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Vespa GTS on the highway

Can You Ride a Vespa on the Highway? A Comprehensive Guide

Are you wondering if it’s possible to ride a Vespa on the highway? Curious about the performance of a small Vespa GTS 250 or Vespa GTS 300 scooter in the fast lanes, maybe even with a passenger on the back? In this guide, I’ll not only answer these questions but also provide you with enough insights to help you understand exactly what you can and can’t expect from your Vespa on the highway.

The short answer is yes, you can ride a Vespa on the highway. Although Vespas are typically associated with city commutes and leisurely rides, a Vespa Vespa GTS 250 or GTS 300can handle highway travel relatively well. This guide will take you through the experience, from the initial ride to handling wind on the highway and even carrying a passenger.

This guide will be divided into six parts:

watch this video

Watch this video!

Vespa’s heritage, and evolution

Vespas, known for their iconic design and ease of use, have a dedicated following. But all that history of small 50cc, 80cc, 100cc and 125cc scooters can actually draw away from Vespa’s reputation as a highway capable vehicle today. For decades, these scooters were just too small to handle North American highway travel. That wasn’t their intended purpose.

Today things are different. Larger Vespas typically range from 250 to 300cc and are designed for straightforward twist-and-go riding. Today’s modern Vespa has no gears and no shifting. You just twist the throttle and you’re off. The brakes are also simple, with your front brake lever being operated with your right hand, and your back brake lever being operated by your left hand.

These qualities make it an excellent choice for urban settings and short commutes. It makes the Vespa a very new-rider-friendly vehicle, that almost anyone can learn to ride. But can the Vespa really hold its own on the highway? Let’s find out.

Taking a Vespa on the highway

On the ride to the highway, the roads range from about 30 mph (50 km/hr) up to about 50 mph (80 km/hr) and my Vespa GTS feels confident, relaxed, and powerful at all speeds. It has plenty of get-up-and-go torque to not only keep up with, but keep me away from, the city’s traffic. The Vespa’s compact size also allows me to easily navigate through traffic, which can save me a little frustration and a lot of time.

Rolling up the highway’s on ramp the Vespa accelerates just as quickly as any car in the pack I’m in. When space opens up I’m able to change lanes and get ahead of the pack. It isn’t that I necessarily want to travel faster than everyone else. My goal is to travel quickly enough to give myself space from the herd of vehicles I’m currently trapped in, for my own safety. The Vespa picks up the pace faster than the other cars can as we work our way up to highway speeds, and I have a nice little bit of space between the pack of vehicles ahead, and those behind me.

Vespa GTS highway ride

The speed limit here is 62 mph (100 km/hr), but everyone is doing at least 68 mph (110 km/hr) or more. At these speeds my Vespa is keeping up just fine with traffic and feels quite stable. On flat ground, I can still twist the throttle wide open and accelerate to about 75 mph (120 km/hr) and a bit beyond, should I need to pass accelerate.

It has to be said that once we’re up around 65 mph (104 km/hr) and beyond, we are starting to reach the end of the Vespa’s power. With that there are a few things to keep in mind. First, passing, especially at speeds beyond 65 mph will be much slower than what you’re probably used to on other vehicles. Passing is still totally do-able. Like I said, you can fairly quickly accelerate to 75 mph (120 km/hr), but after that, acceleration becomes really slow. Likewise, due to this lack of power, things like riding uphill, or even with a passenger on the back can slow you down more than they would on vehicles with bigger engines.

What’s the top speed of a Vespa GTS?

For the sake of doing a little testing for you I decide to really push the Vespa’s capabilities and see what she could do.

The top speed of a Vespa GTS seems to be about 82 mph (132 km/hr). With some mods you could probably exceed that top speed. Personally, I found the Vespa felt less stable after about 70 mph, and acceleration was so slow beyond that, just a bit over 70 mph is my sweet spot on this bike.

At around 72 mph I can still accelerate a bit at a moderate rate if I need to, but the bike still feels stable. The truth is that with small 12″ wheels and a short wheelbase, the Vespa GTS really wasn’t designed with high speeds and top speed stability in mind.

vespa gts top speed

What are some other things to consider?

When it comes to considering whether or not you want to ride your Vespa on the highway, you should also keep in mind the following:

1) Maintenance: Your Vespa’s maintenance is paramount so a safe highway ride. Unlike on a conventional motorcycle, where you can see your drive chain, or drive belt, on a Vespa, the belt is hidden. Many Vespa riders neglect their belts well beyond their recommended service intervals, and the belts snap, leaving them literally powerless. Vespa recommends replacing your belt every 6,000 miles (10,000 km). If you aren’t riding that much, you may also want to replace your belt every four or five years to be on the safe side.

Other maintenance issues which could severely impact your Vespa highway riding experience include your tire inflation. Underinflated tires can lead to a very wobbly feeling, which can be scary at city speeds, and extremely dangerous at high speeds. Likewise, overinflated tires can lead to decreased stability, reduced traction, and a harsher ride.

2) Real vs indicated speeds: Your Vespa’s speedometer is typically about 10% optimistic. You may find yourself doing 70 mph, on a 70 mph highway, and wonder why everyone is going so fast. In reality, your Vespa is probably traveling at about 63 mph, or less than the speed limit. Your speedometer lies to try to slow you down and keep you safe, so be mindful of that.

In this post the speeds I mention are all ‘real’ speeds, not indicated speeds.

3) Wind blasts: Wind blasts are an annoying part of high speed two wheel riding. Wind blasts can come from everyday naturally occurring weather, or from man made issues like a big truck blowing past you in the oncoming lane. One piece of good news is that, due to the step-through nature of the frame, the Vespa seems much less susceptible to wind blasts than many motorcycles.

4) Headwinds, tailwinds, inclines, and downhills: Because of your Vespa’s small engine displacement, it will be much more susceptible to headwinds, tailwinds, inclines, and downhills.

Tailwinds and downhills will help with acceleration. Headwinds and riding uphill will slow you right down and may require riding at full throttle to keep up, depending on how severe they are.

Can you ride a Vespa with a passenger on the highway?

You can absolutely ride a Vespa with passenger, however, this will slow you down even further. Acceleration after 65 mph is already pretty slow compared to other vehicles, with a passenger/extra weight on the Vespa, your acceleration will slow down as well.

You also have other considerations to make. For example, adding weight to your Vespa could also impact the way it handles, and could take longer for the brakes to come to a stop. In general when traveling with a passenger on any two wheeled vehicle, especially small ones like the Vespa, expect everything to take a little longer, and give yourself more time and space.

I’ve been asked before whether having a passenger on your Vespa would negatively impact the vehicle’s top speed. The answer is no. Having a passenger on your Vespa won’t impact your Vespa’s top speed, because the top speed is determined by the motor, and it’s gearing. By adding a passenger you haven’t modified your engine, or the gearing, so your top speed will not be negative impacted. However, you have added more weight for the motor to have to move, and more weight for your brakes to bring to a stop. While your top speed may not be negatively impacted, your acceleration and your braking will.

Adrian and his Vespa

The video started on this frame. It made me laugh because it looks like I’m trying to sell something. Decided to upload it in hopes it makes you chuckle too.

So should you ride your Vespa GTS on the highway?

If you have a Vespa GTS 250 or a Vespa GTS 300 you can absolutely ride it on most highways throughout much of the world, but not everywhere! Looking back on riding my BMW G650GS across Italy, I remember a highway in Emilia Romagna with a speed limit of about 80 mph (130 km/hr). Most of the cars were traveling at around 85 mph to 95 mph (135 km/hr to 155 km/hr). It would have been too dangerous for the Vespa to be on that crazy highway. However, here in Canada, on Highway 401, North America’s busiest highway, the Vespa did just fine!

Is the Vespa my first choice for a highway vehicle? No. I have several motorcycles in the garage with larger wheels, longer wheelbases, and better brakes for more stability and stopping power, and with bigger engines for more acceleration and top speed.

However, if I were already out on the Vespa and needed to run an errand down the highway, I wouldn’t hesitate to jump on the Vespa and take it on the highway. Likewise, commuting to my old workplace involved me jumping on the highway for just two exits to get to work. Because of the short amount of time spent on the highway, the Vespa would absolutely be just fine.

So there you have it. The Vespa GTS 250 or 300 can do quite well on shorter highway trips, or longer ones if you don’t mind sticking to the slow lane. In a pinch you can even put a passenger on the backseat and ride down the highway together happily. Just be sure to give yourself a little more time and space.

About Adrian from YouMotorcycle

I started riding motorcycles in 2007, founded YouMotorcycle in 2009, and was working in the motorcycle industry by 2011. I've worked for some of the biggest companies in motorcycling, before going full-time self-employed in the motorcycle business in 2019. I love sharing his knowledge and passion of motorcycling with other riders to help you as best I can.


  1. I took my Vespa 300GTS for a spin on the I-69 action. Admittedly, I was a bit iffy at first, sticking to the right lane. But guess what? This baby’s got all the power you need to weave in and out of traffic. Cruised like a champ at 70-75 mph with my little windscreen. Tops out at 85 mph, not that I hit it often. Surprisingly, you don’t look out of place at all on those roads. My Vespa keeps holding its own, who would’ve thought? 🛵💨

  2. One hundred and twenty Vespa, something beautiful:)

  3. Rolling on my Vespa 300 GTS along secondary highways at 100 km/hr is honestly smooth sailing. No wobbles or instability in my books. Tried it on a busier freeway once, but I wouldn’t pick it for a long stretch. Used to ride a Ninja 650 and that thing was a freeway beast, tons of throttle left. Passing was lightning fast. Now I’m more about a relaxed vibe and ease of my Vespa. Perfect for a laid-back cruise, a gem in the city, quick off the line and nimble as they come. No regrets!

  4. Ugh, dude, that’s the worst vibe. You’re on the highway, getting into the groove, thinking, “Alright, time to zip by this dude,” and bam! You’re already at full throttle. It’s like grabbing your coffee mug, expecting a big gulp, and realizingthere’s nothing left. Buzzkill! haha

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