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UK custom scooters – a new hope?

August 8th, 2011

It’s fair to say that the UK has still got loads of catching up to do with the rest of Europe when it comes to custom automatic scooters, however there is a glimmer of hope. Maybe, just maybe, things are on the up…

This year’s North Run organised by Adrenalin Pedstop saw a shift in the number of modified machines at the event (compared to 2009-10) ranging from 70cc kitted Piaggio Zips and NRGs to fully customised 183cc Gilera Runners, Aprilia SRs and Italjet Dragsters with bespoke parts and modified frames – nothing quite as radical as what you might find in parts of Europe but if the North Run (currently one of the largest dedicated auto events in the UK) is anything to go by then there are positive signs that scooter customising could be on the increase in the UK despite the current economic downturn.

If you’re thinking about starting a custom project then now is the time. It’s currently a buyer’s market when it comes to purchasing a secondhand machine that would make a good starting point. At the 50cc end of the spectrum there’s an abundance of aftermarket tuning and styling products to choose from for popular Piaggio or Minarelli powered scooters such as the Piaggio Zip, Piaggio NRG, Yamaha Aerox and MBK Nitro and plenty of used models available. If you fancy something a bit bigger, a four stroke 125cc Runner may look like a solid option but at over £3K for a brand new machine you’d be better off looking for one a few years old past its warranty especially if you intend on modifying it. If maxi scooters are more your thing, a 500cc Gilera Nexus on 2004/5 plates has been seen for £2k so if you look hard enough there are some bargains out there.

If you’re new to scooters and thinking about starting a custom project then here’s a brief overview of the sorts of things you can upgrade/modify/tweak till your heart’s content:

Visuals: If fabricating your own fiberglass bodywork is a little bit out of your league then worry not as there’s a great selection of pre-painted aftermarket body kits available for transforming the overall look of your scooter quickly and easily. Evo body kits for scooters like the Gilera Runner are a popular choice and with manufacturers like Doppler and BCD producing some trick styling products ranging from downhill MTB handlebars and stems, Audi inspired LED tail lamps and inspired bodywork to bring your scooter right into the 21st century there are some great options to suit all budgets. Other than bolt-on parts think about chroming, engraving, anodising, air brushing, powdercoating, cutting and stripping down, lightening, lowering, extending. The only limit is your own imagination (and perhaps your own wallet).

The need for speed: Beauty is only skin deep (a few millimeters of plastic or aluminium in this case), it’s what’s underneath that counts right? Bolstering the performance of the engine comes first on every boy racer’s shopping list. Tuning usually begins with a bolt-on exhaust system upgrade that offers a power increase across the rev range. A few tweaks to the transmission in terms of swapping rollers and a change in jetting are the usual recommendations after a change in exhaust especially if you’re fitting a sports style air filter at the same time. The key components for obtaining more power though are cylinder kits, crankshafts and bigger carbs. Consult a reputable dealer who will be able to recommend parts to fit your particular scooter. Once you’ve gone down the tuning route, get your scoot dyno tested. Better still get on the drag strip and get the quarter mile times for bragging rights.

Here at PETROL we’re on the look out for custom scooters to feature here on our website, so if you own a scooter that you’re proud of and think it’s worthy of a showcase then send us some details along with a few pics. You never know we might just feature it…