A friend of mine needed a ride, so I asked him to hop onto the Vespa with me. I was barely 500m down the road when I realised it was a terrible idea – this friend of mine was, erm, bulky, and he spent the entire ride uncomfortably pushed up against me. The Vespa, you see, has a smallish seat and no grab rails. Even if your pillion rider is not, well, bulky, the two of you will be stuck together anyway because they have nothing to hold on to when you brake.
The space constraints do not end here. The footwell is small and narrow, which means that my large feet are regularly propped up against the upward-curving front wall, with half of each foot hanging off the scooter. And my large-sized helmet doesn’t fit in the underseat storage either.
No, I’m not done complaining yet. The engine slurs every time I have to take off from a standstill and the brakes feel wooden unless I give the levers a good four-finger pull. The fuel economy is disappointing, and the ex-showroom price tag absurdly expensive. Also, there are vibrations in the handlebar at low revs and the mirrors are almost impossible to adjust satisfactorily.
But I still really like the Vespa. All things said, it is a really cool scooter. Despite its fairly decent market penetration in India, the Vespa manages to turn heads and despite it being a modern, 21st century scooter, it still feels decidedly retro. In a sea of Activas and Jupiters and Maestros, the Vespa stands out and sets you apart from the fray. And I see immense value in that.