Gas-powered Vespas with an electric start engine, electric systems, and indicators need a battery. If the Vespa has difficulty starting then there might be a chance the battery is old and needs to be replaced.
So where is the Vespa battery? The battery location of gas-powered modern Vespas is located right next to the fuel tap or under the floorboard. The Vespa Elettrica has a battery pack under its seat. Not all classic Vespas have a battery. For those that do have one, the battery is usually located under the left side panel.
While the battery is nicely hidden in the Vespa body framework, it is easy to forget about it. However, it is important to have a well-charged battery to start your Vespa. If the battery lacks attention then you will soon end up with a dead battery.
The battery of the Vespa Elettrica is of course something very different. The Vespa engine starts and runs on a battery that needs to be charged at all times to be able to drive.
Which Vespa models have a battery and where is it located?
All classic Vespa models made before 1978 do not have a battery, except one. In 1969 Piaggio launched the first Vespa with a battery: the 50 Elestrat (1969-1976).
The 50 Elestrat was equipped with a 12V battery located on the left side of the wheel. Again Piaggio’s innovative engineering and modifications were a success. It was considered sophisticated and was popular among girls.
It took another 20 years before all Vespas were equipped with a battery. Piaggio started off with the Vespa 125 PX (1978 – 1980) followed by future models that until today all have a battery.
In 2019 Piaggio launced the Vespa Elettrica. This Vespa runs entirely on a lithium battery which is located under the seat. You need to remove the storage compartment to reach it. You can easily remove the battery. It makes charging convenient if the Vespa is parked outside and you want to charge the battery inside.
|Vespa Model||Location Battery|
|Elettrica||under the seat storage compartment|
|LX||under seat next to fuel tap|
|LXV||under seat next to fuel tap|
|ET4||under seat next to fuel tap|
|125 PX ETS (1978-1980)||between spare-wheel, left cowl|
Which battery does the Vespa have?
Most Vespas have a 12V battery, no matter engine size. The dimensions of the battery do differ as it needs to fit into the compartments. The batteries on a gas-powered Vespa enable it to start. It also provides power for the lights and power in the generator to run the injectors.
It is important to use the correct voltage and amperage (Ah). If you use a different battery with a higher amperage then the dynamo will lose its ability to fill up the battery. This will negatively influence the starting capacity of your Vespa.
For most of the modern Vespas, Piaggio uses maintenance-free AGM Yuasa YTX 12BS batteries. BS stands for Battery Sealed. AGM stands for ‘absorbed glass mat’. These types of batteries have more lead and therefore also more power.
If the battery needs replacement then it is wise to use the same brand. Yuasa might be the best in the market but it is also a bit more expensive than others. But you get what you pay for: Yuasa has more lead than a standard-priced battery and should last longer.
It might be tempting to go for a different brand or another type of battery. However, if there is a slight difference in size the positive pole can touch the metal frame which can cause a fire. Also, if the battery doesn’t fit perfectly there is a chance the battery will vibrate when driving. The vibration will cause damage to your battery.
Of course, there are many other brands, and maintenance shops will probably use them as well. And that is fine. But just keep the points in mind when switching to another brand.
How long does the battery on your Vespa last?
Generally speaking, a battery will last 3 years. However, it is also possible to postpone replacement till 7 years. To avoid hassle it is wise to keep to the recommendations of the battery manufacturer. The battery isn’t the most expensive part of a Vespa yet it is crucial if you don’t want to be stranded because you can’t start your Vespa.
The battery of a Vespa will get weaker over the years. Starting problems will be the first sign of battery failure. Then it will take longer to get your Vespa up and running. If you are too late then it will not start at all. Additionally, it can affect your lights and indicators.
The battery in a gas-powered Vespa is self-charged, also known as a regulator/rectifier. It charges when you drive. So long as the Vespa is running, the battery will charge.
There are several factors that can influence the longevity of your gas-powered Vespa battery:
- The battery is discharged below 80% too often. To start a Vespa you need 20% of battery charge. That isn’t much but the power of your battery will decrease much quicker if is discharged too low too often. It can also damage the battery and you have to replace it immediately. Discharge of a battery can occur if you drive short distances only. You need to drive long distances to enable the battery to recharge. Driving with lights will increase the time the battery needs to charge.
- If the Vespa isn’t used for a long period of time then the power capacity of the battery will decrease. The speed of deterioration depends on the type of battery. To prevent your battery from fully discharging you can either disconnect the negative pole of the battery. Or if you are parking the Vespa for a winter stop or long holiday, then you should consider connecting the battery to a battery tender. A battery tender will keep the battery fully charged. We have written more on long-term storage. Check the following article to read how to properly stow your Vespa for a longer period.
- Too low temperatures (-10 degrees Celcius/) will affect the performance of your batteries. Try to park the Vespa somewhere dry and warm. If you do not drive a lot in the winter then it is wise to disconnect your battery and stow it indoors. Remove the battery and connect it to a battery tender.
Do note that a battery tender doesn’t fully charge dead batteries. It ensures that power is transferred to the battery so that the power capacity doesn’t decrease over time.
If your battery is completely dead then there is only one thing you can do. Replace it with a new one.
The battery for the Vespa Elettrica needs attention to increase its lifespan. Piaggio states that the battery pack is still in good condition up to 1000 full charging cycles. This ranges from about 31068 miles (50.000 km) to 43495 miles (70.000 km), an equivalent to about 10 years of urban commuting.
To ensure that you don’t need to change it sooner, you have to make sure that the battery doesn’t get completely dead.
- Try to prevent going lower than 20% of the battery capacity.
- Charge the Vespa every day.
- Prevent parking in the sun when charging. If you have removed the battery, make sure it can cool down when charging. So don’t cover it up
- If you park the Vespa for a couple of days, make sure the battery is fully charged.
- Remove the battery if you will not drive for a long period of time. Attach it to a battery tender. Make sure the battery is stowed in a warm and dry place.
How to change the battery on your Vespa?
After you have found the location of the battery on your Vespa you need to unscrew the floor matt or the cover to reach it. In a Vespa, the battery is pretty easy to access. However, you need to disconnect the negative pole (black wire, indicated with a – on the battery case) followed by the positive pole ( red, indicated with + on the battery case).
If you remove the battery from the packaging you will probably see the battery together with a pack of battery acid. The battery needs to be filled first before being placed in the Vespa. Remove the ‘do not open’ seal of the battery acid, then press the openings into the designated holes of the battery.
For safety always use gloves when doing this. Then keep the pack of battery acid attached to the battery for about 20 minutes. This enables the acid to drip into the battery. Once this is done, place the ‘do not open’ seal of the battery acid on the battery.
Since February 2021 it is not allowed in the European Union to sell a battery together with the pack of acid. The seller will need to fill the battery with the acid first before shipping or selling it.
Once you have placed the new battery into the compartment you need to wire it up again. In this case, you need to connect it with the red wire (plus pole) first followed by the black (negative pole). It must be in this order to prevent a short circuit.
It is important to use a battery that fits your Vespa model. The correct dimensions are important of course. But it needs to be able to be connected properly too. If the poles of the battery are on a different side, then the connectors of the Vespa will not able to reach the battery.
How to run a Vespa with a dead battery?
You are able to start and run a Vespa with a dead battery, even without a battery. You have to use the kick start to get it up and running. This is how classic Vespas still ride today. Most modern Vespas are equipped with a kick-start too. However, models after 2018 don’t have a kickstart. I am still not sure why Piaggio has removed this option. Perhaps the chances of using the kickstart are so small that they have decided to remove it entirely.
If you do need to use the kickstart to start your Vespa, place it on the center stand first. Then turn the key to ‘on’. Then key-start your Vespa. The best way is to hold both or at least hold the left handlebar and use your left leg. It might take a couple of tries but the Vespa should start.
The battery usually recharges when you drive for a while. But if your battery has been ‘dead’ then it is best to get a new one as the battery performance has been affected.