We don’t get to test a lot of scooters here at Cycle News, so where better a place to start than with the Vespa on the streets of Milan? We have the 2019 Vespa GTS Supersport Review and a quick review of the 2019 Vespa Electtica.
There’s a strange sensation you get when riding a Vespa. It’s like a cross between sheer enjoyment and a feeling of connectivity to a movement, for a Vespa represents European transportation at its finest. You’d have to be a pretty sorry person indeed not to at least smile after you’ve ridden one.
Photography by Gigi Solando
Scooter riding doesn’t get the praise it deserves in the U.S.—it’s a cheap, reliable and for the most part, fashionable way to get around, and if you live in a built-up city like NYC, unparalleled in its efficiency to get you from point A to point B.
Vespa is unquestionably the first name in scooters. They fashioned the urban mobility trend in the midpoint of last century, and now they have two new models. We swung by Milan to check out in the SuperSport and the much-hyped Electtrica, Vespa’s first foray into all-electric propulsion.
Vespa GTS SuperSport Review
The five-strong Vespa GTS range has received a full makeover for 2019 and utilizes the most powerful motor ever created by the company. Unimaginably called the HPE (High-Performance Engine) and mated to the ubiquitous single-speed constant velocity transmission, the 278cc single-cylinder unit makes a claimed 23.8 hp at 9250 rpm, and 26 Nm of torque at 5250 rpm, representing a 12 percent and 18 percent gain, respectively, over the 2018 model range.
The machine we rode in Milan was the SuperSport edition, but there’s nothing particularly extra sporty about it when compared to the other four models in the range other than it looks the best with the beautiful matte-blue paint scheme.
Aside from the color, it has the same steel chassis, 12-inch wheels, full-color 4.3-inch TFT dash with phone connectivity, ABS and traction-control system under the ASR acronym. Aside from the colors, there are subtle bodywork differences like a double upholstery seat and different graphics, but the model is essentially the same as the other GTS machines in the lineup.
Cruising the streets of Milan on a Vespa is a pretty neat experience, especially as at one of the first sets traffic lights another rider on an older GTS came up to me, yelling something in Italian. Once he realized I had no idea what he was saying, he switched to English and immediately wanted to know about the SuperSport, telling me it’ll be his next ride before zipping off and splitting into the litany of cars in front of us. Blue Vespa’s must have an effect on the locals.
The ride experience on the new GTS is impressive. There’s more than enough go from the 278cc engine that you’ll outrun most vehicles from a standstill at the lights and comfort is without question—you could sit all day in this riding position and never get tired.
Road holding from the suspension is very good, even in Milan’s questionable street surfaces. The plushness of the seat combines with the suspension damping to make for a decently comfortable ride, although if you plan on taking this thing on the freeway, you’ll probably want to fit a screen as the wind buffeting can get a little hectic.
It’s a fun ride on the GTS, mainly due to the extra power on offer from the new motor. The chassis, brakes, and suspension haven’t come in for any significant overhauls, so the ride is effectively the same as before—just enhanced. But, even though the GTS has been revised, it’s not the lead act for Vespa right now. That goes to the all-new Electtrica.
2019 Vespa Electtrica Review
The Vespa Electtrica represents the Piaggio Group’s first production foray into electric propulsion. They haven’t gone too outlandish with it—the Electtrica still uses the same steel chassis, wheels, and suspension as the Primavera, with just the motor/electronics undergoing the major overhaul.
Instead of the petrol-powered 278cc single-cylinder engine, the Electtrica gets brushless electronic motor that uses a KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) and has a claimed 3.5 kW, peaking at 4 kW, an impressive 147 lbs-ft of torque at the wheel at zero rpm, and a Power and Eco mode with a reverse gear thrown in for good measure.
The biggest question with electric motors—aside from how quick they are off the mark—is charge time and range. The Electtrica runs a maintenance-free, 4.2 kWh lithium-ion battery, that when plugged into a U.S.-spec 110 V power outlet should take roughly eight hours to get a full charge. The company says this is good for up to 1000 charge cycles. Vespa, unfortunately, does not have a quick charger in their accessory range, so if you forget to plug it in at night after about 60 miles worth of commuting, you could be in trouble. Vespa is claiming a range of 65 miles, with the Electtrica on a full charge, but we were unable to verify this on our short little blast around the city center of Milan.
The battery pack takes the same place in the Primavera chassis as a standard petrol engine, meaning Vespa didn’t have to tool up and make entirely new chassis to accommodate electric power. And it’s all customizable on your phone via the Vespa app, allowing you to view parameters like charge rate and usage once you’ve stopped riding.
They’re pumping 25 Electtrica’s per day out of the factory at Pontedera, Italy, about an hour’s drive from Florence, compared to up to 350 Vespas in the GTS and Primavera lines, making the Electtrica a much more labor-intensive manufacturing process.
Riding the Electtrica is an interesting experience. The machine has been speed limited to 31 mph, and even though you have that claimed 148 lbs-ft of torque at your disposal, it’s far from a fast machine. The Electtrica takes a while to get up to speed and doesn’t offer the kind of get-out-of-jail zip you get with something like a GTS or even a Primavera 150. Vespa needs to take the governor off this machine to make it a real traffic slicer because it just doesn’t have the go to match the show.
The rest of the Electtrica is lovely. The suspension action is compliant and comfortable, although the brakes are a touch spongy, and the silver and blue bodywork looks a treat. The only issue is the overall speed from the electric motor. Once that is solved, and the Vespa Electtrica can rival its petrol-powered competitors, it will make more sense to switch over. CN
2019 Vespa GTS SuperSport / Electtrica Specifications
||$7299 / $7499
||Single-cylinder, liquid-cooled, 4-stroke / Electric Piaggio brushless motor with KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System)
|Bore x stroke:
||75mm x 63mm
||23.8 HP at 8250 rpm / 4 kW
||19.1 lb-ft at 5250 rpm / 148 lb-ft
||Steel with sheet-metal body and welded reinforcements
||Single arm fork with coil spring and hydraulic control
||Double hydraulic shock absorber with four-position spring pre-load adjustment / Monoshock
||220mm stainless steel disc, twin-piston caliper, ABS as standard
||220mm stainless steel disc, twin-piston caliper, ABS as standard / 140 mm stainless-steel disc, twin-piston caliper, ABS as standard