Living with a scooter is always the best way to get to know it. Especially when it’s a model you’ve ridden thousands and thousands of miles on in the past. The GTS SuperTech HPE 300 arrived in July as our long-term test bike and it’s started to loosen up now.
Here’s how we’re getting along together…
Over the last few weeks, I’ve been using my Lambrettas for most rallies and events so the GTS wasn’t getting as many miles on the clock as I’d have liked but you can only ride one scooter at once I suppose. Luckily Woolacombe was looming and we decided to do the 500-mile trip the easy way by taking the Vespa. We also decided to make a longer weekend of it than usual and stop off for a night in the Cotswolds on the way down.
The day before that though I’d just received the new Remus RS exhaust and swapped it over (it’s only a 20-minute job because it’s not a full system). We’ll be reviewing the exhaust in a separate feature later. Usually, I’d adjust the suspension when fitting an aftermarket exhaust to a GTS. Stiffening it up gives extra clearance around the bottom side panel.
Less is more
Piaggio in their wisdom have stopped supplying a few things that you used to get as standard with a new Vespa GTS. Firstly the rain cover for the seat vanished (not that I’ve ever bothered to use one). Then they got rid of the basic but useful toolkit. On the latest models, you don’t even get the plastic toolbox cover (although SIP sells those). Not having a toolkit meant I didn’t have a ‘C’ spanner to stiffen up the rear suspension… Something I would later regret.
Thursday morning I loaded the scooter up for a 100-mile ride down to beautiful Boughton on the Water (well worth a visit). I mentioned a while ago that I’d fitted a SIP 70s rear carrier and that we’d made a SLUK Support especially for it to make it more practical. The rear rack easily took my 40-litre Oxford roll bag and the space between my legs was big enough for another 40-litre bag.
I’d also fitted a front SLUK Guard to protect that front seam from stone chips and excess spray but have since swapped that over for our new longer ULTRA version. We will have a couple of other new plastic goodies to fit soon.
With the navigation set on the SuperTech screen we were soon blasting down the M1 two up. The sat nav is very easy to follow, although I noticed a couple of glitches during this trip. The first one came when I answered a phone call on my Sena intercom whilst riding. After the call ended the navigation stopped and I couldn’t get it back on again (I’ve sussed that out now though – just a long upwards press on the joystick will restart the nav).
I wasn’t sure where I was going though so pulled off the M69 and stopped to have a look. That’s when I smelt burning plastic. I quickly realised the exhaust was getting too close to the panel when loaded and had started to melt it, it had also melted the ugly reflector bracket and started on the number plate.
Luckily the Vespa app also has a dealer locator so I checked for the nearest one… 50 miles away (a big downside to thinning out the dealer network in the UK). Not good. I tried Google instead and found a former Piaggio dealer just 2.5 miles away. A quick call to Steve at Fargo Scooters (it’s well worth a look around the quirky Fargo Village if you go) and he agreed to get the scooter on his ramp for the apprentice to adjust my suspension. Brilliant.
If you need to adjust the suspension on a GTS the exhaust side is easy but the engine side means you have to remove the airbox (or at least pull it away) to get to the adjuster. It was soon done though and we were back on the road. A new bottom panel isn’t expensive thankfully so I’ve ordered one from MSC.
After this unscheduled stop the navigation kept cutting out ‘Navigation interrupted’ would flash up on the screen. It was happening so frequently that I got my pillion to hold my phone and reconnect every couple of miles, quite annoying in the middle of Little Britain. I tried turning all push notifications off on my phone and altering the settings on the app but gave it up as a bad job.
I found out the following day that the navigation would stay connected if my phone was plugged into the USB charger in the glovebox, it stayed connected for the next 400 miles. The good thing about electronic tech is that bugs can be ironed out in time with an update so I’m not overly concerned. The navigation, dash on the scooter and statistics are very useful to have and once you’ve ridden a SuperTech for a while you’d not really want to go back to a standard GTS dash.
Another glitch with the navigation is that it shows the distance to your destination but doesn’t count down in single digits. You could have 140 miles to go or 100, it’ll stay at a round number then drop by 10 or more. I’m hoping that will be cured with a software update. There was a multimedia update done on my first service last week, although I’ve not had time to try it out yet. If that hasn’t fixed things I’m sure the app will get better with each update so I’m not overly concerned.
The tip above should cure this dropping out issue
Limited top speed
After a lovely night in the heart of The Cotswolds we blasted down to Devon for the Woolacombe rally. Obviously many GTS owners (especially in the UK) will use their Vespa for rally use and they want to know how it performs. They’ll also have read on various Facebook pages and forums that the new HPE model isn’t as quick as the old model at the top end. It’s something we didn’t get to try out last winter when we rode it at the Italian launch
Here’s the truth. The new HPE engine is smoother than the old QUASAR engine it replaces, it’s more powerful and will accelerate quicker. It also has more mid-range grunt to help with overtaking. I’ve owned five GTS’ in the past and covered over 100,000 miles on them. On a GPS the old model would do 82mph, it would also hit the rev limiter momentarily but it wasn’t too intrusive. Back off the throttle slightly and you were back on the power.
With the HPE it will do 77.7mph on my GPS. The clock will show 82mph but at 80 the speed sensor-controlled rev limiter will dip the power. It feels a bit like somebody pulling the clutch in and it’ll kill the fun until you back off to around 76mph on the clock. It’s much harsher than the old limiter. On the motorway I find it quite annoying, you’re probably doing a genuine 73mph-75mph when it hits so you’re hardly likely to get a speeding fine but it means you don’t really want to overtake cars that are hogging the middle lane at just below the speed limit.
Like anything though you get used to how a scooter performs and learn to work around any enforced restrictions. By the time I’d done the 500-mile trip to Devon and back I was used to how it behaved, although I will be looking into ways to improve things. The first thing I’ll be trying is one of the Speedwheels from Scooter Center. It’s meant to recalibrate the speed sensor. One thing any petrol head wants is to get the best performance out of his (or her) machine. I may try a couple of other things as well.
I was a bit disappointed to read the specs for the HPE and realise they’d taken one litre away from the fuel tank capacity but as it happens I shouldn’t have worried.
Why change the fuel capacity?
My theory is that the tank was made smaller to allow better access to it and to the fuel pump. It used to be a 2-3 hour job for a mechanic to swap a fuel pump. It was hidden behind part of the frame pressings, on the HPE it’s quite visible.
The GTS is a mile muncher and on the old 300 I’d be stopping for fuel at around 80 miles on a motorway journey. Surely losing a litre would make things worse? Surprisingly not. The new HPE is more fuel-efficient (one benefit of Euro 4 at least). On this flat out motorway trip I could comfortably fill up at 105 miles, quite an improvement for a smaller fuel tank. On my Vespa app, it gives an average fuel consumption of 64.6 mpg and on the trip statistics (last 30 trips) it shows me using fuel at between 55mpg and 82mpg. It’s worth bearing in mind that I don’t ride scooters to try and save the planet though so those figures could be massively improved.
Long termer statistics so far
Mileage when it arrived: 104
Current mileage: 734 miles
Thoughts so far
Aesthetically the SuperTech is the nicest looking standard GTS. I’ve had die-hard Lambretta owners messaging me about getting one. I’ve also had lots of comments about how it looks when I’ve been out and about on it.
People are always impressed when I turn it on and show them the dash. It’s a good looking scooter with some useful tech.
I really like the new HPE engine, it’s got a bit more get up and go for sure. It’s smooth, powerful and I’ve had no issues so far (although it’s only done 734 miles). I have heard a few owners complaining that it uses oil and they’re topping it up regularly. That’s something you never had to do between services on the old model. I’ll be keeping an eye on that for sure. The only downside for me so far is the intrusive rev limiter. Aside from that, it’s the best new GTS I’ve ridden.
The scooter is having a couple of new SLUK Plastics™ made for it at the moment. One will be to help prevent corrosion and the other is a new screen. Later this week it’ll be up at Scorpion to have a new HPE exhaust made and then we’ll look at fitting a few Piaggio accessories and try and improve the rev limiter.
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