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Written by Ketzal Sterling    Monday, 14 April 2008 15:02     E-mail
Vespa S 125
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Vespa S 125
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Imagine this…it’s a beautiful sunny day and you cruise briskly by the seaside. Small puffy clouds hang motionless above the beautiful azure sea and the sun glistens off the tranquil water. As you gently weave around the coast your speed sends a rush of cool fresh air over your entire body. This is living. You’re riding the new Vespa S 125 and its stunning red paint glistens in the sun light. People turn their heads and smile as you pass by, they wave and cheer at your sheer amazingness.

Some people begin to run into the street and yell in unbridled joy; it’s almost like you’re Valentino Rossi after a win in his home grand prix. Everybody loves you. Women begin to rip their clothes off and run naked after you. If you’re blessed to be a women, then its glistening Spartan warriors in all their naked splendor that pursue you. You are a golden god. You ride more swiftly now as you turn inland and begin to climb a gigantic mountain. As you pass through the clouds and approach the summit God himself waits for you at the summit. Gently you park your mighty steed as God walks/floats towards you. God looks at you and then takes in the surrounding foothills. Millions of people surround the mountain; they stretch as far as the eye can see in every direction. God turns to you and the masses of people are suddenley hushed in expectancy. God says “Can I ride it?”

This is about sums up the Vespa S press release, or at least it’s my take on it. They stop short of saying the new Vespa will offer you eternal life but everything else is verbatim. When I first heard about the Vespa S, I must admit I was a tad excited as I initially thought it was a complete re design. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case as the Vespa S is really more of re styled Vespa LX to target different buyers than a completely new bike. The slimmer design with many styling cues from Vespa’s popular 1960-70s Vespa S and Vespa Primavera is hoping to retain the “unbroken link between Vespa and the younger generation”. Really it says that in the press release. Who writes these things? More importantly who actually believes this stuff? Here’s a question; if the Vespa S is targeted at the younger generation why is it styled after bikes built before this younger generation were even born? Seems to me they should be targeting the mid lifers who want to re live their miss spent youth.

Anyway the bike; here’s the good bit. The Vespa S 125 is a straight up fantastic scooter. Sometimes in life everything just comes together and creates something special. This is exactly what happened here. Either I’m losing it or the Vespa S really is significantly nicer to ride than the equivalent LX. On paper this shouldn’t be the case as both bikes are very similar, maybe it’s something like the placebo effect, call it the S effect. Just the simple fact that I simply enjoy the bikes new slimmer retro styling may have caused me to like the bike more for no other reason. Whatever it was is irrelevant, the Vespa S is a great bike to ride. It does share the slightly top heavy low speed wobbliness of most Vespa’s but it’s certainly not something that really matters. This I’ve come to the conclusion is the result of a slightly higher centre of gravity due to the metal bodywork compared to most all plastic scooters. Combine this with the Vespa’s quite steep front geometry and you get the slight feeling of wobbliness at low speeds. At normal riding speeds it has the benefit of giving the bike quick steering so it’s horses for courses.

The suspension on the Vespa S is so well sorted on that I almost didn’t notice it. Normally bumps and so forth quickly remind me to mention the need of improvement in my reviews; not so with the S. It’s seems Vespa have done a great job of tuning the suspension to the bike and creating a great compromise between plush comfort and sportyness (That’s probably not a word). The brakes are about average for this sort of bike with a 200mm disc up front and a drum brake on the back wheel. Why on earth Vespa continue to use a drum rear brake on premium scooters, I do not know. The Vespa S would have been the perfect time to swap to twin discs and considering its sporty image it’s a real shame they didn’t make the change. Hopefully sometime in the future Vespa will see the light like other manufactures and fit twin disc on any bike capable of doing 100kph (62mph).

Apart from the two stroke PX and the GTS 250 I’ve never really been a fan of Piaggio’s scooter engines. It seems they’re so hell bent on achieving low emissions and good fuel economy they engineer any fun out of the engines. The 125cc motor in the Vespa S seems to have just a little more character than normal. It only makes 7.6 Kw (10.3 hp) which is a bit weak considering some 125s make upwards of 15hp nowadays, however it seems to function better than it’s specifications read. Vespa clearly got the transmission take up and torque curve lined up near perfectly as the S accelerates quicker in real life than it should on paper. The initial take off is a little slow but as the engine hits its stride there’s a solid burst of speed to about 80kph (50mph). We got 6.7 seconds to 50kph (31mph) and 50-80kph (31-50mph) in 10.8 which are solid numbers for a 125cc machine. Combine this with the rather cool sound the scooter makes and the Vespa S is great fun around town. The bike also works quite well on the freeway at reasonable speeds. Top speed is somewhere in the region of 100kph (62mph) so just enough to cruise in the middle lane.

Ease of use is pretty solid with the Vespa S as well. The under seat storage will just take a small full face helmet; which is an improvement over most Vespa’s. There are also twin open storage areas up front and a bag hook for the extra groceries. Some early owners are already complaining that the front storage pockets should be lockable and I’d have to agree with them, it’s much more useful if you can actually leave valuables locked in the storage areas. Of special note is the vastly improved center stand, its superior design makes it almost too easy to get on and off the stand. It’s probably the best I’ve used to date and means smaller riders will have no problem using the center stand. Considering the bike weighs a reasonably heavy 110kg it’s a solid achievement.

I do have one serious gripe though. When on earth are Vespa going to add a remote seat release? Come on get with the program already. Pulling the key out of the ignition every time you want to open the seat is a complete joke. It’s the year 2008, just add a remote release for the seat on the key fob and ignition. It’s a very simple stuff; $1500 50cc scooters have it crying out loud. Given that Vespa’s are becoming more and more overpriced you’d think the extra money would buy you some modern conveniences.

Summing up the Vespa S 125. If you ignore the high entry price the Vespa S 125 is definitely one of the best 125cc scooters on the market, simple as that. If you factor in the price (Which you have to, as you’ve got to shell out the money at some point) it’s still a good buy as Vespa’s really do hold their value, although I really do think Vespa or the importers in some countries need to sharpen their pricing pencils as in some markets the current Vespa pricing is getting a tad ridiculous. (Australia and NZ being the best example) The Vespa S 125 is nearly twice the price of some high quality 125cc bikes. It’s a fantastic bike but it’s not twice as good as any modern bike from a quality manufacture. That’s a fact. However…if money isn’t a concern then I wholeheartedly recommend the Vespa. I simply enjoyed riding it and it preformed faultlessly. If Vespa added a few modern conveniences and sharpened the pricing they’d definitely have a total home run. If you’re in the market for a 125cc scooter you simply have to book in a test ride of Vespa S 125 regardless of what you want to spend, it’s that good.

PriceAUS $5990 USA $4099 NZ $6490 UK £2,649
0-50km/h6.7 Seconds
50-80km/h10.8 Seconds
Fuel Economy 3.2L/100kms - 74 MPG
Speedo Accuracy

50kph displayed = 45kph actual - 80kph displayed = 74 actual


Awesome styling, fantastic build quality, great features.

Cons:Needs more power...

Fuel Consumption
Value for money
Ease of use
Build quality

Overall Score


Manufacturer Specifications

Max power at shaft 7.6 Kw (10.3 hp) at 8,000 rpm
Max torque9.6 Nm at 6,000 rpm
Engine TypeSingle-cylinder air cooled 4-stroke
Cylinder Capacity124 cc
Seat height785mm
Dry weight 110kg
Kerb weight ---
Fuel tank capacity8.6 litres
Transmission“Twist and Go” Automatic Transmission (CVT)
Storage volumen/a
CoolingAir cooled
Bore X stroke57 mm x 48.6 mm
Compression ratio---
ChassisSheet steel with welded reinforcements
Front suspensionSingle arm with coil spring and dual effect single shock
Rear suspensionCoil spring with adjustable preload and dual effect hydraulic single shock
Front brake200 mm hydraulic steel disk
Rear brake110 mm mechanical drum
Front wheel/tyreDie-cast aluminium alloy 2.50x11” Tubeless 110/70-11”
Rear wheel/tyreDie-cast aluminium alloy 3.10x10” Tubeless 120/70-10”
Length1800 mm
Width740 mm
Wheelbase1280 mm
Max speed (km/hr) 95kph
Type approvalEuro3
Consumption (ECE applicable text cycle)---
Consumption @km/h - km/l---
Audible Indicatorno
Full helmet storageyes (small size only)
Glove boxyes
Fuel Guageyes
Trip Meterno
Seat release (via remote control)no
Seat release (remote, ignition/switch) no
Comments (11)add
written by hans , July 31, 2009
ahh thats funny stuff
you guys should get married....
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written by Frank , May 17, 2008
Hi Vincel & all the others I have responded to,

This will be my last response because I am finding that I have to repeat myself over things that have either not been understood or not read carefully enough.

As much as I appreciated the fact that you are taking the time to respond, I did not get the idea that you really read what I was writing.

In example: when you reply to my posting with "Things like headlights etc... well to be honest they are bad in most scooters so this sort of detail..."

I can't understand, how a 60W vs. a 35W headlight is a "detail" when you might be traveling at speeds over 80km/h at night.....

It was this approach, which gave me the reason for my initial (and admittedly emotional) criticism.

In my opinion, that's the kind of stuff, where you guys come in: LET THE MANUFACTURER KNOW: Hey: Improvement neccessary, this is not 1958 !!!

Why do you just settle for bad features and accept them as a rule engraved in stone ?

That's where the criticism of reviews is extremely valuable to the customers and the manufacturers.

Why would a manufacturer even bother to improve anything, if everything gets to be accepted as "bad in most.." anyway ?

By the way: I know of at least one scooter manufacturer that provides 60W halogen headlights in their 125cc/200cc scooters but I guess that "kind of detail" just doesn't matter.....especially when you go above 80km/h at night (which most modern scooters are very well capable of). Sorry for the sarcasm... but it's not just a "detail".
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written by vincel , May 13, 2008
Hey Frank, ok just quickly... I do understand your point, and appreciate the sentiment. Unfortunately for us there is always going to be a balance between detail, technical info, entertaining content and general feel of each bike. We could include all the info you note... but the story would be thousands of words long. What we aim to achieve is to give the reader an overview of each machine making a note of noteable deficiencies or positive aspects. Things like headlights etc... well to be honest they are bad in most scooters so this sort of detail tends to be noted only when it is good rather than bad. Info as pertains to things like wheel size in relation to highway performance etc is near on impossible to add for the simple fact that we cannot give detailed info on to take your example 11" vs 16" wheels for every scooter... every story would sound the same. We cover this sort of info by saying things like "this bike would only be suitable for infrequent highway riding" or similar. As for tech...older tech is not always worse and more importantly the test figures convey an overall message... ie if a bike has a fast 0-50 time and good lap time and good fuel consumption figures (all which are there and tested)the bike must handle relatively well, stop pretty well, accelerate well... you get the point. This is why we spend the time testing these things... to give a good, accurate idea as to how the bike is to live with.

Badge premium, let me give you another example: Nurburgring laptime comparison... Pagani Zonda vs Nissan GTR. both times within a couple seconds of each other, both street legal cars you or I could buy (assuming sufficient cashflow) functional difference... similar, GTR probably better day to day usage. Price difference 350 odd grand vs 80ish thousand... where does the price difference come in... long story short... Perception... which comes from brand name, styling and rarity. I give you Vespa is not a rarity but perception goes a long way. Neither example is $x better than the other but pricing is not our job. We tell the consumer what the price point is... on all the models we can... the review is to tell about the product including the price. Most of our users read many reviews... obviously a few of the machines they are interested in then go and ride the ones they think sound appropriate.
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written by Frank , May 11, 2008
Hi Del Fuego,

Thanks for your response. However, You did miss the point of my criticism. I would like to clarify, in case I wasn't being clear enough.
I am not in the business to bash you. I just want to point out, that a scooter is a source of daily transportation for a lot of people and not a matter of a lifestyle. With fuel prices going up and oil at over $120 now with EXXON being forced to decrease their crude production by over 10% in the first quarter of 2008, motor scooters are now in the focus for the average person to bring down their monthly costs.
This puts scooters back to their oirigins (the purpose of the original Vespa was affordable mass transportation, as easy to handle as a car but more efficient).
Your review is written as if a scooter is nothing but a recreational vehicle solely for the purpose of overcoming someones Sunday boredom, who happens to have too much cash on hand (ironically that's exactly how Vespa markets their product in todays market. It's a lifestyle product and not a sensible product anymore).
Vespa has long conceded the market of motor scooters as a source of reliable and efficient transportation to others like Kymco and Bolwell. They benefit largely from their synonymous name - so far.
I still think, that Vespa should be compared to those standards, like a BMW still gets compared to a Toyota.
I think that there is a world of difference between calling something a "hunk of junk" and having a critical distance. Your comment regarding the "Premium" for the brand name Vespa only partially fits.
If i.e. BMW would be offering vehicles with technology from 15 years ago and they would have to compete against a Toyota, I am sure the final analysis of a test would not be that the BMW is "one of the best cars on the market".
BMW would get ridiculed and hammered for that kind of non-effort.
you have also not understood, that I don't want a "rehash" of the manufacturers offered tech specs (read my previous post to that aspect and also read my statement towards the "tech specs").
All I would like is a more differentiated and critical approach toward i.e. a Vespa 125S.
Here's some substantial critisism:

- How do 11" tires compare to the behaviour of 16" tires at highway speeds ?
- Why is the Vespa 125S not even water cooled at that premium price ?
- Why do other brands offer up to 25% more power than a Vespa ?
- Why does Vespa only offer a one year warranty compared to others which offer two
- Why does a new Vespa STILL not offer at least motorcycle qulaity lighting instead of the outdated and dim 35W headlights ?
- Is the one piece body/frame not a liability in terms of follow up costs today ?
You are also assuming a lot, by stating "that you already know this". Well, if I already know all this, when I am reading reviews, why would I want to read a review then ? that's a contradiction in itself.
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written by Del Fuego , May 06, 2008
Ok, briefly: first of all, none of our review team are as you put it a "vespa fans" I personally ride a Suzuki 125. We can accurately say that this is a good bike because we have ridden enough scooters in our time to make that call. I am not arguing that the price is higher than that of other similar machines however if you are looking to buy a Vespa you already know this, you are paying for the badge. Just like buying a BMW over a Toyota. They both do the same job yet one has a premium for the brand. The tech specs that we can get are all listed, we don't need to add them into the story part of the review... what would that achieve? In short we ride a bike, we call it as we see it... if the 125S had been a hunk of junk we would have said so. It is a pleasure to ride, if you don't mind shelling out the extra cash (prices are listed) for the Vespa brand then you will most likely get a pleasurable riding experience from this machine.
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written by Frank , May 03, 2008
Hi "Motorrad",
First off, I don't think that you had any reason to get personal with this. Secondly I am from the USA. Also, It is a fact that Vespas are extremely high priced for what they deliver, which makes you lose so much money trying to sell them. When it comes to the vintage vespas, you are correct, they have a great resale value. The new ones, because of their high cost - not so much.
I really enjoyed your redbook claim, because it was apparently just speculation.
I did a brief check... comapred a Vespa ET2 resale to a Bolwell Mioi 50cc resale... the resale of the vespa was $2200-$2400 with an original RRP of $3890. The Mio wresale was $1700-$2000 with an original RRP of $2790. Averaging the resales you come to a resale value of 61.7% compared with the RRP on the Vespa and a value of 66.3% with the Bolwell Mio. So your claim took a nosedive here.
As far as your claim goes, that reviews are going to be "highly subjective", I have to fully disagree, unless you want to discuss philosophy.
First off, professional reviews of motorcycles and cars have A LOT of technical and detailed information about what you are looking at. The point of all this is, that you get an INDEPENDENT opinion and NOT what the manbufacturer likes to have you believe.
The manufacturer of a vehicle has a natural CONFLICT OF INTEREST, because the manufacturer wants you to believe that his product is the best.
That is EXACTLY why there are REVIEWS of vehicles. Thsi has to do with CHECKS AND BALANCES.
My criticism to your "review" was that it does not have the necessary "critical distance" to the product. Whether that is because you are afraid, that next time the manufacturer might not have you test their vehicles anymore or that you just couldn't care whether potential customers actually get some serious information out of your articles remains speculation.
Besides having a fun weekend on a scooter, it is very much significant (and not boring) to know about technological advancements (i.e. watercooling vs. air cooling, 2-valve vs. 4 valve technology, 35W headlight vs. 60W headlighting etc...etc...etc...)
I don't think that that is boring for anyone who is seriously considering spending thousands of dollars on a vehicle. I think it's ESSENTIAL.
For example, why would someone want to spend 30% MORE on a vehicle, that delivers half the warranty, outdated engine technology, higher follow up costs AND less performance than a competitors vehicle ?
I think that these are concrete issues which are entirely intersteing for anyone trying to find out where to spend their money.
Moreover, I think that CRITICAL JOURNALISM also helps manufacturers make things better the next time around.
you see, I am a serious customer who is trying to make up his mind and I have been trying very hard to find constructive critical journalism on the behalf of motor scooters (just like I can find for car reviews)
My criticism of your style of "reviewing" is that I can ask my friend who owns a Vespa LX if I want to have a personally invested rave about a scooter.
The sense, that you are basically saying it's either fun to read (what, like a novel ????) or boring ("read the manufacturers tech data") is just condescending. you know, there is always a way of integrating these things. It's not just this or that. That's part of the skill of a journalist. Whether it's politics or cars or motor scooters.
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written by Motorrad , May 02, 2008
Frank, I do not know what country you live in but in Australia, Vespa scooters hold their value much more than any other scooter on the market. This not just my opinion, it supported by recognised Australian vehicle re-sale publications such as RedBook etc. As to this review being subjective, reviews of products whether you are talking scooters, motor cars, computers or MP3 players are going to be highly subjective, if you really want to compare detailed specifications then go to the various manufacturers web sites and input their spec's into a spreadsheet. But in the real world we all know that specifications do not tell the full story and if you think otherwise, perhaps it is time you woke up from your dream state.
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written by Frank , April 30, 2008
I would be intersted to hear, which of my comments were incorrect. It's easy to just claim that.... examples ?? however, I was surprised to read that you "DON"T GET PAID TO WRITE GOOD REVIEWS" that's pretty revealing, I would say.
Factually, that the Vespa S125 is a "damn good bike" is nothing but your opinion and not a fact.
For a Vespa fanatic, every Vespa is a "damn good bike" because it's a Vespa and that's where my critisism of your article hinges:
You call your site the "scooter review" but all you offer is some subjective riding opinion. What exactly makes the Vespa S125 "definitely one of the best 125cc scooters on the market" ?
You failed to substantiate this extremely subjective claim. What makes it "best" compared to i.e. a Genuine Buddy or a Kymco People S125 or a SYM HD125 for that matter ? I also want to repeat my critisism your misleading claim, that "Vespas do hold their value". They don't. That is a complete myth upheld maybe by Vespa dealers. Just check craigslist for example and see for yourself.
I also think, that your claim that a real review would leave you with your sarcastically stated "1.2 readers" is entirely wrong. I would argue that the opposite would be the case: Good and thorough and CRITICAL information goes a long way.

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written by Del Fuego , April 28, 2008
Hey Frank, Glad you read the article, I am sad to hear that you wanted, apparently, to read a rehash of the manual. Detailed technical information such as how many valves can generally be found in the manufacturers specs panel. Putting that sort of info into the story would leave us with approximatel 1.2 readers, it is incredibly boring to read and to 99.9% of people not particularly relevant to buying a new scooter. In short no we don't get paid to write a good review, fact is the 125 S Vespa is a damn good bike. Is it Expensive? yes, that doesn't make it bad. Im not going to bother arguing every one of your (mostly incorrect) comments, it would take another whole article. The information is all there, and in a lot more detail than anyone else provides, both in terms of information.. fuel, speed, price (4 different prices in fact) and probably more importantly a real world impression of how the thing rides. If you are seriously looking at buying a Vespa you already know the price and obviously are not put off by that... We tell you if it is any good... it is.
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written by Frank , April 28, 2008
I am still looking for a scooter review site olr magazine that conducts real tests. This scooter "test" is another example for a lifestyle/joyride approach instead of a real test which might bear some significance to a person intersted in buyng a substantial motor scooter for daily commutes. I mean really what does "Awesome styling, fantastic build quality, great features." mean in terms of "Pros" ??????
It's nothing but a completely subjective comment from a mid aged Vespa fan.
I am looking for REAL comparisons. QUALITY features/issues, HP to weight ratio, warranty explanations, engine TECHNOLOGY specifics. How many valves does this thing have ? what's the typical out the door price ? what are the real innovations for this model compared to others etc ....etc...etc...etc...
Sorry man... you've lost me with your admiring uncritical approach..... the only thing that got on your nerves is the "missing remote seat release" ??????
Does Vespa pay you to do this kind of shmusy "review" ???
you also comment on an absolute phantasie of yours: "it’s still a good buy as Vespa’s really do hold their value"
THAT is entirely inaccurate. Vintage Vespas hold their values, true. The new ones lose $1000 bucks just by leaving the lot. I am sorry. VERY unprofessional review with no substance.

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written by Dozer , April 15, 2008
Well done, very thorough reveiw. This looks the goods too. They have just landed in Australia, and I'm going to test one soon.
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