How do you make sure that you purchase the right Vespa scooter?
When it comes to making your first Vespa purchase, the sheer amount of choice available can be pretty overwhelming for the uninitiated. New, used, vintage, modern, manual, automatic, smallframe, largeframe- there are so many options out there, and many people wind up making the wrong decisions.
However, by educating yourself and taking the right factors into consideration, you’ll end up spending much less money on gas, have a more cost-effective ride, and feel far more free on the road thanks to the open nature of the Vespa scooter. They also come with lower insurance premiums, cheaper parking, and greater ease of use than traditional motorcycle – plus no more getting stuck in traffic!
So, just how do you avoid making the wrong choices? How do you make sure that you purchase the right Vespa scooter? In this guide, we’ll try and break down some of the more common choices that riders will face when they first decide to buy a Vespa scooter, so that you settle on a ride that suits you to a tee. Below are some key points on what you should know before buying your first Vespa.
New, Modern Used or Vintage Classic?
Vintage or Classic Vespa
The condition of your Vespa is going to determine how much pleasure you get out of it, as well as how much of your time is taken up by maintenance, so this is a good place to start the discussion. A vintage Vespa might be visually stunning and if properly maintained will increase in value, but they often come with plenty of issues. The working parts will need regular care, therefore the vintage option is better suited to someone who is used to carrying out repairs on a scooter.
If you speak to Vespa enthusiasts, many of them will tell you to get involved with a vintage model, but you need to remember that a vintage scooter requires you to be part-mechanic, part-rider. If you’re set on a vintage Vespa scooter, then a good middle ground is to go for a modern “retro” Vespa such as the PX. These look like the old darlings of the golden days of scootering, they maintain manual gear shifting but ride like modern scooters.
Older Vespa scooters also require a mixture of gasoline and oil which needs to be performed at each refueling.
Buying A New Vespa
A new modern Vespa comes with a warranty, the latest technology and automatic transmission, making for an easier ride. Since you will be the first owner, you also don’t have to worry about any nasty surprises in your machine’s history, such as previous poor maintenance.
The obvious caveat with buying new is that it can initially cost you more, so a happy middle option is probably to buy a modern-used Vespa. These are usually fairly well priced, have many of the benefits of a new Vespa, and are typically sold without any major problems. Some might even include a warranty, so be sure to ask about this before you buy.
Either a new or modern-used are the best choices for a daily commute ride, as they require less maintenance work. On a vintage Vespa, maintenance can be as frequent as weekly. If your finances allow, buying new is usually the safest option.
Manual or Automatic
Scooter lovers will miss the “click” of the old manual gear shifting on the vintage Vespas, but if you are new to the scene, nostalgia is probably not so much of an issue for you. Bear this in mind before taking advice from old scooter-heads- nostalgia can often blur the lines of logic!
The handlebars of an automatic transmission Vespa mimic those of a bicycle, with two brake levers. The rider turns the throttle and goes without the need to manually change gears. On a manual transmission scooter, like on most motorcycles, the left brake lever is the clutch and the rear brake pedal is located on the floor panel. The manual shifting of the gears will add an extra element for the rider to deal with, and for the beginner rider it can easily lead to distractions.
For those riders who prefer to have control over the gear changes, there are modern Vespas which maintain manual shifting, such as the PX range, but for the everyday commuter or the new rider an automatic transmission might make for a better choice. It’s entirely up to your personal preferences, so, if possible, take both types out for a test ride before you make your decision about manual or automatic.
Smallframe vs Largeframe
You next choice is whether you should opt for something big and impressive, or a machine that’s a bit easier to tame. Again, this largely comes down to personal preference, what you’ll be using the scooter for, and any relevant driver’s license requirements.
If you don’t have the required driver’s license, or just want to have a simple machine for commuting and enjoying a easy drive around town, then you might want to consider going for a smallframe 50 cc (49cc) scooter. The 50cc Vespas don’t require a special license in most areas, and it will get you around town nice and easily with 45mph as a top speed. The more powerful smallframe Vespa 125cc will allow you to ride the scooter on the highway, as most transportation regulations will restrict smaller engine sizes to roads with posted speed limits above 50 mph. As a first time Vespa buyer, it might be a good idea to get to grips with the basics of scootering with a smallframe model at first, and then upgrade to a largeframe model as and when you’re ready.
Vespa scooters are typically smaller than your average motorbike, but are more powerful than you might expect. The largeframe Vespa scooters can be anything from a Vintage 125cc to a modern 250 – 300cc, so can pack a pretty powerful punch. Obviously, the more powerful your engine, the greater your top speed. The top speed for a Vespa 300 is over 70mph, and provide a comfortable cruise speed of around 55 mph – plenty sufficient for most rides.
Where NOT to Buy
One final thing to note is that if you do decide to go for a modern used or classic Vespa vintage scooter, then it’s essential that you think long and hard about where you buy from. Many people decide to go online to purchase a used scooter, and get awfully excited when they find great deals – only to find that, when it arrives, there is a major fault with it that they would have noticed if they had checked the scooter out in person beforehand. Nothing comes for free in this world, and if it seems too good to be true, then it most probably is.
As you can see there is plenty to consider before riding around on your Vespa scooter. Hopefully, though, this guide should have helped you learn a little more about all those options, and now have a better idea about what sort of scooter you should opt for. However, if you aren’t sure of what you might need, or have any additional questions, your local scooter store or club should be able to help you out – just get in touch with them, or drop in to see them, and they should be able to clear things up. Just remember, though, if something is super cheap, there’s usually a good reason for it.
Best of luck with buying your first Vespa scooter, and most importantly of all, have fun on your new ride!