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I don't see any easy to digest posts about the differences between small and large frame modern Vespas.
I'm a newb, but have been obsessing about Vespas and will give it a go.
-Same seat height
-Large frame is longer, wider and heavier
-In USA, large frame engine will always be larger
-Large frame has higher top speed
-Large frame can't fit full face helmet under seat
-Everything else being equal, small frame gets better fuel economy
-Large frame had larger wheels, up to a certain year…when?
-No kick-start on large frame? Is that right?
-Are all the large frame USA market water cooled?
-Did I miss anything?

6/19 edit:
Update from replies:
-Only large frame gets handlebar shake, happens at around 30 mph
-Large frame has more room for a passenger
-Large frame top speed is over 60 mph
-Glove box is smaller but stays cool when riding (large frame models the glove box heats up as it's next to the radiator).

6/21 edit:
-Small frame has cable actuated rear drum brake. Large frame has hydraulic disc rear brake.
⚠️ Last edited by Theroadlesstraveled on UTC; edited 3 times
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Both will feel small coming from a Maxi or motorcycle.
I'm a newb also, so take this with a grain of salt. I bought my first Vespa 2 years ago next week.
The large frame has the extra power for hills and freeway passing.
Large frame, I get 85-87 mpg...Small frame 97-102mpg.
My friend riding the same year bike on the same road at the same time with me only gets 85 large frame and 87 small frame. MPG will vary greatly depending on your driving habits, roads, weight, etc.
Yep, full face helmet needs a top case if you want if locked inside, otherwise the latch post under the seat with the helmet hanging loose.
Both have same size wheels now but use different tires stock. I installed the GTS 300 tires on my Primavera and love the difference. My preference.
Neither has kick start. EFI.
Yes, the large frames now are water cooled.
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There is quite a bit about both the large frame (GT200, GTS125, GTS250, GTS300) and small frame (ET2, ET4, LX50/150, Primavera 50/150, and Sprint 50/150) Vespas on this site. In fact, these scooters are the primary subjects of this site. Are you considering learning how to ride one and possibly owning one? Are you trying to decide which model would best suit your needs and preferences? You can find many previous discussions here on those subjects. I'd suggest doing some searches and see what you find.
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Dooglas wrote:
There is quite a bit about both the large frame (GT200, GTS125, GTS250, GTS300) and small frame (ET2, ET4, LX50/150, Primavera 50/150, and Sprint 50/150) Vespas on this site. In fact, these scooters are the primary subjects of this site. Are you considering learning how to ride one and possibly owning one? Are you trying to decide which model would best suit your needs and preferences? You can find many previous discussions here on those subjects. I'd suggest doing some searches and see what you find.
I searched here, and everything else I could find, before posting.

I want to buy one. I'm shopping for my first Vespa, which will also be my first scooter. I rode a Honda 100cc dual sport for a few years, around 10 years ago. My focus is commuting and exploring.
I'm looking at the GT200 and ET4 150.
I'm leaning heavily to the GT200. The only things I don't like, so far are no kick starter and about 100 pounds heavier than the ET4 150.
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If you are new to two wheels get a 150. Run about town. Learn how to spot cars getting ready to turn into your lane. Get some muscle memory going on. You will need it when on the hwy. Scariest thing I've ever been involved with was coming home from work. 4 lane hwy riding with 18 wheelers. A truck not only shed a tire, it shed an entire rim with it. I saw it bounce ahead of me and it missed me by 4-5 feet. At 45mph it would have killed me. My instincts from riding saw that coming and had veered ahead of time. Stretch your legs with a small scoot. They are more fun anyway.
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Theroadlesstraveled wrote:
I searched here, and everything else I could find, before posting.

I want to buy one. I'm shopping for my first Vespa, which will also be my first scooter. I rode a Honda 100cc dual sport for a few years, around 10 years ago. My focus is commuting and exploring.
I'm looking at the GT200 and ET4 150.
I'm leaning heavily to the GT200. The only things I don't like, so far are no kick starter and about 100 pounds heavier than the ET4 150.
Having to kick start your scooter seems like such a rare occurrence to base your decision on. Can you live with a 58mph comfortable cruising speed or would you need more for where you live?
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All the modern scoots have electric start for a reason - as Apple is wont to say, it just works. They have batteries and like any vehicle with a battery they require care and maintenance, do that and the kick start is just extra (very little) weight you are carrying around.
My first modern Vespa was a GT200L, great gateway drug to the world of modern Vespa. 12" wheels for stability, enough grunt to push my 100kg frame through the air, and carburettored for those who may like to tinker. A very stable scooter.
Sofia, great scooter.
Sofia, great scooter.
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I wouldn't worry too much about a kick starter. That system doesn't work very well with fuel injection and most modern scooters are fuel injected. We have 3 scooters. Two are EFI without kick start and one is carbed with kick start. We never use the kick start. EFI is really the future of small engines.

Now as far as a 125/150 versus a 200/250/300. That really comes down to where and how you will ride it. The smaller scooter tops out at around 60 which means riding it in urban/suburban areas and quiet byways. You don't really want to be anyplace where the traffic routinely tops 55 and not too many hills. If you want to be able to handle faster traffic and rural 2 lane highways (my favorite!) then you probably want a larger scooter. The GT/GTS scooters are pretty much do most anything, go most anywhere scooters.
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I replied in your other post "Introduction". You are basically asking the same questions and getting the same answers. The difference on the GT vs the ET were spelled out - 70 lb. more weight , longer wheelbase, etc...Honestly, you should really go take a look at them in person, sit on both of them and if possible, take both for a ride. If you are stuck on buying one with a kick start back up, the ET4 is your only option unless you want to modify the GT as Motovista suggested. But as I and maybe some others mentioned, it is not a very robust kick starter. In tip top shape it will work. Or it may slip and crack the case - something to look for when buying a ET4 as many are cracked below the kick starter shaft. Now, if you are not stuck on buying a Vespa, might I suggest a Honda Trail 125? It has a kick start back up, will do easy trails, gets about 135 mph, will do 55mph although it is a manual shift scoot.
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You didn't mention how tall or heavy you are, IMHO anyone 6 feet or taller is probably better suited to the large frame, same if you are a 200 pounder (l'm 6' 220lbs). the Large frame may be a bit tall for some to flat foot at stop signs. Also the large frame is going to be better for a passenger on the back.

As someone else recommended, go see them in person and see which one fits your needs...
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I forgot to mention, if you don't like the size of a GT and would prefer the ET with a bit more power, there is a 190 kit that can be installed and get you a bit more grunt or even top end if you install the up gear option as well. Also, when you mentioned going off road with the scoot, are you talking about gravel trails or something like double or single track riding? If the former - no problem, run more aggressive tires. If the later, it is still do-able, but there are better machines out there for that, like the before mentioned Trail 125.
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OBX Dude wrote:
If you are new to two wheels get a 150. Run about town. Learn how to spot cars getting ready to turn into your lane. Get some muscle memory going on. You will need it when on the hwy.
I've been bike commuting year-round for 6 years and rode a dual sport Honda 100 for several years, but that was around 10 years ago. I definitely need to get used to the weight and speeds over 35, again.
OBX Dude wrote:
Scariest thing I've ever been involved with was coming home from work. 4 lane hwy riding with 18 wheelers. A truck not only shed a tire, it shed an entire rim with it. I saw it bounce ahead of me and it missed me by 4-5 feet. At 45mph it would have killed me. My instincts from riding saw that coming and had veered ahead of time.
Yeah, things sure are different without the big metal box separating us from the world!
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I should clarify, I'm not looking for shopping advice. I'm trying to compile a list of small frame vs large frame traits for reference.
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Chachi13 wrote:
Having to kick start your scooter seems like such a rare occurrence to base your decision on. Can you live with a 58mph comfortable cruising speed or would you need more for where you live?
That's the topic of one of my other threads. I'll try to link it.
Introduction (Post 2688008)

Here I'm focusing on a list of traits of small frame vs large frame Vespas.
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Small frames don't have the dreaded handlebar shake.
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znomit wrote:
Small frames don't have the dreaded handlebar shake.
Neither does the GTS 250 I set up recently. Grease the bearings, set them right, good tires with the proper inflation, weight the handlebars and keep the weight off the tail of the scoot and you're golden. Takes a little time, but worth the effort.
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Update from replies:
Only large frame gets handlebar shake, happens at around 30 mph
Large frame has more room for a passenger
Large frame top speed is over 60 mph
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Just buy a GT.

The best scooter ever made.

I have been riding Rocket, my 2006 Vespa GT200L this week.

It now has 108,000 miles on it and remains my favorite scooter among the scooters I own, including a new GTS 300 HPE and a Yamaha Xmax.

Bill
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a couple small frame pros
- tighter turn radius (Wheels are closer together)
- lighter body (easier to push and if it falls pull up)
- Narrower body (I would not be able to get a big frame through the gate of my back yard)
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Theroadlesstraveled wrote:
Large frame has more room for a passenger
If we're talking about the 'modern modern' models, like Sprint/Privavera vs. GTS, I don't know if this is really true?

The seat hight of a Sprint and GTS is equal. GTS has a more bulky a..sorry, waist. So the position of feet may be even a bit more awkward for a pillion, especially without the additional pillion footpegs installed.

For a rider, GTS is easier with a pillion, because the heavier weight of the scoot evens out the additional weight (and movements) of a pillion.
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I'm 5'10, so I was surprised when I stopped at intersections and couldn't easily flatfoot to the sides of my Sprint 150. I could easily touch the balls of my feet, though, and I kept doing that. Then one day. by chance, I spread my feet apart a couple more inches on the pavement. It's not intuitive, but it worked. Maybe the movement to widen my stance makes me slide forward on the seat. Not sure, but I can flatfoot now whenever I want to.
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My small frame pros:

Belts last a lot longer, and much less chance of belt failure.
Never have to check coolant or service coolant system. Engine is air cooled and has a fan connected to the engine, so stays cool even in traffic.
They've been making the same powerunit for 10 years now with minor tweaks and they're extremely reliable.
Engines don't burn oil (large frame HPE engines do).
Glove box is smaller but stays cool when riding (large frame models the glove box heats up as it's next to the radiator).
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RRider wrote:
If we're talking about the 'modern modern' models, like Sprint/Privavera vs. GTS, I don't know if this is really true?

The seat hight of a Sprint and GTS is equal. GTS has a more bulky a..sorry, waist. So the position of feet may be even a bit more awkward for a pillion, especially without the additional pillion footpegs installed.

For a rider, GTS is easier with a pillion, because the heavier weight of the scoot evens out the additional weight (and movements) of a pillion.
Don't the GT and GTS have longer seats? What about the floor?
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JakeM wrote:
My small frame pros:

Belts last a lot longer, and much less chance of belt failure.
Why is that, less weight and smaller engine?
JakeM wrote:
Never have to check coolant or service coolant system. Engine is air cooled and has a fan connected to the engine, so stays cool even in traffic.
Are all small frame Vespas air-cooled?
JakeM wrote:
They've been making the same powerunit for 10 years now with minor tweaks and they're extremely reliable.
Engines don't burn oil (large frame HPE engines do).
Please tell me more.
JakeM wrote:
Glove box is smaller but stays cool when riding (large frame models the glove box heats up as it's next to the radiator).
The glove box insight makes sense and is a good tip! I hadn't seen that, yet.
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Theroadlesstraveled wrote:
Don't the GT and GTS have longer seats? What about the floor?
Should see those in a shop side by side, but straight out from my unreliable memory:

the seats have different shapes. I'd guess GTS seat is wider (?), but no major difference in usable length (?).

Again, I'd guess the Sprint/Primavera shape has a narrower floor(?), slightly different shape...and mayby (?) there is small difference in length too, or then it is just the shape.
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Theroadlesstraveled wrote:
Why is that, less weight and smaller engine?



Are all small frame Vespas air-cooled?



Please tell me more.



The glove box insight makes sense and is a good tip! I hadn't seen that, yet.
The issue with the belts is heat. Even though there's more than twice the power on the large frame, the CVT system isn't uprated to the same level. Both models have successfully completed many cannonball events across America (look up Scooter Cannonball), but those with the large frame models tend to be more prone to snapped belts.

In their defence, a belt is a cheap service part - the biggest problem is the inconvenience if one snaps. If I did have a large frame, I'd potentially shorten the time between belt replacements.

Yes, all small frame Vespas are air cooled like the original classics were. They have a crank mounted fan, so there is always the right proportion of air running over them.
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Maintenance wise, both large and small frame Vespa scooters are similar.

The small frame is air cooled, but the liquid cooling on the large frame scooters is stout, as I have had only a cracked coolant tank be an issue in many miles on six different large frame Vespas.

The real deciding factor is in the intended use of the scooter.

Should the buyer mostly want to ride in the neighborhood while venturing out on secondary roads when heading into the countryside, the small frame works great.

But should the buyer want to comfortably travel further, there will be many times that the 60 mph top speed will make the ride less enjoyable than the enhanced cruising speed of the large frame allows.

I bought my first Vespa GT because I wanted to venture beyond the capabilities of my 50cc Malaguti Ciak.

A 150 might have been the next logical step, but I got the faster scooter and have used it to travel around the country.

Both Vespas are great scooters.

Just look at how it is to be ridden.

Bill
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WLeuthold wrote:
The small frame is air cooled, but the liquid cooling on the large frame scooters is stout, as I have had only a cracked coolant tank be an issue in many miles on six different large frame Vespas.
This is an important observation. Liquid cooling is not an unnecessary weakness of large frame Vespas. The Piaggio design is a very robust system and it is what makes the performance of the large frame at higher speeds and longer distances possible - and reliable.
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I have an ET4 and a GTS and both serve their purpose. "Sometimes you feel like a nut sometimes you don't". I ride the scoot that fits the purpose of the ride.
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Small frame has cable actuated rear drum brake. Large frame has hydraulic disc rear brake.
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Bill and others may have covered all the bases on this frequent topic. Many folks on this forum started on the smaller frame and moved up to the GTS 300 because it has longer legs to get on the freeway.

My two experiences:

1. In the Twin Cities (Minnesota), you can hardly traverse the Metro Plex without getting on the Freeway. I do not enjoy freeway riding. I use it to get to the side/off roads I like. Also the GTS300 is also super on urban off freeway.
2. 50 years ago, when I lived in Italy, The 300 did not exist. I bought a Ducati 350 so I could explore the whole country. The 150 just could not get the job done without requiring a longer time commitment.

I have always said, the small frames are fun to ride. I rent them regularly on vacation. They let me explore every street in the city visited.

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My wonderful Dragon Red Vespa GTS300 Super.
Ducat 350 in Italy with riding companion
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Chachi13 wrote:
Small frame has cable actuated rear drum brake. Large frame has hydraulic disc rear brake.
I look at that when shopping, but neglected to add it to this list! I'll add it.
⚠️ Last edited by Theroadlesstraveled on UTC; edited 1 time
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Bob Copeland wrote:
Bill and others may have covered all the bases on this frequent topic. Many folks on this forum started on the smaller frame and moved up to the GTS 300 because it has longer legs to get on the freeway.

My two experiences:

1. In the Twin Cities (Minnesota), you can hardly traverse the Metro Plex without getting on the Freeway. I do not enjoy freeway riding. I use it to get to the side/off roads I like. Also the GTS300 is also super on urban off freeway.
2. 50 years ago, when I lived in Italy, The 300 did not exist. I bought a Ducati 350 so I could explore the whole country. The 150 just could not get the job done without requiring a longer time commitment.

I have always said, the small frames are fun to ride. I rent them regularly on vacation. They let me explore every street in the city visited.

Bob Copeland
Well said! That's exactly why I'm leaning to a GT, as said in my introduction post.
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Small frames don't have the dreaded exhaust gasket bushing that all large frame owners have to have in their box of spare parts. Might as well buy 3 at a time to save on shipping because the bushings can't be sourced locally and if it blows out unexpectedly the bike is unrideable.

And to replace the dreaded exhaust bushing you really should have the specialty tool thats only job is to expand the muffler every 6-8 thousand miles for the replacement. Oh, and the "new style" exhaust bushings are $30usd. Each!
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Theroadlesstraveled wrote:
...large frame models the glove box heats up as it's next to the radiator...


That should say radiators. There's 2 of those stupid things.
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