I am close to buying a bike. 150 cc of raw power, I have my eyes on a 1965 (my birth year) Vespa VBB. I gave it a test ride this afternoon.
I have been looking around slowly for the last 3 months but now am feeling the urge more. So I went to a well-respected bengkel (garage) that specializes in restoring Vespas. The owner, Ronni, showed me what he had in stock and the one that I liked most was a 1965 VBB. It seems to be in good shape mechanically and steel-wise, but probably needs to be repainted. Well I want a project so that’s fine with me.
After some cajoling (read: adding gas to the tank) it started up and ran pretty well. I was privvy to some Vespa wrenching tricks, basically it takes 10 seconds to pull off the engine cover and pull out the spark plug. They checked for spark against the taillight cover, then after it started they adjusted the points by pushing a screwdriver through a hole in the flywheel. Very simple.
I took it around the block; it rode very heavy for something so under powered. We rectified the heaviness by adding air to the tires, but the front end still felt a little wobbly. My driver, who had a Vespa years ago and thinks I’m crazy for wanting to buy an old one, took it for a ride and agreed. The owner said that if I bought it, he would replace the front bearings and that would cure the problem. It has a very strange accessory, namely a small grille that is bolted to the front fender that looks like an old 1950’s US car. I suppose I can take it off if I want. Here are some more details:
- It’s kick start of course.
- The clutch lever is on the left hand (same as a normal bike) but shifting is accomplished by rotating the entire left grip.
- Right hand is throttle and front brake.
- Right foot is rear brake. This took some getting used to.
- There are four speeds, which seems like overkill.
- It runs on 2% oil mix gasoline.
- On this particular model the spare tire is kept just behind the front ‘shield’; I don’t care for that so much because it doesn’t look good and it takes away space for my legs. I might move it to the back.
- On the left side of the rear wheel (opposite the engine) is a lockable storage compartment.
- VBB’s have 8″ wheels. Later models have 10″ wheels that ride a lot better but I don’t think they look as nice.
- As I mentioned earlier, Vespas do carry spare tires and you can remove the front or rear tire with just 5 bolts; the hub and spokes stay on the bike and the rim and tire is what you replace.
- It may be possible for me to import this when I’m done, but I may need to break it down and import it as ‘Vespa parts’; maybe hand-carry some critical bits with me in my airline luggage. When the time comes we’ll see.
I’ll do a little more research and may try to start the negotiation on Monday. His opening price was $1,300 but I should be able to get him below $1,000. I am in no hurry…