28/08/2007 00:00 | By By Jane Omorogbe, contributor

Ridden: Piaggio Vespa S review



Jane Omorogbe and the Piaggio Vespa S (© image © PA)

Although the new Vespa S is essentially a restyled Vespa LX, Piaggio is keen to present it as an entirely new model.

Both the 50cc and 125cc S models share the same two and four-stroke engines of the bulkier Vespa LX, but the design of this new scooter is aimed at the youngest market of all - teenagers.

GALLERY: Piaggio Vespa S

A lightweight that’s heavy on the nostalgia

Piaggio Vespa S (© image © Piaggio)

Click images to enlarge, more below

We of a certain age all know the Vespa is a two-wheeled icon, but if you’re too old to have owned a Parka or to have seen Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday then the power of nostalgia is considerably dimmed. Piaggio needs to undertake some brand development. Teenagers know Vespas are cool, but they’re not quite sure why. The Vespa S is the model that will show them why. With teens in mind, the Vespa S is petite. It’s petite enough to appeal to youngsters of both sexes, who have absolutely no intention of riding anything that could be considered hefty or, heaven forbid, unfashionable. The styling is simple and unfussy and the rideability is as uncomplicated as Jade Goodie’s brain.

Piaggio Vespa S (© image © Piaggio)

That’s not to say it wouldn’t suit riders of all ages, but it’d probably feel too small and wheezy for an older generation with more demanding requirements. On my ride of the Vespa S 125, the most noticeable aspect was how responsive the handling felt. The steering lock’s very impressive, and manoeuvring it around the pot-holed, gravel-strewn roads of Northern Italy was an absolute breeze. The low 785mm seat height and step through nature allows you to hop on and off with ease and because it weighs just 110kg, pushing it into parking spots and rocking it back onto the centre stand wouldn’t be a challenge for even the most underdeveloped kid on the block.

Unruffled by ruts

Piaggio Vespa S (© image © Piaggio)

I parked up on a slope, lazily kicked the side stand down and pondered on the afternoon’s ride. Despite the slightly larger 11in front wheel, which is designed to offer stability, I initially found the Vespa S a little flighty at the front. That said, its nervousness soon appeared slightly less twitchy and more fun as I began to get used to the machine. It’s always difficult switching from a normal motorcycle to a scooter, it takes a few miles to retune your brain.

Piaggio Vespa S (© image © Piaggio)

The suspension was surprisingly good. I purposely headed straight for the deepest ruts in the road’s surface to see how much this dainty scooter would be unsettled. Apart from the anticipated mini shake from the handlebars, the Vespa almost glided over the imperfections and reassured me of its capabilities. Brakes are a combination of disc and drum brakes. When applied together, the stopping power’s fairly effective, and it’s reasonable to assume that most inexperienced teenagers would perhaps automatically go for both in a panic, but used singularly, I was less than impressed with their effectiveness. Perhaps the disc and pads on the front of this new machine still needed some bedding in.

Performance and practicality

Piaggio Vespa S (© image © Piaggio)

The two open glove compartments inside the front fairing are perfect for mobile phones and house keys etc, and the instrument display is in keeping with the whole uncomplicated nature of the scooter. There’s a fuel light, digital clock (so there’s no excuses for being late for college lectures) and although it’s an electric start, there’s also a kick-start option too. So if you’ve managed to drain the battery, you’re not going to be stranded. The engine performs just as you’d expect from a 125. The top speed’s about 65mph, but that’s with my ‘athletic’ six foot frame. Perhaps a slighter built youngster could see 70mph on the speedo, downhill, with a tail wind acting to their advantage!

Piaggio Vespa S (© image © Piaggio)

The storage facilities on the Vespa S are well designed and I was pleasantly surprised to discover you can fit a full-face lid underneath the comfortable saddle. Having seen the promotional video of young Italians dressed in vests and shorts, wearing loafers and open helmets, I thought of our UK teenagers who don’t have the benefit of gorgeous Tuscan sunshine or such a relaxed approach to what’s considered as sensible riding attire. Waterproofs, a full-face lid, a pair of gloves or perhaps a spare jumper - that’s what they’ll need to carry and, fortunately, they’d be able to do just that on the Vespa S.

Ridden: Honda CBR125R
Ridden: Piaggio's unique three-wheeled scooter
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