It is stylish, has adequate features and a good engine. Here’s more on Vespa LX125

Piaggio couldn’t have picked up a better time or a model to return to the Indian market. The market is showing healthy growth and ample promise and the Vespa LX125 grabbed quite a few eyeballs when it was revealed. Everything then seemed picture perfect, until Vespa announced the LX125’s unusually high price. Let’s find out whether the Indo-Italian newcomer has what it takes to justify its premium price.

Comfortable palm grips

Arguably the best looking Indian scooter on the road, the Vespa LX125 is perfectly proportioned – its smoothened, timeless lines having been well-received by both sexes.

The Indian LX comes with three-spoke alloy rims. The rounded front apron runs a smart border, above which sits a rounded, clear-lens halogen headlight that brightens up inky nights. The new Vespa has top-quality, elegantly formed switches that incorporate push-to-cancel indicators, as well as comfortable palm grips and machined alloy brake levers that rank among the best on any Indian scooter.

The LX’s instruments are thoughtfully laid out, and include a legible analogue speedometer, odometer, fuel gauge and a digital clock. The round mirrors provide ample rear view and look smart with a gleaming chrome finish, but disappoint with their limited adjustment. Another letdown is the omission of a rear brake lock clamp; invaluable kit when parking or waiting astride a gearless scooter on an incline.

We like how the voluminous front storage bin sits flush in the panel beneath the steering and opens with a light push of the ignition key into its slot.

In addition to this, the LX also offers an under-seat storage bin. A ridged floorboard, as found here, is never as practical or comfortable as a flat one, but can be viewed as a sacrifice made on the altar of retro, where form occasionally precedes function. Conversely, the Vespa strikes a fine balance between form and function with a bag hook that tucks neatly away into the front portion of the riding saddle, which itself offers an upmarket, textured surface.

Detailed engineering has gone into both stands for this scooter. The LX is easily propped onto its main stand, and the side-stand uses an auto-return feature that keeps the rider safe just in case he rides off with the stand still down.

It isn’t every day that you see such a simple yet tastefully executed tubular grab bar on a two-wheeler, but the LX enjoys many such perfectly evolved design touches, with every little detail being properly addressed. The scooter’s rear panels swoop backwards to meet in a distinct tail, with in-built turn signal indicators and an illuminated number plate.

Sold in several trendy bright paint job options, the Baramati-built Vespa comes with good overall quality and smart fit and finish.

Three valves

The button-started LX125 is powered by a four-stroke, single-cylinder engine that displaces 125cc. The Vespa is the only Indian scooter to breathe through three valves, and also incorporates friction-cutting roller rocker arms within its SOHC, aluminium alloy head.

Although this air-cooled powerplant is carburetted, unlike several fuel-injected Vespas available worldwide, the LX125 offers a variable spark ignition system that factors inputs from an intake pressure sensor. Maximum power is 10.06bhp, made at 7500rpm, and peak torque is 1.08kgm, delivered at 6000rpm.

The LX’s CVT transmission works seamlessly, saving riders the added chore of working a clutch and gearshift. The new engine emits a creamy-smooth power delivery, with a refined, buzz-free feel. Performance is adequate for a scooter, with the 0-60kph dash completed in 10.07 seconds and a respectable top speed of 94kph.

In the city, the LX125 is peppy enough for zippy traffic signal getaways, and the engine feels reliable and built to last.

Vespa scooters have often used a monocoque chassis, and the LX125 shows off a rigid, steel structure along the same lines. A single-side shock absorber with linkage is deployed at the front, while the rear uses a conventional hydraulic suspension system.

The scooter’s seat is plush and roomy, with the riding position feeling just right. Comfy, upright and with the handlebar set at the right height, it’s just what the doctor ordered for commuting on crowded Indian streets.

The ride quality is good, even when riding with an adult pillion or negotiating poor roads, and the LX is light and stable enough to ride in the city conditions scooters like this are designed for.

The Vespa corners just as well as any scooter on 10-inch rims can, and braking is courtesy a 150mm drum in front and 140mm drum at the rear. However, the front brake proves the single biggest letdown on the Indian LX125, and is a safety hazard that needs urgent addressing, for it provides inadequate bite and stopping power.

Given the scooter’s high price, Piaggio would do well to offer the LX125 with a front disc brake. An emergency stop from 60kph took 24.33 metres on this scooter.

The Vespa is a well-rounded package. It is stylish, has adequate features and a good engine.