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2010 Genuine Stella Scooter Review

Friday, October 22, 2010
The 2010 Genuine Stella scooter
In 1984 Piaggio and LML began building Vespa LX150 scooters in India, and the design is still being sold today. Genuine Scooters markets the design as the Stella.
Retro. You can go two ways with it. Volkswagen blazed the first trail with the smash success of the New Beetle back in 1998. Make it reminiscent of the original, except with all the performance, reliability and conveniences of a new product. Sure, a 1971 Beetle looks cute, but have you driven one of these things? It has all the comfort, performance, safety and ease of use as a small, cheap car from the 1930s, mainly because it is a small, cheap car from the 1930s. If you're going someplace in one, wear old clothes and make an appointment with your dentist because you'll need new fillings. Hot in the summer, cold in the winter, as noisy as a WWI biplane and about as easy to drive as a melted golf ball.

So, when consumers say they want a car just like they used to have, they are lying to you. They just think they do. Manufacturers mostly follow the VW model, building dependable, high-performance products that sort of recreate the experience. Vespa—keeper of the classic Italian scooter flame—builds scooters that share design elements with the original two-stroke, manual-transmission scooters of yore, but perform much like scooters from Japan and Taiwan. Twist and go convenience, along with modern suspension, brakes and handling.

Then there's the other path. Some manufacturers were never told the old days ended, and therefore just kept making things the way they had always made them. That's certainly the case for Indian automotive companies, many of which had license-building agreements with European vehicle manufacturers. In 1984, Piaggio started a joint venture with LML—a company known for making industrial weaving machinery—to build Vespa LX150 scooters in India, and that basic design has been sold on the Subcontinent for the last 26 years.
Classic styling makes Stella perfect for an evening out on the town.
Classic styling lines makes the Genuine Stella perfect for an evening out on the town.

If you know vintage Vespas, you know the LML product. It's a simple stamped-steel monocoque body replete with steel sidecovers and a big steel front fender. A spare tire is under one cover, the compact drive unit—combined with swingarm and transmission—juts out on the other side. Suspension is handled by a monoshock in back and that signature landing-gear-like single-sided front end. Braking is handled by a small disc brake (with braided steel line) in front and a drum in back.

If you yearn for the heady aroma of two-stroke exhaust in your nostrils, you're in for a disappointment. To ensure meeting emissions requirements for the foreseeable future, LML tossed out that smoky old two-stroke powerplant and replaced it with a catalyzed, clean-burning four-stroke, 147.55cc air-cooled Single. It retains a four-speed manual gearbox, carburetor and hand-operated clutch as well as that iconic PX150 chassis.

The styling is remarkable, especially for a product with a $3599 hangtag. Look closely at it and you'd swear it was 1977 all over again. Check out the aluminum trim along the leg shield, lustrous paint in five designer colors (the blue you see here isn't exactly like the blue you may have had on your old P200E you had in college, but it's a nice color anyway), long-stalk chrome mirrors and those stamped-steel interchangeable, bolt-together 10-inch wheels. Slovenian-made white-wall tires aren't period-authentic, but add some serious flavor. Lift the seat to fill the 1.8-gallon tank, pull out the choke knob, flip the fuel tap to “on,” and shove down on the kickstart lever with the toe of your Doc Marten to start it up (there's electric start too). Any more authenticity and you'll start looking over your shoulder for Scott Bakula to appear and
The four-stroke  147.55cc air-cooled Single in the 2010 Genuine scooter is able to achieve 100 mpg.
The four-stroke, 147.55cc air-cooled Single in the 2010 Genuine scooter is able to achieve 100 mpg.
tell you you're his grandfather and to not eat smoked salmon at the Katzenburg bar mitzvah or Lionel Richie will get the atomic bomb.

If the five color choices don't allow enough free expression, you can always accessorize. Because the Stella is such a close facsimile of the original Vespa product, many vintage Vespa parts will bolt on, including bodywork, chrome bits, seat, crashbars and other items. Add a top box and a windscreen if you want to go road warrior, or you can do the full-on crashbars-and-spotlights Quadraphenia treatment.

Like the original P200E (or PX150, if you ever rode one of those), the Stella is a refined, well-engineered product—within limits. The motor is appliance-like, clearly intended for maximum function and economy, so while it starts easily and runs well, it's as far from high-performance as you can get. It's rough and buzzy like a two-stroke, and retains the whirring, rattling noise a Vespa owner will expect. But the exhaust note is lower and thumpier, leaving no doubt of its four-stroke redesign. But riding it is a lot like the old P(only slower); redline comes quickly, necessitating quick shifting action on the handlebar-mounted shifter. Keeping up with traffic is easy, if said traffic isn't trying to race with you, and the scoot quickly gets up to its 30-40 mph cruising speed. Faster than that is possible, but hardly relaxing.

The scooter is not really a freeway machine as it struggles to reach 60 mph.
The scooter is not really a freeway machine as it struggles to reach 60 mph.
And do you need to go faster than that around town? I didn't in the time I had to test the bike. A crowded inner city—think Mumbai, Milan or maybe Chicago—is perfect for the Stella. If there is a two-wheeled vehicle with a tighter turning radius, it may be a folding bicycle somebody forgot to unfold. The 245-pound claimed wet weight feels even lighter thanks to an absurdly low center of gravity. Comically steep steering geometry (rake is 25 degrees—Yamaha's R6 supersport motorcycle has a 24-degree steering head angle), wheelbarrow-sized wheels and under-50-inch wheelbase means you can do things on the Stella you'd never try on any other motorized vehicle. It can plod along at a crawling infant's pace, and then zip into a tiny gap in traffic before anybody knows what you're doing. “Telepathic” doesn't describe how quick steering response is. “Precognitive” is more like it—before you even realize you want to turn you've already turned, picked a parking spot, gotten off the bike and are halfway into your second Campari and soda. Getting on the Stella after riding a more orthodox motorcycle feels a little flighty until you get used to it—and then it's a lot of fun.

Welcome to classic scootering. The PX design—itself a refinement of the original Vespa from the late 1940s—is a highly evolved product, used by millions worldwide as basic and practical urban transportation. It's simple to ride (don't let the clutch and gearbox intimidate you—somehow working the tranny with your wrist is easier and more intuitive), has decent brakes, goes up any hill you want, is very easy to get on its centerstand, and there's a little clip under the seat for your man-or-woman purse (or grocery bags). Errands and intra-urban commuting are suddenly easy and fun.

Youll look good cruising around  but dont be in a hurry. Stellas 147.55cc Single is economical but falls short in the performance department.
You'll look good cruising around, but don't be in a hurry. Stella's 147.55cc Single is economical but falls short in the performance department.
It's not just fun for the rider. The Stella has the power to draw a crowd and start conversations. Strangers want to know what it is, who makes it, how much it costs, if it's hard to ride, how far it'll go on a tank of gas. It looks good no matter how you look at it—authentic and well-proportioned. Everybody is surprised when you tell them it's a new bike, made in India, and it gets over 100 miles per gallon.

Actually, Genuine Scooters claims 140 mpg in the EPA test loop, which seems amazing. However, Scoot! magazine was able to squeeze 100 mpg (with a large and jolly rider on board) in regular riding. That seems to jibe with my testing, where the needle on the fuel gauge didn't really move during a long afternoon and evening of riding. That means a potential of 120-150 miles out of the 1.3-gallon tank.

Of course, every product has its disadvantage, and you'd be rightly suspicious if I didn't point out the flaws in a 30-year-old design. The Stella is not seamless (literally, as you can see the seam down the center of the body). The seat is too high (over 31 inches) for shorter riders to flat-foot without sliding way forward or even standing up off the seat, and there is no storage room under it. The price of scalpel-like low-speed maneuverability is handling that is, to put it politely,
Even the steepest hills are no match for Stellas torquey motor and short gearing.
Even the steepest hills are no match for Stella's torquey motor and short gearing.
indistinct at speeds over 50 mph. Don't expect to go much faster than that, as the bike seems to top out around 60 mph anyway, which means it's not really a freeway machine (check your state laws on what constitutes freeway legality—in California, anything under 150cc is a “motor-driven cycle” and not allowed on divided freeways). The turn signals are accompanied by an annoying beeping warning signal. And the suspension isn't the best I've experienced. In spite of using upgraded shocks, it's still underdamped and tends to bounce around and get overwhelmed if you hustle too much in a town with crappy pavement.

But the Stella isn't about doing the Hustle. It's about grooving to your own soundtrack, and enjoying a very elemental scooter experience. It looks right, performs right (although the two-stroke was probably more fun) and will convince you—and anybody who's looking—that you're riding a vintage Italian scooter. It's far from perfect, but so were the originals, which is probably why there are vintage Vespa clubs but no rallies for Yamaha Razz owners.

The bad news is you can't buy one—yet. U.S. customs sent the shipments of 2010 four-stroke Stellas back to India for non-compliance with production specifications. Genuine expects to have a few 2010s in Genuine dealers before 2010 ends, with 2011 models arriving sometime before next summer. Not to worry—both LML and Genuine are solid companies and will be in the game for the duration, backing up a two-year warranty and providing parts support for over 200 Genuine dealers nationwide.

So how authentic do you want your scooter experience to be? If you're the kind of person who likes to iron shirts and grind your coffee just before you brew it, if comfort is less important than getting the full experience, a Stella may be the way to go. If you just want to look like the real deal, there are alternatives. But if you really want to please the scooter Gods, the $3599 Stella could be the only ride around.
2010 Genuine Stella Photo Gallery
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Comments
lordtariel   September 7, 2012 04:28 PM
xxx
lordtariel   September 7, 2012 04:27 PM
xxx
lordtariel   September 7, 2012 02:25 PM
xxx
lordtariel   September 7, 2012 02:25 PM
xxx
kamuela5   June 17, 2011 12:35 PM
Picked one up about a month ago. So far I'm loving it! I had a P150 back in my high school days. This thing takes me back to those days. I do miss the sound and blue smoke of a 2T, but the 4T is here to stay whether we like it or not(especially in CA). Give it time and before you know it there will be tons of performance parts for 4T. I highly reccomend this scooter...my wife said I always have a huge grin as I pull into the garage after a ride.
Llisel Richins -Wish list!  January 28, 2011 02:47 PM
Saving money!!!
Starstream -Stella Dealers in Canada  December 24, 2010 05:39 PM
I heard they've got confirmed Stella dealers in Vancouver, Toronto, Halifax, Calgary and Montreal.
EvilTweety -Wrong Year  December 20, 2010 06:56 AM
Definitely think that it should now be refered to as the 2011 Stella 4t...
Used trucks -Genuine Scooter Review  December 17, 2010 12:16 AM
I still remember, in India Bajaj was the first auto company to make these type of scooters and which was famous world over..Traveling on scooter is just feels the best,and that to in california will be amazing thing... http://www.trucksforsales.net
Kev -Stella in Canada  November 3, 2010 08:55 PM
Joe: Stella's will be imported and distributed exclusively in Canada by Motoretta in Toronto.
joe -where can i buy a Stella in Canada.  November 2, 2010 12:40 PM
I love the retro looks i want one right now.
Old Mod -Mpg  October 27, 2010 03:07 PM
PX 200 about 40-45 mpg big two strokes are thirsty. The 150 LML in UK outperforms the similar two stroke in acceleration evidently.
ericalm -I've been riding the 4T…  October 27, 2010 01:08 PM
When the original shipment of Stella 4Ts arrived in the US (before the Customs/EPA snafu), I purchased one of Genuine's demo/review models, which had 250mi on the odometer. I've been riding it for a few months now and have put over 1800 miles on it. The review is pretty much spot-on. It's a joy to ride. I've got it outfitted with Vespa crash bars and racks (for the PX150 models). The only thing I have to add is that performance and fuel economy get better as the miles rack up. It will easily cruise up to 50 now, and with more effort will maintain 60 on flats.
Dannicus -Stella 4T  October 25, 2010 11:07 AM
Damn Cali and their 2 stroke aversion! Stellas look great, but unless it's a smoker, I'll pass. The ring-ding engine is what made them so great.
Tim B -Manual!  October 25, 2010 10:01 AM
It looks like it was designed in 1984. But I love that it has a manual clutch and 4 speed tranny. This thing would probably be fun to ride!
Chris -Mr.  October 23, 2010 03:11 PM
Saw the demo models at Motoretta in Toronto. I think thi smight be my next ride.
Del Noroeste -White socks...  October 22, 2010 06:11 PM
with a black tuxedo??? Ugh! Nice scoot, though.
Nomi -Scooter Chick  October 22, 2010 03:00 PM
I'm the first person in Canada to have a deposit on one. Should be here by March 1st!!! So excited.
jason DickSalvo -looks like something...  October 22, 2010 02:16 PM
...I might ride...
Justin Parker -4T Stella gets 140mpg  October 22, 2010 01:47 PM
Great article. One minor correction, the 4T Stella gets 140mpg. Actually just over. I can verify this as a friend I ride with has the lone 4T in California. Really a beautiful machine. Can't wait to get one.
Desmolicious -I had a deposit on one  October 22, 2010 12:25 PM
But opted out when I saw a real deal Vespa PX150 in like new condition for less $. Good thing in a way, seeing the delay of supply. I will check them out when they finally do show up. Just hope the fit/finish/paint is nicer than the pre-prod one that had it's rounds as a demonstrator. FYI Gabe, that fuel gauge may not have moved much on you as Stellas are notorious for having non-working fuel gauges! It would be really cool if this prompts Vespa into making a 4T shifter scoot.
Gabe -Two-Stroke Stellas  October 22, 2010 11:55 AM
Sorry, Clawbrant; I talked to Genuine and there are no more 2-smokers coming in. You may find leftover inventory, but there will be no more coming in new.
Desmolicious -I had a deposit on one  October 22, 2010 11:42 AM
But opted out when I saw a real deal Vespa PX150 in like new condition for less $. Good thing in a way, seeing the delay of supply. I will check them out when they finally do show up. Just hope the fit/finish/paint is nicer than the pre-prod one that had it's rounds as a demonstrator. FYI Gabe, that fuel gauge may not have moved much on you as Stellas are notorious for having non-working fuel gauges! It would be really cool if this prompts Vespa into making a 4T shifter scoot.
bikerrandy -Stella scooter  October 22, 2010 10:16 AM
For a few years now I've wondered what the Stella is and why some owners are so positive about theirs. Now I know.

Right now I have a Razz 50 and 250 MP3 I use for most our grocery shopping. Both my scoots have trunks.
Fred M. -Just bought a new 2009 2-stroke  October 22, 2010 05:29 AM
If you want the real retro deal, go for the two stroke, which is still available due to consumer demand. I did and I love it. Because it's virtually a clone of the old Vespa PX150E, almost all of the performance parts just bolt on. Want 40% more horsepower? No problem. Just add a Sito+ exhaust for $89, the $20 air filter from a Vespa P200E, and $20 worth of jets to the carb. An hour later, it's transformed. Serious fun. Serious style. And just about unlimited aftermarket parts to make it into a showpiece or the ultimate urban grocery getter.
Uggar sain -Piaggeo mp3  October 22, 2010 03:27 AM
I want to purchase a piaggio mp3 400ie in india because i am ortho handicaped...
Clawbrant -2 stroke  October 22, 2010 02:40 AM
Genuine still offers the two stroke model, just not in California.