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have had it for a few days, having originally rented scooters in thailand, and decided to take the plunge in central london.
a lot more stressful.
it's pretty smooth in terms of the engine and does get you away quicker than the cars at the lights.
but there are a few negatives:
- the indicators are silent and do not turn off automatically. Piaggio should be crucified for this as it is VERY easy to forget the indicators are on, and hence very easy for a car to pull out (potentially fatally) in front of you, thinking you're gonna turn.
- the wing mirrors are pathetically small and too narrow for me to see beyond my shoulders. they should also be further forward to get a greater perspective.
overall, i can see how they can be seen as fun, but central london traffic on a motorbike is stressfull, not fashionable.
I have owned a 2005 Vespa ET8 150cc for a couple of years now. The ET8 is a re-badged ET4. Four is considered unlucky by some cultures and the eight is lucky. She is the ideal city scoot and is my daily ride around bumper to bumper Auckland roads.
The benefits of biking far outweigh any draw backs. Being the first at the lights and free parking almost everywhere is awesome. Even the Harley riders envy me in the city. Vespa is Italian for Wasp. Riding a Vespa really does feel like flying a fighter through the city. In a congested town its the best way around.
The direct drive leader engine launches me off the line at lights and gets me out of trouble when a boost of power is required.
While the ET4 aka ET8 stays true to the founding design principles of Vespa she marks a turning point in Vespa's colourful history.
Mass producing a twist and go automatic four stroke seems juxtaposed to the classic two-stroke that made Vespa a style icon worthy of starring roles in cult films like Quadraphenia and Roman Holiday. But as one famous Vespa rider wrote, the times are a changing. The low emission environmentally friendly engine is much easier to maintain for the mechanically illiterate.
Italian curves haven't been so popular since Marilyn made movies.
Perhaps this is why today's stars also ride ETs including Sarah Jessica Parker, Owen Wilson and Gwyneth Paltrow.
Vespa was originally designed for people who don't like bikes. Cheap and chic transport was quickly adopted by pop culture.
Movie stars like Audrey Hepburn, Gregory Peck and Charlton Heston are all captured on Vespas during culturally significant times.
I wouldn't consider something smaller or less iconic. Besides being a design icon the power is plenty to carry me and oft pillion around town without loss of speed or torque.
The bike has three easy seat settings although all are fairly high. The fairing however keeps light showers off your pants and is a canvas for more accessories than your average drag queen.
GPS units, LCD TVs and weird and wonderful appendages are often added to the bike and has become as part of the scooter culture as the Mod movement of the sixties.
Inspired by iconic Vespa flicks Quadraphenia and Roman Holiday I rode my Italian Stallion south to Taupo during Summer 09. Read about it and see the pic's on my blog, www.myspace.com/vicecreme
There is no comparison to lesser bikes. This much fun should be illegal. I don't know why everyone ain't got one.
I've owned a second hand Vespa et4 for over 6 months now and loved every minute of it! Personally id like a geared Vespa but to scared to get out there and learn gears so am stuck to an automatic. Personally I can't understand why people are claiming that et4s are slow on the go off but ive never had this problem which may be due to individual differences of the scooters or because im little and quite light.
The other great thing about these scooters is they have such a following. Not only do they do well on daily runs around town but you can ride one on a scooter rally and not look out of place.
What I like best about the et4 is that there is a large range of accessories and embellishments you can buy for them to make them individual and also give lots of luggage space. Mine has front and rear chrome racks, an aerial with a flag on extra sets of mirrors and a front wheel spinner. I don't want to look like any other kid about town on a moped!
I've fallen off my vespa 4 times which may sund a lot for six months but i rode her all through the winter in snow and ice. Although mine now sports various scratches these are easily repaired with some sandpaper and spray paint whereas a plastic moped would most probably need new fairings and be more likely to split.
Self servicing these scooters is quite a pain. Vespa don't seem to do anything the easy way. Even an oil and filter change can get very frustrating.
Over all I have to say the et4 is great for the simple fact that they run in all sorts of conditions and dont have the mass produced feel of plastic mopeds.
CRAP! If you want to be left at the lights by everything on the road, including monkey bikes and those rubbish SMART cars, then buy this scooter! The 124cc engine on this is absolutely pathetic, I always have to give it several helping shoves off the ground with my foot before the 'power' kicks in. Meanwhile, some guy on his mountain bike out-accelerates me and the driver behind is about to run me over! Pillion riding - forget it - there have been days when the thing actually doesn't move at all with full throttle on! Advice - Get a bike licence and buy a 180/200 Gilera Runner..or buy a motorbike! I'll give it one star for the hook to hang your shopping on.
(With apologies to Jasper Carrott for the title) Having owned a Peugeot Speedfight 50 for some considerable time, I thought I was ready for a change. I ride about 30 miles to work as a consequence of a recent change, and that distance was far too much for my poor little 50, even derestricted as it was. Although capable of 50 mph in derestricted form, the problem with running these little bikes for longer distances is that one spends most of the journey flat out, which causes the small rollers in the variable transmission assembly to be constantly flung against their stops. This causes them to rapidly develop flat spots on them, and the flat spots impede the smooth movement of the rollers in their tracks. The result is that on hills or other slow riding areas, the transmission becomes reluctant to change down to the lower ratios. So, what should I do? The journey length is such that a 125cc machine was really the only choice, as regards auto scooters. Although I quite liked the style of the Vespa ET4, it does have little wheels compared to the Pug, and I wondered about the handling. Anyway, after a great deal of errming and harrumphing, I finally decided to rush out and buy an ET4, based on style, and the ease with which I can pursuade my legs to climb on and off the machine. The other bike I thought to be in the frame was the Gilera Runner, but I found that a little bit too m/cycle like in the matter of getting on and off. What's it like to ride? Brilliant! It's a little heavier than the Pug, but the pressed steel frame is stiffer than the previous machine, giving handling at least as good and a much better ride. Of course the four stroke engine also helps being quieter and much more gentlemanly than a yowling two sroke. As for top speed, I'm not sure yet as I'm still running the bike in, but it romps up the hills with consumate ease. I haven't given it any more than 50 mph yet, a
nd no full throttle running either, and in these circumstances I am seeing 85 mpg, and no two stroke oil to buy either. The only embarrassment is having to run around with L plates on at 47 years of age! Still, I'm on the way to taking the A2 bike test, so hopefully I shall be able to dispense with the plates quite soon
I've been riding an ET4 for a little over 2 years now and I still love it. When trying to decide about which scooter to go for I just kept coming back to this model. Piaggio have kept the classic scooter looks, but it feels thoroughly modern and easy to ride. There may be more choice now, but I'd still go for this model. Economy is great, it's very easy to ride (fully automatic), quite fruity enough (capable of 60-70mph), has enough storage for a helmet &/or jacket, but not much more, looks cool and is just a bunch of fun. Living in Cambridge, where cars are persona non grata, getting around is easy. You can sneak into places where no car can go and park just about anywhere. I know these are generic comments about motorbikes vs. cars, but this scooter is my first venture onto 2 wheels and I'm hooked. Security isn't great, but as I rarely take it into London, I haven't been exposed to too much. Touch wood. Highly recommended.
Having searched the four corners of various scooter magazines and more web sites than you can squeeze into favourites on your browser, I decided to get an ET4. I had been researching the scooter market for several months, both in the scooter magazines and on the internet. I decided to buy a powered two-wheeler (PTW) because I do not have a full UK car licence, only provisional, and I wanted some transport that I could use with the minimum of hassle. Scooters were the obvious choice for me, because I have always loved their styling, particularly the retro look. Although I favoured Vespas before I started, I looked around at many different marques before I homed in on the Vespa ET4. Why the ET4? 1. ECONOMY A 4-stroke engine uses fuel more efficiently, so my running costs are low, a particularly salient point given the current fuel crisis - I can fill the tank for under a fiver. 2. LOW EMISSIONS The ET4 has a single cylinder four-stroke engine that exceeds the European legislation before it is implemented. The top speed is around 65mph, and the engine uses unleaded fuel. This scooter has automatic transmission. You may prefer a geared PTW, but I find it helpful that all I have to worry about is controlling the throttle, the brake, and where I am going. 3. SECURITY The ET4 has an electronic engine immobiliser, which works as soon as you take the key out. You can also put on the steering lock. Scooters and motorcycles are very easy to steal (just ask poor old Chris Evans, he has had his stolen about eight times so far), so use a good lock, and if possible always chain your scooter to something immoveable, such as a lamp post or a friends car (first making sure that they don't leave work before you do!). Many cities and towns are providing secure parking these days, with the increase on powered two-wheelers on the road, and the move towards getting people out of cars. 4. STYLE
Nothing beats the Vespa look, and although initially I thought I would buy a Vespa PX125, I came to see the new twist on the classic Vespa look as superior. Italian styling with clean lines. No contest. 5.PRICE The Piaggio Vespa ET4 is a fabulous scooter for a great price. Expect to pay between £2000 and £2199 new - look out for extras such as free CBT's, helmets, locks and insurance. There is a £30 3 year Piaggio warranty for parts and labour, well worth buying to keep running costs down. If you want to buy second-hand, remember that there are a lot of stolen scooters on the market. I would suggest looking at Bike Trader magazine, and using a service that will check whether a bike is stolen, is an insurance write-off, or still has finance outstanding on it. These services are advertised in magazines such as Bike Trader. We bought ours at Dyrons, on York Road in Leeds, and they offered us a great deal, including two helmets, two CBT's, and a disc lock. THE CBT. In order to ride a powered two-wheeler between 50cc-125cc on a full car licence, or any PTW from up to 125cc on a provisional licence, you must attend and pass a Compulsory Basic Training course (CBT). If you have a full car licence you can ride a 49cc moped without doing the CBT, but I would not recommend it. Typically you will attend for one full day, although it may take longer if you are not comfortable with your progress, and you will learn how to ride safely and with enough skill to handle your bike or scooter on the road without supervision. Some of the areas covered are signalling, right and left turns, and control of the throttle, brakes, and if necessary, the gears and clutch. You will have to successfully complete manoeuvres such as a figure of eight and a u-turn. There is also instruction on hazard awareness and defensive riding, what protective clothing and equipment is necessary and/or a legal requirement. Following th
is you will go on a ride on the road with an instructor for approximately two hours, with instructions and advice relayed to you via an ear-piece. When you have successfully completed your CBT you will get a certificate which entitles you to ride on the road with L plates unsupervised for up to three years if you have a full car licence, and up to two years if you have a provisional licence. If you do not pass your full motorcycle test by then, it is back to square one. THE SCOOTER, THE CBT, THE LAMP POST AND MY PARTNER When I went to do the complimentary CBT with my partner, it took my breath away. It is truly a beautiful machine. Later that day, dizzy from doing figure of eights, and giddy with the excitement of owning a gorgeous scooter (cream, very stylish), I waited for my partner to come back from the first ride on the scooter, the last part of the CBT before he passed his certificate and could go out on the road unaccompanied by an instructor. It seemed like a while, and I mused over what could have happened. Probably got lost or got a puncture or something. Unfortunately it was not the case. Pulling onto the road from the track where he had been practising all day, he suffered a momentary loss of connection between his hands and his brain. He set the throttle, slipped on the brake, forgot to take off the throttle and... Apparently there is a little cream paint on the lamp post, and the panel beater will be able to restore our scooter with a few wallops and a lick of paint. **update - we picked our scooter up from The Devil's Paint Jobs, Emley Moor Business Park, Leys Lane, Emley, West Yorkshire, (01924) 849190 today, and found that Mark had done a fantastic job. The front panel, which once had a rather sad caved in look is now restored to its former glory, so much so that you can't tell anything had ever happened to it. Mark also services scooters, and mainly deals with motorcycles. Highly recom
mended. End of update** The lesson to be learned from this little debacle is that a 125cc scooter is somewhat more powerful than you'd think. I'm still looking forward to getting the scooter back, and getting on the road, and yes, he did pass the CBT (in the end)!! I passed my CBT a couple of weeks later, and have had five days of riding before we found a panel beater who will sort out the bike. At the weekend I am hoping to have my scooter back, although there is only half a tank of fuel in at the moment, so I may have to curtail my activities a little until the blockades are over. Blooming typical, I finally get transport, and I can't get petrol!! Bah humbug. I have now had the scooter back for a while, and it is better than ever! If you decide to buy a scooter, remember to take into account the cost of safety equipment, training and insurance as well as the cost of the scooter. We have spent nearly £2900 on our scooter including insurance and a good quality jacket with armour inside. MAGAZINES AND WEB SITES The two magazines that I have found the most helpful are: Scootering £2.95 (web site: www.scootering.com) This comes out monthly and includes the Scooter Trader section, in which you can buy or sell new and second-hand scooters, parts and accessories (web site: www.scootertrader.com). It also includes the short version of the What Scooter? price guide, which gives the list prices for all scooters available in the UK, as well as the UK sales figures chart, including the top ten mopeds, and scooters from 0-100cc, 101-125cc, and 126-500cc. Scootering also features reviews on scooters and features on customised and beautifully restored older scooters, with the emphasis firmly on restorations of older machines. There are also extensive listings for events and meetings organised by both UK and international scooter clubs, and a section on mus
ic reviews. All in all this is the must have magazine for anyone with an interest in old style scooters like Vespas and Lambrettas. It does review more modern scooters but concentrates more on the geared end of the market. Twist & Go: £2.75 This is published by Scootering Publications as well - and contains the full version of What Scooter? price guide that used to appear in Scootering magazine until recently. The first issue of Twist & Go that I have bought is issue 2 - bought in November 2000, so it is a relatively new publication. It deals with automatic scooters, as the title suggests, and has a feature (hopefully regualr) that profiles importers. The articles are mainly on tests and reviews of automatic scooters. Issue 2 features an overview of the bigest international motorcycle show, InterMot -Munich 2000. Overall a very useful addition to the Scootering stable. www.scootertrader.com This is a site where you can place or respond to small ads for secondhand scooters. It is also one of the Scootering stable. www.scootered.co.uk This site has a Scooter Browser where you can find any model of scooter available in the UK. There is also a classifieds section as well as forums. www.piaggio.com/www.vespa.com Home of the mighty Piaggio, manufacturers of Vespa scooters. News, scooters and dealers - but you may find dealer information easier to come by if you get a couple of scooter mags and read the adverts, or look through your local phonebook and have a ring round. I will add more sites as I find them - this is just a brief guide.
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The new range of Vespas has really had an impact on London streets over the last 18 months. City congestion is running at an all time high and as a result commuters are looking at alternative forms of transport. The ET4 is a hansome scooter, with a sleek design looking back into the leagcy of the mod scooters of 30 years ago. Fully automatic, the scooter has left and right brakes on the handlebars. The transmission is smooth and with a potential 60 or so miles an hour to be had, this one is a joy both in town and outside. The drive is a great deal of fun and acceleration is one part of the experience. Off the lights the ET4 rocks. The steering is gentle but not as agile as, say an Aprillia. Storage is moderate and very extendable with a Piaggio back box (although if you like to carry a briefcase, will not be big enough. This is a great bike, but better bought 2nd hand at 12 months old because the natural progression from this scooter is a big boys bike!! There is a big drawback to this bike however. Security is shoddy. The plastic components are easily broken and the helmet locker under the seat was the first on mine to go. One hard yank on the seat will break the locator plate. The back box, though looking sturdy will also come away with enough thought and thust the ET4 is rendered very insecure on the storage front. More worrying is the fact that this one can be 'hotwired' very easily. Without disclosing how to do this, the ET4 is an easy steal for a joyride. By manipulating a design flaw, starting this scooter sans keys is far too easy. The solution is thus: Always chain your bike to something using the back wheel or it will go. A great shame, I hope the Italians learn to defend their scooters against the UK public, great shame though it is to say this of my own kin.