Tanshanomi's Snap Judgments

Vespa P200E

Mon, March 22nd, 2010

Featuring a different motor scooter each day.

1977–81 Vespa P200E
The motor was big for a scooter, before scooters got big. It can cruise on the highway, but without much reserve. The cable-operated twistgrip shifter is bizarre and clumsy.
Perhaps the worst handling vehicle I have ever driven. Cycle magazine once described the handling of the P200E as being like holding a puppy, 'sized for one hand but squirmy enough to require two.' Having personally had more than a few wide-eyed moments in the saddle of a P200E, I find that description perfect. Oh, and don't try to stop; the brakes are barely functional.
In my brain, this is what every scooter should look like. Even older, more classic models and newer, more modern Vespas come up short in comparison to the P200E.
They are more maintenance intensive than Japanese scooters, but they go, go, go, go, go. You can still get every single part for them, plus performance parts, if you want.
They work in urban areas where quick handling is more advantageous than straight-line stability, as long as you don't have to ride at night behind that pathetically dim, yellowish headlight. But what other bike comes stock with a spare tire, and a discreet place to store it?.
Perhaps my most irrational desire, I know they're outdated, needlessly quirky, and downright unsafe, but I still want one.
Real steel, two-stroke Vespas are the only scooters that people won't make fun of — much.