Vespa GTS Frando brake caliper | REVIEW
Vespa GTS owners are often ‘into’ the latest upgrades, whether it’s an aftermarket exhaust, new suspension, braking or just styling accessories (and of course our best selling SLUK Guards). Up until recently though the usual brake mod has been to fit a Brembo caliper and additional mounting bracket. It’s not a bad solution but the idea of a simple bolt-on caliper with no extra brackets appealed to me.
Front and rear options
The Frando front caliper (above left) is a tasty four pot item with beefy 34mm pistons. It doesn’t just look visually impressive but also brings plenty of extra stopping power to your ride. There’s also a matching two piston rear caliper to go with it (top right) and they’re imported into the UK by well established braking company, Venhill. Although they’re selling the cooler looking black version rather than silver in the photos.
Here’s how we got on with them…
There’s nothing wrong with the standard two piston front brake caliper on a Vespa GTS but it’s not exactly sexy to look at and any extra stopping power is well worth having, especially if it looks good as well. In fact, most scooter riders would rate style over function more often than not. Luckily these brakes work as good as they look. The other bonus is that they’re designed to fit straight onto a GTS, no modifications, brackets or messing around required.
Sadly for me I thought if I was going to bother upgrading my calipers I’d also upgrade the brake hoses and discs as well. That’s where I went wrong. Our advice is to stick with the original hoses unless you absolutely have no other choice, it’s a pig of a job as I was to find out.
The easy way
Firstly I swapped the caliper over for the new one, it’s not too hard to do. Support the front end so the wheel is off the floor, remove the front wheel, undo the banjo bolt and allow the brake fluid to drain into a suitable receptacle, unbolt the caliper, swap the old ugly one over for your new CNC machined one, tighten up and connect the banjo then bleed the brakes using fresh fluid. Simple, an hour or so and you’re done (it helps if you have a vacuum bleeding kit).
I’m quite hard on the brakes, especially on an auto where there’s not much engine braking to scrub off speed. I also use a lot of rear brake to steady the scooter at slower speeds and for trail braking into corners. The GTS is a sports scooter as far as I’m concerned so upgrading the brakes is something worth doing. In fact, I obliterated my standard rear brake in Spain whilst riding through the Pyrenees. My rear pads literally dropped off the backing plates and I buckled my rear disc (not ideal with 800 miles left to ride home two up with luggage) so I was quite happy to get an uprated option.
I swapped the rear caliper for a Frando one as well, once again that will fit with your standard rear hose.
The Frando calipers have plenty of feel at the lever and bite hard when you need them to. You can certainly stop the scooter in a hurry. They’re not ‘grabby’ or harsh, just have great stopping potential and a progressive feel to them. If I was to rate brakes out of 10 I’d say the standard GTS brakes are around a 6, these calipers take things up to a 9 or 10. They’re good looking and do the business. In fact, I’d forgotten just how different they felt until recently on my way to Whitby when I had to use them in anger and my eyes came out on stalks. Yes, they really are powerful.
The hard unnecessary way
I’ve changed brake lines on a Vespa PX and Italjet Dragster in the past and it’s almost as easy as changing a clutch cable. Aside from the bleeding part which can be a bit monotonous (especially on a Dragster). How hard can it be on a GTS I thought to myself? How does full strip down sound?
Basically, it’s horncast off, headset off, glovebox off, floor up, battery out, forks dropped… yes this is a thankless task. Don’t do it. By this stage, I was too far in to give up. The problem is that the standard brake lines are held in place with clips and rubber bungs, you can’t simply pull them out. Just when you think you’re getting somewhere and manage to remove the old rear (it’s easier than the front) you realise that the front won’t come out unless you drop the forks to give a bit more access, then I had to undo the top of the shocker and loosen the mudguard. It’s tighter than a gnat’s chuff, a stupid, stupid design. Can you tell I didn’t enjoy this part?
To make matters worse I ended up damaging my steering bearings and trapped the speedo sensor unknowingly when I refitted the forks. I didn’t know I’d done either until I rode it for the first time. The steering was wonky and I had no speedo or indicators. Not good because I had a 300-mile round trip the following day. I replaced the bearings (yes I had to drop the forks again) and still the steering wasn’t as it should be. I ended up riding the scooter to Surrey and back feeling like I had one arm longer than the other (also with no clocks or indicators). Midland Scooter Centre were given the job of putting things right for me afterwards. I’d bodged things good and proper and it cost me about £100 to have it fixed.
Buy Frando now through the SLUK Shop
Frando are officially imported into the UK by leading brake specialist Venhill, they’ve asked us to supply them through our SLUK Shop. We’re currently just stocking the front caliper in black but can order the rear if there’s demand. The front costs £265 and is available now by clicking this link: Frando front caliper.
If you’d like a matching rear caliper or are so sadistic that you want new GTS brake hoses you can email us at: editorial@ScooterLab.UK and we’ll get them ordered.
More images of the brakes and GTS destruction
Casa Performance now available through the SLUK Shop