2014 has been a busy time for Vespa in Malaysia. After the debuts of the LXV 150 3V i.e. and the Primavera 150 i.e. the Vespa LT 150 3v i.e. has now been added to the range just before the end of December and we move off into 2015.
The LT replaces the Vespa LX in the Malaysian market, therefore making it the new entry-level model. In terms o style, it draws inspiration from its predecessor and a lot of the components like the meter cluster and switchgear are shared, but the chassis and engine are taken from the more contemporary Primavera. Therefore, the LT is actually appreciably bigger with a longer wheelbase and overall length.
While Vespa may have three bikes sharing the same 150cc engine capacity, parent company Piaggio actually has two different engines. The LXV uses a 151cc single with bore and stroke measurements of 62.8 x 48.6mm while the Primavera uses a 155cc single with 58 x 58.6mm bore and stroke measurements. The bigger engine has more power and torque with 12.7hp and 12.8Nm against 12.1hp and 11.8Nm, which makes a big difference on a scooter.
Unlike the LX, the all-new LT takes a more extrovert styling approach. Our test bike was bright orange with orange piping on the black seat, orange Vespa logo embroidered into the seat cover and little Italian tricolour flags over the rear arches. It made a statement wherever it was ridden so you owners better get used to the attention.
To get going, just thumb the electric starter and twist the throttle as the CVT gearbox starts to wind up and transfer drive to the rear wheel. It’s actually easier and less complicated to get going than a bicycle so a Vespa is a great way to get started on bikes. On the go, progress is serene though it only feels energetic up to about 80km/h. Going faster and trying to exceed 100km/h sometimes feels pointless so highway excursions should be kept to a minimum.
Where it really excels is when you’re riding in a typical urban environment. The instant acceleration from a walking pace is enough to pull clear at traffic lights while the narrow dimensions allows you to split lanes more confidently than if you were on a maxi-scooter. It all adds up to a riding experience that old hands will appreciate while those new to bikes won’t get intimidated.
As the LT shares the same mechanical specification as the Primavera it’s no surprise it handles and performs similarly. It takes corners with confidence on its 11-inch tyres and the brakes are similarly effective at slowing the bike down. All scooters seem to need lots of rear braking to slow down, so keep that in mind when you’re trying to keep up with despatch riders on the motorcycle lane.
Ride comfort is good, but the front and rear suspension (which has 4-way adjustable preload) has trouble coping with sunken expansion joints and sharp speed bumps. It’s not jarringly bad but the crunch when dipping or cresting these obstacles made me fear for the longevity of the wheels.
As for storage, I found the front storage compartment to be very handy for mobiles, wallets and various keys and tags. The under seat compartment is also spacious and will easily swallow most open face helmets but remember it’s on top of the engine and therefore gets pretty hot when you go for a ride.
Overall, the Vespa LT 150 3v i.e. was an enjoyable and practical way to commute. It also has a dash of extrovert style, which should make it a hit with the preppie crowd looking for cheap daily transport. The real clincher though would be the price. Because it’s the new entry-level machine for Vespa in Malaysia, the LT 150 3v i.e. retails for a barely believable RM9,888. Yes, you can now get a Vespa, and a stylish one at that, for less than RM10,000 so really, what are you waiting for?