lexmoto zsa 125 road test

Lexmoto ZSA 125 – Initial impressions

Driven by the need to have something a little quicker and generally more capable than her venerable Piaggio Zip 50 my daughter has just bought herself a 125. This time she has gone for a proper ‘motorbike’ rather than a ‘twist-and-go’ scooter style machine. So she we have to get used to larger wheels a normal riding position and crucially, gears! The bike she has bought is a two year old (2016) Lexmoto ZSA with only 115 miles on the clock. It is obviously virtually as new. It was for sale locally at a good price and seems a bit of a bargain


The engine is an OHV unit, similar in design to the Honda CG unit and it is mated with a 5 speed gearbox. It has a decent instrument pack that includes a rev counter and even a gear indicator, which will be useful to her initially at least. Braking to taken care of with a disc up front and drum at the rear, all very conventional. The styling package is bang up to date and the ZSA is a good looking little bike

lexmoto zsa 125 ride handling
Tidy looking bike…

lexmoto 125 zsa clocks handlebars
Even boasts a rev counter and a gear indicator

To ride it is smooth and inoffensive. No ball of fire but much quicker than the Zip 50 that proceeded it. The ZSA can hold 50 mph comfortably and clear 60 mph with a little persistence. I rode the bike in the pouring rain, so I wasn’t keen to push still shiny Chinese tyres too hard. But within the sane boundaries of a commuter/learner bike it cornered and stopped OK. The gear change could be crisper, but all five gears were easily found. The foot pegs are set fairly low so the riding position is roomy and feels ‘natural’ for want of a better word.
I think the real test for this bike will not be how it rides, you can only expect so much from a bike that whilst looking bang up to date, is essentially 1970’s technology (it even has a choke!), but rather how it lasts. Chinese bikes do have a reputation for poor finish, so we will have to see if this proves to be true as the miles mount. In the meantime my daughter is very happy with her new mount and is very excited to get some proper use out of it over the summer….  More to follow!

Classics at the National Museum

Last weekend saw me visit The National Motor Museum at Beaulieu in Hampshire. Located in the grounds of the stunning Beaulieu Palace House, the ancestral home of the Montagu family for generations and famously a base for the training of secret SOE agents for the Allies during WW2. While the focus is on cars and have they have developed through the decades they was a section dedicated to motorcycles too, so I thought I would share a few pictures from my visit with you:




Wild exhausts, there is an Ariel Square Four in there somewhere!!

Nice old Trident

Racing heritage represented too

Mean GSXR…aka the Gixxer

Old dirt bikes just look cool…fact

Got to love the minimalism of an old Speedway bike

Seems odd to see a Fireblade in a museum, but there were first on sale nearly THIRTY years ago now!

Virtually perfect RD250LC…even has the horrible OE silver metal plug caps!

A very early Honda CB750

The mighty CBX

The bikes were beautifully presented, as was everything in the museum

Stunning Vincent

Some lovely military bikes on show too

BSA Scooter…new one on me!

Some scooters on show too, including a Vespa made in the UK by Douglas..another new one on me!

The crew for the day…dodgy looking lot!

The key focus is on cars, and there some really impressive examples on show from Auburn to Austion and all points in-between!

It is £19.50 to get in, which if just want to look at the bikes arguably isn't worth it, but if you are a petrol head with an interest in all things powered the cars are show are fascinating, generally in exquisite condition and beautifully presented. There is a hall featuring some of the cars from TV programme Top Gear. In addition that fee also includes access to the house, its grounds and the remains of the Abbey that was here and active until the dissolution. It also gets you free re-entry for a year if you sign up.

So overall well worth a visit     





Yamaha 900 Tracer GT – Just really, really good

I have been consistently impressed with all the applications of Yamaha’s tuneful triple 900cc engine. The stock MT-09 was basic, straight forward fun. The Tracer variant offered a little more in the way of comfort and practicality, while the XSR put a modern twist on with a paired back ‘cafe-racer’ look. In all versions it was that fabulous 115 bhp engine that dominated proceedings. My recent quest to secure a comfortable, practical all rounder with a upright riding position to replace my trusty Thundercat has put the Tracer variant on my radar, especially the well equipped GT spec version. Recently one of my friends test rode a Tracer 900 GT and although he eventually bought a KTM1290 he came away highly impressed.

Fabulous bike, not 100% convinced by this colour scheme. It does have more controls than Concorde though!


So with all this in mind it was with a sense of great anticipation that I took at a demo bike from my local dealers. After 40 miles I have to say it completely lived up to my expectations, with one small but possibly significant quibble, but I will come to that. I felt instantly at home on the GT and the seat height was more manageable than I remember on the plain Tracer I tried a couple of years ago, although I understand the seat height is the same between the two. The 3 cylinder engine, even on the standard pipe has a distinctive warble typical of a triple. I might as well get to the point quickly here…this is a hell of a bike. Quick, comfortable, great handling and brakes. The TFT screen is much better than the one on the basic model too. The bike comes with such delights as a quick shifter too and colour coded integrated side cases, so is a pretty compelling package overall


Once properly underway the control weights are well harmonised the bike feels ‘as one’ when you ride it. The GT coped with tight sections and open sections of A road and country lane with equal aplomb and the performance is more that you reasonably exploit to the full on a public road. I took one of my normal routes…out through the outskirts of Bewdley, out toward Far Forest and over Clee Hill, those of you who know Worcestershire will know this is a great piece of road in the most delightful setting. All I wanted to do was carry on. I think I might have found the bike I am looking for. However there is a but…the one that I alluded to earlier: The side stand… it is a complete swine to locate and deploy. Despite repeated attempts I found it hard to find when I pulled up. I do have stumpy legs, meaning it is a stretch, but I think it has more to do with how it is located and stowed relative to the foot peg. I pulled up in a pub car park on route and tried a few more times and started to develop a knack to get the damn thing to deploy.

Anyway one, one glitch aside this is a brilliant bike and I will be taking one out again, this time two up to see if I am still impressed enough to actually buy one!


Vespa 300 GTS Super 2017 – La dolce vita!

Recently I was in the stunning capital city of Austria, Vienna. What struck me, apart from the profusion of stunning historically significant buildings in this imposing location was just how many people choose to get around on scooters. I saw this more of a ‘Mediterranean’ mode of transport that this part of Europe, but nonetheless scooters abounded, generally well ridden by smart young things. The most popular in this throng? The Vespa 300 GTS Super…So back home in Blighty I have arranged a ride on an example of this urban master to see what all the fuss is about.


Italian flair, in a very English setting

I am going to cut to the chase here, the GTS is an impressive little machine. Well screwed together and with a number of neat design touches. For a start it feels beautifully put together and solid. The pressed steel structure and the deep, lustrous paint. The green of my test example was probably a bit much for a conservative chap like me, but it certainly made the bike stand out! The chrome was deep, the seat substantial and well upholstered. Once under way the bike was an absolute doddle to ride. No gears to struggle with, the last Vespa I rode years ago had that curious combined clutch and twist thing going on, here you literally did just twist and go. The 300cc four stroke motor is surprisingly brisk off the mark, especially to 50 mph. That didn’t surprise me, but how well you could hustle down a country lane did. The GTS could hold a line and be thrown about with some verve, if you know what you are doing and are confident you could surprise a few folks! In town in traffic the Vespa is a demon partner for filtering and the reason for the popularity in crowded cities like Vienna now becomes abundantly clear. Add in all the practical attributes like built in storage under the seat for your lid, and a glove box and it is to see why the GTS is such a good urban partner. The GTS is fun, it has to be said. The brakes are strong too, just as well as the scooter can hit the national speed limit with ease. My only gripe is that the motor sounds a little underwhelming on the standard pipe, but I understand that a plethora of aftermarket options are out there to pep things up a bit.




What struck me is how the scooter captures the Italian spirit so well…stylish, cool, fun. In this respect it actually reminds me of my own Ducati S2R 1000. A totally different machine, but identical in that way. Capturing the very essence of Italy. I took the GTS back smitten with just how well it does what it is designed to do. Selling for around £5K, a significant sum, but what you get in return is a well made capable machine, with a host of tech unobtrusively doing their job, fuel injection, ABS and even a form of traction control. It is compliant with A2 licence too, so that’s all good.




Thanks to Phil and the team at Readspeed of Stourport-on -Severn for the loan of the GTS and an insight to the ‘other side’ of the two wheeled world.



Vespa 300 GTS Super HPE review

Vespa 300 GTS Super HPE – Ora ancora più nitido !!

I have always liked the Vespa 300 GTS Super, it has always been a capable piece of kit. Well built, efficient and a doddle to ride; it gets the balance between retro and modernity just about spot on. However nothing in life is so good that it cannot stand a little improvement. So in that vein the latest 2019 300 GTS Super now boasts the HPE badge which denotes an engine update with a focus on Euro IV compliance and while the ‘clever people’ had their lap tops out they tweaked the mapping to give the 300 and little more pep and throttle response. The looks have also been given a mild makeover with a new front panel, but the surgeon’s knife has been subtle and I would need to stand the old and new next to other to pick them apart. As the GTS looked good before, this isn’t really a problem.


Beautiful day for a ride

To ride all the good stuff remains in place…comfort, brakes and surprisingly stable handling, but the improved power-train is really obvious… much more so that I had anticipated. I rode the GTS along one of my favourite local routes, away from the Stourport on Severn base of the Vespa dealer Readspeed out through picturesque Bewdley and over towards the famous Hill Climb track at Shelsley Walsh. Perhaps not the natural environment for a scooter but the GTS lapped up the twisting and undulating A and B roads with dismissive ease. The throttle response and pick up is now really sharp and you can punt the thing along at a very respectable pace. 70 mph comes up quickly and is held with ease and with a sizeable amount of speed still in hand.


Cool, capable

The exhaust is very…how can I put this… polite. Yep that’s the word. This combines with the creamy smoothness of the rest of the ride to conjure up images in my head of wandering through the landscape to the strains of Matt Monroe, or perhaps early an early Style Council track, whereas the more traditional 2 strokes Vespas are perhaps more sparky and edgy, more early Jam!
So in conclusion the engineers and stylists at Vespa have tweaked an already impressive package and made that bit better. I can see the 300 GTS as the ideal companion to a classic scooter in your garage, or perhaps as cool, stylish way of getting about and taking those longer runs in its stride too. An impressive piece of kit, and if you are more Jam than Style Council, buy an Akrapovic exhaust!