The perky Miss Dieu surveys our motley group of motor scooter novices as we line up outside the alarmingly overdecorated The Reverie Saigon hotel. She is keen to make us feel comfortable about our upcoming, and potentially scary, adventure. “It is only when you are inside the Ho Chi Minh City traffic,” she says solemnly, “that you will begin to understand how it works.”
Less than five minutes later, with a sturdy helmet in place as I cling to the waist of broad-shouldered Truong while we speed hither and thither through the city’s downtown core, I begin to understand what she means. I am riding pillion on his shiny black Vespa and hurtling about our fragile little vehicle is the swallowing flow of cars, buses, trucks and phalanxes of motorbikes, on which families of up to five or six ride pressed together, concertina-style. These mobile communities rarely seem to wear helmets or even enclosed shoes; one family hurtles by with a white-haired grandma, regally enthroned at the motorbike’s rear, who has one hand up, balancing a cooking pot on her head.
'Vespa World Days 2015', held at Croatia from June 11, 2015, came to an end on Sunday June 14.This four day international rally brought more than 5,000 historic and recent Vespa models from 32 different countries.
Martin Shift, President of the Vespa World Club presented the Trophy to Italian Sirmione Vespa Club, a team made up of 12 Vespas that reached Biograd after visiting the most check-points throughout Europe. Cerignola Vespa Club came second and first time participant Veronese VR37100 Vespa Club was given the third prize.
Now the baton will be passed to the Vespa Club de France which will organise 2016 rally in Cote d'Azur at Saint Tropez.
After Paris, Barcelona, Roma, Madrid, Hamburg and London, Vespa World Days 2015 will take place in the Croatian Adriatic town of Biograd on 11-14 June with more than 5,000 riders taking part in the biggest gathering of Vespa owners and lovers.
According to the president of the Vespa Club Croatia, Rafael Culjak, more than 5,000 riders from 32 countries have confirmed their arrival which will make this the biggest Vespa event in history.
For most people, the terms “kickass firepower” and “motor scooter” don’t belong together. Then again, most people have never seen the Vespa 150 TAP that served with French airborne troops in the 1950s. Made by Ateliers de Construction de Motocycles et Automobiles, France’s official builder of Vespa scooters at the time, it combined mobility with one helluva big gun.
The late 40s and 50s were tough years for most of Europe. Many nations were still putting themselves together after the devastation of World War II. France was no exception. But the French military still needed weapons to serve its interests in Indochina and Algiers.
Enter the Vespa 150 TAP. It combined a scooter with a 146 cm⊃3; single cylinder, two-stroke engine, and a US-made M20 75mm recoilless rifle. The result was one of the oddest mismatches in the history of warfare.
When it comes to their beloved Vespa, the Piaggio staff spares no effort with celebratory events around the world. And it is not by accident that these always take place around the last part of April.
In fact, Vespa’s real birthday is April 23, the date in 1946 that Piaggio & C. SpA registered the patent for the iconic scooter designed by one of its most creative aerospace engineers: Corradino D’Ascanio. World War II was finally nearing its end, and Mr. Enrico Piaggio realized that airplanes would no longer be a priority for any government that would take over badly battered Italy from Mussolini.
D’Ascanio did not like motorcycles. To him, they were non-functional, and they would dirty the rider and passenger because of the exposed chain drive and lack of weather protection. The engine, in unit with the gearbox and rear wheel, was one of his great new concepts that made the Vespa so rational and practical. Also helping were the easily accessible wheels, mounted to single-sided suspension front and rear.
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