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The New Stella, unveiled

May 7, 2009

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For more than a year, rumors have been circulating about a new 4-stroke version of Genuine Scooter Company’s Stella motorscooter. Genuine confirmed the model a few months ago, but has otherwise been very quiet about the project. This week, Genuine allowed 2strokebuzz a quick look at a “New Stella” prototype (and a ride!) just before it was sent for CARB testing in California.

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The Stella, if you’re just tuning in, is a descendant of the Vespa PX150, made in India by LML Limited, who once built Vespas under license for the Asian market. Its uncanny resemblance to an 80s Vespa makes it wildly popular with scooterists who want the style, steel frame, and manual transmission of a vintage Vespa, with the warranty, dealer support, and reliability of a modern scooter. The downside is a decades-old engine design that features the same 2-stroke top end that cost Piaggio the environmentally-strict California market, driving them out of the U.S. in 1985. Genuine has always coveted the California market as well, (and vice versa) so a 4-stroke Stella has been a long-stated goal.

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With all the speculation out there, it was easy to forget that the best thing that could happen would be a 4-stroke version tha’s aesthetically indistinguishable from the original Stella. Luckily, that’s pretty much what we get: At a glance, it’s virtually identical.

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Pull off the left cowl, and things get more interesting. From the floorboards forward, the body and controls are identical to the 2T version. The rear section of the monocoque frame is usually welded to the front section, but to accomodate the new engine, the rear half of the bike (and swingarm) have been completely redesigned around a tube frame, which is bolted to the front section. Luckily, the exterior bodywork is pressed from steel and indistinguishable from the traditional frame.

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The 150cc engine, like the frame, is a fusion of vintage and modern. The rear section, housing the direct-drive transmission long worshipped by vintage Vespa fans, remains mostly identical to the 2-stroke model (though the cases have obviously been redesigned). The top end has been entirely replaced with an air-cooled 4-stroke cylinder designed with components from Japan, Taiwan, India, and Genuine’s underground laboratory. The engine was designed jointly by Genuine and LML, and Genuine tells us future collaborations are in the works involving both companies and PGO, the Taiwanese manufacturer that supplies Genuine’s popular Buddy and other scooters. Components like the carburetor and ignition have been replaced with more common/modern parts, and various CARB-required gizmos clutter things up a bit, but there’s still easy access to the sparkplug and valves.

Despite the rear half of the frame and the front half of the engine being entirely new, aesthetics, ergonomics, and operation are virtually the same. The wheelbase of the 4-stroke model is imperceptively longer, and the bottom of the engine case is slightly different looking, but without scrutiny, you’d never know the difference… until you start the engine. If you’ve been riding a throbbing, rattling 2-stroke vintage Vespa or Stella for any amount of time, the calm rumble coming from under the cowls of this bike is downright eerie, and will definitely take some getting used to.

Having no desire to crash a one-of-a-kind prototype about to be tested for emissions, we took it very easy on our test ride, but we were surprised to find that the ride is amazingly similar to the PX or 2-stroke Stella. Like any good vintage Vespa, it leans dutifully to the right. Suspension and braking are unchanged. Aside from the odd lack of audible engine feedback, it was an identical experience. It was a bit disorienting to clutch and shift with such a quiet engine, but Genuine assures us the bike is rated at 15% more horsepower than the 2-stroke model, with far fewer emissions and a projected 120 MPG!

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The new model will certainly bear the Stella name, possibly with a secondary model name to distinguish it from the 2-stroke model. No final decision has been made about the name or colors (the prototype, for the record, is a handsome “ivory,” and the branding will surely be more impressive than a Helvetica “4-stroke” sticker).

Once CARB approves the bike, Genuine expects to be able to get the bike in production quickly, and hopefully on the market by January 2010. The current 2-stroke model would be compliant (outside California) for 2010, and would likely be sold alongside the 4-stroke model outside California, though Genuine may stop production sometime next year.

Comments

22 Responses to “The New Stella, unveiled”

  1. Eric AlmendralNo Gravatar on May 8th, 2009 12:24am

    Is it okay if I feel a little vindicated after 2 years of saying this was coming?

    This sounds great and I’m really looking forward to seeing it in dealers here in CA.

    Most interesting, though, is the hint at a Genuine/PGO/LML collaboration. This could be the touring scoot we’ve heard about or, possibly, a metal-bodied scoot designed to compete with the GTS—the fabled 250cc based on the Stella, but with a PGO engine.

  2. pattioNo Gravatar on May 8th, 2009 5:49am

    It’s great to see when a rumor becomes reality. My sympathies go out to any Genuine dealers who have Stellas on their floor now, today, in the real world. They will gather dust while sales prospects ask when the four-stroke will be coming in. It’s tough not to get exited about future things, and Genuine are enthusiasts like their customers, but dealers might wish that they had waited until, say, September before teasing this.

  3. illnoiseNo Gravatar on May 8th, 2009 6:42am

    Pattio, generally I agree with you, it’s somewhat foolish to hype a scooter so early before availability. Piaggio has done this often, announcing a bigger and better model in Italy more than a year before it becomes available here, hurting their sales. But in this case, I think there’s a market for both a 2-stroke and a 4-stroke Stella. Personally, If I was going to buy a Stella, I’d prefer the 2-stroke for its familiarity, vintage compatibility, and tradition (and I wouldn’t have to wait). Other folks will prefer the 4-stroke for various reasons. The 2-stroke version isn’t imported in huge numbers as it is, so I would guess a certain segment of the scootering population will be looking to snap them up while they’re still available.

  4. scooterfoxNo Gravatar on May 8th, 2009 9:03am

    this impresses me. an interesting solution, and looks fantastic to boot. I’d probably still be buying the 2 stroke, but if it goes away… this is the closest thing to the real deal.

  5. kazooNo Gravatar on May 8th, 2009 9:24am

    Beautiful! + Access to do routine maintenance, + great looks . . .

    I like the sound of ‘4 Stella’ as a “secondary model name”.

    Thanks for the heads up.

  6. mattyNo Gravatar on May 8th, 2009 7:04pm

    I hope they hire you to make a nicer looking “4 Stroke” badge. What’s the black plastic thing on the cowl?

  7. jrsjrNo Gravatar on May 8th, 2009 7:37pm

    More than anything, I’m fascinated by the technology of bolting up a tubular rear subframe to a monocoque front body half. If this design has survived being bounced around on bad roads in India and elsewhere, I’m sure it will be fine on US roads. I’m just a little skeptical until I see how it’s done and how well it holds up. Interesting idea, though.

  8. 909mfNo Gravatar on May 8th, 2009 8:01pm

    Being I’m from the republic of California I can not say that I am not pleased, but I would be so much happier with a little more power. Has Genuine decided to be the entry level scooter company?

  9. orinoNo Gravatar on May 8th, 2009 9:03pm

    I’m glad to see this, since Washington and Oregon have adopted California emissions standards for model year 2010. Don’t be surprised to see this color, either, since ivory appears to be the new metallic orange in automotive colors. As for a name, everybody’s been referring to it as the Stella 4T, so why swim against the current?

  10. BrookeNo Gravatar on May 9th, 2009 7:00am

    It should be the Stella 2TT (2 Tempi Troppi).

    I wonder how the rear chassis varies from the Honda Eterno. This change in the chassis makes it very possible for automatic engines. What a fun development!

  11. Those Darn McCabesNo Gravatar on May 9th, 2009 5:10pm

    Yeah but can you throw a Bajaj motor in it?

  12. theageofindustryNo Gravatar on May 9th, 2009 9:39pm

    Now I wish Genuine would re-start the new Lambretta project. Obviously they probably wouldn’t screw that up either.

    If it uses a tube frame in the rear; I wonder how close it really is the Bajaj 4t motor, if at all.

  13. rtaiteNo Gravatar on May 10th, 2009 9:19pm

    120 mpg? Yeah, whatever. At 25 mph with a tailwind maybe.

    Ralph

  14. alienmeatsackNo Gravatar on May 11th, 2009 12:24pm

    I am happy and sad about this news. I do love my 2T Stella, and I seriously doubt that 2T will go away anytime soon. But still, I have to wonder how long the 2T Stella will be sold before it vanishes in place of this one?

    And without the Oil site glass, it just feels strange looking at it. Maybe someone needs to invent a “site glass” you can stick on there with real oil in it. :D

  15. demonlarryNo Gravatar on May 11th, 2009 7:44pm

    looks like a Bajaj to me!!

  16. JSHNo Gravatar on May 13th, 2009 2:37pm

    My question is will this 4-stroke Stella have better quality control than the 2-stoke. I went to me local Genuine dealer and was appalled at the fit and finish on the Stella. The vastly different levels of quality control showed that CVT scooters from PGO where assembled in a modern facility while the Stella seemed to be hammered together in some back alley shop.

    I want a manual transmission scooter but also require 21st century build quality.

  17. BrookeNo Gravatar on May 13th, 2009 3:39pm

    What parts did you think were less than good? The Stellas had/have their issues but the fit and finish of a Stella isn’t like the bad fit and finish of what I’d call a bad modern/CVT scooter. It’s a tough comparison with the design and construction materials being so very different. I like PGOs, Kymcos, Yamahas, Hondas and modern Piaggios but I don’t think any of them have a level of fit and finish that we’ve come to expect from all but the most ‘budget’ automobiles. The Kymco and Piaggio 250 and 500s are the high end of things, but they have a build quality that I’d maybe equate with a Ford Focus.

  18. rtaiteNo Gravatar on May 15th, 2009 7:44pm

    Isn’t it ironic that Phil McCaleb introduces the new 4 stroke engine on 2strokebuzz?

    Ralph

  19. cowboyrobNo Gravatar on June 16th, 2009 4:30pm

    I want 250cc’s. I have 2 CHETAK’S and love them but if Genuine made a 250cc manual shift scoot I would pony up the scrilla. I doubt it will happen- 150cc 4t sure- so they can sell the Stella in Cali- Like Bajaj. But I doubt they will develope it to the 250 due to size problems.

  20. dangerous daveNo Gravatar on July 14th, 2009 5:46am

    british scooterist here and i think its looking good , cant wait until they come to the uk _ any chance of a freebie lol

  21. skrappeyNo Gravatar on August 20th, 2009 1:47pm

    I go with 2TT as I live in the isle of man.
    I want one now, hopefully 250

  22. scootering.com.myNo Gravatar on November 13th, 2009 5:27am

    nice engine…

    now at Malaysia stopped selling 2-stroke scooter, but now vespa will not extinct in Malaysia…

    nice works!

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