Although there are plenty of classic-looking motorcycles on the market, some are on the heavy side, which can be intimidating to smaller or newer riders. They’re also not exactly cheap: even one of Janus Motorcycles’ bikes starts at $6,995. However, in terms of offering inexpensive, stylish transportation, both the Honda Cub and Vespa scooters have historically been strong choices. And both their modern descendants are available for purchase. But for someone looking for cheap city transport, is the Honda Super Cub or Vespa scooter the better buy?
Honda Super Cub C125 vs. Vespa: specs and features
Both the Honda and Vespa have come a significant way from their 50s incarnations.
The modern Honda Super Cub C125 has a 125cc air-cooled fuel-injected single-cylinder engine that makes 9 hp and 8 lb-ft. That’s linked to a 4-speed transmission with a centrifugal clutch—no need to pull a clutch lever to change gears. The original also had this setup, in order to make riding as painless as possible. The riding position also means it’s easy to put a steadying foot down.
However, the newest Honda Super Cub does come with more updates than just fuel injection. There’s ABS on the front wheel, for one. There’s also LED lighting and an LCD display with fuel gauge in addition to the analog speedometer. Plus, both the ignition and under-seat storage operate via a proximity key.
Vespa doesn’t have any 125cc US models. However, the Italian brand does make two 150cc models, the Primavera and Sprint. Like the Honda Super Cub, both Vespas have air-cooled, fuel-injected single-cylinder engines. And, like the Honda, both have ABS on their front wheels.
However, both the Vespa Primavera and Sprint are more powerful, making a claimed 12.9 hp and 9.4 lb-ft. In addition, the Vespas have CVT automatic transmissions, not manuals. They also have larger fuel tanks: 2.11 gallons vs. 1 gallon for the Honda Super Cub. But the Honda Super Cub has larger wheels: 17” vs 12” for the Vespas. It’s also about 30 pounds lighter.
Honda Super Cub vs. Vespa: riding experience
Despite its engine size, Cycle World reports the Honda Super Cub C125 is indeed a motorcycle, not a scooter. Autoweek confirms this, reporting that since you have to shift gears yourself on the Honda, it’s a motorcycle. However, its 125cc engine means it isn’t suited for freeways, or even necessarily freeway-legal. And despite its 60-mph top speed, Motorcyclist reports the Super Cub feels most comfortable below 50 mph.
Despite their larger engines, though, the Vespa Primavera 150 and Sprint 150 aren’t any faster. RideApart reports a top speed of 59 mph. In addition, although both scooters can legally go on freeways, RideApart reports both bikes are best-suited to city streets and back roads.
Both the Super Cub and Vespa scooters are purely single-seaters. But, in terms of riding comfort, the Vespa scooters’ smaller wheels and riding position give it a slight edge. Which, after all, is the point of a scooter: simplified, easy 2-wheeled riding. In addition, the Honda’s size can be slightly cramped for larger riders. But, if you’re after an entry into full-on motorcycling, the Honda Super Cub is the better choice. And Cycle World reports the ride, despite the larger wheels, is still very compliant, even over potholes.
Price-wise, the Honda Super Cub is cheaper than either Vespa scooter. The Super Cub starts at $3,599.
Meanwhile, the Vespa Primavera 150 starts at $5,349. The Sprint 150 is $300 more, though it does offer a remote-opening seat and a bike finder, while the Primavera doesn’t. But even so, the Sprint is still significantly more expensive than the similarly-equipped Honda. And, if you truly need a freeway-capable bike, you’ll need to upgrade to the Vespa GTS 300, which starts at $6,899.
Overall, when it comes to comparing these modern classic commuters, the Honda Super Cub is the better buy over the Vespa scooters.
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