Known for its timeless design and unmistakable silhouette, the Vespa has been a brand that awakens longings for decades. A longing for dolce vita, the Germans’ favorite vacation destination: Italy. But it is not only the visible frame that is legendary. The braking system is another indispensable and constantly evolving element that contributes significantly to safety and also stands for continuity.
Major further development over the decades
Like almost all parts, the brake system of a Vespa once again stands for further development and constantly increasing safety. While you can now find a hydraulic disc brake at the front, a drum brake is still usually used on the rear wheel. While disc brakes enable precise control and efficient braking, drum brakes are often criticized, not without justification, for offering too little braking power. It is therefore advisable to adapt the braking system accordingly for all performance-enhancing measures. Nevertheless, historic Vespas can be ridden safely on the road despite the use of drum brakes due to their lower speeds.
On modern Vespas, the front hydraulic disk brake consists of a brake disk, a brake caliper and the brake pads. The brake disk, usually made of high-strength steel, ensures optimum heat dissipation and durability. The brake caliper contains brake pistons that are actuated by hydraulic pressure and press the brake pads against the brake disk. This enables efficient deceleration and a precisely controllable braking feel.
The rear drum brake, on the other hand, is a system that has been tried and tested over decades and is characterized by its robustness and ease of maintenance. A brake mechanism inside the drum generates friction when the brake shoes are pressed against the drum. This system provides solid braking performance and is particularly effective in urban environments where frequent braking is required.
Softer linings have a slightly shorter service life than hard linings. However, drum brake linings on classic Vespa scooters are usually used for so long that in most cases they only need to be replaced due to signs of ageing and only rarely due to wear.
To counteract these signs of ageing, the Vespa experts at SIP Scootershop in Landsberg am Lech have developed the SIP Premium and Performance brake pads. This is accompanied by a real improvement in riding safety and driving dynamics, which in turn leads to increased safety. This setup is hardly inferior to modern disc brakes. In addition, SIP Scootershop now even offers conversion kits for disc brakes, some of which can be fitted to old Vespas without major modifications and replace the drum brakes. On PK models, for example, only minimal reworking of the axle mount is required to ensure that the shock absorber can be fitted securely.
Brake fluid and brake maintenance
In the case of disc brakes, the correct choice of brake fluid is crucial for the proper functioning of the brake system. Hydraulic brakes require regular checks and replacement of the brake fluid in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. As the brake fluid is hygroscopic, i.e. it absorbs water over time, regular replacement is all the more important. It is also essential to bleed the brake line. There should be no air bubbles in the brake line in order to be able to make full use of the function.
The drum brake, on the other hand, is somewhat easier to maintain. Here, it is only important to check the brake shoes and springs regularly to ensure optimum performance.
Overall, the developers of the new Vespa have made both systems their own and make the best possible use of their advantages. As a rule, disc brakes are used for the front brake, while drum brakes are still sometimes used at the rear. The combination of hydraulic disc brakes at the front and drum brakes at the rear not only offers efficient deceleration, but also reliable control. It is therefore no coincidence that Italy is not only a place of longing as a vacation destination, but often also a Vespa as a piece of dolce vita at home.