VESPA Primavera 150 3V ie.

By Azlan Ramli

AFTER five days, four nights and 852 kilometres of travelling around Selangor, Federal Territory and Perak, I had to sadly return the little Primavera to Naza Premira Sdn Bhd, Piaggio's Malaysian homebase in Petaling Jaya.

Why? because the Primavera, in my opinion, is among the very few best machines for joyriding, especially on the B- or 'trunk' roads around Malaysia. It is the kind of machine you ride on, where what's important is not the destination (it never is, as far as I'm concerned) but the feeling of open road freedom, puttering around quaint towns and villages, and making unscheduled stops to see, try and/or purchase something some friends have told you about, along such rides.

It could be the experience of local cuisine, strange fruits, cultural and social events, arts and crafts, interesting buildings and structures, natural wonders and attractions, places of interest and so on - the Primavera is your kind of 'ride'.

You don't need a machine with megaherd of horses, stump-pulling torque or lap record-setting capabilities on such roads, where there's little difference whether you are riding a European/American/Japanese battle cruiser, iron rig or tarmac terror. Just how fast you want to travel, anyway? Either you'll put yourself and other road users at very great risk, or you'll simply get into trouble with the local people or constabulary... or both!

Sure, the Primavera can travel up to about 120km/h, with my head tucked behind the speedometer and my left hand holding onto the steering neck... (muahahaa!)... but it is not what this scooter is made for. So, below 100km/h is the way to go... and the Primavera's sweet spot is between 80 and 100km/h, anyway.

Since it doesn't create mini earthquakes with a thunderous exhaust note, terrify people and animals with a wailing sound and sonic boom... and coupled with its friendly, non-confrontational looks, the little scooter always wins in the PR department.

Local folks look at you smilingly... perhaps remembering those days commuting to school with their dads on a Vespa, children gravitate towards you... when you are parked, of course... and even those aunties ask questions about it (well, maybe that's just my sunny disposition)...


The Primavera, to my eyes, looks nicer than its predecessor - the 2-valved, carburetted LX, especially at the rear. It looks more like the awesome GTS150/300, with that big tail lamp and nicer tapered rear finish.

Thanks to the 3-valved and fuel-injected engine, the Primavera is more than capable of taking you (and your pillion rider) on a pleasant, stylish and satisfying ride. It has sufficient power to deal with the sometimes-congested rural traffic, good handling to deal with B-roads, and excellent illumination at nights and on gloomy rainy days.

The people at Piaggio must be very confident of its electronics and reliability, to do away with the kick starter like the one installed on the LX. So, owners should be very mindful of their Primavera's battery lifespan.

And talking about electronics, the speedometer uses electronic sensor by Bosch, off the front wheel. That means one less moving part (compared to gear-driven speedometer on the older LX) to worry about.

While the speedometer is easy to read, the backlighting for LCD screen that shows the two trip distances, odometer and (digital) fuel gauge is just too bright at night - for my eyes, at least and this affects how the eyes adjust to the night and the scooter's headlamp illuminating the road ahead.

A simple solution is to get a piece of those plastic window tints at those shops. A bit of DIY is needed and you don't need to buy it. Just politely ask for a leftover piece about the length and width of a cigarette box!

The seat is wide and nicely padded, making long rides (as in 100 kilometres non-stop, for a little scooter) literally not a pain in the a$$. It's not that I have a big bum, okay!

It would've been nicer if the floor board is wider by a few inches, since us men ride with our legs spread a bit wider than women. It would be able to accommodate bigger luggage/load too. But a wider frontal surface means more wind resistance. So, that's forgiven.

I like the underseat storage 'tub' that can easily be lifted out of the Vespa's steel body. All current Vespas has this feature. There's no nuts, bolts, clips or fasteners. Just use both hands to lift it up, where you will expose the scooter's injection module, engine and fuel tank. I find this a good feature - not just for the mechanic to work on the Primavera, but also for you to cultivate a good maintenance habit. At the end of long rides, pull the tub out and keep the seat lifted up. This helps to cool the engine faster and extends the life of the Primavera's plastics and rubbers as well as the things you keep in that tub.

The locker right in front of you doesn't hold much, but I could store a pair of gloves, the toolkit and and another small thing all at the same time.

The front suspension is very well sorted out. It holds steady under heavy braking and impressively, doesn't dive. Bumps and ruts are dealt with very well, without creating any aches and pains in your wrists, elbows and shoulders.

However, the rear suspension is a bit of a concern to me. Like many scooters, it is a single unit, and this one has five levels of firmness. A simple adjustment lever is included in the standard tool kit. It is very firm even at the 'softest' setting, of which my test unit's rear suspension is set at. At the end of any long ride, that area where my shoulders meet my neck ached a bit...

I was communicating with Naza Premira's boss, En. Farouk, on Sunday night and it so happened that he was about to board a flight to Milan, Italy. I told him to inform the folks at Piaggio about my comment on the rear suspension. Maybe they'll do something about it for future Primaveras.

Still, it's not all bad. If you have a pillion rider, a full underseat storage, an aftermarket rear rack with a two-person's worth of luggage strapped onto it, plus another small luggage on the floor between your legs, then the rear will feel 'softer'... and both of you can enjoy a ride all the way to our neighbouring countries.

But, if you simply can't stand it any longer, just drop by almost any bike accessory shop and get an aftermarket rear absorber. Most of them are priced below RM100 and are very well made, nowadays. Some even come with a separate gas reservoir. Just make sure the replacement unit is of the same length, eye-to-eye, as the factory unit.

And one more thing - The horn on the Primavera MUST be replaced with a louder unit, if you value your life and your scooter. The factory-fitted unit is just too 'meek', timid and well, not up to the job of dealing with Malaysian traffic. In fact, it even sounds 'Meeeek!!' Get rid of it.


As with most Italian-designed machines, the Primavera boasts enough tasteful details and lines, curves and kinks at the right places, without going overboard. It also gives the owner a nice tactile experience both at standstill and on the move. Mind you, it is not a facelift of the LX. It is a completely new design, with a new engine.

The moment you crank up the 150cc, 12.9hp motor, twist the throttle, accelerate, attack your first corner and when needed, brake really hard... you will know that you are on a very well put-together machine that justifies its RM12,+++ on-the-road price.

My test unit has the Nera Vulcano (black) paintwork. Other colours for the Malaysian market are Rosso Gragon (Red), Monte Bianco (White) and Azzuro Marichiano (Light Blue). ALL are gorgeous to me!

Since 'Primavera' means spring in Italian (the season, not the boingboing thing!), the feeling of relief, positive, freshness and joy is quite the way how people in four-seasoned countries experience when spring - the season after winter and before summer, in which vegetation begins to appear - arrives. At least that's how I felt when I was on the Primavera, despite the hot and humid Malaysian weather!

It is one of the very few most affordable machines coming from the land of amazing and sexy designs. And on top of that, you will own one of the very few iconic and enduring products the motoring world has ever seen.

# Azlan Ramli was AUTO International's Editor back in 2006-2008. A bike and classic car enthusiast, he prefers to spend his free time bimbling on two wheels instead of four, in search of "good conversations, without the interruption of (expletives) mobile devices..."

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