By Guido Ebert
Twisting the Grip on the Stella 4T
Late last year I rode Genuine Scooter Company’s Stella 4T (MSRP: $3,699), a four-stroke version of the now deceased two-stroke which I own.
I like the Stella with its four-speed transmission. I could see a much larger market potential for this bike if it were offered in twist-and-go form. But that wouldn’t pose as much classic cool, would it?
The India-made Stella, featuring the steel chassis and look of the old Vespa PX, is adorable and garners attention wherever it’s ridden. It’s a scooter of the “old school,” no doubt, except this one has that new four-pot powerplant; a modernized multi-gauge analog display; electric and kick-start; and updated brakes, suspension and tires.
Then there’s the four-speed manual transmission, shifted by a squeeze of the clutch lever and twist of the entire left grip assembly. In a 30-mph zone dotted by stop signs, that means three to four gears up and three to four gears down … continuously. That’s a lot of squeezing and twisting. Plus, with all of that work throughout the rpm range, what the Stella’s mileage equated to for me was an average of about 90 mpg versus the 140 mpg stated in the scooter’s literature. Still, that’s pretty good.
The Stella is great for traffic moving up to 50 mph. The air-cooled engine sounds diminutive but once underway picks up steam nicely if the rider is fluid in his or her shifting technique. Top speed was an indicated 61 mph, but automated roadside police radar revealed a 5 mph discrepancy at 45 mph.
Stopping happens via a right hand lever connected to a six-inch Grimeca hydraulic disc front brake, as well as from a foot pedal connected to a rear drum. Use of both stoppers is recommended in reeling the bike in from speed or when with a passenger.
The Stella rides on Gabriel performance shocks and 3.5” x10” wheels. The combination works well in support of two-up riding, helping the bike haul 280 lbs. with no qualm. While the small wheels and wheelbase do induce some wobble when the Stella with solo operator is leaned into a wide, rough sweeper, the impact on handling is negligible and operators should simply take notice to navigate roadway deviations.
My father used to ride an NSU Lambretta in Germany in the early 1960s. He says this Stella rides “very much like” the bike he had 50 years ago. And that’s just it: The Stella is not meant to be purchased by novices or twist-and-go scooterists wanting the latest in running gear and techno gadgets beneath a plastic exterior, but is a bike sold to scooter enthusiasts who seek the feeling of nostalgia atop a sturdy, trustworthy, and classic looking ride that comes with a two-year/unlimited mile warranty.
Genuine Scooter Co. sold more than 25,000 of its 150cc two-stroke Stella following the scooter’s introduction in 2003. The cleaner burning four-stroke version was introduced as a way for the Chicago-based company to capitalize on the lucrative California market.
Where Does The Stella Come From
LML India, formerly known as Lohia Machines Private Ltd., manufactures and supplies the steel-bodied 150cc scoot that Genuine Scooter Co. sells in the U.S. as the “Stella”. The scooter also is marketed as the “Star” in Europe and as the “Belladonna RV 150” in New Zealand.
Founded in 1972 as a manufacturer of synthetic yarn machines, LML obtained the right to produce the 1970s era Vespa PX scooter after signing a technical collaboration with Piaggio of Italy in 1984 and becoming an equal partner of Piaggio in a 1990 deal.
Piaggio in 1999 ended its partnership with LML (perhaps as a result of the Indian company’s agreement with South Korea’s Daelim in that same year?) but LML retained the right to manufacture the “Indian PX”.
Piaggio’s decision not to sell a version of the PX in the U.S. upon the company’s return to North America left the market open for Genuine Scooter Co. to capitalize on demand for the classic design.
Up next: Look for Genuine to introduce that twist-and-go version I alluded to earlier in the article.