Being the owner of a Balinese restored scooter I just had to visit a couple of shops. Asian restored scooters often get a bad rap; some of course for very good reasons. As you can see from some of the photos above, the scooters in Asia do it tough; it's not a romantic existence. Whereas in other parts of the world scooters had a relatively short working life before they were replaced by cheap cars, parked and then forgotten, the scooters in Asia run and run and run, kept alive by cheap bodges and temporary fixes until they simply can't run any more. So a scooter that ends up in the hands of a restorer is often in bad shape from the beginning.
But everything can be fixed right? Certainly old scooters and motorcycles were built to last and we've all seen machinesthat have been resurrected from virtual scrap metal to concourse perfection. But we are in Asia here, where low cost ingenuity is king. Parts are manufactured, customised and bodged to do the job. And they do do the job. The restorations look great and there were many on the road in Bali. It's important to note though that with traffic congestion as bad as it is in Bali, none of these machines are likely to do more than 30kph. And they'll almost never have to do an emergency stop. And if the carby clogs up, there will be 20 motorcycle shops who'll bodgy up some fix to get it back on the road in five minutes.
The problem is driving them here. Unless you want to be driven over by an impatient a four-wheel drive owner, you need to be able to keep up with traffic doing at least 70kph. And you need to be able to do an emergency stop. And you need a carby that doesn't clog. It's all about buyer beware. If you do buy a Balinese restored Vespa you need to be prepared to do some work on it to make sure it's roadworthy in Australia. And in the process you need to be aware that you might also find that some of the restoration is probably not going to meet the standards we would expect. But that all said, you could get a bargain out of the deal if you know what you're doing and have invested in a bit of research. Buying straight off the internet is not a great idea.
Interestingly, some shops were prepared to sell unrestored machines.
If you want to understand the difference between what some of these restorers claim to have done and what they actually do, read this blog - http://71sprintveloce.blogspot.com/2011/10/vietbodge.html
I visited two shops and talked with the staff. I'm not promoting either of the shops and I have no opinion about the quality of their work but I did take a few photos.
Jl Raya Kuta No.88
Aneka was closing up when I arrived and the workshop was packed with scooters. About two thirds were finished and were soon to be dispatched, mainly to the UK.
I remain partial to the single colour scheme.
A nice Super Sport in traditional blue
These two small frames show the underlying condition of the original bikes. In the foreground you can see the rear end of a Lambretta J-125cc series.
On a platform above the Vespas was a newly restored Lambretta LD. From what I could gather from the owner, whose English was bad, this one was going to the UK.
A Lambretta J series, 125cc. These small engined Lambretta's were introduced in the mid 1960's in an effort to break Vespa's hold on the female market.
Another unrestored Lambretta J awaits its turn.
Bene Asai Vespa Shop
Jl Sriwjaya 19, Kuta Bali
A battered sidecar outfit sits at the front.
The new products
Some Vespas waiting their turn.
The blue Vespa here was 20 million rupiah. The silver Vespa behind it was unrestored but running. It was available for 9 million rupiah.