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[Covet]: Vespa Rip-offs
Shanghai gets a new batch of shanzhai Vespas. They're candy colored dream machines. Inside: how to get your hands on one...
By Jul 31, 2012 Shopping

Shanghai’s full of Vespa knock-offs, electric scooters that are styled up to look like the classic Italian brand. This is the latest and it’s the best-looking we’ve seen. Check out that fake chrome detailing and the delicate slope of the front board. Sweet ride.

It’s the obvious nods to the Vespa Supersprint that set this model apart from the other retro scooters you see around town. This model has an extended narrow seat and a longer footboard, which makes it perfect for two passengers. You can expect to get about 45km per battery charge, and it will get up to about 60km/hr on a flat straightaway.

They’ve already sold about 100 at our go-to scooter shop, Scooter Home on Xietu Lu. They’re 4500rmb, compared to about 3000-3500rmb for other retro scooters. The specs are about the same, so you’re paying a premium for its good looks.

Colors range from classic black, brown and tan, to deep hunter green and navy, but our favorites are the brighter models — turquoise, mint green, and even Barbie pink for the truly fearless. Scooter Home can get you any of the colors below within a week (you have to leave a deposit). If you want one straight away, you’ll have to take whatever they’ve got left in stock.

For 4500rmb they give you a full setup, including charger and lock (sometimes his wife will throw in a poncho), but don't expect them to budge on the price — we expect this price to stay the same throughout the summer until more places start stocking them. You can also find them at Scooter Home’s satellite shop on the northeast corner of Shanxi Bei Lu and Wuding Lu, but that place has less of a selection and only basic maintenance facilities. But it’s worth a try if the main store is out of the color you want.

The battery is located inside the frame — you can’t remove it from the bike to charge so be sure to have a designated spot to plug it in (we usually charge ours twice a week, overnight). The bike's pretty long, so don’t expect to fit it in any elevators.

If you need a longer charge, you can top up the battery with three extra packs, giving you an additional 45km/charge (for a total of 90km/charge). Three extra packs will cost you 850rmb.

They have only minimal space for storage — in the seat compartment and on the side. In total you can probably only fit your charger, your lock, and a small poncho, and that's it.

This model is adorned with fake chrome-bordered reflectors, lights and brakes, and other small details like the front wheel fin that builds that vintage vibe.

For first-time scooter riders, be aware that carrying passengers is actually illegal on electric scooters in Shanghai, and you’re only supposed to ride them on bike-friendly streets in designated bike lanes. You don’t need a license for an electric scooter (you do for anything that runs on gas), but laws concerning foreigners and scooters are constantly changing and we recommend inquiring with your local authorities to double check any other restrictions before you buy one.

Sweet safe summer rides ahead...

Update: Turns out scooters that can reach speeds over 20km/hr, weigh over 40kg or are wider than 30cm, will be reclassified in September, which means if you want to be totally legal, you'll need a motorcycle license to ride one, and maybe a license plate and insurance. No one knows how stringently this will be enforced — if at all — it's all currently being debated. Just a warning out there to all our two-wheeled friends.


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  • Unverified User

    Lifetime in SH: Maximum 6 months.
    % rate to overcome CNY: 20%
    buy a great lock, and attach it to any solid bar, or bribe your baoan, that will help you to enjoy it longer.

  • sitiveni

    Nothing at all on performance...?! 0-20 km/h? Voltage? Dry Weight? ...not even Rake Angle, Wheelbase, Seat Height and other crucial geometric specs? Come on smartshanghai...

  • kurtbraybrook

    nice scooter, beware of the people who go around and slit the seat with a knife, I had that happen the 3rd day I owned mine. They can recover it for 50 kuai though.

  • machimo

    I've had my retro scooter for almost 2 years. Just get an GOOD lock (not the 50 kuai one...) and be clever where you park it.

  • geertsam

    Never saw that store on northeast corner of Shanxi Bei Lu and Wuding Lu. Sure it is there. Drive by on a regular basis...
    Anyone knows it?

  • rae.chen

    Hey @geertsam, it's just behind the news stand - about 10 meters up Shanxi Bei Lu on right (after you cross Wuding Lu heading north). You'll see a row of new scooters parked in front, it's the small shop behind those.

  • horse repair

    Yeah but what about the gas versions versions, so much better and normally cheaper.

  • derefter

    Bought my first scooter from the guys on the corner of Shaanxi and Wuding. When the right brake went out I went to them for service, with my receipt. They argued and told me I didn't buy it there (which I did), refused to cover it under warranty and then said they would fix it for 800 RMB and it would take 5 days. Rode around the corner to Taixing and Kangding and the guys there fixed it on the spot for 100RMB. I have since stopped recommending them since they were complete jerks and tried to overcharge me.

  • predicamints

    Just got mine today, you should check out the store on 577 yanchang Lu in zhabei district to get the 100% 60s Vespa rip off( they don't have the hideous LED lights in the front and.back as the blue one in the article and can add the original two people seat, metal protection bar etc)

    The owner couples are super nice too. Their scooters are pricier (4800rmb and I paid a little more for retro seats and protection bar) but they look exactly the same as the real ones.

  • mydo

    I was pulled over by the police on Anfu Lu last night. Always a risk to play "ting bu dong" with authority, but it worked in my favour and he let me go. He was telling me that I didn't have a licence, but couldn't tell if the end result was going to be arrest or confiscation. I didn't hang around to see what happened to delivery guy in trouble behind me.

    New policy for 2013?

  • HandsomeJohnny

    I had the fat looking vespa scooter 大龟王 daguiwang for almost 2 years, got stolen. Good bike and are older than the one above (罗马假日 luomajiari), so also cheaper. Goes 50km/h easily, about 2 hours non-stop drive range.

    I never got pulled over though, no license on the bike, I figured no need cause its in the same category as bicycles.

    Anyway if you get a scooter:

    - good lock (100kuai or more)
    - GPS tracker (in case the good lock wasnt good enough)

  • victorlee

    It appalls me why every expat heads to scooter home to buy their scooter when the service is so horrible. I bought the vespa look alike here and headed to where my friends were. When my friend saw me he pointed out there were huge scratches on the right side skirt of the scooter which I didn't notice. So I called them up, rode back a couple of times, called again, and to cut a long story short I don't think they have any intentions of fixing this damn thing. What really gets to me is how they'd say "oh yeah we're just waiting for the part, just a few more days." It's been 2 months now and I'm just gonna write this off as a loss on my part. VERDICT: Do not go here for your scooters. There are other places where its less pretentious, cheaper, and have better service. Don't let these guys take advantage of you!

  • irka

    Hi everybody,
    I am about to get an electric scooter, and I see there are a planty of this cool looking ones, Stella, Ibica, Vespa Ny ...but I am wondering, is it just the looks? I really like it, but I heard they are getting stolen a lot so I am thinking about buying one 2700 rmb one in Careffour that looks like the one the locals use..Any advice?

  • thmu

    Hey everybody,
    i have one for Sale (same style same color as in the article):

    Used Vespa Style Scooter in light blue
    and a very good condition, except some small
    chinese parking scratches..

    Key Data: Motor: 1000W
    Battery: Lead 60V 20Ah
    Mileage: Around 1000km
    Bought in: April 2013 (fist owner)
    Maximum speed: Real 45km/h
    Range: 40km to 60km
    Seat color: Brown
    Two storage boxes: One under the seat
    and the second in the back side fender
    Accessories: Battery Charger 220V-60V
    Heavy lock
    Asking Price:3500 RMB

    Location: Pudong Century Park Area
    Phone: 18616135247
    Mail: verkauf(AT)

  • thmu

    Hey folk,
    My one is sold, post above..
    But a friend of me sells a similar one, same style, different color (main body: dark grey / side fender: blue).
    More powerful motor 1500W
    and Mileage: Around 400km
    Asking price 3500RMB
    Location: Pudong Century Park Area
    Phone: 18616135247
    Mail: verkauf(AT)

  • setoo

    Hi, I'm seriously considering buying one today ! Is anybody know if i can had an top case in this model ?

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