“It’s simple,” we always say. “Why can’t someone just slap a modern engine in a Vespa frame already? Why can’t Vespa just put the 160GS back on the assembly line? Why can’t LML/Stella make a California-legal 250cc Vespa? Everyone would buy it, no matter what they charged!”
Well, here’s proof, straight from an ad in Dealer News that it’s not so easy to make a truly-vintage-looking scooter in this day and age: Ladies and Gentlemen of the scooter buying public, witness the Venti 150 (click on photo to enlarge).
Hammerhead Offroad, probably looking for a way to get back at Lambretta International for upstaging their offerings from Adly with more attractive rebadged offerings from Adly, either devised this beast, or pounced on the distribution rights. They plan to unveil it at Dealer Expo next month.
To be honest, it’s a noble attempt, design-wise. At first glance, it really does emulate the look of a mid-sixties Vespa. Under more scrutiny, it’s easy to see the many compromises that have to be made to squeeze a modern 4-stroke automatic engine into a frame that originally held one of the weirdest-shaped engines known to mankind.
It’s hard to see details in the photo, or even to determine if the bodywork is plastic or metal (we’re betting it’s plastic on a metal tube frame, but we’d love to be proven wrong). Where a Vespa from this period had 8″ wheels, it appears to have 12″ wheels with front and rear disc brakes, which throws the body out of proportion. It surprisingly has a very accurate headset and one-sided front fork, although the wheel is too modern-looking, and the headset is riddled with the necessary brake fluid reservoirs and aftermarket cruiser-bike turn signals. The floorboards are actually flat, but there appears to be some sort of support structure beneath them. Giant visible rivets or bolts attach the horncast to the legshield, reinforcing the tube-frame theory.
Most obviously strange are the vented cowl extensions where the cowl meets the floorboards, which were probably necessary to make clearance for the (GY6-clone?) motor and mounts (again, probably to a tube frame). Again, all these quibbles aside, if you can do better, you’re free to try. To be honest, I’d be surprised if the long-speculated-about California-legal 4-stroke Stella 250 automatic looks any more authentic than this (though I’d be far more likely to ride a bike built by Genuine, LML, and possibly PGO rather than this unknown quantity.)
Venti means “20” in Italian, as in “20 oz. of coffee from Starbucks,” which says something about their target market. No Vespa snob would touch this bike with a ten-foot stadium mirror, and it doesn’t seem driven by the level of historical devotion found in CMSI’s Lambretta prototype, but then again, CMSI’s Lambretta will never actually go into production, there are now multiple rebadged Chinese “Lambrettas” on the market, and Vespa snobs make up an ever-decreasing portion of the scooter market.
At this point, it’s all speculation, are they already being churned out on a Chinese assembly line, or is it just a prototype made in a Texas basement? We don’t have any idea about the quality, price, or availability, but you can bet we’ll be paying a visit to Dealer Expo Booth 8441 a few weeks from now with a long list of questions and a camera.
UPDATE: We saw the Venti in person at Dealer Expo 2009.
6 thoughts on “Venti 150: The impossible dream”
How ever this turns out, it will be interesting. No matter what people think of it, if it is actually done in a mainland China factory it’s the most effort put into a scooter design by a mainland production house, ever. But I suspect it’s a Vespa GT fork in the prototype with a real cast vespa/bajaj headset. I’d wager final production units will be the standard Milano headset and fork. I wouldn’t mind being wrong at all though. The seats on the prototype look to be vespa repro stuff as well. The designers must have done a little 3rd world vespa parts shopping to finish off their nicely appearing plastic skin adaptation. Interesting for certain.
“It’s simple,” we always say. ‘Why can’t someone just slap a modern engine in a Vespa frame already?'”
Yeah, wasn’t that called a Velocifero?
Snarkiness aside, it is indeed an interesting little tidbit. I wonder if if the parts actually came from India?
i believe “velocifero” was italian for “0-30 in ten minutes”
anyhoo, this is interesting. it appears to have rivets / screws or somesuch down the front legshield.
it doesnt *look* like a plastic / tube setup.. . but who am i to tell from a low res photo?
Go here for more pics of the prototype: http://tinyurl.com/cwer3x
Everything is plastic over what appears to be a fairly conventional GY6 clone frame.
The legshields appear to be unsupported single thickness plastic as you can see the floor rails reverse side moldings from the bottom. You can also see the black metal floorboard supports going to the large central tube spine.
The motor, based on the transmission cover and brake set up appears to be the same 150cc unit used by Tank, Roketa, and many, many others.
The helmet hook appears to be a plastic scoop molded into the legshield between where your toes would be.
For now the fork seems to be a clone of the LX unit. The rear brake “anti-lock-device” speaks volumes about the country of origin and quality of manufacture. Even Tank scooters has stopped importing bikes with these installed.
I think this is clever, and was wondering how long it would take for someone, anyone, to convince the Chinese to do to a classic Vespa what they do to everything else. I was honestly surprised it took this long.
Keep in mind, just because it’s clever, doesn’t mean anyone is going to buy it. It could have no more traction than a TnG Milano or any of the other “Vespa-Looking ” scooters. http://autos.groups.yahoo.com/group/VentoScooters/
is full of horror stories from Chinese scooter devotees, it’s like a support group for cheap, old, men.
This is only a prototype, but it doesn’t appear to be a phase 0 concept build, it seems to be a pre-production sample, so I’d say we could be seeing these sooner rather than later. Could this win the coveted “most photographed scooter at Indy” award? If so it would join the ranks with notable vaporware from Italjet USA, CMSI, Diamo and MadAss.
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