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I'm going to begin this review with a brief description of me. I'm 35 yrs old, 6ft 4 and weigh a little over 200lbs. I work in a busy urban environment and wear a suit to work every day. And I do all that riding on a Vespa GT125. Now you may find the image of someone looking like that on a scooter as quite amusing, but not quite so amusing as the looks on people faces as I zip through traffic before and after work each morning, and am able to find parking with ease. In fact my main source of irritation is that it took me so long to actually but one of these and save myself the horror of the rush hour commute.
Technical details first, the engine size is 125cc producing 15bhp at 8500rpm, so you don't need a full license to ride one. A short CBT course should suffice all the legal requirements. It will do 116mpg, has a fuel tank range of 150 miles and it will do a top speed of 64mph. Tell me what car can do those figures in the modern city. Transmission is an automatic or belt drive. The wheels are 12 inches in diameter, 2 inches larger than older models ensuring a smoother and safer ride.
It is lightweight so riding becomes effortless, you don't have to have arms the size of tree trunks to enjoy. The seating position is 30 inches from the floor providing a comfortable ride for all, myself included. The styling harks back to the original design of the 60s so there is that very Italian feel about it. Cost wise you can pick one up, brand new for a little under £3000. Factor in insurance and fuel costs and it becomes a viable alternative to using your car.
Reliability is excellent, in the time I have owned mine there has been no issues. Build quality is brilliant and with a bit of reading maintenance is a doddle. To the extent that you will become proficient enough to carry out your own regular servicing allowing you to run one for years to come. Then if decide to sell a couple of years down the line, resale values on properly maintain scooters are still high enough for you to recoup at least a third of your initial outlay.
So why isn't everyone doing it? Firstly storage, it has next to none with a small storage bay under the seat. It isn't even big enough for a full face helmet. Bad weather will not doubt cause issues. Having only two wheels, even at low speeds, the loss of grip can be quite an issue which will require a calm head and steady hands. It is not unmanageable, but you need your wits about you. And finally, other drivers specifically cars. They don't like bike users, they don't like you just parking anywhere and they don't like sitting there as you zoom by. And they will let you know, intentionally or otherwise.
As a final issue, the sidestand does take a bit of getting used to but after a while it's fine. On the whole I'm very happy with mine, the good absolutely outweighing the bad points. As cities become more and more chaotic - and I shudder to think what London will look like this Summer - scooter owning is becoming a lot more beneficial and acceptable. My advice try it out.