Power vacuum

Piaggio's new scooter may be called the Fly, but Susie Mesure finds that its acceleration brings her down to earth
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Indy Lifestyle Online

fly" is the ambitious moniker for the latest offering from the sprawling Piaggio group. Ambitious, that is, because for all its 125 cubic centimetres of engine capacity, I'm afraid that my model was more of a slug when it came to pulling away from the lights.

fly" is the ambitious moniker for the latest offering from the sprawling Piaggio group. Ambitious, that is, because for all its 125 cubic centimetres of engine capacity, I'm afraid that my model was more of a slug when it came to pulling away from the lights.

Designed to be sleeker than its Vespa siblings, the Fly is perhaps more of a man's bike. Certainly some masculine brawn would have come in handy when I was trying to manoeuvre its 112kg bulk out of my bike-shed-cum-scooter garage. Have the bods at Piaggio never tried to negotiate a typical city scooter bay on a sunny summer's day? Luckily, the gods were smiling on me because I didn't have to cope with the horror that can come with trying to find a parking space.

So what's the Fly good for? Is it a useful appliance for the sort of smart, savvy people its makers fondly imagine are going to be flying out to buy one?

Well, after a shaky start, possibly because I was late for the ballet and so wanted a bit more acceleration to ensure I made curtain-up, we managed to bond on our way home from Sadler's Wells. I was even minded to give the Fly a nickname. And so she became the Silver Sylph. (I go in for alliteration: my bottle-green ET4 is the Green Goddess.)

It was only when we got to the potholed roads near my house in south London that I could truly appreciate the comfort of my new ride. The Silver Sylph's 12-inch wheels and rear shock absorber meant that we sailed over bumps with ease. The wide leather seat was another big plus, with plenty of room for a passenger.

Again, the next morning when I was negotiating the traffic nightmare that is Tower Bridge on my way to work, those chunky wheels provided stability and stopped me from wobbling into the path of a number 78 bus. Similarly, when it started to rain, I felt as though the Sylph was looking after me. Her steel body and wide tyres meant she handled much better in the wet than my ET4. I also felt much safer on corners.

The 125cc model comes with complete with "topbox" (that's a boot to any car drivers who have got this far out of sheer curiosity). The extra space was a revelation after years of dangling bags of supermarket goodies from the hook under the seat of my usual scooter. I managed to fit ingredients for a barbecue for four in my topbox, and didn't even squash my two boxes of strawberries.

On other days, the topbox became a useful adjunct to the floor of my wardrobe, allowing me to store the sorts of unscooter-friendly gear that I might otherwise have been tempted to ride in. There was further storage under the seat and under the handlebars. And if all that isn't enough, the flat foot-rest panel means that it's easy to balance even a fairly bulky suitcase.

Like most of Piaggio's 125s, the Fly supposedly has a top speed of 60mph. But I wouldn't know because even on the emptiest stretch of road I didn't manage to top 40mph, which was probably just as well. On a dual carriageway, this relative sluggishness would have been truly terrifying.

True to Piaggio form, the instrument panel favours analogue, although there is a digital clock. The panel itself was reassuringly clear, and the petrol gauge ticks down as you drive, although in a week I didn't manage to empty the tank.

All in all, the Fly is definitely a city bike, although I'm not sure it improves much on what's out there already from Piaggio. I wouldn't like to try parking it in high summer, either.

Specifications

Model: Fly 125cc
Price: £1,999 on the road
Engine: single-cylinder, air-cooled four-stroke
Start: electric and auxiliary kick-starter
Front brake: 200mm stainless-steel disc, floating calliper with two pistons Rear brake: 140mm drum
Fuel tank: 7.2 litres Top speed: 98km/h
Max power: 10.3bhp at 8,000rpm Max torque: 7.37 lb ft at 7,000rpm

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