Why a decent 125 moped can offer a functional and economical alternative proposition to four wheels or 'big' motorbikes
BACK in the summer of 1988, while the rest of Ireland was in Germany cheering on the Boys in Green at the European finals, I was on my own European odyssey.
I was sent to France to spend a month with an old friend of my granny’s, who’d met and married a Frenchwoman and set up house for their brood of three children in the Var region, in the Alpes-Maritimes, inland from Cannes and Nice.
The idea was to improve my French, which I’d barely passed in the old Inter Cert. But to be honest, I was more interested in borrowing their eldest son’s moped, a 50cc Honda Camino, and exploring the mountains.
My language skills didn’t improve much that summer. I did, however, get my first taste of the freedom and exhilaration of riding a motorbike – well OK, a moped, but you get my gist.
This week, some 30 years later, I’ve been scooting around on a Piaggio Liberty S 125 ABS. It’s a world away from the Camino, which looked like the neglected child of an Eighties’ motorcycle and a bicycle, was painfully slow and had drum brakes.
My test bike, as the name would suggest, has a disc brake at the front (drum at the rear) and comes with ABS.
It also boasts 16” and 14” wheels at the front and back respectively, which means it handles much more like a bigger bike than some of the small-wheeled competition in the moped class.
The Liberty 125 is powered by a 124cc four-stroke, fuel-injected three-valve ‘i-get’ engine. It won’t break any land speed records, but because the Liberty is so light and by using the ‘stop-go’ method of riding, you’re away from the lights well before all but the most determined car driver.
Daytime-running LED lights, a simple but informative LCD dash, decent provision for pillions and good mirrors all add to the functionality of the Liberty.
You’ll fit a bag of shopping under the lockable seat. Or you could use it for a full-face helmet, and instead use a handy hook in front of your knees to handle your shopping bag, and also avail of a front compartment just below it for smaller items.
Both luggage compartments unlock with the press of a button on the left-hand bar once the ignition is on, so there’s no need to bother with keys to lock/unlock access to your valuables.
As an alternative to the hassle of a big bike, but still with the majority of advantages over a car in terms of cost and usability, a decent scooter takes some beating. And Piaggio’s Liberty 125, at €3,295, is certainly one to consider.
Contact Megabikes in Dublin for more information – call 01 4784200 or visit www.megabikes.ie
I’M hurtling up the road at breakneck speed, my eyes feel like they’ve been left behind in the middle of the last corner, my ears are filled with the delicious groan of what sounds like a MotoGP machine, the next corner’s fast approaching and I’m smiling from ear to ear.