Automatics For The People

For years the large-capacity retro-styled scooter market has been dominated by the  Vespa GTS, its engine growing from 200, through 250 and onto 300 – even if that 300 is actually 278cc. The big Vespa has become the scooter of choice for those who appreciate a stylistic nod to the past and has also sold well to rally goers who appreciate it’s reliability, cruising speed, luggage capacity and passenger carrying ability.

The GTS is a great scooter, but………well, in reality it is the top of very poorly attended class, with the Scomadi TL200 the only other large retro scooter. But that class is about grow much larger with the arrival of the Lambretta V200 and Scomadis’ TT200 and 400.

This is great news, not least because Piaggio seems to have let the grass grow beneath the wheels of the GTS300. Rumours have swirled about a larger engine for it, but nothing appears to have come of that. Maybe the arrival of more competition will stimulate the Italian manufacturer to invest more in its flagship model.

The GTS300 can trace a direct link back to the very first Vespa that rolled of the production line in 1946;, having enjoyed unbroken production sine that date. The V200 lacks that continuing genetic thread and therefore isn’t a design shaped over time. Instead it is  a design playing catch-up for decades of lost production and the existing Lambretta market is going to be a tough one to crack.

But maybe I am looking at this the wrong way, because are those who own TV, Li and GP Lambrettas the target market for the new V200? Enthusiasts would be very welcome, but the new Lambretta’s primary target has to be to those who want a modern scooter and who are less rooted in the marque’s history. Those riders who want echoes of the past, wrapped in a stylish package and delivering reliable transport.

Having said that I also believe there will be enough enthusiasts to help make the V200 a success. It took a while for lovers of 2-stroke geared Vespas to accept the GTS (and before it the ET4) and indeed some opposition remains, but it has been accepted by a lot of people as a proper Vespa. I believe the same will eventually happen with the V200, though I think Lambretta owners will be more resistant than their Vespa compatriots.

Looks are inevitably subjective, but visually I prefer the Scomadis to the new V200 – I think it’s the sloping floor that I most dislike about the design. I mention Scomadi and the British manufacturer has a big year ahead, with the imminent release of their new TT200, followed next year by the 400.

The TT200 is interesting, a development of the existing TL200 that has a largely metal body and subtle style changes. It is great to see the company developing its model range and the 400 promises much. It was shown in the flesh at the recent Scomadi Weekender, but won’t be available until 2018.

They are interesting times for anyone interested in modern automatic scooters and maybe there will be more surprises before the year ends. Have Piaggio already decided that they need to update the GTS300 and have a glamorous refresh waiting in the wings? And what about the gaping hole in their range left by the closure of the PX production line? But that really is a discussion for another time.

Jesters Scooterfest 2017-2

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