The Piaggio & Vespa Scooter Factory Tour

The Piaggio & Vespa Scooter Factory Tour

© 2019, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc.

Featured In the August 2019 Issue of Roadracing World:

     “Given my cultural predisposition to rockers, not mods, it is
understandable that I was wholly ignorant of scooter genesis or technology.
Assuming, gentle reader, a similar ignorance on your part, indulge me in a
little history as it eventually gives birth to the Aprilia RSV4.

     “Piaggio follows a narrative not too dissimilar to Kawasaki.
Both were founded as national champions of heavy industry. Both built
railroad locomotives and rolling stock. Both built aircraft and aircraft
engines for the Axis powers. Both had their manufacturing plants obliterated by
Allied bombing.

     “At that point they diverge in strategy, with Kawasaki
continuing to make rolling stock and ships while Piaggio  focused more on
individualized transportation and aerospace.

     “Enter Corrandino D’Ascanio, an aeronautic engineer famous
for developing the adjustable pitch propeller and designing the first modern
helicopter for Agusta. Yes. That Agusta. It was sales of Agusta
helicopters that financed all that GP racing.

     “As mentioned in our July issue story about the Piaggio
Museum, D’Ascanio did not like motorcycles. This glaring character flaw drove
him to use his aircraft background to design a two-wheeler which could be
ridden by anyone, with easy-to-change wheels (in case of puncture), no greasy
chain, and a step-through design …”

Piaggio & Vespa Scooter Factory, by Sam Q.

It would
not be too much of an exaggeration to say that Corrandino D’Ascanio’s
easy-to-ride, easy-to-maintain scooter design put post-war Italy on two wheels
and led directly to the fantastic Aprilia Superbikes and MotoGP machines of the
current era. Sam Fleming looks at the factory where, to this day, the same
basic design cranks off the assembly lines. Read the details in the August 2019 issue of Roadracing World!

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