Walter Shillington writes about products he knows firsthand. His articles focus on healthcare, electronics, watches, and household items.
Everyone has a first love. Mine was a brightly painted Suzuki Titan. I rode this 500cc motorcycle completely across the country; from British Columbia to Nova Scotia. Although the 5000-mile journey wore out my aging bike, this adventure proved to be the highlight of my teenage years. I replaced it with a capable little Honda 440e, and then a Yamaha-manufactured motor scooter.
I liked the scooter. It was by no means a babe magnet, but the bike did attract attention. Scooter riders are considered approachable, and even people who would never consider purchasing a motorcycle can envision themselves zooming around on one of these contraptions.
Years later, I replaced the Yamaha with a dirt bike and spent a couple of summers exploring old logging roads with a buddy. Eventually, however, his wife talked him into trading his bike for a van. I followed suit, selling my DT200, and buying a used 50cc Oliver City from CPI.
The Oliver City was lightweight, and its simplistic design ensured that even someone like me—mechanically inept—could keep up with the repairs and maintenance. This scooter maneuvered briskly in town and was quick enough—providing the rider didn’t mind pulling to the side of the road to allow faster traffic to pass—to take me to the neighbouring town.
When I retired and sold my elderly truck, the situation changed. I needed to travel to the city from time to time, and that was asking far too much of a 50cc engine. I decided to upgrade to a more powerful scooter, eventually choosing the Piaggio Liberty 150.
The bike was delivered on a rainy spring morning. After it was hauled from its trailer, I shoved in the key and jabbed at the start button. Unlike the Oliver City with its cranky carburetor, the Liberty started immediately. Wearing a broad smile, I drove my new scooter into the garage.
There were, however, teething problems. Some vital paperwork had been forgotten, and I noticed that yellow-colored slashes marred many of the nuts and bolts used to hold the engine together. These markings were probably associated with quality control checks but, for sure, they should have been removed during the bike’s assembly and prep. I later discovered that both tires were inflated to half their recommended pressure.
It appears that Piaggio is recycling vehicle numbers. When I registered the bike, the vehicle permit referred to it as a Vespa Sprint. Luckily for me, no one takes scooters seriously. The official simply laughed and changed the paperwork to reflect what I had purchased.
The Liberty 150 weighs in at 255 pounds. This bike’s wheelbase measures 53.9 inches and its seat rises 31 inches from the ground. Generally, scooters are equipped with small wheels. Piaggio took a different route, providing the Liberty with a 14-inch rear and a 16-inch front wheel.
This Piaggio is an extremely handsome bike. My only design-related gripe concerns the difficulty of attaching a trunk top to the rear rack.
The battery and fuel filler pipe are hidden from sight beneath the seat. Under-seat storage is reasonably roomy, although a full-face helmet might not quite fit. A broad but extremely cramped glove compartment provides enough space to hold my spare pack of cigarettes and a rolled-up map.
The Liberty 150 is powered by a one-cylinder, four-stroke, gasoline engine. This all-new, fuel-injected i-Get motor has a displacement of 155cc and cranks out 12.8 horsepower. Top speed is rated at 61 miles per hour.
- Weight: 116 kilograms (255 pounds)
- Seat height: 78.7 centimeters (31 inches)
- Wheelbase: 136.9 centimeters (53.9 inches)
- Width: 69 centimeters (27.2 inches)
- Engine type: One cylinder, 4-stroke, three valves
- Maximum power at shaft: 12.8 HP (9.6 kW) @ 7,750 rpm
- Maximum torque: 9.4 HP (13 Nm) @ 6,500 rpm
- Maximum speed: 98 kph (61 mph)
- Gas mileage: 40.3 KM/L (94.8 MPG)
- Cooling: Air
- Starter: Electric only
- Ignition: Electronic
- Fuel requirements: Premium gasoline
- Fuel tank capacity: 6 liters (1.6 gallons) with 1.5 liters (0.39 gallon) reserve
- Transmission: Continuously Variable (CVT)
- Clutch: Automatic centrifugal dry clutch
- Front tire: 90/80 R16 51J
- Rear tire: 100/80 R14 54J
- Front brake: Hydraulic disc (ABS support)
- Rear brake: Drum
Piaggio was trademarked by Piaggio & CS.P.A. This Italian company manufactures a range of two-wheeled bikes and compact commercial vehicles. These include offerings from Piaggio, Vespa, Gilera, Aprilia, Moto Guzzi, Derbi, and Scarabeo. It was founded by Rinaldo Piaggio in 1884, initially producing locomotives and railway carriages. Piaggio is based in Pontedera, Italy.
Words like sleek and elegant come to mind when examining this scooter. Although I chose a bike with white-colored body panels, the Liberty is also available in blue. Those willing to spend a little extra for the 150S version can purchase a Liberty in red or silver.
I particularly like the chrome accents; a touch of flair never hurts. European riders will also appreciate the turn signals which are discretely tucked into the fairing. Unfortunately, those of us living in North America live by different rules. Our turn signals—for safety reasons—are attached to stalks that stick out from the sides and hover below the bike’s handgrips.
While my last scooter appears shabby in comparison, the Oliver City did offer one styling advantage. It was equipped with a stainless muffler that, after twelve years of use, still works effectively and looks great.
Handling and Operation
The Liberty was provided with a pair of high-tech keys which are programmed to work only with one specific bike. While this implements an important security feature, I can’t help thinking of the inconvenience and cost if the keys were to be lost or their programming corrupted.
I much prefer fuel injection over the use of a carburetor. After spending the entire winter in my garage, I charged the Liberty’s battery, turned the key, and pressed the start button. The motor chugged once, and then eagerly began to purr — this more than makes up for the lack of a kick-start mechanism.
Compared to my previous scooter, the Liberty 150 is a speed demon. Acceleration is noticeably more responsive in town, and this bike easily handles secondary roads. The main highway which passes through town has a 110 kph (68 mph) limit. Traffic tends to go even faster, so I avoid traveling on this road.
The Liberty 150 features ABS assisted hydraulic disc front brakes. An antilock brake system helps to prevent lockups and skidding, even in slippery conditions.
Those that are captivated by but cannot afford to purchase a Vespa, will be interested to know that the drive train and engine of the Liberty 150 is also fitted to the Vespa Primavera. This engine was designed to produce plenty of power while somehow managing to meet Euro 4 emission controls and provide excellent fuel economy.
The Piaggio Liberty’s engine is air-cooled. I prefer this system to the liquid-cooled variety, due to its lighter weight, cost factor, and simplicity. Potential purchasers, however, who live in the deep south and often travel in stop and go traffic, might want to take a close look at Yamaha’s Smax and the Honda PCX150.
The Piaggio is a modern and attractively designed scooter which maneuvers well on busy streets and can handle secondary roads with ease. It is comfortable, equipped with decent shocks and includes safety-related features such as ABS front brakes. I particularly appreciate the electronic ignition. The Piaggio Liberty 150 is strongly recommended.
Questions & Answers
Question: What is the price range to purchase the Piaggp Liberty 150?
Answer: It depends where you live. In the United States, they sell for about three thousand dollars.
Question: What does the ABS flashing light on the dash panel mean?
Answer: The ABS light should disappear as the bike begins to move and then illuminate again when the bike slows down to stop. If it remains on while the bike is moving at a pace greater than a couple of miles an hour, you could be faced with one of the following problems: This can mean that the ABS brakes need fluid or that it is malfunctioning. If the ABS light remains illuminated, this indicates a major problem that has disabled the ABS brakes. A major problem could be a faulty wiring harness or wheel speed sensor.
© 2019 Walter Shillington