Friday, August 11, 2017

Vespa Post

My Vespa 150  fired right up when I got  home and I had to go for a sunny  test ride...
The black Vespa 200 was looking tired with wires hanging out while the back tire was flat... oh well my orange bombshell survived my vacation in good shape. Vespa riders in the US tend to be enthusiasts all fired up about the brand and so forth so there aren't too many in the population overall.  And they go to Italy on vacation where they figure everyone must be starring in their own movie and thus riding Vespas not boring Asian scooters. Not so, but there are more well cared for Vespas than you might think especially as they cost a lot more than the Asian daily riders. I took this picture in Orvieto last week noting the three wheeled Ape ("ah-pay") in the scooter spot. The 50cc runabout is a Piaggio product, built by the Vespa people and can be driven without a licence:
Of course if you look around you'll see classic and current Vespas everywhere, some loved some simply ridden:

Italians sometimes take off the inspection doors from the side of their Vespas. Fear of theft is the main reason though some claim ther bikes run cooler with extra air flow. I think it looks ugly:
 A color not seen in nature I saw on a 125cc in Siena. It is striking though I'm not sure I'd ride it:
 In Italy there are tax and insurance steps over 125cc so not many adults choose 150  variants of small motorcycles. On top of that 125cc motorcycles can be ridden at 16 years of age, making 150cc versions that much harder to sell.
A new model 125 cc proving they still buy these overbuilt metal bodied scooters.
Older two stroke Vespas in daily use alongside two other Piaggio scooters in one lot:
 These Ape 50s are stil popular workhorses. I think hey would do well in Key West's narrow lanes and alleys, the land of the over sized Ford F150:
 I watched this delivery PX125 buzzing back and forth transporting food through the streets of Bolsena while I was having lunch:
An orange 50cc Vespa reminding me of my first ride ever in 1970 bought for me by my mother:
 I hope it was just an overdue spark plug change, roadside in Terni:
Not your average Ducati, an electric postal delivery vehicle, with two seats and mail stacked on the passenger side: 
The  more usual sight is a letter carrier on a Piaggio Liberty 50 like this one seen in Terni from my terrace:
My buddy Giovanni with whom I have been riding for half a century is not a fan of small wheeled Vespas and he gets mad at me for taking an interest in them. However he will concede the 300 series is a serious ride.
He is very fond of the BMW  R1200RT which I rode and found to be as delightful as he suggested to me. I've always resisted these large touring bikes but it was a delight to ride, light and surprisingly nimble and exceedingly comfortable:
A nice bike a fairing-free example of which we followed through the vineyards of southern Tuscany in our car:
This was what's known as a "large body" modern Vespa which covers the 200,250 and 300 cc models:
 These are the 300cc Vespas we rented in Rome, smooth powerful rides:
 Startling in scarlet:
 This out of context picture I snapped in Istanbul just as a Vespa riding couple turned the corner:
I saw lots of early model four stroke Vespas, the ET series which like my 2004 march on looking almost new:
I paused on a street in Terni to illustrate a point. I was driving Giovanni's BMW that I borrowed for a couple of weeks and never quite got used to it's bulk though the 520D is no bigger than your average US driven sedan. Scooters make too much sense in Italian cities so it's no wonder most riders aren't enthusiasts but sensible  city dwellers:
 And parking enforcement is on the prowl always as this photo taken by my wife attests:
Scooter parking can be as marginal as you like:
 And there's lots of it:

 All Italian cities now have limited access zones (ZTL- zone of limited transit) from which scooters and motorcycles are usually exempt. The sign says "except authorized and emergency vehicles" and you'd have to check the board in the back to see it motorcycles are listed as prohibited, otherwise they can ride right in. That and lane splitting and filtering are huge advantages on two wheels.
 Quite aside from their natural good looks...
 ...ability to lend style to the most urbane locations...
 ...and be ready to go at a moment's notice, even if thirty years old and considered a classic: