“ 493 cc 4 Stroke, Single Cylinder - 40.4 Horsepower - Scooter „
After exactly 12 months, 18.000 km, one new rear tire what now also needs replacing, 2 oil filter and several oil changes, around 10 times taking the CVT apart with a very pleasing outcome, a full makeover with several red and black spray cans and some more minor changes, it is time to find out if this was a good purchase.
A year ago I wondered if this could be the perfect bike for me here on the island.
The short answer is: YES!
She is so much fun to ride and since I changed her personality with the paint job and the Colt Conversion she fits like a glove and I not only have a smile on my face when we are out to play there is also the occasionally WHO HOOOO when the broad grin is not enough to express my feeling.
Are there things that could be better?
Just minor like the tires what have a size which is hard to find and the foot rests from the pillion what could be a few centimeters further away from me but compared to every other bike I owned the past 30 something years this is the most fun and best looking I ever had.
She is also the most exclusive bike.
We have all kind of Harleys, Gold Wings and lots of more fancy and rare motorcycles here on the islands. But as far as I know there is only 1 Malaguti Spidermax on all 7 islands and you are just reading her story.
In fact she is one of the rarest models in the automatic scene world wide, but without the exorbitant price for spare parts, since her propulsion unit is the same as in all 500 cc European scooters.
I loved my Burgman 400 she was cozy like a recliner, but sometimes I felt old on her. Like just relaxing in a La-Z-Boy Recliner and watching the scenery drift by.
Don´t get me wrong, I enjoyed the relaxed scooting around and sometimes even with my legs extended, but I was missing the sporty side of riding around on 2 wheels.
The Spidermax makes me feel like a teenager most of the time with her look, her handling and the way she drives.
And I can drive her crazy and still feel safe.
She is a very sporty bike with a now very zippy motor / transmission ( thanks to my Colt Conversion).
So when Malaguti tried to combine the quirkiness of a Supermotard and the comfort of a Maxi-Scooter they did a pretty good job.
find mor out at: malaguti-spidermax.blogspot.com/
A Spider what?
Think Italian scooter and you will probably think of a Vespa or possibly a Lambretta. Think touring motorcycle and your thoughts will probably turn to a BMW "boxer" twin. The Malaguti Spidermax RS500 ingeniously manages to be both at the same time, well almost.
Now that most motorcycle manufactures have largely abandoned the 500 cc category and concentrate on 600-650 cc sports bikes with close to 100 bhp as the first step after their 125 cc machines, it has fallen to scooters to largely fill the gap. A 500 cc scooter you may ask, isn't that a bit big? Well it's not the biggest (there are now scooters with engines over 800 cc) but it is the biggest size engine that still uses the original scooter concept of a single cylinder engine in unit with the transmission and rear suspension. Bigger scooters all have twin cylinder engines, generally with the engine rigidly mounted in the frame, and appear to be more hybrids between a motorcycle and a "true" scooter.
To my mind this scooter is the best looking scooter of any size. It is helped by its large 16" wheels, full fairing with large - and powerful - twin "almond eye" headlamps and integrated rear-view mirrors, purposeful-looking exhaust and beautiful finish. The matt titanium finish is particularly striking. It even manages to look good, and different, from the rear with its large twin tail-lamps.
On the practical side you have space for two full face helmets under the seat, a lockable glove-box and a comfortable seat with integrated backrest for the rider, which is low enough for anyone of average height to get both feet flat on the ground. One feature I particularly like is that not only does the seat open from the main ignition switch, but also it raises itself automatically on gas-filled struts and since only the passenger part opens you still have somewhere flat to leave your helmet and gloves while you are loading up (ie on the rider's seat). The fuel tank holds about three gallons, enough for around 150 miles of very enjoyable scooting. Hazard warning lights are fitted as standard, just in case.
Twist & Go:
For anyone used to modern scooters, the Spidermax should be familiar: you simply "twist and go". What might be unfamiliar is how fast you go and also the relative weight of the scooter - about double that of a small Vespa. With just over 40 bhp top speed is a genuine 100 mph with sufficiently fast acceleration for most people. The fact that you don't have any clutch or gears to worry about helps to keep you well in front of all but the most determined (insane?) drivers. A sports bike will leave you for dead of course but that's not what it's all about. You get used to the weight quite quickly and it ends up working to your advantage as stability and balance are improved: I wouldn't recommend going straight from a 50 cc to a machine this size though.
Squeeze & Stop:
As well as going pretty well, it stops nicely too. There are twin front disc brakes and a single rear disc with a linked circuit between the front left disc and the rear disc. Only grumble is the absence of ABS (anti-lock braking system), even as an option. Maybe that will come later.
Power is from Piaggio's MASTER unit in its latest twin-spark configuration. It is fuel-injected and meets the latest emission standards for two-wheelers (Euro 3). Similar engines can be found in a number of scooters in the Piaggio, Gilera, Aprilia and even Peugeot range. Once started you do feel some vibration but it is not annoying. The mirrors and handlebars seem unaffected, for example. There is also some torque reaction (the back lifts slightly under acceleration) which is rather like some BMWs.
Handling is very good for a scooter thanks to its stiff aluminium (V-box) frame and sturdy (41 mm) front forks. There is plenty of weight in the steering too without being heavy. The front suspension is quite compliant but the rear suspension feels very hard unless you have a passenger on board. This is true of most scooters however; in order to control the large oscillating mass of engine, transmission and suspension, manufacturers resort to stiff springs and dampers and a limited suspension travel. You soon learn to steer your way around potholes and irregularities in the road surface.
How the other half ride:
Speaking of passengers, there is ample power to cope with one and their seat is large, quite comfortable if a little too high in relation to the rider - which means they get more buffeting from the wind than the rider, who is very well protected from wind and rain. However, the passenger does benefit from large integrated grab handles and folding footrests.
Instrumentation is very complete with analogue speedometer, digital tachometer, fuel and temperature gauges as well as an onboard computer. Unfortunately the styling here is a bit bizarre and not to my taste. I prefer simple round dials which can be read at a glance. Nothing's perfect of course.
Summing up, this is not a small, lightweight machine to weave in and out of dense traffic, you will probably have to take a back seat to the Vespas in those conditions, but once conditions clear a little it can really get into its stride and switch from a comfortable commuter to a handy touring machine in a twist of a wrist. In many ways it feels more like a normal motorcycle to ride, only easier and with better weather protection and useful storage space under the seat. For around the price of a common or garden Suzuki Burgman 400, for example, you not only get more power and performance but an original and distinctive machine.
A photo gallery and flash video (in Italian) are available at http://www.malagutimoto.it/
Why only two points for "on skiddy terrain"? While the Spidermax is in fact good for a scooter thanks to its large wheels, decent tyres and linked braking system, all motorcycles need extra caution in the wet. The lack of ABS, admittedly still rare on scooters, combined with the relatively high performance creates an extra risk though.