Music to the ears

The Piaggio Medley 150 ABS will not set any speed record with its 155cc single-cylinder engine, but its prowess is in its ability to conserve fuel. The automatic scooter can achieve around 45km on a litre of petrol.
The Piaggio Medley 150 ABS will not set any speed record with its 155cc single-cylinder engine, but its prowess is in its ability to conserve fuel. The automatic scooter can achieve around 45km on a litre of petrol.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Piaggio's Medley 150 ABS offers plenty of practicality, style and agility

Sophia Loren never walks, but saunters elegantly. While not exactly a good comparison to the Italian star - who still holds her own on stage at 84 - an old Piaggio can turn heads as well.

Sure, the single-cylinder scooter may lack the punch of some motorcycles with the same engine capacity. And it may not be the first off the mark at a traffic stop.

But like Loren, a Piaggio scooter will move off with style - while announcing its presence with its signature "ting-tang-tang-ting" rattle.

The Italian-designed 2019 Piaggio Medley 150 ABS promises a lot more. Fuel economy, for one thing. It covers 45km on a litre of petrol - something sports bike owners can only dream of.

Like most modern bikes, the 155cc Medley is equipped with anti-lock brakes and oozes style and, yes, practicality.

Its styling emphasises curves with a large odd-shaped headlamp and wing-like passenger footrests which fold away neatly into its bodywork.

Above its brake lights, a rack with generous grab rails gives the pillion passenger the option of holding onto something other than the rider.

Riders taller than 1.8m may find the Medley's cockpit a little tight though.

  • SPECS / PIAGGIO MEDLEY 150 ABS

  • Price: $5,809 without COE, insurance

    Engine: 155cc liquid-cooled 4-valve single-cylinder

    Transmission: Continuously variable automatic, belt drive

    Power: 14.8bhp at 7,750rpm

    Torque: 14.4Nm at 6,400rpm

    0-100kmh: Over 14 seconds (tested)

    Top speed: 110kmh (tested)

    Fuel consumption: 2.2 litres/100km

    Agent: Mah

Still, it is an elegant machine. Its simple dashboard - with both analogue and digital gauges for speed, distance covered, temperature and fuel - is outlined in chrome. A "mode" button on the right handlebar allows you to adjust the Medley's clock and odometer.

There is a fixed plastic hook below the handlebar to secure a small grocery bag (a bottle of vino, perhaps) and the glove compartment has enough space for a pair of sunglasses and a wallet.

There is even a USB socket to charge the mobile phone.

The Euro 4-compliant Medley boasts a 36.2-litre underseat storage, which can accommodate two full-face helmets - perfect for someone like me who does not like lugging helmets after a ride.

The Medley's 16-inch-wide front and 14-inch-wide rear alloy wheels will do a better job than neo-classic scooters with smaller wheels.

Equipped with telescopic forks and dual rear shocks, the fuel-injected Medley will take most bumps without transmitting the dreaded handlebar shake.

The Piaggio will not break any land speed records, given that its small engine belts out only 14.8bhp and 14.4Nm of torque. But acceleration is smooth, with the speedometer needle steadily climbing to a maximum of about 110kmh.

The Medley excels not on open roads but in city streets, where its agility allows it to exploit the many gaps in traffic with aplomb.

Its grace is attributable to its low 132kg kerb weight and low centre of gravity, with its 7-litre fuel tank located to the rear of the floorboards and not under the seat.

A unique feature of the Medley is its stop-start system, which is more common in cars. Like the Honda PCX scooter, the Medley's engine will automatically turn off after three to seven seconds of inactivity or when you come to a traffic stop.

When you twist the throttle again, the engine purrs to life with minimal lag. This could save you some petrol in the long run.

While the Medley's engine performance and handling traits are expected for a scooter in its class, I found it strange that the rear brake on the test scooter felt more powerful than the front brake during emergency braking - needed on occasions such as when a Sophia Loren lookalike saunters by.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 25, 2019, with the headline 'Music to the ears'. Print Edition | Subscribe