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A historic Vespa for a new Cambodia

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Phnom Post’s reporter Chhim Sreyneang gets to grips with one of the new Vespas at the showroom on Monivong Boulevard. Photograph: Vireak Mai/Phnom Penh Post

Vespa first rolled onto Cambodian roads in a big way during the reign of King Norodom Sihanouk in the ’50s. Now they’re back in town and bigger, better and more powerful than ever.

For its comeback, Piaggio appointed local company Narita Group to be its authorised distributor and  last month they opened a showroom on Monivong Boulevard.

The Phnom Penh Post went to have a look at the new bikes: a range which encompasses a variety of models including the Vespa LX 125cc and 150cc and the Vespa S 50cc.

The models, new to Phnom Penh, combine the classic Italian design features with upgraded engines and brakes for stable and smooth riding, according to Frederic Bachelt, marketing and sales manager of Narita.

“Motorbike riders in Cambodia are very familiar with Vespa. We’ve already made the bikes available in other Asian nations and now we’ve come to Cambodia too find a market here,” he said.

“It is classic style and simple elegance that we focus on. We are targeting some Cambodians and foreigners who really love the bikes. We opened the shop to serve the new generation of young people here,” he added.

Combining classic style with practicality and modern technology, the new models maintain the classic Vespa outline with additional features.

The scooters, which are priced between $2000 and $3000, come with the famous round headlamp and rear-view mirrors in chrome-plated steel.

The LX models are avaliable with either 125cc or 150cc engines, an 11-inch front wheel and a powerful braking system. An all-steel body distinguishes them from rival models.

One option, the Vespa S, features retro-styling with a newly engineered four-stroke, four-valve SOHC engine – the most powerful 50cc four-stroke Vespa on the market today.

Narita allow customers to set up a monthly payment system. Last month, Commerce Minister Cham Prasid expressed hope that Vespa would set up a plant in the country.

“The return of Vespa emphasises that Cambodia is very receptive to investment and enjoys political stability,” Prasidh said.

“We hope Vespa will consider establishing a plant here in the future.”

Narita Vespa Company is located at #160 Monivong Boulevard.

For more information, visit Narita's website.

To contact the reporter on this story: Chhim Sreyneang at sreyneang.chhim@phnompenhpost.com

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