Italy has made a whole host of contributions to the world in many different aspects of our lives. But one of the most iconic and easily recognisable icons that's come from this country is the Vespa. When it was introduced seventy-five years ago, it was a pioneer in terms of its blend of functionality and style. This small-engined motorcycle utilises a small motorbike battery, and when equipped with the right motorbike battery and a regular maintenance regime, you'll find it to be a durable and reliable machine.
Before Vespa came into existence, there was Piaggio, a company founded in 1884 by Rinaldo Piaggio. Having originally supplied interior components and furniture to shipyards, Piaggio got in on the trend of using oil and internal combustion to produce locomotives and carriages.
At the outset of World War I, Piaggio adapted his engines to begin producing aircraft, specialising in large, multi-engined planes, and fast became one of the most prominent aviation manufacturers of his time. Then, Dr Corradino D'Ascanio, the aerospace engineer at Piaggio, was charged with building a two-wheeled vehicle designed to make difficult roads more accessible.
His resulting motorised scooter drew on his background in aviation. Starting with a unitised steel body and an engine that was popularly known as a "power egg", he located the latter underneath the centre-rear and the seat. The front side of the vehicle was made all of one piece, a floorboard that ramped up to become sort of a shield.
When Piaggio's son Enrico saw it, he named it the Vespa because he thought it looked like a wasp. The patent was granted on April 23, 1946, and the scooter went into production soon afterwards. The original Vespa had a 3.3 hp two-stroke single engine with a hand selector that controlled the three-speed transmission.
The first model had some problems with overheating and seizing in the engine. D'Ascanio then incorporated a forced ventilation cooling system with a fan and a cylinder head baffling. In 1946, the first production produced a modest 2,484 units.
But Enrico Piaggio believed in the appeal of the vehicle, took a gamble and made more. In the following year, he produced and sold 10,535, and then 50,000 units rolled off the production line the year after that. The 125cc motor was introduced, and the suspension improved - after which, they began to ship the scooter internationally.
Despite the growing numbers sold, the Vespa was yet to become the icon it is today. That happened in 1953 when the little bike was featured in the film Roman Holiday, starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck. The world saw the green 1951 Vespa 125 and fell in love with it.
Demand grew, and Vespa motors continued to improve and innovate throughout the 1950s, including the introduction of the Vespa 150 GS, which took part in the Six Days Trial endurance race. Its improved engine was capable of reaching speeds of 101 kph and delivered 8hp. With its small motorbike battery onboard, it was a go-anywhere, do-anything vehicle.
D'Ascanio took on his last Vespa project in 1964, creating the small Vespa 50. This was designed to meet a new traffic law that permitted 14-year-olds to ride motorised vehicles up to 1.5 hp and a maximum speed of 40kph. This iteration helped introduce motorcycling to a younger generation.
Because of the compact size and innovations in the engine on the Vespa 50, it was even used on smaller cars. The changes to the engine began to be introduced to the larger models like the new 125cc. But the high fuel consumption that resulted led to their decline in popularity.
Then, the Primavera entered the scene, providing the solution to this new challenge. Its various innovations kept the company afloat. It introduced electronic ignition and a three-transfer-port cylinder. It also introduced faster models at 125, 150, and 200cc. Several years later, Vespa Junior models with the last of Vespa's two-stroke engines were also released.
In 1996, Vespa introduced their first four-stroke engine in the ET4 125, which took the European market by surprise. Its various models placed emphasis on low fuel consumption, and the bikes were much faster than previous models. Building the vehicles from the ground up led to highly distinctive features and allowed the company to address and improve some of the issues on previous models, like the steering and embracing better control and comfort.
Vespa continued to produce faster and better performing bikes. The Vespa GT 200L gave way to the GTS 250, which had an upgrade to the engine displacement and was made with refinement to the unibody and the chassis. It also had a liquid-cooled SOHC 250cc engine, a larger 60mm stroke, and featured fuel injection with 21hp at 8500 rpm.
In recent years, the Italian company has continued to deliver further innovations that have improved its classic design, ensuring it has kept in step with the times. But through all this time, they have made sure to retain the traditional and familiar look, no matter what changes have been introduced.
In short, throughout its 75-year existence, the Vespa has retained the feeling of freedom and nostalgia that made it and has kept it one of the most sought-after small motorcycles worldwide.
Best Battery for Small Motorcycles
Older motorbike models need more in the way of care and attention. But with proper maintenance and regular replacement of parts like the motorbike battery, lights, fluids, and tyres, a good bike will provide years of loyal service to its owner.
When you need to replace the battery on your Vespa or any type of vehicle, visit our website here at Orius Batteries. We have a wide selection of all vehicles. Use our battery finder to see all the options available for you.
We offer a lifetime warranty on all our products to ensure quality and performance. Order today before the 3 pm cut-off for free, next-day delivery.