TGB Bellavita 300 Review
TGB have put a great deal of effort and time into the development of the Bellavita. Has it all paid off? We get the first ride in Australia.
This was always going to be a contentious one. We've seen copies before, though in this case it's a little different. Normally each manufacture will take a subtle approach to what it deciphers to be retro or classic. Generally, they all show some individuality and they all take a little piece of history in doing so. In TGB's case, it's taken a different approach. Copy one of the most well known modern classics on the market today and replicate it in a cheaper form. So have TGB achieved building something that can be compared or have they fallen well short? We take a look.
Normally we wouldn't compare two models directly. In this case though, we're really left with no choice. The TGB Bellavita is looking directly down the barrel at Vespa's GTS250. You can't build or match something this closely and not declare your intentions. The styling is an exact replication with only a few subtle differences. On the specification front it's also a case of near enough is good enough.
The Bellavita features SYM's 264cc powerplant. Pumping out a claimed 17.8 Kw's, the outputs competitive. The engine features a 4-valve head, is liquid cooled and well known in the scooter world for being a good reliable performer. Hence why TGB chose this engine. They also had experience with this drive train in TGB's XMotion, so they know it well.
Tyre and wheel size will seem familiar. The front being a 120/70 - 12 whilst the rear is a 130/70 - 12. Both sizes are readily available across a number of tyre brands. The wheel design itself does look the goods. Brakes are 230mm disc on the front and 220mm disc on the rear. The brakes are linked, meaning the left hand lever will use the front and rear brake discs combined. The right hand lever activating the front brake alone.
The comparisons keep on coming. Seat height is posted at 780mm, 10mm under the GTS. The length of the Bellavita is 5mm less overall. The total dry weight of the Bellavita tips the scales at 153kg, the GTS at 148kg. Suspension on the rear is dual adjustable shock absorber whilst the front is copying Vespa's single sided traditional approach.
Fuel capacity is 8.8 litres in total. The fuel tank is situated under the seat. Opening the seat is via the button on the front legshield. A manual pull is available inside the glovebox just in case battery power fails. The glovebox opens by turning the ignition key to the left. Storage under the seat is not that deep nor is it long. It's smallish if we were still going to compare. The storage area is fixed solid and thankfully includes a 12 volt charging outlet. You won't fit a helmet under the seat, though you can use the two helmet hooks provided. The Bellavita also features a handy bag hook. There's room for phone, wallet and loose change in the glove compartment.
Switchgear feels good, looks good and works well. The dash contains a digital readout that shows fuel, odo/kilometre usage and time. Speed uses an analogue gauge. I quite like the background of the dash, it suits the classic theme. The Bellavita also comes with a blinker indicator warning noise when operational.
Now to the styling part. The Bellavita takes a slightly modern take on what is now a classic. The rear end looks particularly cool, the LED blinkers give it a real streamlined appearance. The front end for me can look a little flat depending on the angle. Front on, the Bellavita's horn cover and the "must-have" round headlight feature. Again the chrome round mirrors will look familiar.
TGB have also placed a non self-retracting side stand on the Bellavita. Unfortunately only rear passenger grab handles and no rear rack standard. The rear passenger footpegs are a complete replication of what we see on Vespa's GTS range.
Accessories for the Bellavita include a top case which will come in priced at $249. A rear carrier rack will be available at $129. Front screens in both summer and winter versions. The smaller screen is $220, the larger coming in at $230. All very affordable.
On The Road
If comparing specifications are inevitable the same can be said for on-road dynamics. TGB engineers have clearly set about making the Bellavita feel heavy. The weight is the first thing you notice. Roll it on and off the centre stand and the TGB lands at either end of the stroke with a resounding thud. In the scooter world I often relate weight to quality, especially in a scooter this size.
This heaviness or that feeling of quality transfers to how the Bellavita feels on the road. This weight makes the Bellavita feel solid. Low speed stability is fine, whilst at top-end speeds, the Bellavita feels just as planted. This was the indication of quality I was looking for. It was something that was immediately apparent straight out of the box. Our ride consisted of fast freeway work, around town commuting and the odd motorway. The Bellavita handled this easily and impressed over the two days of commuting.
From standstill the Bellavita quickly gathers momentum. The sweet spot is in the 80-110 km/h zone. Here the Bellavita feels comfortable and relaxed and tuned with intention. The engine has that Taiwanese growl about it when accelerating hard. There's no jittery feeling when you're on and off the throttle at low speeds. Performance is very much a reflection of the 250 - 300 class and the SYM engine is a goodie. I was expecting nothing less. First accessory on the list would be a small screen for higher speeds.
The big test for me was always going to be how the chassis felt. The test involved hitting a series of fast bumpy corners. Finding bigger bumps on the road and running over them time and time again. Here TGB have clearly paid attention to suspension settings and the position of weight around the scooter. You can be confident the Bellavita will stay on-task. No rattles or banging and crashing its way over, it's all very refined. The size of the wheelbase combined with 12 inch wheels is exactly as you'd expect. Short, sharp and responsive.
Brakes do feel strong, pulling the Bellavita up quickly, you only need to use the left hand lever. It did take me a while to figure out why I wasn't trail braking into a corner. I worked it all out when I noticed the brakes were linked.
The Bellavita is not going to win awards for innovation. We've seen it all before. The Bellavita will be constantly compared, it can thank its styling for that. For the untrained eye, you'd be hard picking the difference and I'm sure this was the aim of the exercise.
Though the Bellavita is a first in many ways. The first larger capacity classic out of Taiwan. The first real example of taking a class leader and trying to replicate it in every way possible. Sure we've seen it before, but never with this level of quality, and never out of Taiwan.
The Bellavita is a class effort. Building something this close to a current market leader was always going to be cheeky. So it had to be good, and in all respects the Bellavita is due some credit. The Bellavita has some classy attributes when it comes to quality, handling and performance. TGB have manufactured a quality premium feel into this scooter. The Bellavita is good enough to stand on its own and worthy enough of the comparisons.
So here's my take on it. The Bellavita will appeal to those looking for an attractively styled package that's affordable. When sitting all handsome in a TGB showroom the Bellavita's argument will be a compelling one. Here you have a model that looks cool and feels solid, not some plastic lightweight. When price starts getting factored into the equation the argument looks even better. Around 6 grand for a retro styled, top quality, 300 class scooter. I've always believed the Taiwanese 300 class to be some of the best bang for buck scooters on today's market. For the first time we can now add a cool looking retro into the mix.
For some, the opinion will always be you can't manufacture history. Nor could you ever manufacture a model to compare with Vespa's all metal construction. And that's true, brand, passion, heritage all play a role in the purchase decision process. I purchased my Guzzi after visiting the factory on beautiful Lake Como. I know all too well the power of how a brand can make you feel. Vespa has that same special ring to it. Vespa's still a premium product with an all metal construction and that sweet Quasar engine. That's why you pay the premium. That's why you'll maintain the bragging rights.
It'll be interesting to see how the Bellavita sells. As I've said, TGB deserves merit behind the development. If not for the looks, than definitely for the quality premium feel of the overall package. This ones a keeper. Ride it and you'll agree.
TGB has given the Bellavita a 2 year factory warranty. Service schedule to be confirmed shortly. More information @ www.thebellavita.com.au
- Well priced and affordable
- Premium quality feel
- 300 class performance
- Accessory costs
- 12 volt charger
- Small underseat storage
- No rear rack standard
- No Immobiliser