Garelli Tiger Restoration

Garelli Tiger Restoration

Garelli TigerYellow peril

It wasn’t all fizzies during the 70’s, the Latin quarter had a healthy, if more expensive, set of mopeds on offer too, the Garelli Tiger Cross being arguably the most desirable of them all.

Ian Ritchie, is a 45-year-old mechanical fitter at the Corus steel plant in Scunthorpe who is living the dreams he had as a teenager, well the ones relating to motorcycles at least. He has been restoring classic cars, motorcycles and Lambretta scooters for many years, Ian adds, “My main hobby is working in my workshop, on my collection or helping out friends with their restorations. I love to do all my own mechanical work and paint jobs too, and it gives me great satisfaction when my bikes receive awards at the many summer shows I attend with them.

I had a Garelli Tiger Cross MKII as my first road going bike and, in more recent times, I seriously hankered after restoring one. The first one I restored was sourced from Evas motorcycle breakers in Scunthorpe about 9 yrs ago, it was in a very sorry state, but did have some of the hard to find parts still in place, and in restorable condition.

Garelli Tiger CrossFirst of all I set about getting the bike totally stripped so I could check all of the black parts for straightness and surface condition. Anything that needed it was repaired and sent for powder coating, this included the frame, which thankfully was in pretty good shape underneath the surface rust. The only thing missing was the flimsy pedal cover, but I made a replacement out of thin-gauge steel-plate, which once painted black, was indiscernible for the original item. That is part of the beauty with the Garelli and other Italian machines, although massed produced, it was on a far smaller scale, so they simply aren’t as complex as the Japanese machinery, making fabricating small items a relative doddle.

Like the painted metal work, all of the spindles, nuts, clips, springs and chrome work were prepared and repaired where necessary, and sent to the platers and the forks sent to AM Philpots for hard chroming. While these parts were away, the tin parts, which needed to be painted silver, or yellow in the case of the tank, were repaired, prepared and painted.

Garelli Tiger Cross MKIIWhen it comes to the wheels, I find that the fitting of new rims and stainless spokes is always the best policy and far cheaper in the long run, despite appearing to be the difficult route. Building and truing wheels can be fraught at first but, once the technique is mastered, it is easy, cost effective, and fun too. Although the original steel rims are no longer available, Italian made, Radaelli rims, from Central Wheel Components, are the nearest, profile wise, to ones fitted to all Garellis. CWC also supplied the spokes, perfectly cut to length and ready to fit, once the wheels have been built up in the workshop, I can then fit the rubber, once again the CEAT tyres are quite unique to this machine and are getting hard to locate but well worth the hunting to get the finished machine just right. Any bare alloy on the Garelli is easily put right by polishing the surface, there isn’t a great deal to be found on the Tiger, mainly the yokes and wheel hubs, so not a lot of work but well worth the bit of effort to get them gleaming. With the chassis now starting to come together, all that was missing was a decent set of mudguards, a pair of the correct stainless steel mudguards were found at an auto jumble, these were in need of a bit of attention, but showed potential and where suitably repaired and polished. Stainless steel fasteners were also bought and fitted were possible to keep the Garelli looking good for many years to come.

Garelli Tiger Cross RestorationWith the rolling chassis taken care of, it was time to concentrate on the engine, which I had totally stripped, leaving just the bare cases. The casings were polished and rebuilt with new main bearings and a new gasket set. A good crank, barrel, and piston were all required to get the engine running properly, the cylinders are chrome plated so very rare and hard to find. Thankfully I have amassed quite a collection of engine parts so getting enough parts to make a good one isn’t so hard as having to hunt eBay, and the jumbles for good parts.

It isn’t all plain sailing however, and exhausts are like the proverbial rocking horse droppings, this one had to have its front pipe rebuilt using tube work from an old chair leg, but once the welding is filed back and re-chromed, it is impossible to see the join, and above all, looks like the correct part.

Garelli Tiger RestorationOnce the engine was finished, the bike was nearing completion, and looking good on the bench. A new wiring loom was made in house, before then being fitted to the frame and all controls checked via a battery before finally connecting to magneto. The newly painted tank, all done by myself, using new decals from the Garelli club, was fitted on frame and the bike started up. When first rebuilt this bike had a recovered seat, but I have since sourced a new seat for it and the original look has been gained. The total cost of the rebuild has been around £1500, but with mint examples now changing hands for well over £2000, it didn’t turn out too bad, anyway the bike isn’t for sale so the cost isn’t so important.

1978 Garelli Tiger Cross MKIII have to thank Paul Simcox , Brent Fielder of the sports moped owners club for parts and info and also Gary Hughes who runs the Garelli owners club. A big thank you has to go to my misses, Susan who puts up with my two-wheeled excesses and lets me spend far too long in the shed working on the bikes. My latest Garelli restoration, a super rare, 5-speed KL50, has just won best moped at the VJMC Uttoxeter show, while awaiting restoration in the near future is a Suzuki X7, a Yamaha YDS7 and a Kwak Z900. It isn’t all old bikes though, along with the vast collection of mopeds and other lovelies from the 70’s, I have a Kawasaki ZRX1100 that gets an airing whenever possible.”


Humberside paints and products, Scunthorpe tel 01724 846321

Richard Pell moped services tel 07876 262734

Bob Wright Motorcycles tel 01934 510333

AM Philpot hard chrome ltd tel 01582 571234

1978 Garelli Tiger Cross MKII Restoration

Central Wheel Components tel 01675 462264

Garelli owners club and forum

Fizzie site but also lots of other ped owners on the forum

General moped site and forum

1978 Garelli Tiger Cross MKII Specifications

  • Price: £70 (£325 new)
  • Value now (est): £2000-2500
  • Power: 6.2bhp
  • Torque: 2.7ft-lb
  • Top speed: 53mph
  • Dry weight: 73kg
  • Colours: Yellow

Technical Specifications

  • Fuel: 11litres
  • Rake/trail: 26deg/95mm
  • Seat height: 700mm
  • Wheelbase: 1115mm
  • Engine: air-cooled 49cc (40 x 39mm), two-stroke single. 20mm Dell’Orto carb. 4-gears. Chain final drive
  • Chassis: Tubular steel dual cradle frame, 28mm non-adjustable telescopic forks, twin oil-damped rear shocks
  • Brakes: 90mm single-leading-shoe drum front and rear
  • Tyres: 2.25 x 19 front, 2.50 x 17 rear

Top Tips

Never give up on parts as most things can be repaired with a bit of know how

Stainless mudguards are usually cracked due to vibration, or at best, dented, these can all be stainless welded and repaired, dents knocked out and polished back into perfect condition

Original Garelli control cables are now impossible to find, however a Lambretta replacement set for £20 can be made to fit and look perfect

When restoring wheels, always use new rims and stainless spokes, it makes sense in the long run and the finish makes the bike stand out.

Garelli Tiger Cross Gallery

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