scooterlife - photog's blog

Motorcycles. Scooters. Wheelchairs. Tape. Whatever rolls.

Monday, May 16, 2005


Today was Bank Day. Not that there's a regular bank run day, but it was the only errand I needed to run.

I pulled into a parking space next to an older woman who was clambering out of her Buick. As I pulled off my helmet, she walked up to me.

"Ooooooo!" she cooed. And I mean COOOED, as in baby talk. "Isn't that the cutest thing! It's PRECIOUS!"

"Why, yes it is," I replied. Yup. Precious. I suppose.

She asked what kind of gas mileage it got and I gave the standard "100 mpg" answer that all scooterists do unless they're with another scooterist and then the talk turns to exact top speed and mpg ratings plus a 10% or more fudge factor.

"Why, that would be nice for going shopping," she continued, still in that baby voice.

"Why, yes, It would be perfect for shopping," I replied, noting with some degree of horror that my voice started cooing just like hers. Egad, I had assumed a level of girly cuteness I had never acquired as a motorcyclist. If the woman had called my BMW GS cute I may have glared at her. If a guy had called my BMW cute I probably would've decked him.

I stood there for a moment and explained how easy it was to ride, how the underseat storage was great for shopping. I offered to let her sit on it but she politely declined, and waved happily at me as she walked off.

Amazing. Absolutely the most non-threatening motorized vehicle I've ever had.

Sunday, May 15, 2005


Bossman was highly regarded for his wit, sense of style, and willingness to sacrifice a better drag coefficient in order to bring bobbleheads to the masses.

MSF Hint du jour

Slow, Look, Press, Roll.

If you've slacked up on doing that, drop and give me 20.

Remember to turn your head, too. NO, not just your eyes. Your whole head, Skippy.

If you have no idea what I'm talking about, get thee to a Motorcycle Safety Foundation course. You'll have a good time while learning how to save your hide.

Stella Rant

I really want a Stella. Matter of fact, there could easily be two Stellas in this household. But the local Stella dealership folded up, the Charlotte Vespa/Stella Dealership doesn't even acknowlege Stella on their website, and the Asheville company that allows you to rent/buy scoots and has Stellas in their fleet won't answer emails or phone calls.

The Super 9 has very little in common with the Stella other than 2 wheels. It's cheaper, but not so significantly so that it puts the Stella out of the running. But I can predict a Super 9 in my future before a Stella--even though I'd rather have the Sttella--because there's a dealership here. Someone to call if I get frustrated when it doesnt' start and I don't have the time or patience to troubleshoot it--"just come and get it and call me when it runs." I also like the idea of having a place to visit for goodies and to meet other scooter owners--and while the local KTM dealer that's carrying Kymco's isn't that kind of place, it beats no dealership at all.

The Super 9 is well-built and quick. It meets my demands for a scoot that will cruise at 45mph, stop on a dime, and corner hard. It doesn't have the timeless aesthetic of the Stella, but it does have its design roots in the competitive european market where these machines are built to commute daily, and race on weekends. That kind of competence puts it in competition with the Stella on my list.

I think Genuine Scooter Company, who owns the Stella--a PX series Vespa at heart manufactured in India by LML--has one of the best two-wheeled bikes on the planet. It combines the cultural icon of the classic Vespa shape with updated features like a front disk brake and Bitubo shocks. Aftermarket parts are cheap and plentiful. How anyone--scooterist or otherwise--could resist that bike, especially with gas prices at $2 and above for the forseeable future--is beyond me. But I do see where a potential buyer could make a lunge for one and get frustrated by the smallish dealer network. Granted, I think Genuine Scooter is doing a good job of managing their growth. However, I think they need to fill this local void FAST. Raleigh is a big town in an affluent area that has plenty of colleges and universities as well--it's a perfect scooter town. Stella needs to replace the failed dealership quickly.

Weekend Update - a ride on the Super 9

The GS got more attention this weekend than the Zip, but some neat things happened anyway. Well, actually, the Zip got plenty of attention, but not by me.

Sunday morning Latte, Sunday evening stayed pretty busy.

First, the GS got its PIAA lights and lightbar installed. The wiring hasn't been done yet, but it's halfway there. Big thanks to Brad Vardy of TerraNova for making the lightbar happen.

The next cool thing that happened was a test ride on a Kymco Super 9, a liquid-cooled 49cc 2-stroke scoot that's the Porsche of the small scoot world, patterned after the euro scoots more commonly found on race tracks here and abroad, and a scoot that has earned its place in the hearts of hot-rodders. The local KTM dealership just got a few in, and were looking for an excuse to turn one into a demo, so I gave them that opportunity by picking the blue one over the orange one. Within a few minutes, it was ready to go.

They told me that they'd have to keep the transmission restrictor in to keep it moped-legal for the test ride, which would keep it below 30. So I hopped on, a bit bummed over the 30mph limit. Boy was this going to be boring, but ride on any bike is fine by me. So I whacked the throttle open in anticipation of the usual CVT lag, and found out in half a second that there IS no lag. Not much, anyway, in scooter terms. That little sucker is FAST. With less than one mile on the odometer and the tranny restrictor in place, it practically hoisted the front end with just a crack of the throttle, and zipped up to 45mph before it found the restrictor and the rev limiter at the same time. I figure 50 would be easy, de-restricted, and who knows how fast it would go? The dual disks let it stop on a dime and the suspension was pretty good; some break-in time would probably smooth it out even more. I didn't push the corners since the tires were new but if my Zip will carve on its 10" skinny Cheng Shin tires, the Super 9 will most likely stick like glue with its 120/12 and 130/12 shoes.

When I got back, the salesmen had lined up for their turn on the Super 9. I warned them--"there's no lag" and each one got on, whacked the throttle, and their heads snapped back like they had just taken a shot from Ali. Crack-Snap-Zing!

If you've had any doubts about a 49cc scoot's potential for capable commuter, give this one a ride. Absolutely NO problems zinging along with traffic--none of the curb-hugging BS for the mighty Super 9. It's a large-frame scoot--I could barely get both balls of my feet down. Perfect for all you folks who have looked at the small-frame scoots and laughed your ass off at the miniscule proportions.