Thoughts about Vespas?

Discussion in 'General Discussion / News / Information' started by Rasseru, Mar 12, 2007.

  1. Rasseru

    Rasseru Ol'Timer

    I'm thinking about getting a Vespa for travel around and about town. I see a fair number of them around, but don't know much about them. Any thoughts or suggestions would be welcome. Most of the ones I've seen are older models, so I am most interested in how reliable they are or aren't, and whether there are any good, reliable shops that work on them.
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  3. Ian Bungy

    Ian Bungy Ol'Timer

    My Thoughts about Vespas,
    Leave them to the Yuppie Students!!! They are like a Cult Image thing here Classic Look. I sometimes speak my Mind so won't comment on my View!!! Best Bet get a Wave or something local and New, cheap to run easy Maintainence and Parts. I see JRD have a Great looking New Scooter style thing with Big Tyres, Auto, Cheap.
    Cheers Ian.
  4. Rasseru

    Rasseru Ol'Timer

    Cheers, Ian [;)] I wanted to leave the door wide open and so asked for "any" thoughts at all. Wouldn't surprise or disappoint me if an antique rocker or two chimes in with some latter day mod-bashing as well.

    All that's good, but more helpful comments are welcome too! [:D]
  5. mikerust

    mikerust Ol'Timer


    Where do you live? I am in BKK. Vespas are inherently reliable, parts are readily available and there are many shops but really you won't need them much.
    Have you ridden anything before?
    As Ian said older Vespa are individualistic, culty and considered cool[8D].
    If that is what you want ok but they have candles for lights, two-stroke engines so you have to mix oil with the fuel (messy/fiddly). Modern scooters on the other hand have electric starting, automatic transmission, four stroke engines, decent brakes, good lighting etc..and can be tinkered with[:D]
    So if retro and cool are your thing and you want to stick out in the crowd, perfect. If you just want a scooter (dry and splash resistant riding) then there are quite a few brands of scooter around with cool modern-styled looks and 21st century? technology. JRD comes to mind but there are others. 250cc is a maximum for "scooting" (sic) around town as anything bigger will not allow you to weave in the traffic. 125-150cc is probably best.

    If you want to embarass some big bike riders you can always get a SilverWing/Burgman and "fix" the trasmission. They will give you 0-100 in about 5.5 seconds. OK not superbike territory but......

    Don't forget Lambretta if you want retro/

    Lambretta Mike
    had a 200 Li with AF bits in my formative? years.[:I]
  6. Rasseru

    Rasseru Ol'Timer

    Mille grazie, Lambretta Michel, for all those helpful ideas.

    I live in Chiangmai, which I should have mentioned, so thanks too for reminding me of that. I know bikes in larger sizes pretty well, having had and riden long and hard more than ten of them over the years, including several superbikes in the 750 and litre classes, both on public roads and race tracks, and I have been riding a rented Yamaha Mio for the last six months in Chiangmai, where I also have an F650 for getting out of town.

    I won't run away from the personally shameful truth that retro, classic and cool all have a big appeal for me, but the bigger truths here are two: I love anything on two wheels and have no love at all for cages, and I would have a real chance at stopping the words "why don't we get a car?" from any longer passing my wife's lips if I were able to escort her around town on a fashion statement Vespa! That said, while I don't mind a fiddly/messy fuel situation, I'd rather stay away from frequent breakdowns and I'd like to know I have a good place to have repairs done that I can't or don't want to handle myself.

    I don't need to embarrass any big bike riders. I liked humiliating others at circuits, and did the best I could at it, but I have no interest in doing it on public streets.

    And finally, thanks for the Lambretta suggestion!
  7. tropicaljohno

    tropicaljohno Ol'Timer

    Rasseru, I owned many Lambretta's when I lived in the UK, and raced then as well, even did a 12 hour race, at Snetterton, all thru the nite, 2 riders. you would ride to the circuit, take off spare wheel and carrier, tape up lights, put numbers on, race all day, then put gear back on and ride home.

    then we had a Lambo specially for racing, fibreglass panels, no speedo, put flywheel on lathe, grind out magnets, and run battery ignition, and engine oil in gearbox for less drag. i managed a few trophies, and engine never blew up, although my brother was out riding on the road one day and put a hole in his piston.

    I wasn't a mod, had a Barbour oilskin jacket to keep warm and dry, and sheepskin leather motorbike boots. Belonged to a scooter club went riding every Sunday, week end trips away and were always reliable.

    My brother was on the executive committee ot LCGB, Lambretta Club Great Britain, and 8 of them rode from London to the Lambretta factory in Milan, all without problem.

    I preferred the Lambretta as you dont have to lean slightly like you do on the vespa.

    Round near Railway Station in CNX went to a shop he was working on his Lambo getting ready for a Laos Scooter ride.

    One of the Supang trips, we were camped at MotoGP and the KL Vespa club rolled in, here were Vespa's old, vintage, new, chopper's etc, some looked quite cool.

    Also had Lambo's in OZ, great to get around on. There was even a Lambo for sale on Phuket a while ago.

    Mikerust I used to be a member of Lambretta Vagabonds Club, Teddington.. just in case you may have heard of us.
  8. Klaus

    Klaus Ol'Timer

    If you love the styling of an italian scooter, don't mind two strokes - why not, go ahead! But I'd say for around town you can't beat the Honda Wave, or the Yamaha / Suzuki / Kawasaki version of it. You can ride them with one hand since they have the automatic (I appreciated that when I had to pick up my ironed shirts - just carried them over my shoulder, rode with one hand) and they have storage space under the seat or in the basket. I got me a basket the last time I was in Malaysia, it fits behind the fairing (not in front, where everything gets blown out or blocks the headlight - illegal in Malaya!). Stone reliable four stroke engines; repairs, parts, service is laughably cheap and anybody can do it. My buddy experienced some probs with his Yamaha Nouveau - too new here, some repair shops out in the boonies didn't want to touch them! They wouldn't know anything about a Vespa . . .
    So why not go with the flow?
  9. Klaus

    Klaus Ol'Timer

    Oh, I forgot, somebody mentioned JRD - had one, won't buy one again. Several friends weren't too happy, either. You get what you pay for.
  10. HIKO

    HIKO Ol'Timer


    Do not leave them alone to some british inspired Mods or hippies. The bike is good even the old ones but they carry an extra "vespa" price tag here in Thailand.


    The Vespas have been imported to Thailand since the early 50:s or maybe even before. I have seen restored early 1950 models with two separate saddles (the old style models not the new cargomodels) I have not seen any older models with the front light on the front fender here in Thailand.

    If you want to have an antique bike buy an up to 1955 about model these have antique value all over the world. Probably you have to restore it yourself and taking the spare parts from Italy. Maybe some of the many shops that are dealing with Vespas can do the job but I have no experience. I would believe that they are good at making the engine work but making a real restoring work I assume only a few are capable of. Rememember that most of those funny looking "restored" Vespas you see in traffic are not restored but "raped" to look like the Vespas in the cult movie "They call us Mods" The movie told about the motorized turned hippies who drove Vespas or Lambrettas with plenty of chrome, antennas and small extra lights. They wore long green army duffels long hair and they were having regular fights with the real bikers.

    There are plenty of shops and private people here in Thailand who advertise that they buy and sell Vespas and that have driven up the prices but start from there and try later to find one from a private source.

    A well restored antique Vespa can be used in normal daily trafic, the bike is so simple (except if you have to change the cables to the hand manouvred gearbox on the road....)

    If you are not looking for any antique then try the newer ones let us say at least late 80:s. You can see if it is a newer model from the body. The older are have ladylike round curves while the newer ones are more square. On the newer models (especially the 200cc)you can find separate oil tank and even electric starter. You can see plenty of newer models at the Prahtunam market working like garment transporters inside the alleys. Anyhow I am not sure if they are Indian made Bajas.*See insert later.

    The Vespas have mainly been manufactured as 50 CC (all the time) 80 cc (newer models) 90 cc (old models) 125 cc ( all the time) 150 cc (old and semi old models) and 200 cc models. What you will mainly find in Thailand is 125cc-200cc and maybe some 50cc.

    The Vespas are manufactured by Piaggio an old aviation company. After WW 2 they created the first Vespa with an aeroplane like design. As a two wheel design it was totally new and because of the succes of Vespa it was copied in the late 1950:s by the english motorcycle industry. Ariel had several small models with "scooter" design, Vincent made one model "Black Prince"? with everything covered so did Velocette and if I do not remember wrong Trimphh 3TA and 5TA were "scooters". Actually all these english bikes are ancestors again to the big cc-volume japaneese scooters and Honda Pacific and Paneuropa models, so the clock goes around.

    The Vespa became an immidiate hit in a warthorn Europe with need for cheap transportation. It become a cult because of a Fellini movie La Dolce Vita with a Swedish really big breasted blond (Anita Ekberg) in the main role. She was then driving a Vespa around the fountain in Rome showing parts of her tits and everybody rushed to buy a Vespa. The head office of Piaggio still have big pictures of her on a Vespa in their lobby. In the US the boom for Vespas (very short) was caused by a Gregory Peck&Audrey Hepburn movie "Roman Holidays". In the 1970 the demand for Vespa started to diminish not so much because of competition from other two wheeler but because in the home market people started to buy small Fiat cars.Also there was actually no product development at Vespa before 1985 when they started to feel the japanese competition and new emmission rules.

    The factory name and also the brand name to day is Piaggio. For som strange reason they tried to get rid of the Vespa image by changing everything from Vespa to Piaggio. Seems very strange that when you have a brand name which is synonym to scooter you want to get rid of it. I mean people asked if you had a Honda scooter "what kind of Vespa is that" Laterly they have introduced the Vespa Brand again. The factory is now part of Fiat (and Ferrari!!!) The reason to that is that Piaggios grand daughter married ( and divorced) Agnelli in the 50:s and they got at least one son. That son was running Piaggio in the 1990:s and did it very well. He turned around the company and only 32 year old he was set to become next Fiat Director after Agnelli. Unfortunally he died from cancer very suddenly and Fiat was left without any Agnelli at the top. Piaggio has continued their growth and is now one of the biggest two wheel manufaturer in the world. Gilera was bought quite a while ago and during the last years they have bought Derbi from Spain and Aprillia/Motoguzzi from Italy. So when you see all the competing teams in 125 and 250 cc Moto GP remember that Aprillia, Derbi, Gilera, Piaggio are all same family.

    * Since I think that many of the Vespas that are sold in Thailand are not real Vespas but Bajas imported from India. It seems quite logical that they have supplied them from this factory since it is quite close. Anyhow I am not sure about this and I appreciate if somebody correct me. Anyhow I would like to tell small anekdote about the partnership between Piaggio and Baja and compare it to an other industry, close to my and many GT-riders heart, the beer industry in Thailand It is quite teaching especially in these days when Thai government wants to "reshuffle" the laws of foreign ownership.

    Anyhow Piaggio went very early into India realizing the huge market. Because India by that time had very strict laws forbidding foreign companies big shares of ownership Piaggio and the Baja Family made a joint venture were Baja kept total control over the company and Piaggio should receive royalty per sold vehicle. The factory was totally built by Piaggio and some crucial parts to the bikes were delivered from Italy. I think the model was the GS 150 and the APE three wheeler The venture started good, the sale was brisk and Piaggio delivered parts happily waiting for the compensation... When Piaggio asked for royalty and payments for spare parts they were told that they can not be paid now because of new currency regulation. And so it continued for some years before Piaggio gave up. The final result was that Baja had got a factory free of charge, all the knowledge of how to make scooters, distribution channels and now they are the biggest scooter manufacturer in the area. Piaggio had to start from scratch again.. I know some people at Piaggio who felt the pain in the arse.

    Danish Carlsberg is one of the biggest breweries in the world. They brew damned good beers all over the world. 10 years ago they decided to go South East Asia using Thailand as the Hub. The Thaimarket was totally dominated by Singha so they tried to find another partner. They found by then a small player on the beer market Beer Thai and they agreed on a 51/49 joint venture with Carlsberg keeping 51% and the control of the company. This agreement maybe partly illegal according Thai law but by that time it was common practice. As in the Piaggio&Baja case the marriage was very happy in the begining. I rememeber how you could get Carlsberg beer from more and more places off the tourist spots. I think I read in a newspaper that Carlsberg reached a 5 % markets share at one stage before Heineken started. At this stage Beer Thai who still did not have any competetive brand suggested to Carlsberg that they start to brew a cheap and strong beer to take up competetion with Singha direct. Carlsberg liked the idea to have a low cost beer under Singha and Carlsberg as a Premium Bear above. Probably the management of Carlsberg were left to believe that Chang is also a 49/51% joint venture for the brewery and Carlsberg provided the know how and even the name Chang (in danish Elefantol) was the same as a famous brand of them. The etiquitte is copied from Carlsberg posing the same stone elephants that still are or used to be in front of the head office of Carlsberg in Copenhagen/Tuborg. And then it started to happen the breweries sales force ( or was the sales force company owned by Beer Thai) were 100 % devoted to beer Chang and in a few years Chang was number one with over 50% markets share and.... Carlsberg were left with less than 1 % far behind Heineken. By now the Carlsberg Management woke up. They have by now found out that nothing of the Chang profit will go to their pockets because in a very complicated serie of deals the Chang Brand name was owned by a Singaporean company controlled by Beer Thai. With the Carlsberg Brand almost wipped out from the market they were uppset and fired all the thai members on the board. Despite getting control of the board they could not get control of the management so the management (controlled by beer Thai) reacted by stopping brewering Carlsberg beer (in Carlsber 51% owned brewery) withdraw all draft beer canisters from restaurants replacing them with Chang, painted all the cars in not in new colours but new name etc. Maybe you remember this about 5 years ago Carlsberg could not make any criminal charges because in the contracts all matters should be handled by abritary courts in Singapore, London and Copenhagen. Before final verdicts they made an out of court deal which gave Beer Thai the full ownership of the brewery.The Beer Thai owner is now the richest family in Thailand according to last week Forbes...

    After writing all this I do not really know how I started by Vespa and ended up in beer. Let us say that it is good the know the backgrounds when you buy motorbikes and drink beer. Anyhow I have only written how it looks from one side and all coins have two sides. I only know or knew people involved on one side. Everything is also direct from my ailing memory and nothing is double checked. Hopefully at least somebody can find it amusing.

    HIKO (Piaggio Importer to Finland in the 1980:s)
  11. mikerust

    mikerust Ol'Timer

    Sad fact is that women don't really like the bike thing. It's status. Women want security and status, don't forget they choose their partner/husband and not the other way around. So you will never escape the car thing. My 2 cents worth a Nissan Wingroad. Cheap, cute, practical, frugal oh and did I mention cheap.

    One more site to drool over < >
  12. Rasseru

    Rasseru Ol'Timer

    Thanks to all for the additional thoughts and information. Hiko, I assume your thoroughly detailed and fascinating commentary must be from a book you will be publishing soon? If so, please let us know when it will be released and under what title! Mike, your observations about women may have much to them, and my hopes may in the end be shattered, of course, but I am moving forward now on the basis of negotiations and understandings that are taking place between two consenting adults, both of sound mind (at least that is what I choose to believe), so I shall continue to cling to my dreams for as long as possible, and shall descend into mistrust, accusation and recrimination only later, if at all! [:D]
  13. jonadda

    jonadda Ol'Timer

    Sorry to be a little negative but we had a saying back home that went something like this:
    The similarity between riding a vespa and having sex with a big fat woman was that they were both fun rides until your mates found out.
  14. Rasseru

    Rasseru Ol'Timer

    [:D][:D][:D] Thanks for that good one, and I like the fact that "mates" works in both senses there! [;)]
  15. mikerust

    mikerust Ol'Timer

    I thought it was:
    The similarity between riding a Kawasaki and having sex with a big black woman is that they are both fun rides until someone see you on it.[:D]

    Rasseru: I'm from the parka wearing, large tyre iron under the seat era.[8D]
    At least that will hold until you meet me.[:I]
  16. tropicaljohno

    tropicaljohno Ol'Timer

    Mike Great looking bike, complete with ancillotti box, I couldn't afford a new silencer so drilled holes in my old one.

    Is that an Arthur Francis seat, and did you have a 12v conversion..

    unfortunately all my foto's are in my garage in OZ, will have to sort some out, next time I am over there.

    (Suppose its a bit too much do ask David Unk for a seperate section on Italian Scooters - only joking David)
  17. mikerust

    mikerust Ol'Timer


    Actually I cheated and got that photo from the Internet.

    OK the boring stuff:

    Mine was back in '67. My dad wouldn't buy me a GT 200 because the dealer wouldn't give him a cash discount.[V] So I ended up with a re/white private sale Li 150. Which I now know has the best gear ratios but I digress.
    I eventually ended up with a 200 conversion from Speedwell/Speedway? of Acton, Ancilotti box, Amal carb, 19? tooth front sprocket, a seat as in the picture and chrome/black AF side panels (borrowed by a Vespa friend of mine from a scooter rally in Brighton) and the biggest rear tire I could find.

    Another friend had a real AF 225. Quite impressive. 90 mph on a good day. In the days when quick small bikes (250) were Suzuki Super Six, Yamaha TZ etc. he could stay with them in town up to about 70. Mine alas ran out of revs at about 75. But would get there quite quickly for the day.[8D]

    Part of me would like to build a AF Replica but another part says move on.. but there is lots of trick stuff available now that wasn't before.
  18. tropicaljohno

    tropicaljohno Ol'Timer

    I also started in 67, had an LI 150 Series 1, so had the headlight low down and 2 single seats, then moved onto a TV 175 Series 2, then an SX 150 which was faster than my brothers SX 200

    As mentioned before raced at Snetterton, 12 hour event, 7pm-7am. 2 riders, and we finished without any mishaps although didn’t get a good place. The club hired a double Decker bus, that had a back door, so we took all the seats out and loaded the bikes in there, the bike we raced belonged to a friend, LI 150 we were still working on it on the bus on the way to circuit and first time I rode it was in the race.

    also did the Mallory 300 at Mallory Park, 300 miles, 2 riders again, another mate had an SX 200 12v conversion and some other mods. Managed to bat my brother in that race. My mate bought a second hand E'Type Jag, that had been painted that ford (Puke) lime green, so he wanted to call the team Team Jaguar, and we all had lime green leathers.

    raced my SX 150 at Mallory, as not long purchased and hadn’t time yet to polish piston etc, managed to wear a hole in the silencer on the hair pin at Mallory trying to keep up with the others. XPK 302G how about that for a memory.

    recently whilst in Bangkok was in Dynamic Motors, the BMW shop, and he had an English copy of Scooter World, amazing all the gear you can get now. Apparently India has the original frames, and you can buy all new gear for them.

    LI 150 for sale on Phuket but he wants about 60,000 baht.
  19. mikerust

    mikerust Ol'Timer


    I must have missed the SX-150 maybe the same gearing as a Li ?
    The SX 200 was not that good and not as fast as the GT. Incedentally the GT was only sold in UK.
    I believe in India they still make GP-200's

    Do a search for PM tuning but Tafspeed I think is the goods.
    Drool at these
  20. tropicaljohno

    tropicaljohno Ol'Timer

  21. Alibaba

    Alibaba Member

    Lots!!! of Vespas are readily available in the Middle East and all over Europe for about $150 USD. Whats with the Yuppie status????
  22. mikerust

    mikerust Ol'Timer

    That's why the guy at the Saigon Scooters started his business because, he knew[8D]
  23. penetrator

    penetrator Ol'Timer

    Wanted to post this a while back but misplaced the pic. This is a 68 Vespa 150 I hired out for a few days in Hua Hin although the pic was taken at Cha Am. Had a great time on it but luckily was never in a hurry to get anywhere quick. I had a stripped down Lambretta 150LI when I was 15 and think I'd go for a Lambretta over a Vespa if I was looking to buy a scooter now.

  24. tropicaljohno

    tropicaljohno Ol'Timer

    Hi Rasseru

    10 things you probably didn’t know about the Vespa

    1.The first Piaggio scooter was based on a small motorcycle made for parachutists known as MP5
    2.There have been more than 120 models of Vespa from 1946 to today.
    3.The Vespa name came from Piaggio himself who said it looked like a wasp (Vespa in Italian)
    4.The Vespa has been produced in 13 countries including Australia
    5.In Nov 1953 the 500,000th left the line, followed by 1 million in June 1956. 2 million in 1960, 4 million in 1970, 10 million plus in 1988, and 16 million plus to date. (Mind you I don’t thing Ian Bungy is one somehow..)
    6.From 1946 to 1965 when Piaggio died, 3,350,000 were made in italy, 1 for every 50 inhabitants.
    7.In 1951 Piaggio built a vespa 125cc prototype for speed racing, and it set a world speed record for a flying kilometer at an average of 171.102 km/h.
    8.In the 1951 International Six Days in Varese, it won 9 gold medals, the best of the Italian motorcycles.
    9.In 1952 some French guy georges Monneret built an amphibious vespa for the Paris-London race, and successfully crossed the English Channel on it.
    10.And saving the best till last…. In 1980 two vespa PX 200’s ridden by M.Simonot and B Tcherniawsky reached the finishing line of the second Paris-Dakar Rally.
  25. Azoulay

    Azoulay Ol'Timer

    Hi Friends,

    Living in Paris when I am in France, you could imagine the Bikker I am could not be englued in the undescriptible traffic jams of Paris, thus since more than 34 years I ride a Piaggio product from all types of Vespa to nowaday a new three wheels brand new MP3 to commute to my head office when based in France. Some 12000 to 20000 Km per annum scootering as big bikes (Harley Fat Boy 2000 and my old KAWASAKI Z1300) are dedicated for the weekend only.

    Most of things has been said by You in the previous posts, but something I'ld to underline is gthat I would preferably go for a "modern" bike such as YAMAHA Nouvo, HONDA Dream or this kind of stuff in Asia for all the good reasons which have been described. I think it will be better for you more reliable et easy

    Anyway, a lot have been said, and rightly.
  26. razin

    razin Member

    I've made twice run to the border town of Betong from Kuala Lumpur on my Piaggio Zip 125cc (Vespa ET4 equivalent). Full throttle on the highway (max 110 km/h) 800km round trip. Next will be Issan :)



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