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Manga le Mele
Text & Photos: Sundeep Gajjar / motoGrapher.com
It has been wisely said that fashions and seasons always return. Something similar is stated by the idiom, ‘History repeats itself’. A new geared scooter with Vespa lineage, if introduced in the Indian market, would justify both the above quotes. And the Vespa GTS300, a Vespa with the largest engine capacity ever made, can carry the weight of both history and fashion on its capable shoulders. The scooter once dominated the Indian two-wheeler market and some forty years ago, Bajaj Auto was building the Vespa scooter under license from Piaggio. A split with Piaggio around 1970 saw Bajaj Auto go independent on both the design and engineering. But even then their design retained the monocoque chassis, a Vespa hallmark.
Vespa is to scooters what Ducati is to motorcycles and Ferrari is to sportscars. It is an iconic brand and for well more than half a century, people the world over have been riding Vespa scooters and been happy doing so. The current crop of Vespa GT series traces its origins to the GT 125 that came up when the previous PX series was killed off by stringent emission norms across most of the globe. The GT series is characterized by liquid-cooled 4-stroke engines with CVT drives but with the characteristic monocoque chassis intact. The Vespa GTS300 is a recent upgrade of the GTS250 that has been selling well for quite a while. 278cc liquid cooled 4-stroke with electronic fuel injection developing 22 bhp and 22 Nm of torque at 5000 rpm. This scooter’s engine specs beat most of the motorcycles being made and sold in our country. It is actually capable of displaying 130kph plus on its clear analog speedometer, can sprint from standstill to 100 kph in 14 secs, can effortlessly cruise all day long at above 100 kph and do this for 25 kms using just 1 ltr of petrol. Tempting eh!
The Vespa’s have always looked like …well…Vespas. Pretty, retro and yet fetching. And so does the GTS300. Round headlamps, straight handlebars with instrument console, switchgear and headlamp integrated into it. The rounded ‘duck-wing’ side cowls that cover the sides and the usual single-piece seat with the fuel-filling point underneath. Scooters have evolved equally well as motorcycles on the handling and braking front and this is quite evident when you ride the Vespa GTS300. Its single sided front suspension and dual shocks at the rear (adjustable for pre-load) when allied with 12-inch wheels makes for a pretty sure-footed scoot. Hustle it through the twisties and its only the ground-clearance limits announced by the floor-board grinding away that stops you from leaning further. Bumps or tarmac ripples, even in the middle of a turn, cannot upset its line and it tracks true to the riders inputs.
Braking is great, what with discs both up front and at the rear and their amazing feedback. The 130 section rear tyre provides a wide enough contact patch to handle traction loads on a rear-engined scooter. And the front 120 section is the perfect choice for light steering, great grip and wonderful braking. The wheelbase, at 1370mm, is about 20mm more than our homegrown Bajaj P220 DTSi, promising swell straight-line stability, even in strong cross-winds. The torque engine allied with low gearing (typical of scooters and CVT’s) makes for very peppy pick-ups and the rider can outpace virtually any and every element of traffic from stop-lights. And the high top speed, good stability, powerful brakes and comfortable ergos make the Vespa GTS300 a very strong contender for highway runs. Storage space is good, with enough space under-seat for a small bag (maybe a camera kit or something) and a smallish glove compartment up front. The seats are comfortable with the pillion being even better off than the rider. Lights are about adequate though the horn is weak, as is the case with even far larger bikes.
The Vespa GTS3000 would make for a very attractive scooter if introduced into the Indian market. And it would make a lot of sense too with lots of power, great handling, tubeless tyres, wonderful braking and those aesthetically pleasing ‘traditionally Vespa’ lines that define its shape. We still have scooters in our blood. It is just that we are waiting for something that bridges the retro and the modern the way the Vespa GTS300 does. Bring it on…..one in Montebianco white for me please!
The 300CC provided for a surprising amount of punch despite the gearless arrangement. I did half of the Great Ocean Road on the Vespa and back to Melbourne with a pillion managing to hit speeds of 100+ with extreme ease. The CoG was also good for a scooter and at speeds like those, and good braking was a boon. I was initially a little uncomfortable on bends but that gave way confidence a few turns later. There is hardly anything to say about the looks, it is an all time classic!
ENGINE TYPE: Single cylinder, four-stroke, four-valve, electronic injection, catalytic QUASAR
CYLINDER CAPACITY: 278cc
BORE x STROKE: 2.95″ x 2.48″ (75 mm x 63 mm)
MAX POWER AT SHAFT: 15.8 Kw (22 hp) at 7,500 rpm
MAX TORQUE: 22.3 Nm at 5,000 rpm
MAX SPEED: 129 km/h
FUEL / TANK CAPACITY: Unleaded (9 litres)
MILEAGE: 24-26 kpl
COOLING SYSTEM: Liquid
LUBRICATION: Wet sump and chain-driven lobe pump; intake and delivery filters
IGNITION: Electronic (with inductive discharge, variable spark advance and three-dimensional mapping)
GEARS: CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) with torque server
CLUTCH: Automatic centrifugal dry clutch with dampers
CHASSIS: Load-bearing sheet steel chassis with welded structural supports
FRONT SUSPENSION: Single arm, dual chamber hydraulic shock absorber with coaxial spring
REAR SUSPENSION: Two dual effect shock absorbers with adjustable preload
FRONT BRAKE: 220 mm disc
REAR BRAKE: 220 mm disc
FRONT TYRE: Tubeless 120 / 70, 12″
REAR TYRE: Tubeless 130 / 70, 12″
LENGTH: 1941 mm
WIDTH: 755 mm
WHEELBASE: 1369 mm
SEAT HEIGHT: 790 mm
DRY WEIGHT: 148 kg
AVAILABLE COLORS: Shiny Black, Dragon Red, Montebianco White, Titanium