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Vespa VXL 150 70th Anniversary Edition First Ride Review

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Ranjan R. Bhat

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What is it?

A style statement; an attention magnet. Only the Italians could have created an icon like the Vespa. Even five minutes after getting my hands on the keys, I am walking around it taking pictures I am never going to use. This is the effect a Vespa has on you.

The Vespa VXL 150 70th Anniversary Edition is a special edition scooter decked up with a slew of accessories that are otherwise offered as optional extras. As the name suggests, this is a celebration of the 70th anniversary of the marque's inception. Had it not been for the Vespa 946 Emporio Armani, the VXL 150 7th Anniversary would have been the brand's flagship model.

How does it ride?

The Vespa VXL 150 70th Anniversary Edition is powered by a 149cc three-valve single-cylinder engine, delivering 11bhp and 11Nm of torque. While this output makes the Vespa one of the most powerful scooters you can buy, there is nothing extraordinary about the performance. Wring the throttle and it sets off gracefully. Off the line, you can tell that Vespa could have tuned the CVT transmission to make it quicker, but chose not to. It is only past 80kmph that you realise the true potential of the engine.

The 11-inch front wheel rides on a single-sided trailing link suspension. While a trailing link suspension might seem like a relic today, Vespa takes pride in this piece of kit. Designed along the lines of aircraft suspension, it gets an 'anti-dive' system which prevents the front from dipping under braking. What it also does is rob the front end of some feel, since it doesn’t respond the same way as a conventional telescopic setup.

The Vespa never wavers off its line or gets unsettled as you go over bumps and ruts. The give in the suspension allows you to hold your line, as it gracefully absorbs mid-corner undulations. The Vespa deals well with city traffic as well, with the point-and-shoot nature making filtering effortless and entertaining. The tall handlebar and the small turning radius also aid the Vespa's ability to squeeze through traffic.

The Vespa VXL 150 70th Anniversary is offered with a front disc brake, which offers a good bite and progression. It is a very powerful setup so requires a deft touch at the lever. The rear brake is a drum brake setup and while adequate, does not come close to the front’s usability, power and progression.

Anything else I should know?

The Vespa VXL 150 70th Anniversary is Rs 11,000 more expensive than the standard VXL 150. The extra money gets you a tinted windscreen, perimeter guard, luggage carrier, floor mat and unique brown leather cover for the seat. While you can have all of this fitted on any standard Vespa, what you can't have is the unique turquoise paint, grey wheels and the '70th Anniversary' badges.

Apart from the underseat bay, the Vespa VXL 150 70th Anniversary also gets a front storage compartment. This can be opened through the ignition key slot and is very handy to store your cell phone and other essentials. The retro instrument cluster gets a digital readout to display the odometer and twin trip meters. A 'mode' button near the switchgear allows you to scroll through the them and reset the trip meters. At 40.9kmpl, the Vespa VXL 150 70th Anniversary Edition isn't very economical. However fuel efficiency is hardly a concern for Vespa owners.

Should I buy one?

Every manufacturer sets out with a target audience while engineering and marketing a scooter. A Vespa though, is an exception. It is like a Royal Enfield. Be it college going kids, middle aged men or the oldies, every one turns around to take a look at the Vespa and fantasises about owning one. The Vespa is a piece of art, albeit with wheels and a powerplant. You acquire a Vespa less for its utility and more for its glamour and those who yearn to own one easily overlook its quirks.

And while all Vespa scooters are conspicuous, the Vespa VXL 150 70th Anniversary Edition with its unique paint, fancy wheels and smoked windshield thrusts you into the spotlight at every stoplight. So if you like grabbing attention and shaking it by its collar, then the Vespa VXL 150 70th Anniversary Edition is the perfect scooter for you.

Where does it fit in?

The Vespa VXL 150 70th Anniversary Edition is priced at Rs 1.13 lakh (on-road, Mumbai). In principle, it goes up against its peppier cousin – the Aprilia SR 150. However, take into account the elegance and desirability and the Vespa is clearly on a higher plane; the Aprilia or other modern scooters don't stand a chance. The actual rivals to this Vespa are either rotting in sheds and alleys, or are under watchful eyes of automotive connoisseurs. Yes, I am referring to the original Vespa scooters. Getting your hands on an old-school Vespa and restoring it to its former glory will cost you almost as much as a new VXL 150 70th Anniversary Edition. It will also cost blood, sweat and tears, but endure all of it and you won't regret the decision.

Gear Check

1. Icon Airmada helmet –

Comfortable, aerodynamic, lightweight and a well-ventilated helmet with a wide peripheral vision. Oval headform fit might not suit everyone though. Price -Rs 15,000.

2. Joe Rocket Alter Ego 3.0 jacket–

An extremely versatile all-weather jacket. In this guise, it is being used as a ventilated mesh jacket, though it ships with two more liners - waterproof and thermal. Price – Rs 20,000.

3. Ixon Moto HP gloves –

High quality full gauntlet leather gloves suited for city riding, touring and track use. Offers good ventilation and a high level of protection. Expensive though. Price - Rs 9,500

4. AGV Sport Airtex pants –

Riding pants with mesh in the crotch, calf, back of legs and thigh areas which is a real boon in our hot weather. Price -Rs 6,500.

5. Sidi B2 boots –

All-round street and sportbike riding shoes also suitable for track days. Not ventilated, which can make it uncomfortable for everyday use. Price - Rs 17,000

Photography by Kapil Angane

Click here to read Aprilia SR 150 First Ride Review

Click here to read Suzuki Access vs Honda Activa 125 Comparison Test

Click here to read 5 labours of Honda Navi

Gallery

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Vespa-VXL-150-Anniversary-Edition-Side
Vespa-VXL-150-Anniversary-Edition-Side
Vespa-VXL-150-Anniversary-Edition-Side
Vespa-VXL-150-Anniversary-Edition-Side
Vespa-VXL-150-Anniversary-Edition-Side
Vespa-VXL-150-Anniversary-Edition-Rear-threequarter
Vespa-VXL-150-Anniversary-Edition-Wheelstyres

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