Category Archives: Vehicles Past & Present

Past & Present

Renault Twizy

Since owning my campervan most of my time and money had been spent renovating that. There were a few sacrifices made during that time in the form of the loss of my two scooters to provide extra funding for some of the more major work that needed doing like the engine and gearbox. Although the camper has provided an amazing distraction from these losses, it was only going to be a matter of time before I needed something to fill the impractical vehicle gap. You know, the type that puts a smile on your face.

I think the catalyst for my interest for renewable energy has come from the solar installation on my camper. Its proved amazingly effective at giving us free energy for the fridge, lighting, and all of our electronic devices as we live and travel. The only exception has been heating whilst static, which is taken care of by the diesel night heater. This, as you can imagine has allowed us to camp in remote locations without electric hook up, or choose a camping pitch that costs less money due to the fact we don’t need electricity.

I think the real buzz factor that goes with having energy for nothing can only really be associated with by like minded people. That said I know this post will not resonate with everybody, but the world of renewable energy will ultimately make everybody’s life a whole lot better once established on mass. If anybody is really interested the best place to delve in is the youtube ‘Fully Charged‘ channel offers a wealth of information about all things green. Highly recommended viewing.

All of that said, it will not be of any great surprise to hear that my most recent purchase scratches the “impractical smile on your face method of transport” along with the “green energy” check box. I first saw the car advertised online during my September campervan holiday. The price was good and I was convinced this Renault Twizy was the one for me! 

Basically this vehicle ticks all of the boxes and more. Its a blast to drive, gets the heads turning, and costs as little as 60 pence a charge to do 50 miles. It can also be tuned (watch this space) using a PowerBox, and the lack of modifications just make me want to find a way to make this already rare and unique vehicle a little more special. Again…. watch this space.

Gillera Runner FXR 180cc

20170114_113907 (Small)My love of two stroke bikes and scooters started back in the mid 1980s. My first bike was a second hand Yamaha RS100, which i promptly stripped down and did a frame up restoration. This was the first in a long list of two stroke vehicles that followed a similar path during my ownership from the mid to the late 80s. These included Yamaha DT100, DTLC, DT175MX, RD125, RD250DX Suzuki TS125 etc, etc. In the early 90s I got the bug for scooters. My first was a Vespa PX125 none runner, brought from a neighbor which i sold on to a friend a couple of years later, Following this was a second PX, then a Vespa T5.

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So the late 90s became the stage for one of the most powerful, if not the most powerful scooters ever mass produced, the 180cc two stroke Gillera Runner FXR. In standard guise they were pretty rapid, but with the heavy baffled exhaust system which choked the engine, and the standard carburetor and air box fitted from factory, it didn’t quite reach its full potential. Owners soon became wise to the tuning capability, and the market was there to offer a verity of third party options for those that wanted to get the best performance from the new kid on the block.

This era was short lived and the ever tighter EU standards for emissions ruled out large two stoke bikes as being too polluting. The only way the manufacturers could meet regulations for all but the smallest of scooters was to move to a 4 stroke engine. This offered less potential BHP, and were substantially heavier. So the old power to weight ratio for the later scooters was reversed. This is why the sweet spot for anybody wanting a scooter or motorbike with the best power to weight was towards the end of the 1990s.

The FXR was the earliest incarnation of the 180cc Runner which came with a rear drum brake. The later scooters were branded ‘SP’ and came with a rear disk brake. As you can see mine is one of the earlier scooters, and unless I am mistaken was the rarer of the two, as production moved on to the SP after a relatively short period of time. I do not see this as a negative as the disk brake was really just a marketing gimmick, and offered no better stopping power.

I never owned or ridden one of these scooter before, but I knew of their reputation for being the scooter to have in its day. However, the reputation was enough for me to make the decision to buy when one came up at the right price in 2011. It may come as no surprise after reading the above, that the scooter i purchased came in kit form….

Incomplete project 2011
Incomplete project 2011

If I am honest I had always had a project ticking away in the background so its condition was not concerning in the slightest. This particular scoot was an import from Gurnsey so it needed registering before i could ride it in the UK. I tackled it in fits and starts. Here you can see the scooter in my garage the first time i started it. Looking at the paperwork this could quite possibly have been the first time the scoot had ran in ten years. I didn’t realize just how smokey it was until i opened the garage door. Oops! It sure smelt nice though 🙂

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I was in no great rush to get the scooter road worthy, which was just as well really as i didn’t finally get it on the road until 2014. I must admit, from a performance point of view, once registered, moted and insured it exceeded all expectation. What a blast!

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