World Class Scooter MMM Rides the Fastest Production Vespa – The 2008 Vespa GTS 250ie
by Lee Bruns
I never had a scooter as a youth; maybe that’s why I’m so enamored of them now. My recent day spent on a 2008 Vespa GTS 250ie did nothing to cure me of scooter-lust. The Motocycle Shop in Watertown, South Dakota recently added Vespa scooters, and were gracious enough to let me loose on the midsized Vespa for the day. I repaid their generosity by crashing their scooter. More on that later.
The GTS was waiting for me when I arrived; its glistening, gloss black paint and tasteful chrome accents gleamed in the sun. The GTS 250ie is a classically styled step-through scooter with an all-steel body. The bodywork offers excellent protection from road-spatter and hangs low enough to trigger traffic signals when stopped at red lights.
The first order of business was to test the machine’s ability to deal with traffic. I fired it up and headed onto the highway. The fuel injected engine fired up instantly and settled into a nice idle. When the light turns green, color the Vespa gone. Acceleration from a stop is impressive and even at freeway speeds reserve power allows for quick dispatch of slow moving traffic.
The CVT transmission means no clutching or shifting is needed. Just roll on the throttle to make the world stream past. The GTS is deceptively fast, as I found myself exceeding the posted speed limit far too often. The sensation of speed is further diminished by the near silent application of power. The fuel injected, liquid-cooled 244cc four-valve engine puts out a claimed 21.7 hp and pulled my 200-pound carcass up to a GPS-confirmed 75mph top speed with no fanfare. Even at that speed, the 12-inch rims made for a stable ride, with none of the twitchiness of smaller-wheeled scooters.
The suspension, both front and rear, is excellent other than a slight tendency to stand up during mid-corner braking maneuvers. Dual-piston calipers on 8.66-inch (220mm) disc brakes make for quick two-finger stops. Five-spoke alloy wheels are a nice upgrade from the stamped steel wheels on Vespas of old. The single-sided, trailing-link front suspension eliminates nearly all front-end dive during braking. The factory center stand is easy to use and a lug is in place for those folks that wish to add the optional side stand.
The white-faced speedometer shows forward progress at a glance, while the multi-function digital display shows time, engine temperature, air temperature, RPM, fuel level, trip meter and odometer. The sculpted seat is perfectly shaped for all-day comfort. Flip out passenger pegs are a little too far forward for shorter-legged passengers, but work well otherwise. Switchgear is standard motorcycle fare and took no getting used to. Details such as the flip-up parcel rack in back set the Vespa in a class all its own. Underseat storage is big enough to hold two helmets with room to spare.
I enjoyed the ride right up until I flopped the GTS on its side while trying to turn into a muddy parking spot. The Vespa shrugged off this indignity with only a small scratch in its gleaming paint. My mud-soaked pants did not fare as well.
With a MSRP of $5,999, the GTS 250ie costs as much as many full-sized bikes, but with excellent power and a user-friendly riding experience it is a legitimate alternative for those riders needing a daily commuter or even a light-duty touring rig. Don’t let the small engine size fool you. The GTS 250ie Vespa delivers more riding fun with 244ccs than most motorcycles do with 600ccs or more. I returned the scooter to the Motocycle Shop more hooked than ever and wondering why more riders don’t purchase modern scooters instead of motorcycles. Maybe if more folks take the time to test ride a new Vespa that will change. MMM would like to thank the Motocycle Shop in Watertown, South Dakota. They can be reached at www.themotocycleshop.com or 800-55-GOOSE.