Well not really Revenge of the Sith, although given that according to census figures a high proportion of the population are Jedi knights. But for many people, this is the episode that they've been waiting for - our review of the 250cc scooters!
Why so? Well, there is no greater variety of scooter styles than in this class. And why is that? Because IMHO this is the optimal engine size for scooters. Big enough to do just about everything and do it well, but small enough to still be highly economical (in fact nearly our most economical scooters are in this class), flexible and fun. There are few machines smaller that are good freeway machines, there are few machines bigger which give you the versatility around town.
Interestingly all the 250cc scooters that we sell (and we currently sell 7 different models) all have the same engine in them. The Quasar engine from Piaggio. Its the ubiquitous 250cc engine in European scooters and we love it. Smooth and powerful - just like me. Ok, not like me, but if I could be an engine this is the one that I'd be. Its clean, efficient, has a 10,000km service interval, and so far for us been problem free. Scooters with this engine aren't cheap, the least costly one new will still require at least $7,500 to ride it away, but you are getting such a technology jump from the majority of 125, 150 and even 200cc scooters you can understand why. This is the realm of liquid coolling and fuel injection, its as much about the electronics as the mechanicals. Its truly 21st century stuff.
But its the variety of formats that can be built around this muscle that makes the 250cc class so interesting. We've got big wheelers like the Derbi Rambla which handle very similarly to a motorbike, compact maxi-cruisers like the Piaggio Xevo 250 that can swallow up two full face helmets under the seat, commuters like the Piaggio X7 which provides an optimal dynamic between freeway and urban, and retro classics like the Vespa GTV 250ie oozing leather and sophistication. All great scooters, and all as good as you'll get for the jobs they've been designed for.
However I'm going to concentrate on just three. And whilst they would also be my choice, they are also the three that have been our top selling 250cc scooters this year. And of course that's what makes them winning products. Other than the engine they are all quite different, so I'm not saying that one is better than the other - but in their field they truly excel. The best of the best.
Ok. Lets start with the biggest. The Piaggio MP3 250 - Scooter magazines scooter of the year 2008. And a very worthy winner too. I had a customer return from Paris recently, and he reckoned that 1 in every 5 scooters there was an MP3. That's simply amazing. But not surprising. For all the official desire to maintain their language and culture (or maybe because of it!), the French know a good thing when they see it, and the MP3 with its tremendous road holding and braking capability is perfect for that environment which has an incredible variety of road surfaces and weather patterns. If you had to ride on wet, cobbled roads on a daily basis which scooter would you choose? Ok, so compared to Perth, those conditions are extreme, but you get the idea. If the French have done the homework in working out the scooter most likely to keep you upright in the face of adversity, no further research is required. Moreover there aren't many scooters that you can keep a fresh baguette (or even Turkish bread) under the seat in one piece, and that's another plus as far as I'm concerned!
From a weight perspective, our next winner is diametrically opposite to the MP3. With its aluminium frame, the GP1 250 from Derbi is the epitome of the racing scooter. Sleek angular lines from this well known Spanish firm are characteristic of the racing pedigree of the company that manufactures them. But with the engine technology being all Piaggio (in fact Derbi is now part of the Piaggio group), you get the same measure of reliability. There are some clues to the racing heritage - the fast throttle and higher engine tune for starters. But all that is just blah, blah, blah. You need to ride it (or talk to owners) to get the idea! Its another of the few scooters that we sell that we just don't seem to be able to get enough of. Supply generally exceeds demand, so we like customers who are interested to let us know so we can tell them when shipments are in!
And last, but certainly not least, is our top selling 250. And understandably its the top selling 250cc scooter in Australia, and since its arrival I'm fairly sure that its held this position and I suspect will hold it for a number of years to come. It is, of course, the Vespa GTS 250ie. Vespa is synonymous with scooter, and the GTS is the latest, most identifiable incarnation of this iconic brand. Its also Australia's top selling model in the Vespa range - not bad for a scooter with a normal rideaway RRP of over $9,600. So why is it so popular? Well firstly its a Vespa - which means that it looks like what a scooter should. Its also very easy on the eye, popular with both males and females (I'd suggest our ownership ratio is about 50/50), built to last, easy to ride, with brilliant handling, sure braking and gutsy performance. There's nothing on it which suggests that a corner has been cut. Its a utlitarian vehicle in a luxury format. Understated, yet overstated. Think new Mini, not new Beetle. We love selling these scooters because we know that the owners won't just be happy, they'll be delighted. Its a scooter to fall in love with, and I suspect more of these have names than any other model of scooter out there. We have to be very careful letting prospects ride our demo if they don't think that they can afford one, because once ridden the magic spell is cast, and its hard to think about getting something else. As I've said many times, once you've drunk from the cup of Vespa, nothing else tastes quite as good. But I would say that, I'm an addict Most popular in Rosso Dragon (bright red) or Nero Lucido (gloss black), if you are a scooter rider and proud of it, you won't say it more strongly than by riding one of these beauts. And with Piaggio Australia's winter deals currently on, you can pick one up from us for $8,860 rideaway. Excellent value, so don't delay.
Well that's the 250s. No gear this week as I've blurbed on long enough, and the 250 machines need their own space. Ok, next week is our final installment in the series. After you've heard my rabbitings on the 250cc machines, you might think there's no point reading about the bigger ones. Well, that's where you are wrong. The final chapter in this series saves the best till last. Whilst generically my favourite scooter are the 250cc models, my very favourites comes up in the final episode. Till then - Ciao!