Which Vespa- Suggestions?

Discussion in 'Battle Scooters' started by Lola Rides, Jan 27, 2013.

  1. Lola Rides

    Lola Rides Avid Adventurer

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    Hello everyone,

    I am planning a long trip in South America on a Vespa scooter. I am a Videographer and filmmaker and I want this to be my first big project, both as a trip and as a film. I have come to the conclusion that Marilyn, my LX150, is too small and slow for the trip, so I am looking to get a bigger one, either a 200L or a 250 GT. I know that the 250 GT is faster, more modern, and you can find them for about the same price, but I was told by a couple of people who have traveled down there that it is better to get the 200L because the engine is more common and with a carburetor it will be easier to get serviced in small towns if something goes wrong instead of having to find someone with a computer thingee to attach to the brain of the 250 GT.
    Does anyone have any suggestions? It will be about 8000 miles over three and a half months, and I don't want to spend it in a shop waiting for parts.

    Lola
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  2. Brooktown Geezer

    Brooktown Geezer scooter guy

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    Actually Lola, if I were committed to riding a scooter to and in South America, I don't think I'd take either a GTS250 or a GT200, though I have owned both and both are fantastic scooters. I have 15,000 trouble free miles on my GT200 and rode it up to Canada and back from San Diego.

    Having said that, if I were going to ride in SA, I'd get a '70's Vespa P200, rebuild the motor, suspension and wiring, get a BBQ rack, and head off into the sunset. It carries a spare tire under the cowl ready to go, so you don't have to carry an extra wheel with a tire on a rack. Parts are available just about world wide, and I'll bet there are more P series Vespas in South America than any other model. Not only that, if you do break down somewhere and need an engine rebuild, it can be done in a matter of hours on the side of the road, if necessary.

    The BBQ rack and a front rack would allow you to carry plenty of gear. One drawback: small gas tank, so you'd definitely need a rotopax or two. I'd think about putting a Rally style gas tank in the scoot just to have a little more range, and carry some cables with you.

    I'm rebuilding a P200 right now, and decided (with the help of a friend) this morning that the P200 will be my Pacific Northwet Cruiser, garaged at my daughter and son-in-law's home near Seattle. That way when I'm up visiting, I can hop on the scooter, and avoid rental cars, and can easily make the trip up to Vancouver Island to see my parents.

    YMMV.
    #2
  3. Lola Rides

    Lola Rides Avid Adventurer

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    Thank you for your information. I want to stick to a Vespa that I don't have to shift, and I really like the 250, but I know too many people who have them and have had problems with the fuel injection pump. One of the guys I know replaced his twice already and I don't want to be stuck on the side of the road waiting for a new fuel pump and someone to replace it. On the other hand I like the way the rear luggage rack on the 250 is not part of the Vespa like it is on the 200 and it looks like there are a lot more options for luggage and stuff for long trips available for it. If they were the same, except for the engine it would be easy to chose, I think.

    What is a rotopax?
    #3
  4. tastroman

    tastroman Long timer

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    Why only Vespa? If I were headed to sa with those 3rd world roads I'd pick something with bigger wheels. Not that it cant be done on something with 10-12 inch wheels but it's going to be a rough ride.
    #4
  5. Brooktown Geezer

    Brooktown Geezer scooter guy

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    You can swap out the rear rack of the GT200 and the GTS, you just also have to swap out the plastic piece under the seat. It is a pretty easy swap.

    A rotopax is a spare gas container system which attaches to the bike somewhere, and is lockable.
    #5
  6. damasovi

    damasovi Long timer

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    amigo, there are other options there, how ever it can be done.

    There is a guy here that has a 250 and has driving from Canada to Mexico and back and has no complains at all.

    The question you have is very valid, I think the pump problem is a know problem and maybe there is like a year model or series that has that problem (like some GS650G, or KLR 08-09 and such) Maybe go to modern vespa and ask the vespa users there.

    I would take the vespa I had and then just have it service, all the way to the valves, rollers and such. I have a KLR that has carburetors and I have had zero issues, so I would take the 250 if I had it simply because any way you will be stuck where ever waiting for parts since I really dough a vespa dealer would be there with what you need, I don't even there is an official Vespa dealer outside MExico city or Monterrey (the 2 biggest cities in Mexico, the BIggest country from here to Panana)

    I DO get it about touring on a scooter to Latin America, I would like to take my scooter 100-125 cc down to Cancun from Ensenada so little wheals will be a thing to consider but the GT250 I drove has so much better suspention and bigger 12" wheals (my 100 cc honda has 10")

    Cheers

    Damasovi
    #6
  7. JerryH

    JerryH Banned

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    I would hesitate to recommend either a vintage Vespa, or anything with fuel injection. I have an '09 Genuine Stella, and it is a great scooter, very fun to ride, and fairly rugged. It's weak point is the engine. The Stella is a modern made in India version of the P series Vespa. And while they did a great job building the body/frame, the mechanicals are just not that great. I wouldn't even consider taking it on a long trip. Many of the parts for vintage Vespas come from the same company that makes the Stella. In fact, many vintage Vespas have these Indian made engines in them. I was told by a local vintage Vespa shop that it was possible to build a reliable engine for it, but it would not be cheap.

    As for fuel injection, I had an '85 Goldwing LTD with fuel injection, and it was a nightmare. It was in good solid shape, but the electronics were constantly failing, and leaving me stranded. I gave it up and got a '95 model with carbs, and have had no problems.

    Modern engines with modern carbs are virtually bulletproof. Carbs developed to the point where they were almost completely reliable (unless you left old gas in them for a few months, but then a good cleaning would fix that) when fuel injection came along and brought it's own problems, usually a great deal more expensive than carb problems. Electronic fuel injection is still in it's infancy, and it will likely be a long time before it is as reliable as carbs. A lot of the problems are caused by cheap third world made electronics. If they were properly made, they would probably be reliable, but way to expensive.

    So I would recommend a late model scooter with a carb. Vespa would probably be the best brand, it would likely be more common than an Asian scooter. You will not need a lot of speed in South America. But you will need something that will climb mountains, and there is where the smaller CVT scooters come up short. My 150cc Stella with a manual transmission will climb anything, my Zuma 125 and Vino 125 just bog down. Their CVT transmissions are geared way to high for climbing. I suspect your LX150 would do fine on level ground and slight grades, but you will need either more power or lower gearing in the mountains. I wish someone made a modern scooter with a manual transmission, or at least a wider range CVT, but they don't, so I really don't know what to recommend.
    #7
  8. conchscooter

    conchscooter Long timer

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    Funny you should ask. I have just taken delivery of an old Vespa and have laid down my thoughts at considerable length on my blog. If shifting is the sole consideration then take the GT200 based on my experiences with the GTS250. But either way good luck with the splitting exhaust pipe issue, required when taking the rear wheel off which is hard enough as it is and dealing with the belt. Honesly they make roadside maintenance a nerve wracking problem for me. Especially as tires wear out every three thousand miles and belts could last ten thousand miles. You'll be. Along way from home. I know. I've done it.
    Take this is encouragement not to stop you doing what you want. Get reading and learn all you can.
    Best wishes.





    http://conchscooter.blogspot.com/2013/01/1979-vespa-p200e.html?m=0
    #8
  9. Brooktown Geezer

    Brooktown Geezer scooter guy

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    JerryH, a bone stock Vespa P series scooter is a reliable, easy to maintain scooter. A Stella is not a P series, despite the fact that they look like one and share technology design. Indian craftsmanship and metallurgy just don't have the same quality as what came out of Pontadera in the '70's and early 80's.

    Yes, you can buy cheap Indian parts and put them on a Stella or a Vespa, but it's worth it (to me) to pay more for higher quality parts, and they are available.

    YMMV.

    In any case the OP wants to ride a modern automatic, and hopefully she will post her travels here once she is on the way.
    #9
  10. Warney

    Warney Been here awhile

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  11. Wisedog

    Wisedog Adventurer

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    So from what i read, you want a vespa, automatic, bigger wheels, carb. It's Piaggio Liberty 100cc.
    #11
  12. greg531

    greg531 greg531

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    I would check out Kymco scooters, in the 200-300cc range...big tires, and bulletproof....I ride a Aprilia Scarabeo 200, with 16 inch tires......It has a carb, but would I take it for a long ride? No.....unless I had a support truck.....
    #12
  13. Ken OBSC

    Ken OBSC -6.12, -7.64

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    Do I have a scoot for him...


    http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=859201


    :D
    #13
  14. gogogordy

    gogogordy Long timer

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  15. Dabears

    Dabears --------------------

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    Lola, First let me say kudos to you for planning such an exciting trip! Sounds like an amazing time.

    Next let me note that I am a Vespa fan, and I do have an older P200E like has been mentioned. I am not here however to recommend that, nor would I recommend any Vespa for an extended trip through South America. A trip across the US, certainly, but not outside of US borders.

    If it was me and I was trying to keep the size down but the usability and reliability factor high I would look seriously at a small dual sport, especially one with a carburator for simplicity. Please do some research on the Kawasaki KLX250s. They have been making them for quite a few years, and released a new version in 2009. Lots of accessories are available to hang racks, bags, engine guards, hand guards,etc. I realize it's not cute like our scooters, but the larger wheels and off road tires will give you the ability to get through most anything you will encounter. Also, I would expect reliability and more importantly durability to be significantly higher over rougher roads.

    Best of luck to you regardless of what option you choose. I just hope you'll at least consider other options before settling on a Vespa.
    #15
  16. farmrjohn

    farmrjohn Been here awhile

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    As has been mentioned changing the rear tire on the modern Vespa could be problematic due to the need to remove the exhaust. You might be able to stretch 8000 miles out of a rear, but there is always the possibility of non-repairable damage requiring a change vs. simply plugging. If you find a 250 that was produced after the bad fuel pump run or has had the pump replaced with the new version that should not be an issue. Before heading out I would do a full service to include valve adjustment, new belt, new rollers, new tires and of course oil. I would plan on at least one oil change during the trip, most likely in a larger city where you would have a better chance of finding the correct oil.

    As others have mentioned, a scooter with larger wheels might be a better choice and Modernvespa.com would be a good source for detailed information/opinions. A P-200 would be pretty much bullet proof but would require shifting and require at least one tire change on the rear if not two over that distance. The P would also require sourcing 2 stroke oil thorughout the trip, but should be easy to find along the way.

    Sounds like a great adventure.

    (I have a 250 Super and Rally 200)
    #16
  17. GinoXB

    GinoXB n00b

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    Scooter-wise I'd recommend the Vespa P200 if you can find one. They are bullet proof, parts are pretty common all over the world. If you want something with a little larger wheel, I'd say an older Honda C70 Passport or the newer Sym Symba. Pretty much the came thing. Again a bullet proof design and common parts all over the world.

    The Vespa would have a bit more maneuverability due to the smaller wheels. The Honda would have a probably have a smoother ride due to the larger wheels. I think with either bike you can't go wrong.
    #17
  18. conchscooter

    conchscooter Long timer

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    Preparation is the key to a trip like this. If you think a modern Vespa is best try removing the rear wheel on either a GT200 or a GTS... split the exhaust (spare bushing anyone?) and struggle with the monstrous rear bearing that is hard enough to remove in a workshop. Change gear oil? No access without removing the rear wheel! The engine oil change is easy enough but remember to bring spare filters. Spare belts? Know how to change them? The air filter?

    On the road the P200 requires no spare parts, even the air filter is a mesh job that needs to be washed from time to time and the filter-free gearbox takes half a pint of common-or-garden 30 motor oil every 4,000 miles. all that needs is a turkey baster and 15 minutes. The wheels are interchangeable with the benefit of carrying a spare. the bike has gears so picking your way on rough roads is easier using the clutch than controlling CVT. Plus they can be bump started in a crisis. Old Vespas are everywhere and they really are simple and well known.

    I think its important also to bear in mind qualities that are beneficial in the first world on a time restricted trip may have little bearing on an open ended trip off the beaten motorcycle tracks. To get from jacksonville to San Diego fast a GTS would be comfortable and easy. Go to Scooterwest on arrival and have the rear tire and fluids changed. Ride a thousand miles to Cabo and back and do the same again before riding home to Florida. Done. A journey of 4,000 linear miles to Panama could take 10,000 miles to cover. Better with fewer parts and less need for organized facilities.

    HOWEVER an old Vespa will need to be prepared for a journey like this, in most instances. A dual sport would be a good idea but apparently the OP doesnt want to shift a scooter never mind a motorcycle. On the other hand, putting the cart before the horse we know nothing of her experience in Latin America. maybe she has friends in all major cities with modern vespa dealers. There are dealers in many countries, not in every city though, which can be a drawback.

    [​IMG]

    I once had help decoking a P series vespa in a roadside taller and the owner knew my Vespa had no head gasket, a fact I learned with some surprise 30 years ago in Mexico.
    #18
  19. Reprobate

    Reprobate Sarcasm Loading....

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    I'd take a P200E or PX200E. One of the advantages is that it has electric start, but also a kickstarter. They're ultra reliable, easy to maintain and repair, and carry their own spare wheel with tire. Changing tires doesn't need a jack, you can remove the front wheel and prop it under the engine to keep the rear up while you change tyres. Because the rim splits you don't need tire irons to change the tyre or fix a flat. Unlike most motorcycles, a Vespa front carrier can hold a lot of gear. Mileage is pretty decent and you can carry extra fuel.

    One of the better modes of transportation if speed is not the issue. And the handlebar gear shift allows for more torque in rough terrain and you can keep your feet on the ground in slippery areas.
    #19
  20. conchscooter

    conchscooter Long timer

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    Which about sums it up, eh?
    #20