Vespa Sprint 125 | ROAD TEST
The Vespa Sprint 125
Sprint by name, nippy by nature
Is this the best all-round 125cc Vespa currently in production? It’s certainly my favourite and I’d buy one rather than a bulky heavyweight GTS 125.
The Sprint may be smaller and lighter than its bigger sibling but it’s still a great-looking, fantastic, nippy scooter. The Sprint is agile, easy to ride and makes an ideal city machine but can also be used for longer trips just as easily.
I’ve owned a Vespa of one kind or another since 1986 and the marque is still as important to me as it ever was. Riding a new Vespa in the Italian capital city at its press launch is an honour. Heading out into Rome’s bustling morning rush hour, on board the latest addition to the Vespa range I couldn’t help but smile to myself. As a self-confessed Vespa nut it life doesn’t get much better…
If you’ve seen or ridden the other models in the modern ‘Smallframe’ Vespa family, the LX, (replaced by the Primavera in 2014), or the Sprint’s predecessor, the ‘S’ you’ll find nothing remarkable about the new model, after all they share the same fuel injected 3-valve air-cooled engine. But with every new model comes further enhancements, like improvements to the fuel economy, a 30% increase over the ‘S’ to a claimed 47km/l (133mpg!) and a range of 300km’s from the eight-litre tank.
Service intervals have also been lengthened to 10,000km’s, a great cost and time saving attribute for a 125cc scooter. It also makes it a practical machine to own and use day to day. Whilst we’re talking of practicalities the chassis has been lengthened to give more space between the seat and headstock, at 5’10” I still have almost a foot of space between my knees and the glovebox. So don’t be put off by the ‘Smallframe’ label. Having said that though the seat height is lower at just 790mm and the narrow runner boards means it’s very accessible for shorter riders, it’s also very easy to put on the centre stand.
This model has also had the battery moved beneath the central frame tube to further lower the centre of gravity and allow the helmet bay beneath the seat to be redesigned, this gives over two litres of additional storage space and more importantly means you can comfortably stow a full faced helmet beneath the seat.
As with all Vespas the Sprint is built from pressed steel, rather than plastic so it will last well and can be repaired. The manufacturing process is state of the art, the chassis is arc welded by robots for precision and torsional rigidity is up by 36% for better handling characteristics. On the road this scooter is more agile than a Russian gymnast, so I’d say it works well. The Sprint comes in a selection of three vibrant colours, Rosso Dragon red, Giallo Positano yellow and Blu Gaiola plus a ‘Sport’ version in matt titanium grey. Shadows accentuate the curves of the panels perfectly and it’s not by accident, Piaggio build these things into the design.
The 3-valve engine is air cooled and produces 10.5bhp, not a huge amount of power but it makes use of that power very well and is plenty nippy enough for most users. Getting away first from the traffic lights is a doddle, so don’t let size or power worry you too much. Rome is a city where traffic comes at you in all directions, thankfully although it looks chaotic car drivers are well aware of everything around them – unlike back home. You still need your wits about you though and to be honest there’s not another machine I’d rather ride around a city, at home or abroad. The Sprint is light, responsive and handles very well. The Sava tyres work well enough and the brakes (disc front, drum rear) on our test machine offered phenomenal stopping power and also has ABS as standard.
There are dozens of scooter manufacturers around, some good some bad but with a Vespa you’re making a choice based on almost 70 years of scooter building experience. The Italians build with passion, their owners arrive in style and there is a noticeable difference between a machine built from the heart and the lesser brands which are built simply to be sold without soul. The Sprint is a beautiful looking scooter but it’s also well executed and very practical. This is my favourite 125cc retro scooter bar none. It’s lighter than a GTS, quicker and easier to use than a PX and has a bit more style than the Primavera.
Lab rating: 9.5
History of the Sprint
What’s the story? The Vespa Sprint isn’t a new name; in fact the original Sprint arrived in 1965. Back then it was a two stroke traditional Vespa with four speed manual hand gear change. One thing that hasn’t changed on the new Sprint is the fact that like all Vespa scooters the monocoque chassis is still pressed from steel, quite unique these days with plastic being the usual material of choice. If only Piaggio would capitalise on their history by remaking some of the classic designs for the 21st century they’d be able to wipe out the plastic pretenders from China.
Engine: 124cc, air-cooled, fuel injected, 4-stroke, single cylinder
Brakes: Front 200mm disc, rear 140mm drum (ABS)
Wheels: Front 110/70x 12, 120/70 x 12, Sava MC28’s
Suspension: Front single sided fork with shock, rear mono shock
Seat height: 790mm
Tank capacity: 8 litres
Warranty: Two years
Colours: Red, yellow, blue and matt titanium grey
Price: £3971 (Sprint S £4021)