Tuning Options - small block kits

If you are anything like me, before too long you are going to go hunting for a bit more power from your Lambretta, but where to find this extra grunt and at what cost? 

The first thing you need to do is ask yourself two questions. Firstly do I want to keep the look of my scooter as standard as possible and second is what am I going to use my scooter for mostly? If you pop into town lots and very occasionally go to the odd rally, then you will want a town setup, with the power coming in down low so you can race off the lights and not embarrass yourself.

If however, you don't do that sort of start stop town riding but do a lot more high speed duel carriage way cruising instead, then you are better off having the power come in higher in the rev range. As a result you are more likely to need a tune with a bit more top end power. This will have the effect of losing the low end grunt of a red light racer used to thrash around town.  

Most people would like a bit of both so are happy to sacrifice a little top end speed and bottom end grunt but end up with a very capable machine that can hold its own in modern traffic.

Of course there is a third factor we have completely ignored and that is cost. Be warned, tuning can be a slippery slope. With the quest for more power and an ever evolving market of new shiny bits being developed for your scooter, its easy to get a little carried away.

If you are on a tight budget however and just want a little more power than standard, then there are still options available to you too, so don't worry.

bolt on kits

By far the simplest way to gain some extra power is to change the standard exhaust and add one of the many bolt on cylinder kits. These kits can add quite a large leap forward in BHP from standard for very little money really. They are also the sort of add-on that even the most basic mechanic can do at home with minimal tools and knowledge. 

There was a time, in the not so distant past when you would have had little choice for upgrading a 125, 150 or 175 Lambretta. With all the goodies being made for the 200 engine block these smaller engines seemed to be a little overlooked. Things are a little different these days and there is an abundance of choice to suit most peoples wallets and horsepower needs. Just remember its not all about peak HP. Its as much about how an engine delivers that power and how you intend to use your scooter. It is important to consider the state of the rest of your engine. With any bolt-on kit you are going to increase the stress on the bottom end of the engine and you should make sure it can take it. If its condition is not known it is wise to check the crank and oil seals are in good condition first before upping the power of your scooter.

As far as exhausts go, if you want to retain standard looks you have 3 options. Firstly some sort of Clubman bigbore exhaust costing around £60-80 this type exhaust looks just like the standard one but will give you more power, they are also a lot louder. Your second option is an Ancillotti, again this is a box pipe that can rev on a little more than the Clubman and therefore also gives you a little more top end. These cost around £110. The third and most expensive option is to use a curly or 'snail' expansion pipe (pictured) that can be concealed under the footboard, this will give you a lot more power and is in fact, simply an older design race pipe. These pipes enable your scooter to rev a lot higher, so makes the gears seem longer and ups you top speed. They come in various forms and are often reffered to as either 'Race' or 'Road' tune. Dont just automatically go for the race and assume its better and faster. The race version may indeed make more BHP but you will be slow off the lights and really have to ride around everywhere at max RPM to get that extra BHP, as it is hidden well up the rev range. Its worth speaking to someone who has one of these about how useable the powerband really is in real life daily riding before parting with your cash. These exhausts typically cost around £250.

So what cylinder options are available to us smallblock owners then? 

so what kit should i buy then?

SR175
This budget kit will need a little work before fitting to get the best results. The cylinder has a steel liner with alloy fins wrapped around. This has the advantage of better cooling over a standard barrel, plus it can be re-bored if need be. If you are prepared to put in the work and don't mind messing around a bit these cylinders can return quite impressive performance. Due to a lot of bad press they can be somewhat of a bargain too with Cylinders costing around £45.

 

Mugello 186
Benefits from an aluminium construction which dissipates heat a lot quicker than the original iron barrel, as a result this aids cooling. This kit allows you to keep the carb on the same side as per original and you can still run through the air box to keep original looks. You can use almost any carb and exhaust combo you like with this versatile kit.  However the Mugello would really benefit from a larger carb and expansion pipe to release its full potential, but is a good choice as this can be done at a later stage. You can expect 10 - 15 BHP with this kit depending on your carb and exhaust choice. Cost for kit £350

 

Casa Lambretta 185 
This kit was designed to be simply bolted straight onto a standard 125 / 150 Lambretta with little or no modifications. You can use your original carb and simply rejet and retain your exhaust etc. This is a well made kit and puts out a lot of torque. This kit puts out a similar power to the Mugello kit, its said to be a little less peak power but possibly more torque than a Mugello. The advantage is that you don't have to uprate anything on your scooter if you don't want to, providing it is in good shape to begin with. Cost for kit £380
 
 
Imola 185 
This kit is like a baby TS1 for the small block engine, developed by Tino Sachi this is a powerful kit that will almost certainly benefit from a expansion exhaust, bigger carburettor and electronic ignition such as the Varitronic system. Putting out somewhere between 14 - 22 BHP depending on exhaust and carb choice. The carburettor is mounted on the opposite side to original so if you have a battery tray this will have to be removed. Cost for kit £450
 
 
RB 20 
This is really pushing the engine to its technical limits and is the most powerful and modern choice for the small block Lambretta engine available to date. You will defiantly have to uprate almost all the main components of you standard Lambretta engine to use this kit. You would certainly need a new crank, electronic ignition, a big carburettor and a new exhaust not to mention all new seals and bearings. It would be wise to look at braking also. Initial reports are looking like this kit will kick out more power than a TS1. Early reports are saying this kit will be pushing 20BHP and more is easily possible. Cost £480

please note this is not a comprehensive list of every kit on the market, if you feel with have missed something out just get in touch!

So what Carb do i need???

So you have your kit and your new exhaust, but what carb do you get? Well the choice is endless and with persistence, it's fair to say you could make almost any carb to work with any kit, within reason. However some are far better suited to the job than others. If you want a reliable, good value option, with plenty of information to back it up and help you set it up, then the Dellorto PHBH range seems to be a very popular choice. This carburettor offers lots of options for jetting and is good quality without breaking the bank.

This has been the carb of choice for modest tuned Lambrettas for years. Due to that, many people have gone before and there is plenty of jetting information available to the home tuner. The 26mm is a good choice for a 175 kit and will happily work on a Mugello and the Casa kit, if you are running a Clubman or Anchilotti exhaust. The ideal carb for a Mugello is possibly the Dellorto 28mm PHBH BS, particularly if you are running some sort of expansion exhaust system, such as a JL. The imola and RB are better suited to the Delorto 30mm PHBH. However these more highly strung kits will benefit from a more responsive flatside carb such as the Mikuni TMX or Dellorto VHST range. These type of carbs are a lot more expensive however.


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