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Motorcycling has always been a kind of cult, a religion for initiates. But the 1940s saw the arrival of the first sect of the "Vespiti". Yet aside from its two wheels, the Vespa has very little in common with a classic motorcycle.

Following the Second World War that wreaked havoc on the Italian economy, Enrico Piaggio decided to convert his business - which had spent the war building aeroplane engines - into a motorcycle manufacturer.

And, to stand out from his competitors, Piaggio decided to make a scooter that was accessible, comfortable and aimed at a more feminine market.

 

The arrival of the legendary model: the Vespa

To breathe new life and energy into the Vespa's forefather, the Paperino, the company's founder reached out to the designer and inventor of the helicopter, Corradina d'Acsanio, to redesign the model. He gambled on moving away from the curves of a classic motorcycle. In 1946, the Paperino became the Vespa.

Enrico Piaggio compared the design to a wasp, with its tapered back end and voluptuous thighs. A legend was born and the Vespa would go on to become one of the world's best-selling two-wheeled vehicles.

 

Vespa conquers the world

In the 1960s, Europe adopted the Vespa en masse. Much more fun than a motorcycle and with safety, comfort and performance guaranteed, this model became a status symbol and an icon of youth across the world.

Women could ride the Vespa without raising their skirts and men could use them for flirting with women. The Vespa was the embodiment of the Italian "Dolce Vitta".

 

A legend with a bright future ahead!

The Vespa has been around for 70 years already, with over 44 different models and no fewer than 20 million units sold in 114 countries across the world.

And even though nostalgia and vintage styles may have come back into fashion and many manufacturers are making copies of their own, no-one will ever match the success of the Vespa.

For this great Italian adventure, Michelin was chosen to provide the standard equipment for one of the brand's most iconic models: the Vespa GTS.

Check out the MICHELIN City Grip tyre