What It’s Like to Have a Vespa Instead of a Car

carrie rollwagen driving a vespa in front of birmingham mural

I have a weird history with cars. I didn’t get my license until I was 21, and then I had a Volkswagen Beetle that was broken down much more often then it ran. My next car was totalled by someone who wasn’t insured, and the payout wasn’t enough to get a new car — but it was enough to get a brand new Vespa.

I didn’t get a new Vespa then — I was young, and my parents thought Vespas were too dangerous, so I gave in and got a car. But I got obsessed with the idea. It’s not hard to research how to buy a scooter or to find cute accessories for it, but I found it harder to figure out if a scooter can be a good primary vehicle. The question I was trying to answer was whether or not I was crazy to get a Vespa instead of a car, and what driving it everyday — to drive thrus and grocery stores and in the rain — is really like.

Fifteen years later, I’ve owned three scooters (two Vespas and a Yamaha Vino), and each of them has been my primary vehicle for at least a few years. My grandmother gave us my grandpa’s old car for our wedding, so I own both a scooter and a car now. But after writing a blog about using a Vespa as your wedding getaway vehicle earlier this week, I’m feeling extra sentimental about my scooter, so I figured this was finally the time to gather all my Vespa knowledge into a very, very, very long blog.

I’ve included all the questions I had about getting a scooter, the questions I get all the time (“What do you do when it rains?” and “How many miles per gallon do you get?” are by far the most frequent), and a few extra things I wouldn’t have known to ask, but I think are important or interesting about life on a scooter. 

Bad Weather

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Oh, and a disclaimer: I’m absolutely not a mechanic. I know about as much about how my Vespa actually runs as the average person knows about their car, which is to say, very little. This is just my experience; I’m not pretending to be an expert. If you have other questions, feel free to comment them here or leave them on a social media post (or DM me).

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