Friday, January 23, 2009

The New Vespa GTS 300 is here!

Piaggio Group USA Introduces the New 2009 Vespa GTS 300 Super

Fastest Vespa ever zooms into maxi scooter category with timeless Italian style and craftsmanship

NEW YORK, January 16, 2009 – Italian manufacturer Piaggio, renowned for revolutionary ideas in personal transportation, announces the U.S. debut of the 2009 Vespa GTS 300 Super, the newest evolution of its best-selling mid-size scooter, the GTS 250. Sporting a new high-displacement engine and a collection of racing-inspired components and exterior treatments that complement its high-performance character, the GTS 300 Super has been designed to set pulse points pounding whether in motion or at rest.

As the fastest Vespa in the company’s U.S. product portfolio, the new GTS 300 Super is always ready to stir up excitement. New styling elements that signal its sporty intentions include an eye-catching side grille on the rear engine panel, two-tone alloy wheel rims, a racing red suspension cover on the front spring and a black-rimmed headlight. A new front shield features a stylish chrome air intake, reinforcing its sporty personality and stylish stance.

“The GTS 300 Super doesn’t just stand out in the crowd – it gets you out of the crowd,” says Paolo Timoni, President and CEO of Piaggio Group Americas. “Whether you need to accelerate away from traffic or take advantage of parking spaces that others only dream about fitting in, the GTS 300 Super does it with Vespa’s unique mix of Italian attitude and style.”

Vespas have always been the preferred scooters for those who want to send a message about the importance of personal choice, freedom and authenticity. The company has produced over 17 million scooters since its debut in 1946 and the brand has been immortalized by artists and individualists through the decades.

Nerves of Steel, Born to Perform

Like all Vespa scooters, the GTS 300 Super features the company’s exclusive steel frame design. This unique feature has set Vespa apart from other two wheelers ever since the first model debuted in 1946. By using a steel unibody versus a welded plastic-covered tube frame, every Vespa delivers superior torsional rigidity – up to 250% more than other scooters. The result is a machine that’s not only a thrill to look at, but one that provides exceptional precision in handling and response.

Underneath the tough steel exterior of the GTS 300 Super is a 278cc four-stroke single cylinder, liquid-cooled, electronic injection engine. Boasting a high level of torque and few revolutions per minute, the GTS 300 Super provides peak flexibility and maximum acceleration - making it an exceptional choice for city commuters. The twist-and-go continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) allows smooth and easy operation for hassle-free navigation through even the toughest stop-and-go traffic.

Twelve-inch wheels insure a stable ride over pot-hole scarred streets and double-disc brakes allow riders to stop quickly, with confidence. Like all Vespas, the GTS 300 Super sips fuel. Its carbon footprint is pint-size and it exceeds strict U.S. CARB emission standards. And, while owners save fuel and the environment, the scooter’s slim stance also helps reduce congestion – it will happily share one full-size SUV parking space with six of its scooter siblings.

Despite its streamlined stance, the GTS 300 Super is big on cargo capacity. Plentiful under-seat storage space is sufficient for storing helmets, groceries - you name it! And, a broad range of accessories, such as a rear top case and soft luggage, add to the scooter’s functionality.

The 2009 Vespa GTS 300 Super is available at U.S. Vespa retailers starting in March. Color choices include Shiny Black or Optic White. The manufacturer’s suggested retail price is $6,199.

About The Piaggio Group:

Established in 1884 by Rinaldo Piaggio and based in Pontedera (Pisa, Italy), the Piaggio Group is one of the world’s top manufacturers of two-wheel motor vehicles. With over 7,000 employees, an annual production of more than 708,000 vehicles in 2007, 5 R&D centers, 7 production facilities in Europe and Asia, and operations in over 50 countries, the Piaggio Group has a consolidated leadership in the European two-wheeler market.

The company produces scooters, motorcycles and mopeds in the 50cc to 1,200 cc displacement range, marketed under the Piaggio, Vespa, Gilera, Derbi, Aprilia, Scarabeo and Moto Guzzi brands. The Group also manufactures three- and four-wheel light transportation vehicles for the Ape, Porter and Quargo ranges.

Anne Szczesny
Brandware PR for Piaggio Group Americas
770.649.0880, Ext. 303

Monday, January 12, 2009

Rucksters follow-up

OK, real quick: Manny Del Toro (aka, "goatlover") informed me of an upcoming Rucksters ride that was coming up this past Sunday. So, I hopped on my Vespa Rally 200 and cruised to one of the satellite meeting spots, which was a few blocks from my house, a Starbucks in Lakewood. When I got there, I pulled up next to all the other scooters that were there and was asked if I was riding with them. I said yes, and they explained the reason they asked is because sometimes other scooterists see them and just pull up to talk. I assured them I had come for their ride and they welcomed me. It was a bit awkward, but a few of them came up and started talking to me about my Vespa. I in turn started finding out about their scooters and especially the mods that were available and that they had all done. Quite amazing stuff and very inventive, I might add.

While we in the vintage scooter community take pride in "sleepers" and "racers" that only alter the outward appearance of our scooters a little bit, while tuning the heck out of them internally, these guys took pride in customizing their machines so that they did not look like your typical floor model at all. I found out about kits that can extend the length of a scooter, mountings that let the engine and back wheel assembly move waaay back, in varying degrees. Then there were the wide rim kits for the back tire, engine upgrades, engine swaps, etc. Motorcycle forks, grips, Chines engine cowls, etc. were all freely used. The thing is, the way the Honda Ruckus is built, with basically a steel tubing system that you just attach parts to, you can modify and attach just about anything you want, whether it be LED lights, alarm systems, racks and other accessories, carbon fiber bits and pieces, etc. Some of them even had GPS nav systems wired into their batteries! Reminded me of the original Lambretta models, with the bare frame tubing showing through, except now with modern tech on board.

"1947 Lambretta Model A" above, and new Ruckus below


After meeting at Starbucks, we cruised to the main meeting spot, which was "The Hat" in Rosemead. There, our 11 scooters came together with another 18 or so scooters, and more were joining up as we parked. That's when I got to really see a lot of the customization capabilities of these scooterists and their machines. Some of the riders even told me they had a Vespa or two as well. One had just bought a Lammie from Dean. Another had a P200, and so on. But the scoots they were riding today were all moded out. Check out these pics of some of the mods on these scooters:





To see all the other pics I shot, click here. I couldn't go on the long ride they were planning (my kid was sick @ home and had to get back), so I saw them off as they gassed up and took off for Phillipe's in downtown L.A., then Griffith Park, then the coast and beyond. Sounded like another full day of riding for them. Bet they had fun! Here's a video clip I shot from my digital camera as they took off:

As I said in my last post, we in the vintage community could learn a lot from these guys, as some of them have taken matters into their own hands and are now manufacturing their own accessories for their rides. Why not? Overall, nice group. And, even though I was on another type of scooter, they were very welcoming and invited me back. After seeing their energy and inventive ways they can modify scooters, I probably will be back... Again, why not? What Honest Mike shouted to me at the end of the above video comes to mind: "Riders ride!"