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Vespa Piaggio, the Italian Wasp Took Over the World

The beginning of the Vespa story is like many other tales of great men and women trying to make the world a better place. By the time of the creation of the first Vespa motorcycle, the world was pretty wrecked due to World War II. Let´s go back in time to put you into context.

Vespa Piaggio, a little history

The birth of Vespa. The exact year is 1946 and WWII came to an end on September 2nd, 1945. Italy received massive bombing from the Nazi forces and, although Allies won the world, the country was devastated. The Piaggio family with Rinaldo at the head was dedicated to the aviation industry. They built everything from planes and seaplanes to anti-submarine motorboats. When the world war came to an end, Enrico Piaggio, Rinaldo´s son, took over the company.

Enrico´s vision was that Italy needed a modern, reliable and affordable means of transport. So, the direction that the company took was drastically different from the one they had before. Piaggio and Co stopped manufacturing planes and boats and put all their workforce to Italy´s urgent needs.

Piaggio scooter

The Vespa as we know it today went under many redesigns. The final one ended up being the work of an aeronautical engineer named Corradino D´ascanio. He told Enrico he hated bikes because of the dirt and the grease. He took care of that, and the MP6 prototype had the engine on the back wheel eliminating the chain. Also, he covered everything with panels to hide the grease and avoid any dust from reaching the rider.

The original Vespa had a critical reaction in the first years of appearance. It escalated in sales pretty quickly and went from 2,500 in 1946 to 60,000 in 1950. By 1956 and after a ride by Audrey Hepburn, the Vespa hit the 100,000 units mark for the first time. In the following years, the model saw many changes and, as they say, the rest is history.

Vespa Sprint

While it is true that the core of the design for the original Vespa saw the light for the first time in 1946, much has changed since. The Vespa Sprint is the current incarnation of the same spirit, but with a 21st-century spin. The company worked very hard on it to bring the design up to date with gentle curves and cutting-edge technology.

Vespa Sprint

The first thing about Sprint is how lightweight it is. The slimmer bodywork, small wheels and engine are, without a shadow of a doubt, an asset. It also got an update in the lights department turning everything to LED technology. The remote saddle-unlock function makes matters easier as well as the improved controls panel.

Vespa took a bold step and installed a TFT full-colour display on a classic bike. Haters are always going to hate, but this was a bold and welcoming move indeed. The Vespa Multimedia Platform, the commands on the handlebar and the 4.3” panel bring the bike to the present.

It comes in beautiful colours and is ideal for short commutes to work, daily shopping or a fun night out. The reliability in both, the 125 and 150cc3 engines is superb with low noise and zero maintenance.

Vespa 946

The word red for a vehicle took on another level when Vespa introduced the 946 to the world. In spite of what you think, it is not a big motorcycle with a 900cm3 engine. The number on the name tag is to commemorate the year the first Vespa: 1946. It is an exceptional motorcycle because it is a symbol for the fight against AIDS. For every unit sold, the Piaggio Company will donate $150 to the Global Fund to fight AIDS. From 2006 to date, the campaign raised $475 million. That money helped 90 million people live a better life.

Vespa 946

Besides being a symbol, this eleven horsepower, the 155cm3 bike is a perfect city companion. The design on the chassis and the modern lines make it one of the most attention-drawing models of the brand. The small seat seems as if it was lifted from the rear end and the blend of chrome, red and LED make it a beautiful ride.

The only downsides that most people find in this machine are the price tag and the lack of under-seat storage. Also, the weight for a bike of its size is high. On the other hand, the seat is made of genuine red leather, which is not only appealing but durable. Its 155cm3 four-stroke engine, the electronic ignition and the 11.7HP make it a great street ride. It is very economical too at an average rate of 115mpg.

If you feel like riding a scooter and making a good action for humankind at the same time, this is your perfect option.

Vespa GTS

Seven decades back up the design of the Vespa and, according to Piaggio, it is all condensed in the GTS. The GTS is supposed to be the suit and tie version of the Vespa dedicated to those who want to stand out and still be stylish. The hybrid control panel plus the beautiful colours available make it an instant hit, but the real step forward is in the engine.

Vespa GTS

The Vespa GTS features the biggest engine ever installed on a Vespa, the 300 HPE. Although it is also available in the long-beloved 125-I engine, the 300 is capable of 23HP. Take my word for it, and it is a lot for a bike so small. Also, the company managed to control the fuel consumption and emissions while achieving higher power.

In the electronics department, things took off. The USB socket, the remote seat opener, and the bike finder are great additions. Finding your bike among a bunch has never been so easy. All of this plus the ability to put your helmet under the seat while you are out doing stuff make it the ultimate city, errands friendly bike.

If you are the risk-taking kind and want to drive your Vespa somewhere other than the city on the weekends, this is your best choice. Keep your elegance up while you drive a beautiful and powerful machine with the 300cm3 version of the GTS.

Vespa GTS 300

Vespa Elettrica

The world is moving away from fossil fuels. I´m not bringing a scoop here, we all know it. Vespa is not an exception. The company came up with a cutting edge model of their iconic scooter running exclusively on electric power. The autonomy of the motorcycle goes up to 100km because of the energy recovered system that comes as a factory standard.

The Vespa Elettrica is completely silent thanks to the design of the engine, a very advanced piece of engineering. The modern take on this timeless classic comes in bold colours using a silver-and-blue palette that really suits it.

Some great facts about the Vespa Elettrica are:

  • The battery charges fully in only four hours of uninterrupted 220V charging.
  • It comes with a power cable to plug in any socket or public charging station.
  • The powering cable and a helmet can fit the under-seat compartment together.
  • The electric engine, according to Vespa, takes zero maintenance.

Vespa Elettrica

Connect your smartphone to your motorbike via the Vespa Mia System. Piaggio developed an app for your phone and also allowed full Bluetooth connectivity with the bike. Among the many things you can do with the handlebar controls are:

  • View messages
  • Answer calls
  • Choose music
  • Activate voice commands

If you care about the plane and want to have a great time driving your scooter around town, this is a perfect choice.

Vespa Elettrica Review

Although the model is not officially out (scheduled for June 2019), I was one of those lucky testers to try one. The first important fact about the Vespa Elettrica is that it is the first and only electric-powered scooter in the market today.

My testing model was silver with blue lining, and it was beautiful. The lines of the bike are even better than the original Primavera because it doesn´t have an exhaust system. You’ll find engine under the seat such that it is not visible. It is a very light bike, and the blue pin-striped seat is very comfortable. Although the insurance rates are very low, you feel that you are on a motorcycle and not a bike.

As you would expect, the bike doesn´t have a gearbox just a primary transmission, a 15:1 one. The moment of truth came, and I started the bike. You can choose among settings like full power or eco. Also, you can select the intensity of energy recovery, which has a drastic effect on braking. Vespa even threw a reverse setting to the mix to make it even easier to park it.

Vespa Smartphone App and TFT display

The first thing I did was downloading the Vespa app and connecting my smartphone to the system. It works like a breeze. It will pleasantly surprise you with the ease of use and the results of the TFT display in the middle of the handlebar.

That was the time to roll, so I opened the throttle, and the bike went blasting out. The acceleration is excellent in both modes (eco and full), but the top speed is very different. The Vespa Elettrica sticks to the rule, and you can´t go past the 32mph limit (20mph for the eco mode). The only drawback is the power refilling. It takes 4 hours in regular 220v and can take twice as much in countries like the US. The thing is that you have to find where to do it because leaving it on the streets might mean vandalism can be an issue.

Despite that, the Vespa Elettrica was a fun, safe and quiet bike to ride in the city. The estimated Vespa price for it will be $7,499; considering the fuel, insurance and maintenance savings, it isn´t so high.

Vespa Primavera

Primavera means springtime in Italian. It was released for the very first time in the peak of the hippie revolution in 1968. The idea behind the release of this model was to capture the colourful, youthful, agile spirit of the time. Since they first introduced it, it became a timeless classic.

Vespa Primavera 50 Anniversary

Fifty years went by, and Vespa decided to release a celebration edition for their iconic bike. They brought the bike to the present by changing all lights to LED, adding the remote unlock system among many others. Being a part of the Vespa 2018 catalogue, it can be acquired in all classic colours. Also, the company decided to put the logo in the front part of the bike.

Vespa Primavera

The touring version (still a 150cm3 bike) features a chromed aluminium luggage rack in front of the bike. Also, this model comes with the Vespa Mia Platform and the TFT Display.

If you are a fan of Vespa Primavera bikes, there might be no better time to buy one than now.

Vespa aftermarket accessories that amazed me

The accessories I will tell you about are not original by Vespa, but they are perfect for them.

SBM – Smart Brake Module

This little and easy-to-install gadget is an excellent asset for any bike. It engages the stop light every time it senses you are losing speed. Sometimes we don´t realise that we are breaking by loosening the throttle instead of hitting the breaks. Other vehicles might not interpret that we are breaking because it does not engage the stop light. This little device solves it, and I´m sure that can save lives.

Smart Brake Module

STS – Smart Turn System

This second device is also straightforward to install and utterly convenient. It automatically disengages the turning lights when you have completed the turn. Being the Vespa a city vehicle, forgetting your turning lights on can derive in an accident. This little gadget solves it.

Smart Turn System

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Verdict – Vespas are the ultimate city vehicles

If you commute to work in a motorcycle or like the style of small vehicles in beautiful colours, give the Vespa a chance. They have dominated the market for this kind of bike for decades, and it is all well deserved. Get a Vespa and enjoy the city as never before.

Smart Brake Module

A device that flashes your brake light when engine braking and down-shifting to warn drivers behind.

Smart Turn System

Best motorcycle turn signal module, that cancels turn signals automatically.

HOW MANY TIMES DID YOU FORGET YOUR TURN SIGNAL ACTIVATED?


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