About the Vespa Turbo

Updated June 05, 2017

Vespa scooters are popular, especially in Europe, for short-distance transportation. They typically do not connote speed or high power, but rather style and practicality. A turbocharger, meanwhile, is an engine modification that connects a gas compressor to the exhaust pipe of the engine. This device forces highly concentrated air back into the engine's intake, greatly increasing the combustion power by increasing the concentration of oxygen in the engine. Most turbochargers are designed for larger engines, but it is possible to fit a turbocharger on a Vespa.

Vespa Engine Specs

Vespa sells a wide variety of models, but most have a relatively small engine with a limited max speed. No turbo model is available from the company. A midline model, the Vespa LX 150 i.e., has a maximum speed of 59mph and a 150 cubic-centimetre engine. Its tank carries 2.3 gallons of gasoline.

Turbocharging the Vespa

Although Vespa does not sell a turbo bike, such a modification is possible, and a successful attempt was popularised on the Internet via a video uploaded to NBC's Your Garage website. According to the producer of that video, he used a p200 Vespa, a classic model with a two-stroke engine typical to the brand. Its engine size is about 200 cubic centimetres. The engine had a 35mm carburettor. After turbo modification, the new horsepower of the scooter was 45.2 and its torque amounted to 28.91 pound-feet.

Benefits of Turbocharging

An internal combustion engine works by igniting the gas in the chambers of an engine and converting the power of the resultant explosion to kinetic motion of the engine cylinders. The higher the concentration of air in those chambers, the more powerful the explosions and the faster the motion of the engine. A naturally aspirated engine uses air at a pressure of 1 atmosphere. The turbocharged Vespa on Your Garage effected a pressure of 6 atmospheres.

Considerations when Turbocharging

Turbochargers can be damaged by dirty or ineffective oil, and manufacturers often recommend that drivers change the oil more frequently for turbocharged vehicles. Synthetic oils are also advised.

Turbocharged vehicles are subject to what is known as turbo lag. This is a momentary lag, when the engine is idling, between the engagement of the throttle and the acceleration of the vehicle. It occurs because the turbo mechanism needs a bit of time to overcome inertia and power the engine.

The turbocharger also does not engage below a certain level of revolutions per minute. This is because, logically, an engine must be producing a certain amount of exhaust before the exhaust-powered turbocharger can begin to do its work.

Acquiring a Turbocharger

A turbocharger recommended for go-karts, which have small engines, is the Lombardini TD025M-03C turbocharger. Lombardini turbochargers are available online. Anyone installing a turbocharger should have a moderate amount of mechanical expertise.

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About the Author

J.D. Richards has worked as a writer and journalist since 2005. He has written for various publications, including the alt-weekly "Creative Loafing" in Florida as well as Manhattan's "New York Press" and "Blackbook Magazine." He graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Science in journalism.