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January 2010 - Posts

  • Benelli Velvet 125


    Benelli enter the 125 segment with a feature rich offering. Say "HI" to the Velvet 125.

    Allen Drysdale



    The scooter market has evolved progressively over the past few years and its changing all the time. Once the scooter market was heavily reliant on 50 cc machines meaning that most sales originated out of those states where you could ride a 50 cc scooter on a car licence. Now times have changed and so too has the mix of scooters sold. Enter the budget 125 cc market. Priced anywhere around the $3000 mark buying a scooter in this segment is often good buying and offers significant value for money.

    Euro branded budget scooters are making a massive contribution to the Australian Scooter scene with brands like Piaggio, Aprilia and Derbi all having models that contribute to this segment. And now so does Benelli.

    Benelli has a rich history across Europe with its roots well and truly cemented in Grand Prix folklore. Ask any distinguished Italian gentlemen if he knows Benelli and some if not all will have some connection with the brand from the past. (got a spare couple of hours!). Benelli is a name steeped in history.

    But that is the past and recently Benelli like most major Italian brands has turned its attention towards China to keep the costs down. QJ is the Chinese partner of Benelli and manufactures the entire range of Benelli scooters. So finally its now time to introduce the Benelli Velvet 125.


    The Benelli Velvet 125  is not a new shape and those that know the Velvet of the past will immediately relate to the Velvet of today. Larger then most the Velvet is a full size scooter. Maybe too large for some as with the seat height at 818 mm, it wont suit all. Need a bit more room to stretch ones legs then the Benelli's your man.

    The Velvet 125 has a comprehensive list of standard features, it really is what you see is what you get.

    Firstly we have a disc brake on the front working in unison with a disc on the rear, both being 220 mm in size. Dual adjustable shocks on the rear help with any pillion work that may be encountered or you can tailor them to suit your individual weight. Centre and side stands are standard.

    Up front the dash is basic yet comprehensive enough to live with on a day to day basis. Consisting of a large speedo splitting both fuel and battery gauges. A digital clock sits below and finishes the visual package neatly.

    Accessing the storage is via the ignition lock and under the seat you will find a significant amount of room, thanks largely to the tall seat height and 12 inch rear wheel. A top box is standard and operates off a separate key. And whilst on the subject of standard equipment, the Velvet also throws in a front screen.

    The Velvet runs a common GY6 engine that should stand the test of time. Power from the unit is pretty standard affair, not ground breaking but on par with expectations, 8 KW @ 7750 rpm is the official figure. A 9.5 litre fuel tank is better then most in this category and again another benefit of having size on its side. Something you don't see allot of anymore is the addition of a kick starter just in-case the battery has an off day.

    On the road

    The Velvet 125 benefits from a design that's tried and trusted. Its one that worked in the past so why shouldn't it work now?. The wheel combination of 13 inch on the front and 12 inch on the rear works well. And if you were asked to pick a stand-out feature on the Velvet, its that it handles. The dual rear shocks helps put all this together, so put a big tick down to the wheel, chassis and suspension combination.

    You sit on top of the Velvet 125 and not in it. I doubt this makes sense but in doing so the Velvet 125 feels nimble and you also get the added bonus of clearly being able to see what's coming up in front of you. The screen isn't there just for show either and it works well in keeping you the rider from being the breeze stopper. Looking down over the dash its easy to see all the vital info, speed and fuel are just a glance away.

    The Velvet 125 will accelerate at a fair rate when the throttle is given a handful and you should see a shade under 100 km/h easily. You will hear yourself doing it though as the Velvet loves to let out a growl when you ask it to work hard.

    The front and rear disc brakes work well and its a nice touch whenever a scooter in this segment has both front and rear discs. The topbox acts as a backrest for the pillion and some nice solid pillion grab handles are built into the moulded top box rack.



    The Velvet takes its place in the 125 cc category feature rich, on paper it looks like a package that screams value. On the road it all comes together and combines to work well. The Benelli Velvet 125 will easily answer the call of the short daily commute.

    What the Benelli Velvet 125 brings to the table is a stack of features for a minimal outlay. Performance is sufficient for around town, the chassis is nimble and storage is plentiful, the Velvet is an all round budget breaker. At the time of writing the importer was also offering up to $400 cash back.

    If 2010 meant cracking down and saving a few bucks then a scooter like the Benelli Velvet might just have you filling the piggy bank quicker then you think. 

  • Piaggio MP3 400 Long Termer

    Our time with the long term MP3 400 is coming to an end. Our final thoughts are with you, MP3.


    The MP3 range will long be regarded as one of the best all round scooters on the market today, if not the best. Big Call?

    It probably is if you ride the MP3 around the block and hand the keys back. But the beauty of a long-termer means you get to appreciate a scooter such as the MP3 in a more intimate way. Its no longer about initial impressions.

    And that's the way it panned out for us at Australia has been home to the MP3 range for a while now picking up the "Scooter of the Year" award from our affiliate magazine " Scooter". It won for all the reasons that still make sense today. Innovative, safe, unique with a high degree of technology used, the MP3 is far from just another scooter.  After six months in the box seat we feel the same.



    First and foremost is the two 12 inch tyres up front. This extraordinary feature still amazes onlookers yet for the most part whilst riding the MP3 you wouldn't even realise this technology is at play.

    So what are the benefits of three wheels?

    Firstly for me you can just about park it anywhere, uphill, downhill or on a cross-slope, its all too easy thanks to the locking three wheel/park brake combination. Secondly wet or dry, just point and steer. Any surface, any condition, the MP3 will abide by the rules. Superior grip means that if your riding skills are up to the task, anything is possible on the MP3. The 400 in particular due to that nice blend of power the big single delivers. Liquid cooled and fuel injected the 400 produces 25 kw of power at 7500 rpm. And last of all with the front wheels locked into place and the engine turned off the MP3 becomes an easy to manoeuvre object. Handier then you realise initially, but again that's the beauty of a long term review.

    The MP3 also features a cavernous key operated storage area that will swallow just about anything you throw at it. This area combined with the rear flip open boot, turns the MP3 into a rolling trunk. The seating position at 785 mm high is both comfortable and upright. Room for the pillion is ample and its just as comfortable on the pillion perch. Full marks go to the integrated pillion grab handles.

    All controls are top quality easy to use items. The dash is easy to read with a wealth of information. Most of the time its not all needed but if required you have a number of mode settings, tripmeters, temp gauges and most of all, the all important digital clock. The most practical items that I look for are speed and fuel, both of which are easy to read.    

    I also became pretty fond of the mirrors, which by scooter standards cover a heap of ground behind the scooter and don't vibrate as much as some. They are also well out of harms way, another great long term feature. Fuel capacity is a sufficient 12 litres enough for well over 300km's of highway use.

    Braking is taken care of by twin 240mm discs up front whilst an unlinked 240mm single disc takes up duty on the rear.


    On the road

    In my opinion the MP3 400 is every bit the ultimate all round scooter.

    Around town the MP3 400 makes light work of potholed roads and these tend to make up quite a few of our city streets. Corrugations, gutters, median strips that might come into play with two wheels, just don't feature when your talking three, or the MP3. When out on the inner city motorways the 400 capacity comes into its own. Doing the traffic light shuffle the MP3 can be a little slow off the mark but once rolling, its all smooth sailing. I found the MP3 surprisingly nimble and small enough to fit through most gaps that I would normally only contemplate with smaller scooters.  

    For regular freeway work just add "screen" and its ready to tackle whatever, whenever. Quickly accelerating to legal highway speeds (its best from 60 - 110 Km/h and over) the MP3 will easily cruise all day long and if ever required you've got plenty left on tap for those quick take over manoeuvre's.

    The way the MP3 propels forward is placed into perspective when you latch onto the front dual disc brakes for the first time. Its good to know that if required pulling up quickly isn't out of the equation, its apart of the package. Rear braking is good but insignificant to the pulling power of the front brakes. And this is the way it should be. So use the back to steady yourself into corners or hold yourself steady at the lights and use the front for those times you need to pull up quickly. A few times a degree of emergency braking was required and rest assured two front tyres braking together are far better then one.


    The MP3 hasn't sold in the numbers that maybe Piaggio Australia and the rest of the scootering community had envisioned.  This breakthrough model is very much the benchmark model today, just as it was when it was released a few years ago. Slower then expected sales maybe due to price, perceived value for money or even the fact that its different and we Australians just may need a little more time to comprehend such technology. One thing is for certain though - your not going to learn to love the MP3 400 just by riding it around the block from the dealer on a test ride. You need time, and once engaged, marriage will follow.

    For 6 months now the MP3 400 has performed every task in a manner that can only be commended. No gremlins, easy to start every-time, with a sheer competent convenience that would have you thinking two wheels are old school.

    And testament that the MP3 400 is a true winner can be given by the fact that initially the rest of the family showed very little regard for the big fella. Early calls were met with laughter and remarks about riding on three wheels were regular. But time heals everything and the love now flows thick and freely. The MP3 wins over the hardest critics in the end.

    Do yourself a favour, ring your dealer and see if you can snatch a demo for a couple of days. But be careful as marriage could be just around the corner.

  • Piaggio X7 300


    Piaggio X7 Evo 300 brings class and comfort to the commuter market.

    Piaggio Australia

    Italy's motorcycle and scooter giant Piaggio, makers of the iconic Vespa, has released a new model to the Australian market. Replacing the successful Piaggio X7 250, the X7 Evo 300 is very much the evolution of the model in a sought after category.

    Initial impressions suggest the significant boost in torque and the lowering of the rpm at which maximum horsepower is developed, is the only change. But by looking beyond this welcome and obvious change there is a host of other changes, all designed to ensure the evolution of the X7 into an even better scooter.

    A revised front mudguard now hugs the wheel throughout its suspension travel. It provides better management of road grime and improves highway handling by reducing the amount of air that can slip under the guard. The result is improved stability. Other subtle changes abound including a new textured seat cover material, a reshaped seat to improve comfort for both rider and pillion, a top-box-ready rear carry rack and new colours (see below).

    Piaggio's excellent Coded-key immobiliser system is now included on the new X7 Evo 300 and is designed to thwart petty thieves by allowing the scooter to operate only when the correct key is used and the correct code is detected. Additional security features include a steering lock, a security cable locking point and a large lockable under-seat storage space. A handy and spacious in-dash storage pocket with lid provides an ideal spot to throw your daily needs such as wallet, phone and sunnies.

    MLP (manufacturers' list price not including on-road-costs) is $6990 which is unchanged from the previous X7 250 providing owners more at no extra cost. Colours include Rosso Antare (metallic red), Bianco Perla (white), Grigio Pulsar (silver) and Nero Cosmo (black).

    About Piaggio @

    The Piaggio company, nestled in the Tuscan countryside between Florence and Pisa, first invented scooters in 1946 when it produced the first-ever Vespa and helped liberate a war-torn Italy. Vespa remains the iconic scooter brand with its unique metal-bodied design. Today, Piaggio continues to produce scooters under the classic Vespa brand, the sporty Gilera brand and the contemporary Piaggio brand. In Australia, PS Importers is the sole importer of this iconic and popular range



  • Honda Entry Level Cash Back

    All Honda Entry Level Bikes and Scooters Now With $250 Honda Dollars


    To kick off the new year, Honda's entire range of entry level LAMS bikes and scooters now come with $250 Honda Dollars.

    Between now and 31 March 2010, customers will receive $250 Honda Dollars with purchase of a VTR250, CBR125, CBF250, CB400 (standard or ABS version) or VT400; as well as on the full range of scooters including the Today 50, Lead 100, SH150i, SH300i, Scoopy, Forza 250 and Silver Wing. The offer is valid on all year models.

    With Honda Dollars, customers can spend their credit in a variety of ways within the dealership toward accessories, servicing or as a discount off the bike.

    Whether it's the convenience of the number one selling scooter for 2009 - the Lead 100, the eye-catching chrome finish of the new VT400 cruiser, the naked grunt and performance of the CB400 or the race inspired CBR125, people from all walks of life make their choice of ride because it's a Honda.

    The motorcycles included in this promotion with a capacity over 250cc can be ridden by anyone who has gained their Learner Permit in those states that have a LAMS program in place.

    For bike specifications, please visit:

  • TGB Bullet 125 Video

    New promo video on TGB Bullet 125from TGB Australia

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  • FCAI Year Ending 2009


    Official sales figures released by the FCAI for the year ending 2009. The figures include Motorcycles, Scooters and ATV's.


    Official figures released by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) show that 115,981 motorcycles, scooters and all-terrain vehicles were sold last year – a decrease of 13.6 per cent (18,298 units) over 2008.

    “Given the circumstances, this is a very solid result,” FCAI Chief Executive Andrew McKellar said.

    “The market has come off a very high base over the previous year, so the industry has certainly stood up well to the economic challenges,” he said.

    “In fact, this is the fourth highest annual sales result on record and was achieved in tough economic circumstances,” Mr McKellar said.

    “Some brands actually increased sales and deserve congratulations for that,” he said.

    ATVs were the only segment to have increased sales during 2009.

    Off-Road bikes were the most popular segment in the marketplace with 42,848 sales (down 13.4%) followed closely by Road bikes with 42,372 sales (down 14.2%).

    Scooter sales bore the brunt of the market downturn to fall 32.2 per cent (or 5,039 units).
    “Looking ahead, there are many sound economic and environmental reasons for people to consider motorcycles and scooters for their transport requirements and 2010 will be a good time to seize opportunities in the marketplace,” Mr McKellar said.

    It was a tight race for top spot in 2009 with Honda claiming the position with 25,432 sales followed closely by Yamaha with 25,287 and then Suzuki with 16,995.


    Download the Summary Report December 2009

    Download the Top 10 Report - December 2009 



  • Piaggio Group 2009


    Piaggio Group Scooter Brands on top for 2009

    Piaggio Australia

    It’s been a tough year for most of the motor industry and even more so for the motorcycle and scooter industry which did not benefit significantly from the business stimulus package except for perhaps some ATV’s purchased by primary producers. Nonetheless the last ¼ of 2009 has shown some stability return to the market and the signs are favourable for the year ahead. The scooter market was hardest hit but this comes on the tail of 6 years of triple digit percentage growth and a record 2008. There was still some good news for established scooter brands.
    The Piaggio Group scooter brands which include Aprilia, Gilera, Piaggio and Vespa, have increased market share in 2009 compared to 2008 with 68% more people choosing a Piaggio Group brand over the nearest competitor.
    Most categories in the Motorcycle and Scooter markets were hit fairly hard in 2009 with scooters down 32.9% overall. Hardest hit however has been the less established or non-brand name scooters in the entry level end of the market. Conversely, it is the premium established brands that have faired best with the Italian favourite Vespa enjoying a significant increase in market share from 9.9% in 2008 to 12.3% in 2009.
    “When there is some uncertainty in the market people are attracted to known and trusted brands and are less likely to take a chance on an unknown entity” said Piaggio-Vespa-Gilera Brand Manager, Simon Gloyne. “This is no more evident than with Vespa. It is the iconic style leader for any discerning owner and has never been more affordable and valued as a considered purchase. Our flagship Vespa GTS300 Super and the Vespa LX 150 continue to dominate the over 125cc category and feature in the Top 10 Scooters for 2009”*.
    Aprilia importer John Sample Group commented further, “While the total Scooter market has been down over the recent twelve months the very strong growth in the premium Italian Aprilia and Scarabeo brands shows how scooter buyers are clearly choosing the best value product rather than simply the cheapest. According to the market the premium Italian brands clearly represent the best value for style, performance and price and our market share would not have doubled in 2009 if this was not the case” said Aprilia/Scarabeo National Manager Kris Matich.



    * Data sourced from FCAI industry data.
    Aprilia -
    Gilera –
    Vespa –
    About Piaggio
    The Piaggio company, nestled in the Tuscan countryside between Florence and Pisa, first invented scooters in 1946 when it produced the first-ever Vespa and helped liberate a war-torn Italy. Vespa remains the iconic scooter brand with its unique metal-bodied design. Today, Piaggio continues to produce scooters under the classic Vespa brand, the sporty Gilera brand and the contemporary Piaggio brand. In Australia, PS Importers is the exclusive importer of this iconic and popular range via a network of local dealers throughout Australia.
    About Aprilia
    The Aprilia and Scarabeo brands are a part of the huge Italian Piaggio Group of Italy although operated completely separately from the other Group brands. Aprilia is the only manufacturer in Europe that produces are full line of Motorcycle and Scooter products. The Aprilia and Scarabeo products are styled and developed with the sporty and performance rider in mind. In Australia, John Sample Automotive is the exclusive importer of the Aprilia and Scarabeo brands which are distributed via a network of local dealers across Australia.