These days the Vespa is a top choice amongst Thailand’s more discerning motorbike enthusiasts due to its elegant Italian design and dolce vita lifestyle image. ‘Vespa’ means a wasp in Italian. You can find these dashing bohemians – the self-styled contemporary mods of Thailand – whizzing between cafes in fashionable neighborhoods of the Big Mango. But it wasn’t always this way. Vespa models landed in the kingdom over 40 years ago and were first adopted by Thai-Chinese denizens in the commercial hive of Bangkok’s Chinatown for their indestructible nature and workhorse engines. Last month, the Vespiario Co. Ltd. (Thailand) hosted the 68th anniversary celebration of the first Vespa’s production in 1946; “68 Years of Vespa La Festa”. The event for Vespa aficionados from Thailand and other countries featured a big parade of over 5,000 Vespas as well as an exhibit of different models since 1949. A Special Edition 68th Anniversary model was also released with a price tag of 124,900 THB
The original (1946) and the Vespa Primavera 68th Anniversary Limited Edition
The design of the Vespa has a retro-cool appeal today, but the fact that it has changed so little in over half a century is a testament to its extreme innovation at the time. It was the first motor scooter to use a monocoque frame and a covered engine so dust and particles couldn’t get in, a problem which plagued other bikes. Pinid Savetnawin, a real Vespa enthusiast says “If you own a Vespa you’ll quickly figure out why people all around the world love it.”
“The sound of the motor is like a bee,” he mused. “It’s strong but beautiful. It’s unique and has a colorful history.” “The engine is low to the ground, and it’s connected directly to the back wheel. They never break and the simplicity of the two-stroke engine is what allows people to load these up with all their stuff and bring it around.” Vespas suffer minimal power loss because they don’t use a chain to drive the rear wheel – the rear wheel is actually attached to a transmission shaft directly connected to the engine.
This design puts the engine behind the rider and directly on the back wheel. Putting the engine atop the rear wheel does create unequal weight distribution and makes the bike less nimble, but what it also allows for is tons of weight to be loaded on the back. So why does Khun Pinid love the Vespa? “I think I love my Vespa because they make the road more colourful and fun,” he reflected. “Anything from Europe never really goes out of style, it’s always in trend,” he explained. “I love to look at European shapes, and I love how people customize them.”
The Latest Model – The Vespa GTS300ie – An Undemanding Scooter
The Vespa GTS300ie is supremely easy to ride, like any twist and go scooter, but enough power for useful acceleration and 110km/h cruising, all in a compact package. The Vespa GTS300ie caused a sensation among the scooter heads when it was launched in Thailand, having authentic looks, and the badge, coupled with a modern fuel-injected engine.
That’s why the Vespa GTS300ie is rapidly becoming a favorite of rally-going scooterists, because they can nip to the other end of the country, across mountains, ride over unpaved country road and doing the most amazing things without worrying too much about breaking down. And if scooter rallies are your thing, turning up on a Vespa GTS300ie is just as acceptable these days as a geared classic Vespa two-stroke. The Vespa GTS300ie is powered by a 278cc liquidcooled, single-cylinder 4-stroke, 4-valve QUASAR engine with electronic fuel injection and catalyzed exhaust system.