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There’s more to the Bristol Vantaggio than meets the eye

It’s a modern scooter in retro-styled clothing

Bristol’s first small-displacement scooter looks very familiar. PHOTO BY RED SANTIAGO

Let me start this review by stating the obvious. The Bristol Vantaggio does look like a scooter from that very popular Italian brand. And while a lot may easily dismiss this as a knockoff, there’s more to the Vantaggio than meets the eye. And riding one for a couple of days made me realize that.

First off, the Vantaggio looks a lot bigger in the metal than the photos you see of it. I initially thought that this would be the same size as my Sprint 150. But it is actually wider than it seems. There are notable differences from the model that obviously inspired this bike.

It’s clear where this retro-scooter’s design is based on. PHOTOS BY RED SANTIAGO

First are the all-LED lamps used on it. The headlamp has a bar in the middle, as if separating the high and low beam elements. This round unit’s sides are lined up with the park lights, further accentuating the bike’s design. The front turn signals that have multi-element LEDs are blacked out, giving a sporty vibe.

The leg shield is also designed differently. Instead of a one-piece box, it has two deep and cavernous pockets that can hold a decent-sized water bottle and other belongings. The taillamp also has a hexagonal design. Honestly, though, I think Bristol should have ditched the silver trim around it as the lights would look better without it.

The taillight is better off without this silver plastic trim. PHOTOS BY RED SANTIAGO

The instrumentation looks familiar, yet is completely different. A huge tachometer sits stop a multi-information liquid-crystal display. Most of the switches are where they should be. We’re just not used to the horn button placed above the turn signals.

I also wish that the cover for the handlebar weren’t so thick, because it makes fiddling with the controls a little difficult. This is a small ergonomics issue, though.

Operating the switches can be quite a stretch, and takes some getting used to. PHOTO BY RED SANTIAGO

The floorboard is mostly flat, which is ideal for those who use a scooter to carry groceries. The retractable cargo hook is useful for keeping things in place while riding. Both the front and the rear come with 12-inch rims wrapped in grippy CST 120/70 tires.

Under that classic body is a modern motorcycle. The 150cc engine does close to 14hp and 14Nm, which is more powerful than most of the competitors. The smooth CVT is a double-edged sword. Its smoothness ensures a linear power delivery, but it also kind of mutes the same, making you think that it’s less powerful than this actually is.

The pockets and the foldable hook on the leg shield are very practical. PHOTOS BY RED SANTIAGO

But if anything, the engine is liquid-cooled so you can ride without worries even in the worst of summer. And the Vantaggio is quite fuel-efficient, too. The manufacturer claims that you can do around 43km/L. I did much less in the few days I had the bike. To be fair, I made short sprints so that could have messed up my fuel consumption.

Speaking of sprints, the Vantaggio’s top speed is rated at 105km/h, but my fastest was at just around 87km/h. But I’m around 200lb, so that could be a factor, too.

Thankfully, the scooter has disc brakes with dual-channel ABS at both the front and the back. So stopping power is never an issue.

This classic-looking scooter packs a lot of tech. PHOTO BY RED SANTIAGO

The Vantaggio also has a host of nice modern features. For one, the keyless ignition system allows you to keep the key fob in your pocket. Just push and twist, and you can open the underseat compartment or turn the ignition on. However, in one instance, our motorcycle editor had the knob stuck in its recessed position during our shoot with the scooter. But it kind of fixed itself when left alone.

The engine start-stop feature can also help you save fuel during traffic stops. The integrated starter generator worked fine most of the time. But knowing our traffic situation in the metro, it eventually got confused about whether it should keep the engine on or off. But I can’t fault the system as the hellish traffic could also get us all confused, right?

The engine-and-CVT combo, coupled with the engine start/stop system, ensures great fuel efficiency. PHOTOS BY RED SANTIAGO

The telescopic fork up front and the twin-shock absorbers at the back are tuned for handling, so the bike feels a little too stiff when riding on our pothole-riddled roads. Thankfully, the wide saddle is plush and quite comfortable.

The quite intriguing thing here is the pricing. At P168,000 (with a P20,000 discount while supplies last), it isn’t at all affordable. For the same money, you could get a dependable Japanese scooter. But if you think about it, this is basically a GTS 150 with some additional modern features for the price of an S125.

The Vantaggio isn’t perfect, but it isn’t bad either. PHOTOS BY RED SANTIAGO

I am not exactly sure whether this scooter is a good enough alternative for an Italian retro scooter. The Bristol Vantaggio isn’t perfect, but I believe it is a great scooter for those who want retro looks sans the reliability issues in an inexpensive package.

Red Santiago

A jack of all trades, Red is passionate about cars, motorcycles and audio. He sometimes drives for a ride-hailing app company—just because he really loves driving.