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2015 Vespa Sprint 150 ABS: S is for “improvement” *updated

June 26, 2014
2015 Sprint side view

2015 Vespa Sprint is one pretty bike… especially in blue (Orin O’Neill photos)

Another week, another highly-anticipated new scooter to ride. I could get used to this! 🙂

This new Vespa Sprint is the S to the Primavera’s LX. A different headset, and unlike its predecessor, larger wheels and tires, but otherwise, the same bike. Except the Sprint costs $300 more.

I’ve mentioned how much I like the fact that the Sprint rolls on 12-INCH wheels. But I also like the trapezoidal shape of the headlight, which is more evocative of old-skool Vespas than the square lamp of the S, which is evocative of the sealed beam headlights on cars from the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Sprint instrument cluster

Happily, the Sprint shares the futuristic analog/digital instrument cluster found on the Primavera, in this case underneath a little hood and with the LED portion illuminated in red (vs. blue on the Primavera). The one on the S was not only ugly, it was hard to read.

The Sprint also shares the Primavera’s ergonomics and geometry, which for 5′ 11″, 220-lb me are nothing short of perfect.

You can have a Sprint in your choice of five primary colors, though the yellow is nothing like the French’s mustard hue you see in publicity photographs. I’m told it looks very nice in sunlight, but the skies were overcast on this day.

ABS warning light

Something I found a tiny bit disconcerting was the ABS warning light flashing every time I came to a stop. I was told all Sprints do that; however, in a car flashing usually indicates something wrong with the ABS control unit. Having this thing flashing so regularly and often could make it very easy to ignore. Just sayin’.

The additional three bills also gets you the ABS/ASR (aka traction control) from the 946.

I tried on several occasions to lock up the brakes on my ET4 and GTS. Couldn’t do it. Not on dry pavement, not even on wet pavement.

The only time I ever locked up a scooter wheel was on the PX, which has a pedal-operated rear brake I could put all my weight onto. Which I did. Maybe my grip isn’t strong enough, but I would really question the value of ABS on a small scooter.

By the same token, the inherent slippage of a centrifugal clutch under any but full-throttle acceleration would seem to be all the traction control a vehicle powered by a 12.9-horsepower ~155cc engine should need. Someone, somewhere, mentioned hitting a patch of oil while riding; if you were accelerating while doing that, traction control might be a bit helpful, but then so would knowing how to read the road surface so you avoid the oil patch in the first place.

Sprint, front view

Then there’s the matter of most Americans who are likely to buy the Sprint having a severe aversion to riding under any conditions other than dry 60°F-or-warmer sunshine. It would be quite possible for even those who ride their new Sprints much more than the once or twice you’ll see in Craigslist postings to never have ABS/ASR come into play.

These reviews are usually done with a dealer’s demo scooter (in this case, from Vespa Lynnwood in Lynnwood, Wash.), and such bikes have often not reached the end of their break-in period, so I don’t go doing things like accelerating at WOT or trying to lock up the brakes. After all, the person who eventually buys the scooter wants it to work as it should. So I cannot speak to the efficacy of the Sprint’s ABS/ASR.

I can say the Sprint is not a radically different ride vis-à-vis the Primavera. Both boast poise, balance and suspensions that will soak up the bumps, cracks and heaves of all the but the worst pavement on which you choose to ride. Both will serve up strong acceleration and enough speed to comfortably cruise any highway. As they should, since they’re both powered by the same engine.

Red accents on the horncast

However, the Sprint felt just a little, tiny bit more nimble. The 12-inch wheels and tires must be why, since the rear spring is identical to the Primavera’s, and the only difference between their front springs is Sprints’ red powder coating.

At the end of the day, your decision will come down to whether or not you think you’re getting added value for that extra $300. Not a big difference at this price point, for sure.

But it’s hard not to think of the Sprint as playing to what Pulitzer Prize-winning auto journalist Dan Neil has called Americans’ contingency anxiety, i.e., a tendency to want features like ABS/ASR (or, say, third-row seating in SUVs) because, gosh, you never know when you might need them. Such systems add complexity (and potential repair expense) to what has traditionally been a rather simple device.

Sprint rear view

So, if you need a reason to spend the extra money on a Sprint and 12-inch wheels are a must-have for you, buying a pair of 12-inch Sprint wheels and tires for a Primavera would in all likelihood cost more than $300. Or you simply like the Sprint’s looks and if $5,100 is what it costs, so be it. Which, FWIW, is a good enough reason for me. Favicon

Plus: Good looks, 12-inch wheels, comes in (mostly) bright primary colors.

Minus: Are ABS and traction control really necessary?

The details

MSRP: $5,099
Built in: Italy
Construction: Pressed steel monocoque
Dry weight:  258 lbs (63.5 kg)
Length: 73.2 in (1860 mm)
Width: 28.9 in (735 mm)
Wheelbase: 52.7 in (1340 mm)
Seat height: 30.7 in (780 mm)
Front susp: Single trailing link with coil spring and hinged telescopic damper
Rear susp: Swingarm w/adjustable coil spring & telescopic damper
Front brake: 7.87 in (200 mm) single hydraulic disc
Rear brake: 5.51 in (140 mm) mechanical drum
Front tire: 110/70-12
Rear tire: 120/70-12
Engine: 154.8cc air-cooled 4-stroke SOHC 3-valve w/EFI and electronic ignition
Transmission:  CVT with centrifugal dry clutch
Power/torque: 12.9 hp (9.5 kW) @ 8000 rpm/9.44 lb-ft (12.8 Nm) @6500 rpm
One Comment
  1. June 27, 2014 7:56 am

    Beautiful scooter and great reflections in your post. I really like all the current Vespa models except maybe for the GTV. The blue color on the one you depicted is lovely. I would hate to have it myself because it would suffer from a once a year washing and a once every three year waxing. Even so, the lines and design are outstanding!

    Steve Williams
    Scooter in the Sticks

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