Vinashin Motor’s Diamond Blue 125

There’s already a long trail of modern Vespa knockoff attempts. Chinese manufacturers and importers have adorned their trade show booths and spam emails with primitive Fiberglas approximations and photoshopped mockups of Pontedera pretenders for years. The SYM Fiddle began life as a computer rendering of a Vespa LX in a Dealer Expo brochure. Even LML is allegedly developing the “Clipper,” an Indian ET4 clone.

But our new (unpaid, sorry!) Dutch correspondent David V. discovered a Vietnam-market scooter that takes the cake, the Vinashin Motor Diamond Blue 125 copies the Vespa LX right down to the hexagon badge cutout on the legshield. Amazingly, this design plagiarism isn’t even the most controversial aspect of the scooter.

Thanh Nien News reports that Piaggio is nonplussed by the “tribute,” saying “Many companies have made products based on the design of Vespa but they all failed because their products lack the same design quality and high-tech value as Vespa.” A story (autotranslation) features lots of photos and asserts that Vinashin’s model is a plastic shell over a conventional tube frame, unlike the real LX’s pressed steel monocoque frame.

But the real controversy surrounds the engine, which Vinashinmotor insists were manufactured by Sundiro Honda in China. Honda Vietnam claims that the engines were not legitimately produced by any Honda facility, while pointing out that only Honda Vietnam has the right to build or sell Honda engines in VIetnam.

Vinashin director Vu Manh Ha implies that the scooter was developed and manufactured in China and assembled locally. Vietnam seems a good place to test the waters for such a product since Piaggio failed to patent the LX design there, but it’ll be interesting to see what happens as these start to appear in other markets and on trade show floors.

Lots more if you speak Vietnamese

(Thanks a bunch, David V., keep ’em coming!)

9 thoughts on “Vinashin Motor’s Diamond Blue 125”

  1. Again, last week Steve posted photos of this on FB. It’s not a clone. It’s a modern Vespa bodge job. That’s a real deal LX frame and accompanying parts, probably unloaded out the back door of the VN assembly plant. At least these frames probably haven’t been cut in half and rewelded before being put back on the road. I should stress ‘probably’. China did it with the Vino in the early 2000s and now VN is doing it with the LX, but likely on a cottage industry scale.

    I’m guessing a 2009 or earlier Honda Lead is sacrificed for the power plant and front suspension. Looks a little different than the newest model. That’s all my best guess.

  2. I’m not sure if that’s right, Brooke (and why am I not getting Steve’s RSS feed?).

    I’ve been getting spam lately from Chinese people trying to find importers for LX clones, and the story (in admittedly Google-translated English) says:

    “According to unofficial sources, the outer shell of the first 125 Blue Diamond Honda presence in Vietnam is made of plastic in the mold of a Vespa LX import version with a 1:1 ratio. Overall design of plastic shells are thought exactly the same as the Vespa LX version with colors found include: White, Red, Yellow and Black”

    Looking closely at the photos, it looks like plastic bodywork. I think it’s saying they just cast a real LX frame in plastic. (Yes, I realize some LX body panels are plastic, but still)

  3. David V. points out that the LML Clipper was licensed from Piaggio (way back in 2001), and has been infrequently spotted on the road in India for a while now. It’s strange that so little information is available about the Clipper. My guess is that the labor problems put it on hold, then LML chose to focus on the Star for the foreign market, but it seems strange that they have all the tooling and have manufactured a handful of Clippers but don’t seem to have ever made an attempt to market them. Perhaps the agreement doesn’t allow them to be sold outside India and interest there is too limited.

  4. Somewhere in between ‘current’ and ‘revived’ is a sad style doldrums known as ‘dated’. I would put the Clipper in that category. It’s too soon for ET4 nostalgia.
    We are heading into an interesting scooter future where everything is a derivation of a copy of a platform of a re-issue of a joint-project, and nothing is really anything. And when I say not really anything, I mean it to a profound depth to the extent that we are currently in an era where classic scooters (the ones made of steel and paint with replaceable parts and a soul that came installed from the factory) are still on the road next to their replacements, which are colorful plastic ‘black boxes’ in scooter shape.

    Its also cute that any of us here in the US even care what goes on with the marketing of motor vehicles in Indochina, as ultimately pointless as speculating on the different flavors found in their supermarkets. I think the observation that the Diamond Blue is stained from the outset by a modern iteration of the bodgery we have all come to understand from the vintage scoots in that part of the world is a sound one.

  5. I take it back. I just can’t believe it! I looked really close (then looked at some detailed pictures in the link) and it’s clear that it’s not a real LX frame. Several signs convinced me of my error. It is 100 percent amazing that they somehow sleeved an Identical copy of the LX frame in plastic over a tube chassis. The fuel tank access in the glove box is a nice touch. The great part is the 1:1 replica makes it possible for every piece of trim from the headset to the grab rail will fit. This is an great example of how the location of the factory is the source of the clone. Anyone could have access to a bare LX frame, but only in VN could they have cheap and easy access to every single other part. And it’s clear they’ve improvised the rest with Honda parts.

    As far as recycled design goes, I think the problem is embedded in some practicality. At least I hope it is. One contributing factor is that we have the same shaped human bodies that we’ve had for some time now. Or feet, hands and eyes are in the same relative positions and like to do similar things so the objects we use to do them will look pretty similar. The problem comes when ‘designers’ try to make something new anyway and forget these constants in the name of being visually appealing. Sadly their work gets to the market place because things can be easily and relatively cheaply manufactured to their drawings and people would rather have flash than substance. Both a Yamaha Zuma and high heal shoes are things I like to see in proper use, but the hell if I ever want to be at the controls of those torture devices.

  6. pattio, I’m right on board with you there, good rant. I admit a twinge of ET4 nostalgia, but I think the Clipper is more about getting more recent technology to markets that can’t support current Vespa prices than pure nostalgia.

    As far as the rest of it, I think the two problems are regulation and demand. Scooter manufacturers are afraid to try anything new, and must conform to an insane level of worldwide environmental and safety bureaucracy, much of it conflicting and vague. And people (especially Americans) have made it clear that when they want a scooter, they want Audrey Hepburn’s Vespa, or rather something superfically like it that’s more dummyproof. So a manufacturer develops a boring platform as similar to other manufacturer’s platforms as possible, then glues plastic chrome all over it as an afterthought.

    In that light, the MP3 is an incredible achievement, despite how disinterested I personally am. And it seems to have paid off, it’s selling well in Europe and defining a new market and a new consumer base. So the next decade will be Piaggio resting on that laurel while everyone else catches up.

  7. it looks like the bike that the new Piaggio Vietnam Factory is building for that market? I just saw some flyers from some friends had gotten on a trip over that way, and thats the bike in the photos everything has the Piaggio Hex on it but no use of the Piaggio name anywhere on one side it said Diamond 125 and DX125 on the right side just like the LX 50/125/150 the front said Diamond like Vespa…

  8. There are many designs that are not protected and the protection does not last forever and is not in every country. But the name is a trademark you get into trouble when you use another companies name without a license to do that. Get used to copies and do not assume rights that do not exist, just because it is a copy does not mean its in violation of any laws. There are literally hundreds of companies in china making copies of 1994 Honda Rebels and they sell them all over the world. What these companies do not and cannot do is even mention that they are a Honda design because the name Honda is protected.

    They engines may have been purchased in faith and not legally or they could have just decided to use the Honda name on them and thought nobody will notice or take action, that was a mistake because the government in Vietnam has Honda licensing rights.

    Honda is smart because the used the government to take a role that they may not have done if not a stake holder in the trademark.

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