Vento, a company with headquarters in San Diego, California, began producing motorcycles and scooters in 1996, with design and development teams based in China, Italy, and Australia, as well as California. While parts are made in China, final assembly takes place in Laredo, Texas. The company initially built a presence in the U.S., with widespread international distribution. The Vento Zip GT5 came out in 2005, and the company introduced the Zip LI in 2007. Both models are 50cc entry-level step-through scooters.
Like other 50cc scooters, both versions are limited to a top speed of 30 miles per hour. The gas tank holds 1.3 gallons. Vento did not publish a mileage estimate for either model, but, given the scooter’s dry weight (without gasoline or oil) of 143 pounds, a rider could reasonably expect to his or her gas dollars to stretch. Powered by an air-cooled, two-stroke single-cylinder engine, both models have carburetors rather than fuel injectors, which might cut down slightly on the fuel economy. The LI has an SOHC valve configuration; the G5T has a reed valve setup. No one who rides a 50cc scooter should expect fast acceleration; these two little machines have 4.9 horsepower and 6.8 lb. ft. torque, which is about average for their class. The belt-driven continuously variable transmission puts the Zips squarely in the twist-and-go category; a young rider does not need to learn a complicated shifting pattern. Remote, keyless ignition is standard.
Anti-lock brakes are standard for the GT5, with a disc brake in front and a rear drum. The LI has hydraulic discs in front and back. A telescopic fork provides front suspension, and the rear suspension is a single-sided steel swing arm. Neither of these machines comes with a steering damper, but given the low speeds they are designed for, a rider shouldn’t need it.
The digital instrumentation panel is more complete than a lot of entry-level competitors. An alarm system, clock, fuel gauge, speedometer, tachometer, and odometer are all standard. Storage is fairly limited: there’s a glove box, a lockable under-seat compartment, and a rear rack. Neither scooter has any optional accessories, so you can’t easily add a top box to expand storage space.
The GT5 came in black only with red accents and 12-inch wheels; the LI was available in blue and silver and red and silver, with 12-inch chrome wheels. A three-quarter wraparound headlamp is a nice sleek design touch that complements the aerodynamic styling of the GT5. The frame is steel; the standard bodywork includes front and rear fenders, a side cover, and upper fairing to shield a rider from street debris. A center stand is also standard, and the low seat height, just over 29 inches, makes it easy for a rider to plant both feet firmly on the ground to back the machine off that stand. The one-piece vinyl seat is stepped for driver and passenger; the passenger has foot pegs, the driver uses the floorboard.
The Vento Zip GT5 and LI are designed for short local commutes or campus use. Its light weight and short turning radius makes it easy to park and to maneuver in tight spaces, but it is not intended for the open road, where speed is required.