Vespa PX 150 review
CUE the mod music and grab your parka - the Vespa PX is back. Last seen here in 2008, the four-speed manual, two-stroke, single-cylinder has returned. This is what real Quadraphenia-style scootering is all about. Not your mamby pamby auto four-strokes, but a buzzing, lively stroker.
At $5990, it's exactly the same price as a Honda SH150i four-stroke scooter. But a 150 two-stroker is lighter and has more power than an equivalent sized four-stroker, so it really should be compared with a 200cc or even bigger four-stroke machine. So, in that regard, the PX represents excellent value. To those who place a lot of importance in the intrinsic value of a traditional scooter, it is even better value.
Two-stroke machines have come a long way from the coughing, smoking machines of the past. This comes with an electric start, plus a back-up kick starter. You won't need the latter, but it does add to the look and authenticity of the machine, just like some modern Royal Enfields which also retain the kicker just for effect.
The PX 150 comes with a four-speed manual gearbox with the shifter and clutch on the left handlebar. It sounds tricky, but it only takes a couple of minutes to get used to it.
Classics should never be altered and this timeless Tuscan beauty hasn't changed much since the first PX in 1977. Ok, that means it isn't a 1960s mod scooter, but its squared-off look is still retro with classic clear instruments, black rubber grips with Vespa logo, chrome taillight and classic Vespa logo on the central rubberised tunnel cover which has an elegant edge in glazed material.
While a lot of scooters are mostly plastic, the Vespa has a traditionally sturdy steel bodyshell, yet at 97kg dry, it weighs the same as the 50cc Vespa four-stroker. It even comes with a spare wheel tucked up under the left rear fender.
Together with the engine, that means there is no storage space under the seat, but there is a big lockable glovebox in the front cowl. It comes in Azzuro Mediterraneo (blue), Monte Bianco (white), Nero Lucido (black) and Rosso Dragon (red).
To ride a stroker scooter is to take a step back in time; the noise, the smell, the feel of a spinning two-stroke engine, the lack of engine braking. It's literally a buzz and not just because it will take you straight to an espresso bar. The whole stroker experience leaves your nerves tingling. At idle the buzzing stroker makes the high mirrors vibrate substantially, but they smooth out with revs - and you need plenty of them to get going.
Despite the liberal use of revs, it drinks fuel like an Italian sipping tiny espressos. The oil reservoir pre-mixes with the fuel, so you only have to top it up every few (and rare) refills and it doesn't spew clouds of blue smoke, either. Like all Vespas it has a strong unibody construction which provides rigidity and good handling, but the tiny 10-inch (25cm) wheels do tend to kick it about over road imperfections. It also suffers from truck wind-blasts on the highway.
In traffic, it will get along quite well and zip away from the lights so long as you are aggressive with the revs and gear changes. Progress is hampered by ascents, but a cog downshift or two will sort that out. I wound it out to 100km/h on the highway without too much effort and never felt I was holding up traffic, although you do have to be aggressive with the throttle.
The brakes are a combination of right lever for the front and a floor pedal for the rear. The floor pedal feels a little soft, but has plenty of fee so you avoid locking the rear and fish-taling up to the red lights. They work best when used together. Riding position is cramped for my 17cm frame and the bars are too low, but the fat seat is very comfortable.
The kick starter is light and easy and it starts first time. However, you'll need some choke first thing in the morning. It doesn't need the kicker as the electric button is faultless, but you find yourself using it because this scooter takes you back to simpler times.
This is a stylish and frugal commuter that will also beg you to take it out for weekend errands and cafe rendezvous.
Vespa PX 150
Warranty: 2 years/unlimited km
Engine: 2-stroke 150cc single-cylinder
Transmission: 4-speed manual
Brakes: 200mm disc (front), 150mm drum (rear)
Dimensions: 1810mm (L), 740mm (W), 1260mm (WB), 810mm (Seat)
Fuel: 95 RON, 8-litre tank
Dry weight: 97kg