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The store brand is a better value

October 8, 2012

Piaggio Fly video

You may have seen this video elsewhere. It features the 2013 Piaggio Fly, and you can watch it after the jump.

As you most likely know, the Piaggio Group is parent to the Vespa brand, and also sells scooters with the Piaggio name. The Group also includes the Derbi, Gilera and Scarabeo scooter brands, Aprilia and Moto Guzzi motorcycles and Piaggio Commercial Vehicles, which includes the Ape (AH-pay) and larger 4-wheeled vehicles.

Just as General Motors, Volkswagen and other car companies spread major components and architectures across brands, so does Piaggio. This new Fly is powered by the same engines found in Vespa LXs. So are equivalent models offered by Derbi, Gilera and Scarabeo. Modern scooter engines combine the engine and transmission into a single unit, and act as the rear suspension arm, so sharing an engine across brands is quite easy.

Piaggio has followed the playbook used by MINI and FIAT, positioning Vespa as an upmarket, fashionable brand. Modern Vespas evoke the look of old-skool Vespas in the same way Volkswagen’s 1998 New Beetle did of the original. Being fashionable comes at a premium, the Vespa LX 150i.e. priced at $4,599 US as this is written.

In the other corner is the Piaggio Fly 150. Same engine as the LX, though in this case carbureted instead of fuel-injected. Hydraulic front disc brake, mechanical rear drum, just like the LX. Both claim 70-75 mpg; the Fly’s claimed top speed is 61 mph vs. the LX’s 59 (though my experience has shown these figures to be somewhat pessimistic).

The Fly is equipped with 12-inch wheels wearing the same size tire at both ends (the LX has different-size tires on different-size wheels at each end), and has a telescopic-fork front suspension. The LX has the traditional landing-gear front suspension because, well, Vespas have had that setup since the airplane parts bin got raided in 1946. A Fly should offer a much better ride on not-so-smooth pavement.

The Fly stickers for $2,899 US as this is written. Yes, it’s got plastic body panels attached to a steel frame, like all modern scooters except Vespas. Which, if damaged, are far easier and cheaper to repair or replace than a Vespa’s. You could do the work on the Fly yourself, if you’re handy.

Hey, the store-label beans and tomato sauce taste just as good as the advertised national brands.

The bottom line, literally, is a $1,700 saving buying the Fly. I’ve seen P200s going for that kind of money. Stellas, too.

I’d use the Fly for everyday running around, and have a P or a Stella (or whatever) for rallies and weekends. That’s the nice thing about scooters—they don’t take up much space and don’t cost a lot. Favicon


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