18 May 2010

Which Scooter?

You've wanted one for a while now. You've seen the pictures. You might even be lucky enough to have a brother, sister, cousin or friend who has one and already had a go at one. So, now that you've finally got the chance to get one for yourself, the lingering question is bound to be:

Which scooter do I get?

I'll start where I started out myself when I made the same decision. I didn't have a clue about how geared scooters worked back then so naturally, my inclination was towards the then, all-new Vespa ET2 which was closely followed by the Aprilia Habana. Both were automatic, had enough of the retro look about it and being only 50cc, the insurance wouldn't have set me back a lot.

A few years and a few more pounds later, I still wasn't a proud owner of a scooter but my views on what I wanted had changed slightly. The scooter I wanted wasn't limited to a big boy's toy for fun on bright and sunny weekends, it had to be good enough for my daily 15 mile or so round-trip to work.

The PX200 having a reputation as the workhorse amongst all the Vespa models was top of my list. A good blend of performance and reliability. Unfortunately, the cost to properly insure a 200cc machine was just too much so, the PX200 had to be parked aside (for the moment, I hope).

Eventually, I settled on the scooter I have now. My Green Vespa. A PX with a 123cc engine. Mostly standard and good enough to carry those extra few pounds on me comfortably over a hill.

Of course, I've got no regrets with my Green Vespa but if I had known what I know now, it might have changed my choice ever so slightly.

As an example, to stick with lowest insurance band, I could have stuck with a 50cc scooter although to maintain street cred, I could've gone with the many 50cc geared Vespa on offer like the 50 Special or PK50. I'd eventually get bored of the small engine but these days I'm told, there are lots of options out there to change that. Wink, wink!

OK, maybe riding a smallframe Vespa wouldn't suit me that much seeing that I'd look like a gorilla on a kid's tricycle on the thing. So, as an option, I could get myself a vintage largeframe Vespa like a VBB, Sprint, GL, etc. that's had a PX engine transplanted into it. That way, I'd get the best of both worlds i.e. the curvier look of the older Vespa and the well-known reliability of the PX.

Seeing that these hands are more used to the laptop and calculator rather than the screwdriver and the ratchet, I'd say the more reliable the choice, the better. That's strictly a personal choice though.

As with the Vespa a transplant could be done with a Lambretta as well, with a new SIL engine thrown in or with an upgrade to an electronic ignition system. Not a bad option but unlike the Vespa, parts aren't actually as readily available and even when available, they can be at a premium. A good option if you have the money.

So, there you go. A quick summary of the options available. Hope it helps someone out there in their search for their first scooter. Good luck!

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