Let the gnashing and rending cease
Let’s get to the point—the La Vita is no more.
Born amid considerable controversy, the Chinese-made retro tribute to Vespas of the early 1960s has gone out of production due to sales falling well below its manufacturer’s expectations.
I think it’s a shame. In my review, which at over 6,000 views is the third most-read post on this here blog, I noted its attention to detail, not only in its faithful rendition of Vespa GL bodywork, but in the inclusion of such features as disc brakes on both wheels.
The offense taken by so many at its plastic body shell and Chinese origins is beside the point. The La Vita was a perfect entry-level scooter: inexpensive, well-made (Really. Look closely at one if you can.) and easy to ride. Just the ticket for a new scooterist, an excellent choice to send a kid to college with.
Of course, how good it was really didn’t matter if nobody knew it was there. Which, outside of the scooter universe, was pretty much the case. Did you ever see any advertising for it, anywhere? I didn’t, and I’m a member of the media! 😉
Even if there had been a proper ad campaign, good dealer support would have been even more important. The dealer in Seattle, Scoot About, put yeoman effort into promoting and supporting it; OTOH, in Portland, of the two dealers listed on the Hammerhead Web site, one had never heard of the La Vita, and as far as I could tell the other one was satisfied with the two it sold to Timothy Hutton, who was in town filming the TNT series Leverage (it was hard to tell… they didn’t return phone calls, and there was nobody at their store when I visited).
If you have one, the design decision to go with a version of Honda’s GY6 engine will be very helpful to you—it’s a de facto industry standard, so your local scooter or motorcycle repair shop should have no trouble working on it. Few other bits and pieces are proprietary; it uses the same size tires as old-skool Vespas, which are readily available, and cheap.
In fact, the La Vita’s open-source design approach was its least-appreciated feature. Had it taken off, it could’ve been a fave of DIYers and performance tuners. A Ruckus, after all, is only 50cc.
Oh, well. Hammerhead continues to offer Adly-built 50 and 150cc scooters. Neither of which look like a 1965 Vespa GL.