Piaggio have come out all guns blazing in an effort to fill a large gap in their range and to try and win extra sales in the fiercely fought 125cc commuter class war. The new Medley has everything its Japanese rivals can boast and more. Not only does it outgun them on spec but it also beats them on price. The Medley comes in at £28 less than the Honda PCX 125 and a massive £528 cheaper than the SH 125i. That’s quite a saving in this hard-fought arena.
We’ve just got back from Italy where we went to find out if the new Piaggio Medley is likely to put an Italian sized boot up the backside of the class leader when it gets out on the road.
Having ridden both I’d say it’s a big fat YES!
The Honda PCX is the class leading 125cc scooter in the UK, the Honda SH is big in Europe. Both scooters offer technology like a modern liquid-cooled engine, the PCX also has Idle-stop to increase MPG, combined brakes and a low price to tempt buyers. The PCX 125 is a great all-rounder from the mighty Honda and at just £2699 on the road the updated 2015 model also includes LED lighting, low-friction tyres, improved instruments, and an updated Idle-Stop with a facility to monitor battery drain.
We’ve currently got the new PCX 125 on test at ScooterLab and will bring you a full road test and video in the coming weeks. Forget about that for now though and concentrate on this new kid on the block…
i-GET to SLUK
On paper at least, the Medley kicks ass. It features the brand new liquid-cooled, fuel-injected, 4-valve i-GET engine. This motor replaces the existing, yet modern 3-valve power plant. The engine meets Euro-4 regulations and has been designed to maximise efficiency, reduce friction, lower noise and make the ride more comfortable whilst also increasing power. Piaggio designed the engine to be as quiet as possible by reducing internal friction, every internal rotating part runs on bearings and the company have covered one million kilometres in reliability testing. The Italians love a catchy acronym – i-GET stands for Italian Green Experience Technology. Although I reckon ‘E’ should stand for Engine, but not to worry.
135 miles per gallon
Under WMTC (World Motorcycle Test Cycle) testing the Medley achieved a figure of 47.5km/l, around 135mpg so it’s not a figure to be sniffed at.
Newly developed parts for the engine include the following:
- Head, cylinder, piston, rocker timing with rollers
- Crankshaft to reduce vibration
- Starter is a direct mount electric type with brushless motor on the crank
- Cooling system with radiator built into the engine to reduce weight and warm-up times, whilst benefitting consumption and emissions
- Newly designed gearbox cover to reduce noise
- Latest double toothed drive belt to minimise power losses
- Gearbox designed to improve rideability and performance
- Air-box and air filter designed to reduce intake noise and improve filtering
- Built-in engine electronic control unit with S&S management developed by Piaggio
Up close the new Medley looks very much like a cross between the existing Liberty 125 and Beverley 350, hence the name. It’s a medley of the two. The new addition to the Piaggio range certainly fills a gap between the fairly basic Liberty and maxi style X8 125. But does it fill that gap well?
Styling wise the medley isn’t out of the ordinary but there’s a strong family resemblance and it looks well-built, all the panels and plastics look of good quality and the paint is finished well. Despite sharing the family genes this scooter is new from the ground up. The instruments have a Beverly style layout, they’re clear and informative. There’s also a button on the bars to enable the Start & Stop function to be turned off if required. Classy looking 16″ front, 14″ rear 12-spoke alloy wheels, shod with Maxxis Extramaxx tyres are designed to help the suspension cope with the rigours of modern life. Larger wheels equals a smoother ride; it’s common sense.
Looking around the scooter there’s a glovebox up front, complete with USB socket. It’s hidden away inside but is handy to charge or power a phone if you’re using the optional Piaggio Multimedia Platform. The 7-litre fuel tank is located low down in the centre of the footwell. This gives two benefits, one it keeps the weight centralised and improves balance. Secondly and impressively it also leaves extra room for storage under the seat, something high-wheeled scooters often sacrifice. Manufacturers sometimes claim two full faced helmets will fit under a seat, more often than not we’ll find only an open faced lid will squeeze under there, not with the Medley though. The storage space is huge for a scooter in this class. We comfortably stored two full faced lids in there, a great selling point. The Honda PCX won’t stow one of my full-faced Arais under the seat.
We mentioned the new engine earlier, the Medley is the first Piaggio to receive this latest generation engine. The i-GET is a compact unit and uniquely also includes the radiator for the cooling system. This saves weight and unnecessary pipework and is a neat solution. The engine will be rolled out across selected models in the Piaggio/Vespa range, in both air and liquid-cooled units. There’s already a 150cc Medley in Europe (it won’t be coming to the UK sadly but our foreign counterparts rode it and said the performance was quite noticeably better than the 125) and larger capacity i-GETs are on the cards. The Vespa Primavera/Sprint are already being built using this new motor, albeit in air-cooled fashion and with 3 rather than 4 valves.
What’s the Medley like to ride?
Sitting on the scooter for the first time it feels substantial; the Liberty 125 is a bit weedy in comparison. This is the kind of scooter to appeal to both male and female riders. The seating position feels natural and comfortable, whilst not being too high, or low. In comparison the Honda PCX makes you feel like you’re sat in it rather than on it. The brushless starter motor is very quiet so the scooter bursts into life effortlessly and we’re ready to put it through its paces.
Our group of English and Greek journalists pull away from the hotel and head off into the Italian countryside…
The i-GET engine has been designed for economy and practicality, it has 10,000km service intervals and only needs a new belt every 20,000km. By nature it’s not built to win races but it does pull away well enough without ripping your arms from their sockets. The transmission was set up to allow a steady getaway, rather than fast. That’s partially for the Asian markets where the sheer volume of traffic means a quicker acceleration will see you plowing into 10 other scooters, killing sixteen dogs, a family of 12 and three chickens in the process. It’s not slow away from the lights though so don’t panic. Top speed maybe could have been slightly quicker, it gets to 60mph but then takes some effort to get much more out of it, although I did see 68mph on the GPS with my head down. A genuine 70mph top speed without too much effort would have been better for me, but that probably won’t worry most city commuters. The Medley does accelerate quicker and have a higher top speed than the Honda PCX currently residing in my garage though, another bonus point to the Medley.
Start & Stop
Many cars and a few scooters have stop-start technology to reduce pollution, increase economy and please the green protesters. The Medley comes equipped with Piaggio’s version, Start & Stop. You have the option to turn it off if you wish but there’s not really much point. Basically, when you stop at a junction or in traffic for around four seconds the engine cuts out. Twist the throttle again and it starts instantly and silently (thanks to that fancy new starter motor). Simple and effective.
Two channel Bosch ABS
The Medley comes with disc brakes front and rear, it’s also equipped with two-channel Bosch ABS. It works very well too, I managed to get it to cut in on a few occasions during our test ride and it simply stops the wheels from locking. It’s an unobtrusive system and feels much more refined than some of the older ABS systems we used to get a few years ago. The brakes themselves are good as well, plenty of feel in the levers and enough stopping power.
The larger wheels, twin adjustable rear suspension, beefy front forks and Maxxis tyres all work very well. We had a good blast around the mountains and found ourselves riding over some slippery, pothole strewn, gravel littered roads. Less than perfect but ideal for testing a scooter out properly. The Medley handled them fantastically. The tyres grip very well, they’re predictable on all types of road in the dry and I’d imagine they’re good in the wet as well. No complaints here. At slower speeds the scooter is very well balanced so you can roll at a crawling pace with your feet up, ideal for city riding and great for the confidence of a novice.
Specifications & verdict
Engine: 124.5cc single cylinder. 4-stroke, liquid-cooled, fuel injected, 4-valves, SOHC
Engine type: i-GET with Start & Stop
Power: 12.069bhp @8250rpm
Torque: 11.5nm @ 6500rpm
Suspension: Telescopic front fork, rear single shock absorber, 5-position preload
Brakes: 260mm front disc, 240mm rear disc with two-channel ABS
Tyres: Front 100/80-16”, rear 110/80-14”
Seat height: 787mm
Dimensions: Length 2020mm, width 705mm, wheelbase 1390mm
Fuel capacity: 7 litres
Colours: Bianco Perla (white), Grigio Titanio (grey), Blu Midnight, Blu Sport
Price: £2671 (S version £2771)
Lab Rating: 9.3
Text: Iggy Grainger Additional pics: Milagro & Iggy
See how the Medley compares to Honda’s top-selling PCX in our massive review and video here.
Piaggio should pat themselves on the back for bringing the Medley to market. It’s a great all-round 125cc scooter and has loads of practical attributes that put it ahead of the competition. Those bonus points include the large storage space, Start & Stop, ABS, handling, finish and a not to forget the great price. This is one seriously well-designed, well-built and competitively priced learner legal scooter. It begs the question, why and how can they build it and sell it at this price? The answer to that question lies within the glovebox, a VIN plate within reveals that the Medley is built in the Vietnamese Piaggio factory. Don’t let that put you off though; all the big manufacturers use Far Eastern factories for certain models. It’s a way of cutting costs but doesn’t always cut quality or reliability. Piaggio are confident in the abilities of their Vietnamese department and I couldn’t fault the Medley from a quality point of view.
If I was to change one thing it’d be the type of coloured plastics used on the inner legshields. From experience the plastic can fade fairly quickly, or at least the red plastic did on the Piaggio Beverly. It cheapens the scooter after a while. The Medley will also come as an S version though (for £100 more), the S has black plastics, dark wheels, a black seat and a few other subtle differences. Hopefully the plastic will survive better on that one.
In stock now
If you’re looking for what should become the new class leading 125cc high-wheeled scooter you’d better get down to your local Piaggio dealer. There are currently 66 dealers around the country and the Medley has just started arriving in the UK this week, most of them should have a demo scooter for you to ride shortly. Give one a whirl, I’ll be surprised if you’re disappointed. It’s nippy, easy to ride, economical and very well priced. What’s not to like?