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2021 Vespa Sei Giorni II review: Vintage style and surprising performance

Of course, being fitted with Vespa's most powerful engine ever has other benefits, as well.

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Sure, it's cute, but it's also way quicker than you might expect.

Kyle Hyatt/Roadshow

You'd be forgiven for thinking that the Venn diagram for people who ride scooters and people who ride motorcycles would look like one big circle, but weirdly, that isn't the case. I don't really understand the reason for this tribalism, particularly when it comes to Vespas.

Vespas are cool, and they always have been. They offer the convenience of a scooter with sufficient power and performance to allow it to hang with a motorcycle -- at least in the city. It's this duality that makes the limited-edition Vespa Sei Giorni II especially appealing. 

Part of the Sei Giorni's appeal is its powertrain. It uses Vespa's latest and greatest engine: the 278-cc, single-cylinder, four-valve HPE. This engine was introduced back in 2018 as the most potent Vespa engine ever, thanks to its 23 horsepower. That doesn't sound like a lot, but it's enough to confidently push the Sei Giorni to 80 mph, though 85 mph is a significantly bigger ask.

This engine is paired with a continuously variable transmission, which on a scooter is awesome, unlike in passenger-car applications. Using a CVT means there's no need to worry about a clutch or shifting gears. Getting off the line and up to speed is a grip-it-and-rip-it affair, no subtlety required. This simplicity lowers the bar for entry significantly, adding to the scooter's appeal for new riders.

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The Sei Giorni differs from other Vespa models in its flyscreen and "meatball" racing numbers.

Kyle Hyatt/Roadshow

But just because the Sei Giorni is a simple machine doesn't mean it isn't sophisticated. It uses disc brakes at both ends and comes with antilock brakes, too. The brakes aren't visually impressive -- they're just 220 millimeters in diameter -- but they work surprisingly well. An interesting quirk of the scooter's design and engine placement is that the rear brake does a surprising amount of stopping and takes a little getting used to, especially when coming from a motorcycle.

The Sei Giorni rolls on some relatively large (for a scooter, anyway) 12-inch alloy wheels, which gives it a more surefooted on-road manner, helping it to reach freeway speeds without hassle. The wheels are matte-black, feature a red stripe and are unique to the Sei Giorni. Also unique is the matte-gray-blue paint with racing numbers, an analog gauge, tinted flyscreen and the piece de resistance, that awesome fender-mounted headlight.

What isn't unique to the Sei Giorni, but somewhat unique to Vespa, are the various storage areas and conveniences like the USB charger and phone cubby in the front fairing. Also noteworthy is the large underseat storage bin that lifts out without tools to allow excellent access to the engine. The underseat storage area has an electronic lock, making it relatively secure when parked. There is also a fold-out bag hook, which is perfect for grocery shopping.

As a very large rider (I'm 6 feet, 4 inches tall), the Sei Giorni is surprisingly comfortable and shockingly quick. The scooter is ready to jump off the line with unexpected vigor, leaving traffic in its dust. In short, it's a damn riot. This Vespa is a two-wheeled machine that ekes out rowdy behavior, even from a relatively restrained rider like myself.

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12-inch wheels, disc brakes and two-channel ABS means that the Sei Giorni stops extremely well.

Kyle Hyatt/Roadshow

The tallish wheels make the Sei Giorni fun to lean over like a motorcycle. It's stable but incredibly agile, making it adept to riding in traffic and splitting lanes. This is genuinely rapid intracity transportation. I'm used to getting where I'm going pretty quickly on a motorcycle, but the Vespa is on a whole other level.

The Sei Giorni has a very plush single-seat saddle that helps smooth out the bumps that the scooter's suspension can't quite cope with, and thanks to the solid build quality, there is blessedly little vibration that makes its way up through the seat, handlebar and footboard. I wouldn't necessarily want to ride hundreds of freeway miles on one of these, but I don't think it'd be a total chore, either.

Another big draw for scooters in general is their fuel efficiency. Of course, being the most powerful Vespa ever, fuel economy suffers somewhat but isn't bad at a claimed 73.4 miles per gallon. During my testing, I was able to get close to that figure despite my larger-than-average stature and an enthusiastic throttle hand.

The Vespa Sei Giorni II nicely bridges the gap between motorcycles and scooters. It's plenty quick and exciting to ride, and it feels like you're cheating when cutting through traffic. Of course, its form factor and looks may not be to everyone's liking, but what is?

This isn't a cheap scooter, at $7,749, but its increased performance over lesser Vespas and next-level convenience makes it totally worth the price. It's a rare blend of style, practicality and fun that will change the way you get around your city. The Sei Giorni is a fantastic machine, and it's got me seriously considering a Vespa as my next two-wheeled purchase. Even if you're a hardcore motorcyclist, maybe you should consider one, too.