This is the fourth in a series of posts dedicated to living with the Vespa GTV 250 i.e. The third article is here.
Takin’ the long way on the GTV250.
I made two trips to Santa Barbara on my daily commute to my (now former) job there. I decided that the 160 mile round trip daily ride would put the scooter to many tests. Top speed, endurance, mileage, handling over different pavements and conditions, scootering in Santa Barbara, and finally the attitudes of the people that I have coffee with in Ventura, lunch with in Santa Barbara, and a cup of tea with in either place on the way home.
Top speed and freeway driving.
Those 14 inch tires just disappear underneath the Vespa. I didn’t know what to think about them. Even standing at idle on the bike, there is no way, without contortion, that you can see the rear wheel. I didn’t expect much with respect to riding on the freeway, but I’ve seen lesser rides on the road with me, and the 250cc engine is freeway legal.
As I accelerated down the onramp from Reseda Blvd to the 118 freeway west, I was shocked how fast the GTV got from zero to “I’m not going to be killed doing this” speed. By the time I hit the end of the relatively short onramp, I was speeding past 60 and on my way. Signals and visibility are without question awesome, and I safely maneuvered into traffic, still accelerating even though I was going slightly uphill. I topped out at an indicated 84mph, which, translated through an Italian Speedo, is either about 75mph, or, if you’re used to them like I am, that would be “fast”.
The first obstacle in the path between Northridge and Ventura’s salt breezes is the Susanna Pass road, which is quite steep uphill. The Piaggio 250 that I had tested previously made it up this hill with very little drop in top speed, so I wanted to see what the Vespa, with slightly smaller tires, much more frontal area and a little more weight would do.
Not bad, about what I had expected actually. By the time I got to the top of the hill, I was running about 71 indicated, 62 or so actual (italian translation: medium fast). As soon as it flattened out, there was no doubt that the scoot would go back to top speed. The engine, even with 5000 miles on it, just ran like it was new. A rev-limiter is attached to the engine that limits top speed to an indicated 87 or so. I was able to bump up against this limiter on the flats, so the bike is geared just about perfectly, the CVT works as advertised, and if you are skeptical, spend a week with one and you’ll be hooked.
The trip to work and back, taken twice, took about 15 minutes longer than it would have on my bigger motorcycles. Two things stick out though. I found myself taking side roads more often, enjoying the view, smells and textures of my surroundings, and generally relaxing along my ride. I had come to accept the lower speed potential of the scoot, and found some very nice ways to entertain myself and enjoy my ride, especially on the way home. Continue reading