No ordinary scooter, the Gilera 800 boasts supercar-beating acceleration times.
No ordinary scooter, the Gilera 800 boasts supercar-beating acceleration times.

Gilera’s King Kong of scooters

By Denis Droppa Time of article published Jun 9, 2011

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If you’re of the opinion that scooters are only for girls, you might change your mind if I told you there was one that beats a Lamborghini Gallardo in a quarter-mile sprint, and has an engine roar that can send rats scurrying away in terror.

Please welcome the super scooter, aka the Gilera GP800, which I’ve just had the guilty pleasure of test riding. Imported by Vespa South Africa (Vespa and Gilera both belong to the Piaggio group), it’s the most powerful scooter money can buy, with its 840cc twin-cylinder, fuel-injected engine.

Although it’s larger and more masculine-looking than your average Vespa, the Gilera still looks fairly harmless compared to “real” bikes.

It’s a scooter, after all, with its piano-style seating position compared to a regular motorcycle’s horse-style straddle.

And scooters, as we know, are made for scooting off to the mall for a latté with the girls, handbag stashed in the roomy underseat storage compartment, with a Celine Dion song on one’s lips.

But not this Gilera. When you twist the throttle you realise this is a scooter with hair on its knuckles and a lump in its trousers.

This Italian two-wheeler bolts away like a startled racehorse, in the process startling other road users with its hoarse engine roar. The Gilera covers the standing quartermile in just 11.1sec - which is quicker than many supercars, so my opening statement about this scooter outsprinting a Lamborghini wasn’t hyperbole (check out the video proof on youtube using the keywords Gilera vs Gallardo).

Of course, the supercars will at some point race away from the Gilera as they boast far superior top speeds, but by then the David v Goliath point will have been made. Not that the GP800’s top speed is shabby for a scooter either, with a claimed 187km/h (I saw just over 200 on the speedo during my test run), and it can cruise all day at 160km/h without huffing and puffing.

This is a scooter not just for commuting and Sunday breakfast runs, but something you can go touring the country with (and yes, it has space for a passenger).

The best part, for people who might be intimidated by regular motorbikes, is how easy it is to ride. With its continuously variable automatic transmission which doesn’t require you to shift any gears, the Gilera’s a study in hop-on-and-go convenience.

The brakes are powerful, with big discs front and rear, and the handling’s not bad either, while the touring ability is aided by an electrically height-adjustable windscreen.

It’s rather pricey at R130 000, given that you could buy a much faster sports or dual-purpose motorcycle for similar money. But given that a little 300cc Vespa scooter can cost up to R90 000, the Gilera suddenly doesn’t seem that expensive.

And let me summarise it this way: Cost of Gilera GP800 - R130 000; Filling the 16-litre fuel-tank - R160; Seeing the look on the Lamborghini driver’s face as you scoot away - priceless.

Call 08610-VESPA for more information.

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