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Scooter Review

Vespa PX 200 Review

Now is your last chance to buy the last of the new geared scooters in Australia, as we bid a tearful farewell to the beloved PX. Forever.

Words by JEREMY BOWDLER, photography by LOU MARTIN

If your idea of a scooter is twist and go, then a ride on the PX200 will blow your mind. Compared with the ET or LX range of Vespas, the PX is loud, raucous, rough, rattly and so much fun my jaw ached from smiling so much.

From the first the PX is just different and despite the constant improvements over the years, easily a generation removed from today’s experience. There’s a fuel tap. And a choke. But it gets weirder.

On the left-hand bar there’s a strange marking. 1-N-2-3-4 and a corresponding red dot near the twistgrip. Gears. And, of course, the rear brake protruding from the footboards.

Curiouser and curiouser. My morning ritual now involved turning on the fuel tap, pulling out the choke, pulling in the clutch and pressing the button. Brap, brap ... ring a ding. “Hmm, a two-stroke,” commented my neighbour George through the smoke.

Careful not to foul the plug, I was off, using my heel to ease back the choke to its closed position. Then the noise changed from ring a ding ding to, if not ripping silk, then at least ripping calico and I was carried in style to work while being transported to Rome in my mind. Cool.

The 10-inch wheels and narrow tyres took a bit of getting used to, especially when matched to the power of the 198cc two-stroke engine, but once I knew what to expect, my smile just grew wider. Having the bulk of the engine/ transmission hanging out under the side cover on one side (and a spare wheel under the other) creates an imbalance in weight that saw me wobble around for a while until I got used to it and forgot all about it.

What took most getting used to though, was the gearshift. Now I’m very familiar with riding a motorcycle and the variety of gearshift patterns they come with. Although most are standardised with a one down/four (or five) up shift pattern on the left-hand side, one of my bikes has the reverse, with a one-up/four-down set-up.Older British bikes have the shift on the right-hand side, in either pattern, and my old bike has a three-speed tank-shift and foot-clutch. I’ve even ridden bikes with a rotary ’box where you can shift from sixth straight to first.

The PX, on the other hand, has a onedown/three-up twist-shift that incorporates the clutch. Pull the clutch in and twist the gearshift. Easy. But a bit weird at the same time. I found that the first to second shift was flawless, but second to first found me in neutral more often
than not unless I was a little more authoritative with the control.

The other thing I found was that it was all too easy to inadvertently put the scooter into gear when rocking it off the centrestand.

Holding the clutch in solved the “problem”.perfect for riding around town, leaving first for take-offs and fourth for the open road.

At first, I found the rear brake hard to use, until I realised that lifting my heel to the centre ridge between the footboards allowed me good leverage and, more importantly, good feel. That was important since, at first, I found the disc brake front end a little too powerful for the front tyre and its universal-type tread pattern. After an accidental front-wheel lock-up and foot-down not quite we’re-going-to-crash moment on my first ride, I was a little more measured with my front brake application and we got along just fine. I’d be looking at tyres that would allow me to make use of more of the PX’s obvious capabilities.

I’d also be looking in the almost inexhaustible parts and accessories catalogue for luggage options since there’s no on-board storage under the seat, unless you’re talking on-board storage of fuel and two-stroke oil.

The lockable glovebox at the front is handy, but you’ll want to carry a bottle of two-stroke oil for top-ups and that takes up a bit of room. There are plenty of racks available for both the front and rear so you can dress up your PX and make it more convenient at the same time. One oddity I noticed was the belt and braces approach to the instrumentation with both a fuel gauge and a fuel-level warning light, but no oil light. And my experience of two-strokes says you’ll come to a more sudden stop by the side of the road if you run out of oil than if you run out of fuel.

The rest of the instrumentation is as basic, but as functional, as you’d expect from a vehicle designed for transport – and not as a transport of delight. In fact, the PX is pretty basic, full stop. But the important thing is that what there is of it has been honed over the past 60 years and represents the ultimate incarnation of the humble Paperino of all those years ago – and it is very, very good.

It’s not as clean as a new LX, nor as convenient, nor as easy to ride, but that’s not the point. A PX customer will embrace these differences, because with a PX, you’re not just playing at being Gregory Peck or Audrey Hepburn. You become them.

 
Country of origin ------------------------------------- Italy
Seat height -----------------------------------------810mm
Dry weight --------------------------------------------- 97kg
Fuel capacity ---------------------------------------- 8 litres
Fuel economy ------------------------------------------- n/a
Wheels/tyre sizes ( f/r) --------------- 3.50-10/3.50-10
Underseat storage --------------------------------------No
Luggage hook --------------------------------------------Yes
Warranty -------------------- 24 months/unlimited km
Contact----------------------------<www.vespa.com.au>
See Listing for more details…

Helmet by KBC. Boots by Dainese (03 8327 8888).
Gloves by Rivet (02 9709 4655).Jacket by Vespa
(03 9381 9720). Jeans by Hornee (02 4737 9268).

As published in TW SCOOTER MAGAZINE - 18/12/2008
Subscribe to Two Wheels Scooter magazine now!


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