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Project Zip

January 19th, 2010

After a few years selling performance parts from big names like Polini and Malossi, we were over the moon to hear that our Italian partners Polini were making their Evolution 2 parts available as a complete unit, tuned and ready for the track. Seeing as we hadn’t yet found the time to dip our toes in the scooter racing scene we thought Polini’s engine would make for an interesting road scooter (actually this is a poor excuse and frankly bollocks). If truth be told we didn’t really think about what we were going to do with the engine. It was a typical boys toys scenario, we wanted to play with something that Polini’s technicians had put together, surely this engine would be something special?

The perfect mate for Polini’s engine would have to be our lovely Zip RS 50 which had been kindly donated to us by Sykes Bikes, actually it was donated only after we parted with our swear box takings off the counter. Can we just say a big thanks to all the bad mouthed Barnsley folk for funding our Zip project.

After a few weeks of finger tapping and a big change in direction for the Polini Evolution line of products we received our engine, No 23 (it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out each one has a number). Changes to the engine were the cylinder and exhaust. The Evolution 2 cylinder had now been replaced with the Evolution 3 and the exhaust was on its latest mark, No 10. It would have been great to test the Evolution 2 set-up before the upgrades but we can go back to that after we’ve found out how this set-up performs on the dyno.

So how much will Polini’s engine set you back? Well the price varies due to the Euro at the moment but approximately £2991 would be the RRP (at the time of writing). Knock our usual 20% discount off and the cost is significantly cheaper ehhhh? If any of you guys out there are considering one of these we would be happy to help, expect around three weeks for Polini’s technicians to build the engine.

Swapping our Piaggio engine for one that had already been pre-tuned and tested was easy and we agree maybe even a bit lazy, but we don’t care. We had our petrol and even a helmet, we were ready. And while we were at it, we thought we’d change the front brake disc and fit some fancy Giberlaniniiiiyagranni suspension before we fire it up! Two hours later and approaching 11pm, we decided it might be better to wait until morning to have the first blast. So how good was it on the road? Is it fast? It’s fuggin’ quick! Comparing it to something we’re accustomed to like a tuned Aerox or even a 172 Runner it feels very handy and thanks to the new suspension and brakes it feels very solid and it actually stops which is always useful.


Our Polini Evo 3 Zip project quickly progressed from us wanting to play with something a little different, to us entering the BSSO arena in 2010 for what will hopefully be a great year for scooter racing in the UK. All this came about via the Josh Brown camp. Some of you may well ask “Who’s Josh Brown?” Well Josh is a racing champion. During 2009 at the tender age of just 14, Josh entered his first BSSO championship piloting a 77cc Malossi-powered Piaggio Zip and ended up victorious. The 2010 series may prove more difficult but it’s not going to be boring with our little Polini popper being a 70cc. 70cc as opposed to 77 or 80cc, is this really feasible? Well we don’t know for certain but we’re going to have a good time finding out! During the next racing season, engine development will be taken care of by Darryl at 50cc Tuning in Doncaster. After years of supporting Josh we’re pleased to say that this will continue. The more support the merrier we thinks.

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So after some dyno testing in the capable hands of 50cc Tuning, we started to get excited, our Zip was delivering just over 20hp, which was to be expected, but the way it delivered was perfect. We were now ready to go and our next destination was Santa Pod Raceway for a spot of drag racing action. This was to be Josh’s first outing on the Zip and we were hopeful he wouldn’t be too disappointed with the lack of cc’s compared to his ride during 2009. So what did he make of it? Well he came back smiling and although Josh had a disappointing run what with a strong head wind and some traction issues, we had an engine that might just do the job. Our next task was to pump more fuel into the Zip and try and up the power. A more sizeable carburettor fitted and a few dyno runs later, along with the odd tweak thrown in for good measure (thanks Darryl), we saw Daisy (our Zip) gain an extra 3hp and that’s what we wanted, next stop Elvington…


After a disappointing session at Santa Pod we were looking forward to a second round of testing at Elvington. The conditions were cold what with it being October and coupled with the grippy track we felt optimistic. After fitting the bigger carb and a few more tweaks to the engine, our little 70cc popper was still showing good power, to be honest a little more than we expected. As Spiderman’s Grandad said before keeling over, “with great power comes great responsibility”. So with that in mind you would have thought we would have had all bases covered and at least remember to keep an eye on our little Italian friend when it comes to temperature,  errr actually we didn’t…

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So you might have gathered that our meeting at Elvington also ended in disappointment. One run up the strip for Daisy piloted once again by the Zen-like Josh Brown started well and looked like it was in for a good time, only to be cut short by a cold seize in the last 100 yards and a gentle roll over the line at 60mph. We think our time was 15.8 seconds but if this is different I’m sure someone will remind us. So there you go, trials and tribulations. Things can only get better as the song went and for some of us we at least got the chance to put names to faces with the guys who’ve been going to these race meetings for years. Next time we’re going to take our swear box with us, the language was so colourful we might end up with a second Zip…

Words: Chris Halliday @ Adrenalin
Photos & Videos: Paul Robinson

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