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Review: Piaggio Zip 100, Modern and Attractive

November 24th, 2007
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The Piaggio Zip 100 arrived at our office on the same day as an imposing Triumph Rocket Classic with a whopping 2.3L engine. Yep, that’s 100cc in the little Italian black Scooter Vs. 2300cc in the big crème and burgundy English motorbike. However this doesn’t mean that the Zip was neglected as over the two weeks with us it was easily our favourite means of transport to negotiate busy city traffic. If you sit on the motorbike side of the fence and don’t think much of scooters the following quote should at least make you think twice before you dismiss the Zip 100 outright.

“My friends and I belong to that generation which, between the ages of fourteen and eighteen, lived for scooters. That’s what we did. All day. Every day. I was always on the scooter, racking up more and more kilometers. I practically lived on that scooter.”

The person who said this is none other than Valentino Rossi, (from his book ‘Valentino Rossi, The Autobiography’), a guy who is faster racing around a circuit on two wheels than anyone else on the planet and who won his first world championship at just 18 years old.

Like Valentino the Piaggio company has a proud Italian heritage. Valentino’s father raced motorbikes and Piaggio created the famous Vespa brand. Globally Piaggio is the fourth largest producers of scooters and motorcycles, manufacturing over 600,000 motorised 2-wheelers a year. 

In Australia, Piaggio is the top selling scooter brand this year (at time of writing) ahead of the big Japanese scooter brands Honda and Yamaha. This success is largely due to the Zip model which is available in 50cc and this larger 100cc displacement version.

The latest Zip is an up to date modern design with its smooth urban lines, yet the Zip name is well known to Europeans as its model name has been on the rear end of Piaggio’s since 1992. Piaggio have reportedly shipped 50,000 Zip’s to Italy alone.  If you’re thinking why you would ship the Zip to Italy when it’s an Italian brand, it’s because the latest models are manufactured in China. However you’d be a fool for this to put you off as you can get into this trendy Italian brand at an entry level price of only $1,495 for the 50cc or $1,990 for the 100cc model.

Piaggio Zip 100
Zippy 100cc engine… pardon the pun

The Zip 100 has a single cylinder air-cooled 4-stroke engine so whilst it may not feel as fast as some of the 2-stroke competitors on the market, it sure should be economical.

As our scooter was fresh out of its box, having only a couple of hours of riding by the importers under its belt we were warned that it would be a little tight. This is usual for little scooters so pressing the push button electric start I kept my fingers tight on the brakes as it needed some throttle to stop it from cutting out.

Piaggio Zip 100
Comfy seat… and room for a pillion (passenger)

The Zip 100 is spirited enough off the mark however with a rear seat passenger (100kg combined weight in this example) you can feel that the engine is starting to strain a little. However compared to a 50cc scooter this baby can scoot along at 70km/h no problem.  In a moment of braveness, we even tackled Melbourne’s 336m long and 58m high West Gate Bridge on the Zip, which was a little crazy as the wind was blowing as we went over the top. We understand why cyclists are banned from using this bridge as cross winds aren’t a two wheelers best friend. Riding down from the top we saw 80km/h on the speedo and were happy that we could travel at the same speed as the large trucks in the side mirrors behind us.

Piaggio Zip 100
The cockpit

In the city traffic where the Zip 100 is most at home, the combination of a front disc and a rear drum brake adequately pulled us up on time during our two weeks with the little Piaggio.  With a dry weight of only 89kg the Zip 100 was a breeze to maneuver through traffic yet the chassis was rigid enough that I never feared for my life when the speeds got higher.

Piaggio Zip 100
Nice and narrow… perfect in a busy city

Compared to a larger wheeled scooter, the Zip with its small 10” wheels doesn’t like potholes or grooves in the road. The suspension with its 75mm of travel front and rear soaks up the smaller stuff but up to a point larger wheels will absorb the bumps better. However, smaller wheeled scooters are cooler looking than 16” big wheel scooters and as they say, ‘you gotta pay a price for fashion’. 

Piaggio Zip 100
Compact design and cool looking 10” wheels

The Zip is a compact scooter yet none of us found it difficult to get a comfortable riding position. One cool feature is the height adjustable seat which allows three positions so it doesn’t matter if you’re 5”2 or 6”2 you’ll still be able to ride the Zip with confidence. And being an automatic, the Zip has a modern CVT transmission thus you don’t even need to change gears providing a smooth ride.

Piaggio Zip 100

As with any practical scooter the little Piaggio 100 has an underseat lockable storage compartment which easily fits one open face helmet and maybe a small bag, but not two helmets. There is also a small front glovebox which is accessible by turning the ignition key to open.

Piaggio Zip 100
Room for your helmet, but not your pillions (helmet that is)

Overall the Zip 100 is great value for money, only sips fuel, has a modern attractive design and you can park it almost anywhere. Piaggio provide a 2 year unlimited kilometre warranty and being a sales chart topper, parts shouldn’t be a problem to come across.

Compared to its competitors, you’re also getting that famous Italian brand name.  The Zip 100 put a smile on our face whenever we rode it and we would recommend it for anyone in the market for a compact mode of urban transport.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Competitors – 10” small wheel Scooters

 Model  Engine Capacity  Engine Stroke  Price
 Piaggio Zip 100  100cc  4 stroke $1,990 
 Saachs City 125                   125cc  4 stroke  $2,390
 Honda Lead 100  100cc  4 stroke  $2,490
 Hyosung SF100 Rally  100cc  2 stroke  $2,890
 Eagle Wing Cino 125  125cc  4 stroke  $2,990
 VMoto Montego YY  125cc  4 stroke  $2,990
 Yamaha YM100 BeeWee  100cc  2 stroke  $2,999
 Scooter Select Mio 100  100cc  4 stroke  $3,490
*Prices as 1/6/2008


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