As much as I love my Vespa, I don’t think you should buy one. Here’s why!
Disclaimer: this is, as is my entire website, 100% my own opinion – please don’t take my word for it just because you read it on The Internet; rather, do some research and go with what feels right for YOU. That’s the best advice anyone can give about anything, really – listen to your gut.
First, some history:
- First Scooter (2005): 50cc Honda Jazz named Sally – $3200 all in
- Second Scooter (2007): 125cc Yamaha Vino 125 named Oscar the Lady Tickler – $4500
- Second point Five (2009): Stage 2 upgrade for Oscar, making him 150ccs
- Third Scooter (2009): 250cc Vespa GTS Super named Darth Lola – $8250
I love scooters. I’ve wanted one since I was 12 years old, and as soon as we moved to Vancouver I started scheming and making plans to get one. Four years after my first ride, I still get a little thrill each and every time I’m riding around on a gorgeous day with an awesome piece of machinery betwixt my legs. It makes people look. Old people love them. It’s a conversation starter for young and old alike, and I will always stop to talk about scooters with anyone willing to ask.
Darth Lola is an incredible machine. She is by far the nicest scooter I’ve ever ridden, and she’s beautiful. She’s quiet and solid and really well-built and just .. awesome. Vespas are glorious machines with world-renowned style and sophistication that is quite unlike anything else out there.
That being said, I would not recommend buying a Vespa to most people.
There are two main reasons for this, so let’s tackle them one at a time.
Engine Size: 50ccs is not very many ccs. Every person I know with a 50cc scooter has eventually outgrown the engine and wanted something faster – not a racing bike, but certainly something that will keep up with traffic. This is exactly what I went through with Sally – I loved that bike, but a 50cc scooter has a top speed of around 60km/h. While the maximum speed on the Lions Gate Bridge and through the Stanley Park Causeway is 60, people generally go 80 .. on a slow day. What had been fine for getting me down Kingsway and into downtown was suddenly dangerously slow in my commute, and I needed more speed. It’s also a safety thing – in case of emergency, being able to accelerate past the danger is almost as important as being able to stop. At 50ccs, I routinely rode full throttle – if I needed more power to keep myself safe, it simply wasn’t available.
Maybe 50ccs is enough for you, and that’s great. What if it’s not, though? What if you want to someday go faster? This leads us to reason number two:
Price: Vespas are expensive. Very, very expensive. Lola cost more than Sally, Oscar, AND Oscar’s upgrades combined. This is okay – I’ll explain why in a second – but there are so very many excellent scooters out there that are cheaper than a Vespa, especially for a 50cc (or as I like to call them, “Starter Scooters”). Just look:
- Vespa LX50: $4495
- Vespa S50: $3995
- Aprilia SportCity 50: $2895
- Derbi Bullet: $2795
- Piaggio Fly 50: $2695
Japanese/Taiwanese Scooters (please don’t buy a Chinese scooter)
- Yamaha BWS 50: $3199
- Kymco Super 9: $3000
- Yamaha Vino 50: $2999
- Honda Jazz or Ruckus: $2949
- SYM Mio 50: $2695
- Kymco Sento 50: $2600
- PGO Metro or Big Max: $2595
- SYM Fiddle II: $2495
- Kymco Vitality 50: $2400
I would ride any bike on that list. Each one has its pros and cons, but it’s really the brand name and styling that separate them. Even the most expensive 50cc scooters are a good $1000 LESS than a comparable 50cc Vespa – yes, the Vespa will be well-built and have metal panels and the fancy name, but what if 50ccs is one day not enough? When you sell or trade your scooter in at a loss, which will be the easiest to swallow: getting $1500 for the ride you paid $4500 for, or the one you paid $2600 for?
If I think Vespas are outrageously (but understandably) expensive, why did I buy one? Because Darth Lola is my Forever Scooter. I had always planned to eventually be riding a 250cc scooter, and in that engine range, my options are rather limited. I knew I would probably end up with a Vespa, and I was okay with that because it would be my LAST scooter. I will not be upgrading from here – in fact, my goal is to have Lola long enough that she becomes vintage (look for me in 2065; I’ll be the 90 year old on the vintage ’09 Vespa). I didn’t mind paying extra for quality because Lola needs to last me for a long, long time (that being said, I did get her on sale which is why I have her now instead of next year). If you are planning on buying a scooter and know in your heart of hearts that you will never, ever want to upgrade to something bigger, then by all means – splurge and get yourself something that will last. If you’re at all unsure, though .. look around. Maybe the Vespa will be right for you, and that’s awesome. There are so many others out there though, and many of them are just as cute.
Okay, that is a lot of words. If you have additional questions, feel free to comment ‘em and I will spring forth additional knowledge.
Scooters are awesome.