The Return of the "Vespino"

Harkening back to the time when sporty scooters were ridden by the young and beautiful, the Sprint and its "Sport Collection" sibling, the Sprint S, are a marriage of old world design and technology. I’m not going to say "vintage," but it’s more like the first really sexy update of the vintage designs we saw in the 1960s and maybe into the 1970s. Vespa touts this as the return of the "Vespino" — a sporty small-body scooter. With a maximum speed of 59 mph, you’re not heading on the highway with this little guy, but for spins around town, on the campus and local commutes, the Sprint is a sweet little ride.

Continue reading for my review of the Vespa Sprint 150.

  • 2016 - 2018 Vespa Sprint 150
  • Year:
    2016- 2018
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    inline-1
  • Displacement:
    155 cc
  • Top Speed:
    59 mph
  • Price:
    5399
  • Price:

Design

2016 - 2018 Vespa Sprint 150
- image 728245
The retro style of the Sprint 150 is evident in the rectangular headlight, the more traditional step-through, a taillight cluster right out of the 1960s and curvy body panels...

According to my gal-pal, Andrea Calloway, at The Transportation Revolution in New Orleans, the 150 cc Vespas weight capacity is 500 pounds. I didn’t test its capacity, but she’s a motorbike specialist over there at TTRNO, so she would know, yeah?

The retro style of the Sprint 150 is evident in the rectangular headlight, the more traditional step-through, a taillight cluster right out of the 1960s and curvy body panels; all melding with the techno-updates apparent in the LED running lights, the presence of ABS and a combination of analog and digital instrumentation.

Underseat storage is spacious enough for a full-face helmet — no surprise there. The Sprint features a more comfortable saddle and passenger handles for a friend. New-from-2015, the Sprint S sports a rather spiffy racing stripe to lend the "on-the-go" vibe even when standing still.

Chassis

2016 - 2018 Vespa Sprint 150
- image 728250
The rear brake is a 140 mm mechanical drum, and as much as I dislike drum brakes, it does accentuate the retro Vespa style...

Piaggio has been in the scooter business for quite a while, and the original Vespa released in 1946 helped to define the motorized scooter genre. In light of that, it comes as no surprise that the 2018 Vespa Sprint 150 follows the stereotypical scooter form with its step-through midsection and leg-guard front fairing.

Instead of starting on any sort of heavy underframe, the Vespa’s load-bearing structure uses the stamped, sheet-metal body panels in a monocoque — unibody — structure. This keeps weight down, and welded reinforcements buttress the stress points to complete the structure and help provide the necessary rigidity. Best of all, if damaged, you can cut the front fairing free and have another fitted and welded. That way, you won’t have to trash the scooter for a minor fender bender as long as the main body structure remains intact and undistorted.

At 31.1-inches high, the seat falls within the usual size bracket, and the 73-inch overall length provides a little more legroom than usual, so this Vespa should fit a slightly-wider range of body styles than would normally fit on a typical 150 cc ride.

The front suspension uses a single-sided, trailing-link setup with a dual-action, coil-over monoshock to provide 3.07 inches of travel, and the swing-mount motor/swingarm assembly rides on a coil-over monoshock with a preload adjustment and 2.75 inches of travel. While these aren’t stellar numbers, they are plenty for such a light ride, and within industry norms.

All around 12-inch hoops make the scooter-to-road connection, and a 200 mm hydraulic-brake disc with ABS binds the front wheel. The rear brake is a 140 mm mechanical drum, and as much as I dislike drum brakes, it does accentuate the retro Vespa style, and it’s strong enough to keep the ride under control.

Frame: Body in sheet Steel with welded structural reinforcements
Front Suspension: Single arm with coil spring and dual action monoshock absorber, 3.1-inch travel
Rear suspension: Coil spring with adjustable preload (4 settings), and dual action hydraulic monoshock, 2.8-inch travel
Front brake: Hydraulically operated 200 mm stainless steel disc with ABS
Rear brake: Mechanically operated 140 mm drum
Front tire: Die-cast aluminum alloy, Tubeless 110/ 70 - 12 inches
Rear tire: Die-cast aluminum allow, Tubeless 120/70 - 12 inches

Drivetrain

2016 - 2018 Vespa Sprint 150
- image 728248
Though it is air-cooled, the air is forced over the engine by a fan to prevent overheating when stuck in slow or even no-go traffic.

A one-banger, four-stroke engine drives the “Wasp” up to 59 mph at an estimated 94.8 mpg, so this is truly an around-the-world-on-three-tablespoons-of-gas ride. The nearly square — and punched up from last year — engine produces 12.7 ponies at 7,750 rpm, and 9.4 pound-feet of grunt at 6,500, due in part to the efficiency of the fuel-injection system. Though it is air-cooled, the air is forced over the engine by a fan to prevent overheating when stuck in slow or even no-go traffic.

A Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) provides twist-and-go functionality, and a dry centrifugal clutch eliminates the need to coordinate a clutch with the throttle for easy-peasy operation as you zip around town.

Engine Type: Single-cylinder Four-stroke, Three Valves, Catalyzed
Displacement: 154.8 cc
Bore: 58 mm
Stroke: 58.6 mm
Valvetrain: SOHC - three valves (two intake, one exhaust)
Maximum Power: 12.7 Horsepower at 7,750 rpm
Maximum Torque: 9.4 Pound-Feet at 6,500 rpm
Transmission: Automatic Twist and Go (CVT with torque server)
Clutch: Automatic dry centrifugal clutch with vibration dampers

Pricing

2016 - 2018 Vespa Sprint 150
- image 728261
MSRP on the 2018 Sprint 150 is $5,399 -- same as it was for 2017 and just $200 over 2016.

MSRP on the 2018 Sprint 150 is $5,399 — same as it was for 2017 and just $200 over 2016. Last year, if you wanted it in black, you had to head over the border to Canada, since black wasn’t available in the U.S. market. For 2018, we have black as well as white, orange, and a nice green. Vespa covers your Sprint 150 with a two-year unlimited-mileage warranty and throws in a year of roadside assistance through Road America for free.

Competitors

2016 - 2018 Vespa Sprint 150
- image 728251
2016 - 2018 Yamaha SMAX
- image 650149
Bottom line: If it's retro form you are after, the Vespa Sprint 150 is your huckleberry, but if function or budget are your front-burner issues, the Smax is preferable.

With so many small-displacement scooters to choose from, I decided to go with the similarly-shaped, if not quite as classic, Smax from Yamaha. In the engine category, both models see eye-to-eye at the 155 cc displacement mark, and both run with fuel injected induction. The similarities end there. Yamaha uses liquid cooling to vent waste heat instead of forced air, and uses a four-valve head versus the three valves on the Vespa. Top speed numbers suggest even more differences in the drivetrain, with the Sprint producing a modest 59 mph against a solid 80 mph from the Smax.

It’s hard to hold a candle to the Italians when it comes to scooter design, especially when dealing with a company like Piaggio that helped define the genre. While the Vespa definitely shows its roots, the Smax merely suggests the classic design with something of a function-over-form mentality, evidenced by the modern shape of the front fairing and windshield. To be fair, the Smax kind of needs such amenities given its stated purpose as a highway-capable ride.

So far, it all comes down to taste and needs, but that changes when we compare stickers. Vespa is sort of like the Harley-Davidson of scooters in that part of the price is inflated by the rock-star status of the name, so it comes in at $5,399 while the Smax rolls at $3,699. That’s quite a difference for a same-size-engine scooter. Yeah, the Smax doesn’t get ABS, but it does have hydraulic disc brakes front and rear instead of a rear drum as on the Sprint, so I think the brake differences cancel each other out.

Bottom line: If it’s retro form you are after, the Vespa Sprint 150 is your huckleberry, but if function or budget are your front-burner issues, the Smax is preferable.

He Said

My husband and fellow writer, TJ Hinton, says, “As much as I like the classic design, I have a couple of bones to pick. First, it is my not-so-humble opinion that if you are going to have ABS on just one of the brakes, it needs to be on the rear. ABS will not prevent the loss of lateral traction when braking in corners, so it’s mainly useful on the straights where you can actually get away with sliding the front wheel as long as you don’t also lose traction at the rear, which is where rear ABS pays dividends. It allows you to panic brake and not wipe out. Having a drum brake on the back, you can’t benefit from rear ABS. Secondly, though the engine displacement technically makes it legal for highway travel in the U.S., it really isn’t appropriate. Where I live, if the speed limit is 50 mph, I have to do 70 just to keep from being run over by the folks that want to do 80. So, let me be clear; you couldn’t load me in a cannon and shoot me onto the highway on a 59 mph ride of any sort, not even on a bet or a dare!”

She Said

"From a mechanic’s point of view, I like that it’s a bit easier to work on the 150 cc engines after the changes that came in 2015. You don’t have to carry a spark plug cap with you on long trips because the coil is now mounted on the engine, not on the frame so it doesn’t break from vibration. The new cap, along with being nicely contained on the engine, has a beefy boot and the spark plug is easier to get to through the access door on the frame, which is larger than it used to be. With the redesign of the suspension components from 2016, the Sprint 150 is a lot more stable and less ’divey’ than it used to be."

Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine Type: Single-cylinder Four-stroke, Three Valves, Catalyzed
Displacement: 154.8 cc
Bore: 58 mm
Stroke: 58.6 mm
Valvetrain: SOHC - three valves (two intake, one exhaust)
Maximum Power: 12.7 Horsepower at 7,750 rpm
Maximum Torque: 9.4 Pound-Feet at 6,500 rpm
Fuel supply: P.I. Injection (Port injected)
Cooling: Forced Air
Starter: Electric
Transmission: Automatic Twist and Go (CVT with torque server)
Clutch: Automatic dry centrifugal clutch with vibration dampers
Chassis:
Frame: Body in sheet Steel with welded structural reinforcements
Front Suspension: Single arm with coil spring and dual action monoshock absorber, 3.1-inch travel
Rear suspension: Coil spring with adjustable preload (4 settings), and dual action hydraulic monoshock, 2.8-inch travel
Front brake: Hydraulically operated 200 mm stainless steel disc with ABS
Rear brake: Mechanically operated 140 mm drum
Front tire: Die-cast aluminum alloy, Tubeless 110/ 70 - 12 inches
Rear tire: Die-cast aluminum allow, Tubeless 120/70 - 12 inches
Dimensions:
Length: 73.2 inches
Width: 28.9 inches
Wheelbase: 52.7 inches
Seat height: 31.1 inches
Vehicle Weight: 260 lbs
Details:
Max speed: 59 mph
Fuel tank capacity: 2.1 gallons
Fuel Economy: 94.8 mpg
Warranty: Two-year unlimited-mileage warranty
Road Side Assistance: One Free Year of Road Side Assistance provided by Road America
Type approval: EPA and CARB
Colors:
2017: Rosso Dragon (red), Montebianco (white), Blu Gaiola (blue), Giallo Positano (yellow)
2018: Nero Lucido (black), Bianco Innocenza (white), Rosso Passione (red), Arancio Tramonto (orange), Verde Speranza (green), (S: Giallo Gelosia (yellow))
Price: $5,399

References

2016 - 2018 Yamaha SMAX
- image 650149

See our review of the Yamaha Smax.

All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended.Image Source: vespausa.com, yamaha-motor.com

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