything except fitting a new air filter so it was a bit of a

waste of money, but I did get a nice Dyno graph with the new power curve on. Just under 11 brake horsepower, obviously not gonna be breaking any land speed records or wheelying down the motorway but it's definitely much perkier and more fun to ride than standard.











Vespa-Haynes desktop set [][][] 

Desktop image and folder set i created from Vespa Haynes manual Technical Drawings . Download DeskTop image here (just drag image to your desktop to save) I Used a free copy of IconBuilder to create these folder icons. You can download the folder icon set by clicking here.





Modifications - [round 3]

Nothing cosmetic this time, just tuning. The problem with making your scooter go faster (other than reliability issues) is that it's totally addictive. Every increase in power makes the grin get bigger. Now I am sure this is true of tuning any vehicle but for me, giving a 200 + mile an hour Hyabusa an extra 20 bhp or remapping the the engine of your Golf GTI to give it a bit more pep, doesn't even come close to the joy of taking a ridiculous italian shopping bike with more body work than a sherman tank and wheels the size of 2p pieces and tuning it to within an inch of it's life. It's worth it just for the confused and angry look on peoples faces as they try and race you from lights so as "not to get stuck behind that slow moped" only to be left dazed and confused in a cloud 2 stroke.

Now one thing this this definitely isn't is a "How to tune your vespa article". Pretty much everything it is possible to do wrong, I did wrong. I left the bearings in the engine case while milling the ports. I went too far with the porting and put a hole in the crankcase which I then had to get welded up. I didn't have any of the proper tools needed so I just bodged and improvised everything. The engine case eventually fell to pieces after about 4 months. Massive cracks appeared all around the clutch bell housing and bits of the engine case had just fallen off. I put this down to the engine case being weakened by the welding. Still, never mind you live and learn If you want to see what I did so you know what not to do yo can see the build gallery here or by clicking on the Gasket below

how not to tune a vespa [][][]

Tools required - the internet, a Haynes manual, a socket set, a Dremmel, and a vastly over inflated sense of your own competence.

Although the engine disintegrated after about 4 months, it was the fastest  4 months of my Vespa riding career and I can't wait to do it all over again, only this time I am gonna do it properly and take my time.

The things I did this time around are as follows :-

  • Enlarged and polished the transfer ports on the engine case to match the 166 kit
  • Changed the crank to a mazzucelli gas flowed racing crank with longer port opening times
  • Milled and polished the port opening to match the bigger carb
  • Swapped the flywheel for a HP4 lightened flywheel (electric start had to go)
  • Swapped the PM pipe for a ridiculously high revving Taffspeed one
  • Upped the gearing on the clutch b y 2 teeth to take advantage of the extra power
  • and altered the ignition timing again to match the tuning








New seat [][][]

Bought this custom sear from eBay. I was a place offering custom seats made in any material and pattern you wanted pretty much. Really nice people and the seat was dirt cheap. Unfortunately they don't seem to be around anymore so I can't provide a link, which is a shame. Also never got round to taking a decent picture of my scooter with it on. Was starting to look a bit tatty by the time I got it and then the engine blew up shortly after.








Monkey bike stuff [][][]

I also have a ridiculous 70's  Monkey bike which I bought as bit of a joke but turned out to be fucking awesome. I started a page for it but then got bored when I realised I haven't got to time to start modding a monkey bike while my vespas in bits