I'm secure. But does size matter? (In old Vespas, I mean.)

Discussion in 'Battle Scooters' started by Osadabwa, Jan 17, 2012.

  1. Osadabwa

    Osadabwa Don't be Surprised

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    Hello Scooter Forum,

    Last Friday I rode my first scooter. It was a 1980's era Vespa T5. I went out with a group of guys from Oviedo, Asturias, Northern Spain and had an absolute blast. I put up a day trippin' report (here). Needless to say, I'm hooked. I'd love to buy a similar Vespa to keep here at my in-laws house for when I'm visiting, but I have some questions.

    In Spain, I can legally ride any motorbike that has 150ccs or less. I don't have a motorbike license, so this is appealing. However, is there a good reason to go for a 200cc bike. I mean, we are talking about scooters here, and all I plan to do is putter and splutter up and down the little windy roads of Northern Spain with some cheese, ham and wine in the glovebox. Still, I'll hear your thoughts.

    Assuming a 150 cc is enough: Which Vespa (of the old variety... I want metal, I want to shift, I want to mess around a bit with the engine etc) stands out as the one to watch for? Were there dramatic changes over the years? I've basically said I don't care, but maybe there's an argument to be made for one in particular. Let me know. I'm happy to dig into some reading if you have links.

    I normally ride dirt in Africa, but really there's a lot of common ground between my XR400 and an old Vespa. No batteries, old technology, sturdy and trustworthy but you better carry your tools, plenty of aficionados around to help you learn and enjoy. I can't wait.

    Cheers
    #1
  2. ivantheterrible

    ivantheterrible Been here awhile

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    I'm no expert-

    P200 - reliable, somewhat modern, but not as good looking
    px150- about the same as above.

    rally 200- maybe the best vespa ever made.


    sprint velose (? ) - good

    sprint- slow

    gl's -cool, good looking, but rarer and harder to source parts.

    I could be WAY off, as I'm new to vespa's myself, but I think that's ballpark.
    #2
  3. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer

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    I don't know that much about Vespas but I do have a couple of scooters, a Kymco 150 and a Aprilia 250. For the type of riding you're are planning a 150 will work just fine and probably be more fun than a larger scooter. Bigger is not always better. For riding around town I prefer my Kymco 150 over my Aprilia or either of my motorcycles. With a smaller scooter you can really twist the throttle and generally act like a hooligan without actually going all that fast.

    BTW, I enjoyed your ride report. Welcome to the scooter world.
    #3
  4. elite1

    elite1 Been here awhile

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    I have a 150 cc and it is more than adequite for what your talking about doing. In my opinion, a 150 is the most versatile scoot you can get. Small enough to zip around ond on, yet powerfull enough to keep up with most traffic. i took a quick little ride around my neighborhood today and had those exact thoughts. Maxi-scoots are great, but you lose that zip-zip conveinence.50's, 80's and 100's keep me looking in my rear view toom much to relax.
    #4
  5. tbonestone

    tbonestone Been here awhile

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    If you can find a good solid P-series 150 jump on it. I don't know if you mind messing with points or not; so the early 80's went with CDI. There are enough custom and newly made repair parts you could build one from scratch if you wanted to.

    Another candidate is a VBB. Also a ton of parts available, however be careful. Many bikes are being cobbled together from bikes in Vietnam. In the states we call them Viet-bodges. Those typically have flashy shiny paint jobs and lots of chrome accessories. When I worked at a dealership, we had a vietbodge come in and it was literally welded together (poorly) from five different bikes, and when hunting for why the engine wouldn't run... found a wooden dowel as a piston connecting rod. Needless to say we gave the guy a phone call to tell him we were not going to repair his bike because it was dangerous. That dude made a $4,000 mistake.

    Personally speaking I had a Stella, which in Europe is sold as the LML Star; AND I had a Vespa Sprint (VLB) My Sprint was awesome but not fast.
    #5
  6. FoldArt

    FoldArt Been here awhile

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    Try looking here for more info on classic Vespa's

    http://modernvespa.com/forum/forum19

    I never read about the classics, just moderns. Hopefully their is as much info in the classic section as there is in the modern section.

    I want to second what a prior poster said about the 150 being a perfect size. I had a Chinese 150 that looked like a Vespa, but it would only do about 50-52 mph top speed on flat ground. But it only weighed 225 lbs. and you could flick it around easily. I switched to a Vespa GTS (250 cc) and, while being superior in most ways, it is still 100 lbs. heavier and is not as nimble. Still good, but it takes more of your attention at slow speeds than the Chinese bike.
    #6
  7. thunderkat59

    thunderkat59 Cooter on a scooter

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    ♘ ④⓪②⓪⑤ &#9816
    I know its doesnt say "Vespa" on it, but I did a 350 mile day on my Stella, pinned wide-open on a
    club ride through the hills of central Pennsyltucky. 150 was fine. 60 mph on the flats, about 80 per
    gallon. Several 100+ days too . . . No problem whatsoever. the Vespas I was riding with didnt have
    any trouble either.
    Scooters are the best ! :thumb
    #7
  8. hugemoth

    hugemoth Long timer

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    I would recommend any of the rotary valve 150s. I don't know what they call the different models in Spain but in general the ones with 8 inch wheels have a 2 transfer port engine while the ones with 10" wheels have 3 transfer ports and a bit more power. The VBB is probably the most classic 150, 8" wheels with a top speed of 53 mph although there is something to be said about the late 50s GS150 piston port model (5% mix smoker). All easy to work on and parts should be readily available. The only advantage the 200 has is more power, and of those the 1974 Rally is my favorite.

    #8
  9. Brooktown Geezer

    Brooktown Geezer scooter guy

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    P200. I've had a P125, a PX 150, a P177 (125 motor that is kitted to 177cc), a Rally and a P200.

    The Rally is a fantastic bike, it's motor was the precursor of the P200. In fact, the last year they made the Rally some of the scooters were shipped with P200 motors in them. However, if you're going to be storing a bike somewhere, it would be a shame to store a Rally 200.

    The P125 and 150 are good solid bikes and will definitely do the job. The P200 is geared differently, and has a different feel, sort of lower and like it has more grunt. It doesn't seem to have to work as hard to do the same thing as the P125 or 150. It's calmer but stonger, if that makes sense. You need to wind out the smaller motors a little more.

    Having said that, you can go anywhere on a P125 or a P150 too, and the great thing about the P range is that parts are still available anywhere.

    YMMV.
    #9
  10. seraph

    seraph asshole on a scooter

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    There isn't a huge difference between a P200 and a PX/P150. They'll do the same speeds, but the 200 will have to work a little less hard. If you're only going to have one, I'd stick with a P/PX. Parts are just so common. As someone else said, you can pretty much build one new from parts.

    I'm not sure if Spain gets the LML Star, but it's what we get in the United States as the Genuine Stella (which I have). It came out of a PX150 factory, and is practically identical but is in current production. Its existence is one of the reason P/PX parts are so readily available.

    I frequently ride with 2 other scooters - one friend has a stock P200, the other a Vespa VBB with a mildly modified (Polini 177, Sito+) LML Star/Stella motor installed. The modded VBB is the fastest, the 200 next, and then me (stock Stella with Sito+), but none of them are night-and-day different.

    The T5 you rode will be quicker than most P/PX bikes, even though it was probably a 150. As I recall, they are basically PX150s but with a unique motor that makes a good deal more power. Racier.

    So, yeah, P/PX/LML Star, and 125/150/200 doesn't matter much.
    #10
  11. Osadabwa

    Osadabwa Don't be Surprised

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    I´m sitting here sipping a glass of wine pondering vintage Vespas (at 2 in the afternoon). Not a bad gig if you can get it.

    Thanks for all the advice everybody. I found out yesterday that I´d misunderstood that Spanish law. It seems you can ride up to a 125 cc without a bike license. To complicate things, the Vespa guys here tell me it´s hard to get 125s because of that law. It increased demand for the smallest bikes exponentially, and Vespas more than most (naturally).

    I´ll do some more hunting around and see what I come up with. Maybe I´ll just jump at the first 150 P series that comes my way. I can always buy myself a bike license in Tanzania and then see if it will be valid in Spain. Aaaah Africa.

    In case you´re interested in boosting your Spanish language skills while reading about knuckleheads on Vespas, here´s the link to the Oviedo Clandestino Scooter Club blog.
    #11
  12. Osadabwa

    Osadabwa Don't be Surprised

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    So I just visited the Vespa Guru in Oviedo. He´s the guy that has the contract with the local Spanish postal service to repair all their delivery scooters for the last twenty odd years. Until recently, they were all Vespas. And, it turns out, until very recently, they were all steel bodied 125 cc Vespas. On top of that, this week he´s going to an auction by a local postal service branch to bid on a quantity of 8 year old bikes they´re retiring. Assuming he wins the lot - probably a safe bet since he knows everybody - he´ll have one ready for me in a jiffy.

    I guess it´ll be a 125 after all. It´d be great to just get something bought soon for relatively cheap. The guy reminded me that to take the bike training courses and get the license, it could cost me over 600 euros. An 8 year old bike hardly counts as ´vintage´ but I don´t give a crap. I will enjoy having a disk brake in the Asturian rain!
    #12
  13. Osadabwa

    Osadabwa Don't be Surprised

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    Hey everybody,

    After a year away, I'm back in Oviedo for a month with my family and I'm rolling around on this beauty:

    [​IMG]
    Above: Osadabwa's 1999 PX 125

    It's a former Spanish postal service bike. 125 cc means I don't need a bike license. I plan to have many a happy adventure searching the countryside of Asturias for obscure architecture and scenery. I'll be posting to the my ongoing daytrippin' page. Here is my bike's debut ride.

    Cheers
    #13
  14. chasssmash

    chasssmash Banned

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    I feel I am being a real killjoy in saying this - but in everyone of your posts you mention alcohol. I have a Stella 125- very similar to your scooter and it is definitely fast enough to kill me easily. You should take riding it as seriously as you would a big motorcycle as your chance of hurting yourself on it are as high or probably higher.

    Here endeth the sermon.

    Have fun on your scoot!
    #14
  15. Osadabwa

    Osadabwa Don't be Surprised

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    Solid words of advice. For what it's worth, I treat riding this bike with as much caution as any bike I've ever owned. I'm very, very aware that it could kill me.

    Cheers
    #15
  16. JerryH

    JerryH Banned

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    That scoot should be perfect for you. I have never owned a Vespa (someday) but I have a Genuine Stella 150, which is a pretty close copy, and it is great for running around locally. It does not have the reliability of a real Vespa, so I don't usually go to far away on it.


    As far as drinking and riding, don't. I don't care for wine, but have been known to drink too much beer on occasion. I found out the hard way over 30 years ago that drinking and riding does not mix. Myself and several others were out in the desert riding dirt bikes and drinking. About 3 of us crashed. One had a couple of broken bones, I only had a few scrapes and a sprained ankle. Had this been on a road with traffic, we could have all been killed. Lesson learned.
    #16
  17. GinoXB

    GinoXB n00b

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    #17
  18. Motovista

    Motovista Parts is Parts

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    Just because it says 125 doesn't mean it has to stay a 125. Put on a Malossi 167cc kit and a Sito exhaust, and you will increase the grin factor tenfold, especially on roads like those. And you will still have a reliable, reasonably quiet bike.
    #18
  19. Osadabwa

    Osadabwa Don't be Surprised

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    Hey everybody,

    Yes indeed, Moped Medic, my friends here have already clued me in to the possibility of swapping out the 125cc motor for the 200 cc motor. Grin factor increase is off the charts apparently. I'd definitely like to reach a switchback in the mountainside without having to hold my breath and chant "light as a feather... float like a balloon" to make it around them! And the best part is that in Spain the motor isn't checked during the biannual vehicle technical inspection, so nobody needs to know. Sshhhh!

    Cheers
    #19
  20. conchscooter

    conchscooter Long timer

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    The 200 is completely different and you cannot easily make a 200 out of a 125/150. I have greatly enjoyed your ride reports, wine and all, and if 50 kph is enough, you don't need a 200 but if you set your sights further afield it would be a much more interesting ride on the larger bike. 50mph for the 125, 55mph for the 150 and 65 for the 200.
    On the other hand if you get a 125 like the one you have been riding and then decide to get ambitious it should be easy enough to move up to a 200 with all those kids wanting 125s.

    The Rally is a collectors bike and fast while earlier bikes are pretty but gutless. The P series are work horses with better brakes and suspension and suited to daily use. Luckily Indian Stars are off your radar.

    Size does matter. Speaking as a man who has attained the giddy heights of 200 size.
    #20