Riding a Modern Icon
- Lester Dizon () - April 28, 2010 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Nostalgia is one of the first things that will come into your mind the minute you set your eyes upon the 2009 Vespa LX 150. The new Vespa is reminiscent of the old but venerable Vespa PX 2-stroke scooters that are now iconic symbols of two-wheel fashion and style. With the new Vespa, Piaggio & C, S.p.a. and its exclusive Philippine distributor, MotoItalia Philippines, Inc., is ensuring the continuation of the styling trend began by the Vespa scooters of yore.

Fashionably Iconic Wasp

Style and pizzazz are traits that will always be affiliated with Italian motorcycles, especially with the Vespa, which seems to emanate nostalgia with its retro-modern design. Piaggio purposely maintained its iconic design that includes a slender body, a bulbous rear and handlebars that looked like antennae, which prompted the comparison to a wasp. “Sembra una vespa! (It resembles a wasp!)” From the first Vespa made in 1946 to our test LX 150, the design lineage is unmistakable wasp-like and 100-percent Vespa. You simply cannot mistake it for anything else.

But Piaggio also made its best-selling scooter adapt to the changing times. The Italian motorcycle company equipped the Vespa LX 150 with a low center of gravity and a stylish 5-spoke, 11-inch front alloy wheel shod with a 110/70-11 tire to provide more control and agility. Complemented by the weight of its steel body, the changes on the LX 150 eliminated the old Vespa’s tendency to wander on uneven road surfaces and gave the new Vespa improved road holding, increased stability and better feedback. They even gave it a retractable hook at the front of the seat that can actually carry a bag so you don’t need to sling it around while you’re riding.

Comfortable Solo Ride

The fashionable dark blue seat of our baby blue test Vespa LX 150 is wide and supportive. It is claimed to be ergonomically-designed to keep the rider’s legs and arms at correct angles and the torso straight for a comfortable ride and during our test sessions, we didn’t find any reason to dispute this claim. The ride was indeed comfortable whether through fast lanes or slow traffic and the feedback through the steering head and the chassis were superb. We felt some floating at the front during sustained velocities way above the legal speed limits but the scooter’s small wheels were designed for fashionable riding, not for breaking the land speed record.

There was one nagging complaint, however. My wife Shawie, who was my pillion passenger in several rides, commented that the location of the sculptured passenger foot pegs is a bit too far forward, which made her splayed-legs riding position tiresome after a few kilometers. There were also several instances when my feet would brush hers whenever I stepped off the floorboard during prolonged stops. She said that she would have preferred a folding set of pegs that were mounted nearer her part of the saddle. I would have preferred to ride this Vespa solo.

Modern LEADER Motor

Our test Vespa LX 150 is well-suited to the hustling and bustling metropolitan traffic and the government-mandated ethanol-laced fuel (E10). Power is provided by a modern 4-stroke single-cylinder motor that is equipped with electronic fuel injection (EFI), 2 valves actuated by a single overhead camshaft (SOHC), a ram-air cooling system with sound proof cover and integrated secondary air system (SAS), and a catalytic converter, which the company brands as the LEADER or Low Emissions Advanced Engine Range. MotoItalia recommends fuel with a 97 octane rating for improved performance.

The modern motor is mated to a continuous variable transmission (CVT) with torque slave and dry centrifuge with damper buffers that delivers the power to the rear 10-inch alloy wheel wrapped with a 120/70-10 tire. Our tests around Metro Manila’s arduous traffic yielded a dismal fuel mileage of only 18 kilometers per liter while our best economical riding efforts yielded only 24 km/L compared to the company’s estimates of 30-32 km/L.

Nostalgia Styled in Steel

A bit heavy compared to contemporary scooters, the body of the Vespa LX 150 is still made of steel with a load-bearing steel chassis with welded structural supports. The stylish body is suspended by single arm with helical spring and dual-effect hydraulic shock absorber suspends the front and a helical spring with adjustable 4-position pre-load and dual effect hydraulic single shock absorber at the rear. 200mm disc brake with dual opposed piston hydraulic caliper in front and a mechanically-actuated 100mm drum brake at the rear provides reliable braking power.

Riding around on a baby blue Vespa LX 150 solicited a lot of double-takes from motorcyclists and motorists while passengers and pedestrians gave prolonged stares. Women found it cute while men found the muted demeanor of our test Vespa’s exhaust un-macho. Regardless of the polarized views, we felt that Vespa LX 150 harked of the quiet days when the stylish two-wheelers scooted around European cities, foot-loose and fancy-free. It’s a personal expression of fun and an investment in a timeless icon. It’s a warm and tender nostalgic ride, indeed.

For inquiries, please visit Moto Greenhills at 324 Ortigas Avenue, North Greenhills, San Juan or call (632) 721-0765 or (63) 922-882-3648 or MotoItalia Philippines, Inc., 6/F Ford Global City, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig at telephone numbers (632) 860-8852 or visit their website at www.motoitaliaphil.com.

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