Modern Vespa : Piaggio LT: An MV Review

25 Jan 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Modern Vespa : Piaggio LT: An MV Review
Piaggio LT150 Base

Modern Vespa

Sun May 03, 2009 2:39 pm quote

Seeing as how my LT broke the 3K milestone, I felt it was appropriate to write a review on the LT, since there really aren’t that many on the Internet for future buyers to reference.

Anyway, the test vehicle for this review is a 2003 Piaggio LT 150, now with 3010 miles on the odometer. I am the third owner, and the first to own it outside of the Twin Cities. When she was bought in late-April, the odometer read 2896, so the last two owners didn’t push her that much, considering she’s 7 years old (In reference, my cousin owns a 2008 Yamaha Vino 125 that already has over 2500 miles on the odometer)

But, from first impressions, the years have been very nice to her. There’s a long scrape on the muffler, a smaller scrape on the right crash bar, and a few areas on the front left where it was scraped as well, but that’s all the abuse she took during that time. The royal blue paint still looks shiny and clean after all this time, which is a good indication of the TLC that this LT has received over the years.

A visual inspection will reveal the consideration that was given to this model in development. Everything was designed with elegant detail in mind, as many of the components and design cues were derived from the Vespa ET that was available at around the same time. The headset, the dashboard, the lower turn signals (which because of US regulations don’t even work) and even the engine are all derived from the ET.

All of that makes the LT a classy scooter to perform errands, or to take your date on a formal night out on the town.

The tan Vespa-esque dashboard is luxurious and very informative, bringing you a speedometer, odometer, fuel gauge, two turn signal lights, four idiot lights clustered evenly on the left and right sides, and finally, a clock. A nice touch, especially when one minute could mean the difference between being on-time and being late. Controls are laid out well right on the rider’s fingertips.

It’s not even necessary for a rider to look down at what button is being pressed once you get the hang of it.

Accommodations are roomy and comfortable. The LT comes with leather seating for two, with the passenger getting a pair of fold-away footpegs. There is ample reach to the handgrips and I, who is 5’9, could plant my feet flat on the ground while seated. The seat itself is a long, cushy leather seat with PIAGGIO embossed on the back.

It is a comfortable seat for both rider and passenger, but it does get warm at times (It could be because my seat is black, or it could be the heat from the engine below. I doubt it’s the latter). Speaking on the footpegs that I mentioned earlier, those are primarily there for the passenger.

However, if it floats your boat, you can also fold them out and sit on the bike bow-legged without it affecting the handling, as if you were riding your own pocket rocket.

Now for the actual riding. In a word: Phenomenal. The LT 150 is powered by the tried-and-true 150cc LEADER engine that’s still in use in the LX150 and Fly 150.

On roads, the engine never skips a beat, getting my 112-pound self and the LT’s 233-pound self up to 30 mph in about 3 seconds. However, I felt that in this traffic I was restraining the engine too much, so I took it out on Highway 53 to test things out. The LT keeps up with traffic well on highways, even going uphill, and seems to be in its element at speeds over 45mph.

The last owner said that he was able to take it onto I-35 in Minneapolis, but I didn’t dare try that yet. To do that on a scooter, you’d have to be suicidal or Evel Knievel. and I don’t believe he was suicidal.

The brakes were very good overall, a soft grip on the levers brings the bike to a nice, smooth stop, thanks to the front disc and rear drum brakes. Then again, if you cannot afford to stop nice and smoothly, the bike can stop on a dime with a firm squeeze. Even though there is a lot of criticism regarding drum brakes, I feel that the front disc/rear drum combination is right for this bike.

Probably if I had a rear disc instead, I’d be flying off into the car in front of me with one firm squeeze.

The handling was what blew me off guard the most about this scooter. During the test-ride, I was impressed at how well it handled, which was as stable as riding a bicycle. And even though I test-rode the LT on a smooth, residential road, I was able to give it a more grueling test just by taking a ride down Superior Street in Duluth.

Piaggio LT150 Base
Piaggio LT150 Base

Through pockmarked streets, sharp curves, rain, and even high winds, the LT never threatened to tip over. However, because this is a lightweight at 233 pounds, there were a few occasions where a strong wind almost blew me into oncoming traffic. Still. so far, I haven’t fallen off my bike.

Now for the nitpicks. Because of the large wheel size, cargo space on my LT is very slim, limited only to a thin glovebox and whatever you can manage under the seat, which is not much at all. On this model, there is no underseat bucket because of the wheels and the engine, so to store your helmet (regardless of which type or size) you’ll either need to tie it on the mirrors and hope that nobody takes your helmet, or buy a topcase.

Still, because of the limited amount of storage (and the large amount of things you’ll be doing with your scooter), it’ll probably be wiser to go with the latter.

Moving on, fit and finish is good, but not the best. There’s still gaps and poorly-fitting parts here and there, for instance, the base of the rear turn signals always seem to intrude into the hole that it’s supposed to go into. No matter how many times I tried, I could never get it to be flush with the bodywork. Then again, this LT is 7 years old (MFC: May 2002) so it’s bound to have some quirks.

There is no side stand on this LT, which means that every time you intend to dismount you’ll have to put the bike on it’s center stand, which is not only hard for the first-time rider, it also gets annoying. There is an aftermarket side stand available, but it’s a pity that Piaggio hasn’t installed a standard side stand on this model when cheaper brands do on their scooters. Lastly has to do with the footpegs.

It’s not that they’re bad, actually they’re great regardless of whether or not you have a passenger. The problem has to do with folding them out. When they’re folded in, there’s a small peg under the footpeg that holds the footpeg in place.

However, that little peg makes folding the footpegs out into a job you can’t do with your feet.

Still, regardless of the little quirks that give it character, the LT 150 is an extraordinary bike. It’s sad that the LT didn’t catch on well and was later replaced with the disappointing Fly. Sadder still is that to get something close to the LT here in America, we’d have to save up our pennies longer for the BV. and still, it just wouldn’t be the same.

Hopefully, someday Piaggio will bring the Liberty to our shores, or maybe someday the rarity of the LT here in America will pay off for the owners, just as the Vespa ET is slowly becoming the next vintage model.

But until then, no matter how experienced of a rider you are, it’s worth it to seek out this example of two-wheeled brilliance.

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