They have a heritage to be proud of but also have one eye on the future. Stan goes face-to-face to get the exclusive scoop on Pinasco’s most recent developments.
Although Andrea Pinasco retired in 1999 the company bearing his name remains at the forefront of scooter tuning. Best known for their Vespa products, last year they raised a few eyebrows by entering the Lambretta market. When Scootering was given the opportunity to meet the man in charge, Piergiorgio Bettella, at Pinasco’s home base I jumped at the chance. Unfortunately the day didn’t start well.
Ever since I transformed my 50 Special by bolting on their 50 to 90cc conversion I’ve held Pinasco products in high regard. Wanting to make a good impression I set off early but managed to take a wrong turn, adding 30 miles of autostrada to my journey. I arrived on the correct street with two minutes to spare, only to find an eccentric numbering system meant that a large industrial estate separated me from Pinasco HQ. With panic setting in I misjudged a kerb and cracked my GP’s exhaust. By some miracle I arrived exactly on time.
Although Piergiorgio tactfully ignored that I was dripping with sweat I felt very self-conscious as we entered his office. Once inside all worries subsided as I saw a mixture of memorabilia, prototype parts and used components. This was the den of a kindred spirit. As he tidied away a 177 kit which had been used on a round the world trip he explained: “It’s important that we listen to our customers and their experience of using our products.” This explains why Piergiorgio is usually found around the Pinasco stand at events such as Vespa World Days. “I can truthfully say that when a product goes on sale it has been tested to its limits. The Lambretta gear cluster is a good example. We rode that in the 2016 Scootentole 10-hour endurance event in Magny-Cours and I’m pleased to say not one fault has been reported.”
Leaning toward Lambretta
As Piergiorgio had raised the ‘L’ word I asked why Pinasco had chosen to enter this very competitive marketplace. “The Lambretta was always technically superb but by applying modern engineering processes and materials it can be transformed. Our gear cluster uses high quality heat-treated steel and was made in response to feedback from our dealers. We’ve been watching for other opportunities to see where we can apply our expertise.”
When asked if we’ll see a Pinasco Lambretta performance kit soon, Piergiorgio gives the question some thought before replying: “I don’t think so. That part of the market is well catered for, in the future perhaps but for now, no. Our next Lambretta product will be split tubeless rims. The experience of developing these for Vespa models shows they’re safer and save owners time and money when changing tyres. It’s relatively straightforward to convert that design for use on Lambrettas. By applying our knowledge selectively I believe we can add value for owners.” Enigmatically, he added: “Andrea began the development of ignition systems back in 1992. It’s an area we excel in and Lambretta owners may not have long to wait for a Pinasco ignition kit.”
Not ignoring Vespa
Piergiorgio is keen to point out that Vespa will remain their core business. “We have many exciting products under development,” he said. “The Faro Basso/wide frame models are increasingly popular but there are very few affordable tuning accessories.” In addition to their Faro Basso 161cc barrel kit a flytech ignition system has also been developed. Following on from their beautiful 200cc and T5 engine casings is a prototype for Faro Basso machines. This will allow owners to build a highly tuned engine without destroying valuable original casings.
I ride a GS scooter….
Also developed to preserve originality is a new 225cc kit for the GS160. The GS is an iconic machine but isn’t really capable of coping with modern traffic. The existing solution is transplanting a P Range engine but this requires cutting and welding the frame. That’s not a very difficult task but has a very negative affect on value,” explained Piergiorgio. “The GS225 kit requires no cutting of the frame whatsoever. We’ve designed it to match with the original casings and crank. Although we’d recommend fitting our new 28mm carburettor, the standard item can also be used.”
Secret laboratory, classic design
It was thanks to Giulio at Armandos, a name long associated with Pinasco, that my visit was arranged so easily. However even he couldn’t secure access to the research department. “Our riders don’t get in there,” laughed Piergiorgio.
In reception I point out a display case holding one of Pinasco’s iconic small-frame exhausts, a reminder of my 50 Special all those years ago. “This is such an expensive item to make,” says Piergiorgio. “The enamelling alone costs so much that we barely make a profit but it’s part of our history.”
One thing’s certain, Pinasco are proud of their past. Judging by the most recent additions to their catalogue I can only guess at what the future has in store.
Words & Photographs: Stan
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