Vietnam by Vespa – Touring with caution


Fancy some scootering while on holiday? We recently came across this story on

a CNN website and thought to share it with you all.

Vietnam is known by many scooter enthusiasts as a place that the Italian Vespa and Lambretta scooters were exported to in high numbers in the 50s and 60s, and which have been exported onwards in the 90s and 00s as demand for classic scooters around the world grew in popularity. Unfortunately for some, the quality control was at times dubious, but that’s a story for another day… sort of.

American Steve Mueller runs a Vespa tour company there, suggesting that the best way to see the country is from the saddle of a classic scooter, and we reckon he’s probably right. Tongue in cheek, he also adds that rather than risk crossing the road in Ho Chi Minh City why not join the thousands of scooters in it – which as any rider who has ridden in Rome, Milan or Paris will confirm, that makes perfect sense!

What we’re not so sure about is the story’s claim that the old Vespas he uses are; “refurbished with replacement parts from Piaggio-licensed machinists in India”, mainly because while there is are a couple of Piaggio factories in India, they just produce modern automatic Vespa LX scooters and Ape 3-wheelers (we reckon they mean the LML factory which hasn’t had any connection to Vespa since the 90s, and smaller producers of pattern parts).

We also don’t like CNN’s suggestion that, “True to their reputation, the 100 or so classic scooters owned by Vespa Adventures break down frequently — mechanics are on hand for running repairs — but Mueller believes it’s all part of the charm in a city where two wheels beats two legs. ”

As anyone who rides a well-maintained Vespa knows, they hardly ever break down. In fact partially neglected Vespas can go on for a heck of a long time too.

Having ridden 70s, 80s and 90s Vespas around the UK and Europe over the last three decades without much to write about in the way of breakdowns at all, we are a little wary of people who apparently can’t seem to even keep what is arguably one of the most robust two-wheeled workhorses on the road, presumably cramming it full of poor quality pattern parts from India which they believe are top quality Piaggio approved spares when it does fail.

That aside, riding a Vespa around Vietnam does seem the best way to see the sights. We’d just suggest that maybe checking out the hire company first to make sure they do run a fleet of reliable scooters might be a good idea!

Anyway, the link for the full story again is here.

2 thoughts on “Vietnam by Vespa – Touring with caution

  1. Hmmm. That’s quite a negative take on the story, no? None of the story itself is negative.

    None of the sentences you dislike are actually quotes from Steve and his business. They’re filler sentences by CNN. I imagine Steve probably said they get some parts from India where they still make them. LML/Bajaj as you say probably, who make, for example, good new gear sets and such. Good parts, that’s not where problems come up.

    I see their scooters running around all the time and know they are running them constantly, in large groups, 2-up, every day, several times a day, so of course they are going to be fixing and adjusting things regularly with those numbers. … Any shop anywhere would be doing the exact same. That Steve pays a mechanic to ride along to adjust cables, fix flooded carb and whatever might need to be done to keep a tour running smoothly, and then maintenance between, that seems clearly a sign of someone running a good business, not one to avoid.
    Hope that context and info helps clarify.
    As a disclaimer for the above, We don’t do any business with Steve’s company, and I’ve never been on a tour with them. I do know Steve personally, and he’s an excellent person, as I think most anyone would attest who know him.

    1. Fair comment R; we’ve amended the post to the fact that it is CNN’s comments and that they do not appear to be direct quotes from your friend Steve.
      We do suggest however that you get him to contact CNN and ask that the article is amended because while scooter enthusiasts might read between the lines and be forgiving, the general public (to which the article is after all aimed) are more likely to draw their own conclusions.

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