2017 Vespa GTS 300 Sei Giorni | ROAD TEST
It’s a common theme in the automotive industry for manufacturers to introduce a new ‘version’ of a current model to keep things fresh and ensure customers continue to beat a path into the showrooms. With the Vespa GTS range, we’re used to seeing stickers and accessories added for a ‘Sport’ or ‘Touring’ version, but tapping into the company’s heritage for a special edition model is a nice touch.
Sei Giorni – the history
Back in 1951, Piaggio entered a team of riders into the notoriously challenging International Six Days Trials, on specially-prepared Vespa 125 scooters. That year it took place in and around Varese, Italy. As you could imagine, the event was generally competed by professional riders on trials motorbikes produced by the likes of Triumph, Montesa, CZ, MV, BSA and DKW amongst others.
Like these off-road type motorcycles, the Vespas were modified specifically for the event. In fact they weren’t even production scooters so to speak, with restyled legshields, beefed up chassis and suspension, and an engine that also boasted many unique features. However the Vespas were still little scooters running on small wheels with minimal ground clearance that looked to all intents and purposes like regular Vespas.
Despite this the team of Vespas not only completed the Six Days Trials but earned their respective riders a gold medal too, thus the mettle of these little commuter scooters was well and truly proven. Over the next couple of years Piaggio even produced a limited number of Sei Giorni (Italian for ‘six day’) Vespa Racers, inspired by those original scooters, for use by Italian dealers to promote the Vespa brand at local events.
For more about the original Sei Giorni Vespa, see edition 4 of ScooterNova magazine.
Fast forward 66 years and Piaggio’s tribute to those humble little 125s was first unveiled at the Milan Motorcycle Show in 2016. Based on the current Vespa GTS 300, the Sei Giorni version features numerous cosmetic enhancements. The most visually striking being the bare handlebars and mudguard mounted headlight, first seen on the Vespa GT60 produced to celebrate 60 years of Vespa back in 2006.
The GT60 and subsequent GTV models were a bit of a ‘Marmite’ machine but I liked it. I do think the Sei Giorni is actually better looking though.
The changes are minor, but in my opinion they make all the difference. The sporty looking single seat is one of them, and for reference is actually homologated for two, although that will be a cosy ride if you know what I mean. The gorgeous matt green paint (Sei Giorni Green apparently) is another and I reckon it adds an element of age on what is undoubtedly a modern machine, but without looking as if it’s trying too hard.
The number ‘6’, aping the racing numbers of the originals, relates to the ‘6’ day trials that took place ‘66’ years ago. Incidentally, the test ride featured ‘6’ Sei Giorni Vespas per day. I think you get the theme…
Special or limited edition?
On the rather neat chrome handlebars sits a retro-looking analogue speedometer with a small digital clock, a concession to modern times I suppose, it shelters behind a small tinted windscreen. Other specific touches for this model include the addition of some sporty red ‘piping’ stickers here and there, the black wheels, switchgear, and exhaust heat shield. It also boasts the more elegant ‘Sei Giorni’ badge, and finally, on the glovebox door, the ‘Special Edition’ plate bearing the serial number of this special model of Vespa. Note that it’s not a limited production run, but each will be numbered, and so a little special.
The conundrum of course for Piaggio was how to present this scooter to the world with an edge, considering that it is to all intents and purposes, a Vespa GTS 300 with cosmetic enhancements.
Fortunately the company continues to employ people with a passion for two-wheelers. They came up with the ideal solution, which involved taking journalists, six at a time, over some of the old ISDT route, which they had painstakingly researched. The parts we retraced on the launch had all been Tarmacked since 1951, although to be fair not necessarily that recently.
What they still held in many places along the 100 kilometres or so route we rode however was a lot of tight, twisty turns, narrow roads, climbing up hills, with little room for rider error. It wasn’t surprising to look in one’s mirror at times and discover that you’d pulled away from others in the group as the ride became quite intense through numerous switchbacks, something we here at SLUK very much look forward to of course when testing a scooter!
A good all-rounder
If you’re a GTS rider already then you’ll appreciate just what the 21hp of this 278cc single cylinder, 4-stroke, liquid-cooled auto engine can do. The CVT (continuously variable transmission) is pretty much spot-on with regards to being set up for both fast riding along a motorway and dual carriageways, along with in-town commuting. It can also be used to replicate a 66 year-old trials competition.
Only very occasionally did I yearn for the ability to change down a gear manually, circumstances of the road meaning I was arguably not in the correct gear for potential competitive reasons, rather than simple riding. The Sei Giorni 300 pulls uphill with ease, quite happily, even from almost stationary hairpin corners that seconds earlier I had braked hard into, allowing for as fast an exit as possible.
Anyone for conkers?
It may sound like we were racing on public roads, which of course we were not, but with a Piaggio rider at the front showing the way along a route they had mapped out and checked numerous times, virtually unpopulated with other traffic, it was only the fallen leaves of autumn and a rare stretch laden with conkers that posed most of the hazards.
I should also add that this faster riding route, (the side stand scraping at every other corner), was in the knowledge that the 12-inch grippy Michelin shod wheels, modern day suspension (the rear adjustable to four positions) and 220mm hydraulic disc brakes at either end, with ABS anti-locking, were there to look after me, turn after turn.
With a broad grin on my face as we stopped for a few photos at the top of one, wooded hill, I took a moment to recall the original Sei Giorni Vespa that had been parked on display at the hotel before we departed that morning. It featured the 8″ wheelbarrow-like tyres scooter racers used in those pioneering days, drum brakes and an engine tweaked to produce all of 7hp.
I doff my Shoei
Those guys rode for six days over made and unmade roads on those machines and I can only take my hat off to both their perseverance and skill. Although if they were having half as much fun as I was I could completely understand.
I also thought about other, rival scooters of today, which have a similar capacity and I’m not sure many would have proved so competitive against the Sei Giorni 300 here. At the end of the day the GTS family of Vespas is a bloody good package that ticks many boxes with regards to how they are used. Not a lot can nip through traffic jams at rush hour, twist and turn their way up old hill passes, then sit flat-out on a dual carriageway at the top end of the legal speed limit as well as looking good while doing so.
Piaggio have done a tidy job of paying homage to an important part of Vespa history with the new Sei Giorni scooter and I suppose if I had one criticism of it then it would be that as good as the GTS 300 motor is, it is just a run of the mill GTS motor. Yes it’s powerful, fast and suits the current Vespa large frames perfectly indeed. I just wonder whether a ‘tweaked’ engine – as the original Sei Giorni 125 was to a regular 125 Vespa engine – would have made this even more special?
I suppose it depends on your outlook and what you want from such a scooter. Certainly the Sei Giorni is going to catch people’s eyes and I already know of one UK dealer customising a couple in ways that a regular GTS simply won’t lend themselves to, so maybe it’s not all about the engine for everyone.
Regardless of what it isn’t, the latest member of the Vespa family is another in a long line of classic scooters from Piaggio and if reading this review doesn’t make you rush out and buy yourself a numbered Sei Giorni 300, then hopefully it will remind you just how much fun a Vespa can be after you’ve finished using it for your daily commute. Just as Vespa riders also did all those years ago…
Words: Andy Gillard
Photography: Thomas Maccabelli & Andy Gillard
Video: Giulio Tosini
Want to read more about the original Sei Giorni?
For a closer look at the original Vespa Sei Giorni, buy issue 4 of ScooterNova magazine. Available now.
Vespa GTS 300 Sei Giorni specifications
Engine: 278cc, liquid cooled, fuel injected, 4-stroke, 4-valve, single cylinder
Claimed power: 21.2bhp
Torque: 22nm @5000rpm
Suspension: Front single sided fork with shock, rear mono shock
Claimed kerb weight: 148kg
Front brake: 220mm disc (ABS/ASR)
Rear brake: 220mm disc (ABS/ASR)
Front tyre: 120/70x 12
Rear tyre: 130/70 x 12
Fuel capacity: 8.5 litres
Seat height: 790mm
The Vespa GTS Sei Giorni
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