Vespa – It’s a name that evokes age-old memories in many Indians. India has had a long, albeit tumultuous relationship with the Vespa. In the 1960s, it was introduced into the country under a licensing agreement with Bajaj, which ended in 1971. Later, in 1983, Piaggio entered into a joint-venture with LML to produce Vespas in India, but this ended in 1999 in a bitter legal dispute.
Legal issues aside, the Vespa is best remembered for ushering into the country an era of affordable and reliable scooters that would become the standard transport of choice for many Indian families. Scooters were lighter and spent lesser fuel than motorcycles, so consumers were quick to jump ship. The Vespa was one the most popular scooters of the period, which also saw the launch of the famous Lambretta brand.
Vespa returned to India in 2012, only this time they entered without any local tie-ups. Their first scooter, the LX125 is positioned as a lifestyle product, targeted at consumers who want a trendy and upmarket scooter with premium features. The Vespa faces tough contest in the highly-competitive Indian scooter market, where price and mileage dictate sales figures
So, is India ready for a premium product like the Vespa LX125? Does it offer enough to justify its price tag? We at ChooseMyBike.in will help you find the right answer.
Design & Ergonomics
The Vespa LX125’s design incorporates retro styling elements, carrying over the scooter’s signature ducktail-shaped body from 1940s. The scooter offers a comfortable seating posture for the rider, with an optimum seat height and adequate distance between the floor board and the seat, which minimizes the stress on the rider when riding for long durations.
On the flip side, the foot board is slightly narrow, which makes it difficult for tall riders to place their feet comfortably apart. For the pillion, the grab rail is mounted low and doesn’t offer any back support. To add to that, the rear foot pegs are placed at an awkward angle, increasing stress on the pillion rider.
Engine and Performance
The Vespa is powered by an air-cooled 124cc single-cylinder engine that is equipped with a 3-valve system, which helps in improving power and torque outputs. It develops 10 bhp @ 7500 rpm and 10.6 Nm @ 6000rpm, making it the most powerful scooter currently on sale in the country.
The torquey nature of the engine allows the Vespa to accelerate quickly from standstill, cruise in a relaxed manner at 75 kmph, and to overtake traffic effortlessly. As an added bonus the engine produces an exhaust note that two-wheeler enthusiasts may find appealing. The exhaust note is louder than most scooters at idle and low revs, but fades into the background at cruising speeds for an unobtrusive riding experience
Fitted with a single-side trailing link suspension at the front and a hydraulic monoshock at the rear, the Vespa provides an exceptional ride quality. It glides over the worst potholes, and dampens any imperfections the roads have to offer with remarkable efficiency and comfort. The trailing link front suspension works in such a way that it eliminates front-end dive under braking, thereby improving stability.
At 114kg, the Vespa lies on the heavier side for a scooter. While the weight imparts a planted feel while cornering, it demands some effort from the rider to manoeuvre at low speeds. As a result, the Vespa isn’t as nimble as some other lightweight scooters, but it is sure-footed enough to pass through heavy traffic with minimal fuss.
The brakes are probably the Vespa’s weakest link. The 150mm drum brake at the front and the 140mm drum brake at the rear wheel lack the efficiency to shed speed effectively. Moreover, the tires don’t offer optimal grip under braking. A braking test showed that it took the Vespa 12.2m to come to a stop from 35 kmph
One would expect nothing but the best-in-class braking from a powerful and premium scooter such as the Vespa, but sadly that isn’t the case here. A change to tires that offer better traction is recommended to improve braking performance.
It is safe to say that the Vespa offers probably the best build-quality amongst scooters in India. The monocoque chassis used in the scooter means no separate body panels are required, which improves overall rigidity, results in reduced rattles and vibrations, and keeps panel gaps to a minimum.
Careful attention has been paid to the smallest details - the switchgear which is made from high-quality plastic offers a soft-yet-rugged feel, and the brake levers are made from solid aluminium and have been designed to snap at the edges in case of a fall so that you can use them temporarily. The scooter is available in six vibrant shades, all painted with precision to offer the best finish. Overall, the Vespa feels built to last for a long time.
The Vespa is equipped with standard features such as alloy wheels, front glove box, underseat storage space, retractable bag hook, and a digital clock. The front glove box can hold documents and a small purse or a wallet, and the underseat storage can house a moderately-sized full-face helmet.
The service network for Vespa in India is sparse, with just over 80 sales and service centres setup across the country, most of which are concentrated in and around the metros. As a result, Vespa customers will find it difficult to find support for their scooters in most parts of the country.
The Vespa LX 125 is a great scooter - It offers the most power, the best ride quality and the best build quality amongst all the scooters in India. Unfortunately, a few major drawbacks stop it from being the complete package. Braking performance is sub-standard, and service centres are few and far between, but the biggest flaw of the Vespa is its pricing. At Rs 67,462 (ex-showroom, Delhi) the Vespa is the most expensive scooter currently on sale in the country, priced atleast Rs 15000 more than scooters with comparable specifications. While it does offer top-notch quality, it most definitely isn’t worth the huge premium. Piaggio should relook their pricing strategy if they want to improve their sales figures in a price-conscious market like India.
That said if you can afford to pay the price the Vespa demands, you get a stylish, high-quality scooter that is also a delight to ride. Just make sure you upgrade the tires!
• Build Quality
• Ride Quality
• Engine Sound
• Poor Brakes
• Availability of dealers and service centres
|Engine||Air-cooled, 4-stroke single cylinder|
|Power||10 bhp @ 7500 rpm|
|Torque||10.6 Nm @ 6000 rpm|
|Chassis Type||Monocoque steel high rigidity structure|
|Brakes||Front:Drum, dia. 150 mm
Rear:Drum, dia 140 mm
|Suspension||Front:Single-arm with coil spring and dual effect shock absorber
Rear:Coil spring and dual effect shock absorber
|Fuel Tank Capacity||8|