We’re not a scooter nation? Go figure.

The scooter backlash has begun (in St. Paul, of all places) and not a moment too soon. Unfortunately, said backlash is sort of rant-y and pointless, but it’s marginally funny. It’s sad that we, a scooter weblog, is excited about scooter backlash, but frankly, people just seem too excited about scooters lately and it’s kind of weirding us out.

Piaggio and ECN re-test FRESCO hydrogen fuel-cell scooter

FRESCO Piaggio X9 diagramAccording to Fuel Cell Today, Piaggio and the Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands (ECN) tested a newer version of their “Fuel-Cell Reduced Emission Scooter” (FRESCO) at Piaggio’s Pontedera testing ground on February 28, 2006. The FRESCO project, (download pdf) was based on the Piaggio X9 frame and is not to be confused with the Piaggio X8 and Vespa LX hybrid prototypes. The international collaboration was supported by Piaggio and started in 2002, officially ending in July 2005. The test in February was a continuation of the project–with assistance from the University of Pisa–with the goal of improving performance. The FRESCO scooter is entirely self-propelled by a hexagonally-shaped on-board hydrogen fuel cell, and creates zero emissions. While the specs weren’t listed in the new story, the original goal of the project was to create a vehicle capable of 75kmph and a range of 100km.

’90s flashback: Velociferos still roam the earth

On my way to work this morning I saw, of all things, an Italjet Velocifero, the first i’d ever seen in the US. It’s hard to believe there are any still out there, there can’t have been too many brought in, I don’t believe they’ve been imported since at least 2000, they’re famously difficult to maintain, even without the dismal supply of spares. So kudos to you, lone Chicago Velocifero rider, keep the faith until Kinetic gets their act together.

60th Anniversary Vespa models: Surprise announcement

New Vespa GT60, LXV, and GTV

Piaggio surprised the world today by announcing three new Vespa production models based on the 60th anniversary custom scooters they displayed at the Milan show. The “Vespa GT60” is based on the GTS, but remodeled to emulate the original “Vespa 98” model from 1946. The Vespa GTV and Vespa LXV are retro-styled versions of the GTS and LX: the GTV is modeled after 50s Vespas–a saddle seat, exposed handlebars and fenderlight–and the LXV modeled after the classic Vespas of the 60s. If they make it to America, it’s likely they’ll be in very limited quantities, so call your dealer now, inform them about these new models that they won’t even have heard about yet, and then have them start a waiting list with your name on top.

We’ll add some more details and post many more photos in the gallery later today. No we won’t. we’re not Piaggio’s monkey. Everyone and their mom has posted more photos and specs, Google it. It’s not like they’ll be available here anyway.

Kama Scooter

Karma Scooter

For those of you that think that slow-to-load two-second-long Flash clips featuring two satin-clad chicks dry-humping each other on a Vespa LX would be hot, it’s your lucky day: The Kama Scooter. If they were trying to out-weird Bajaj advertising, they’ve done it. I feel stupid, and kind of dirty, for even posting this. Someone tell Piaggio UK that sending out press releases about a “viral ad”, labeling the site as “Amazing Viral,” and slapping sales messages all over it sorta destroys anything “viral” about it, that’s just called “advertising.”

RIP, Bajaj Chetak (1972-2005)

bajchet.jpgThough we reported the end of the Bajaj on April 1, this India Times story from January 2006 (a reprint– the India Times page is popup-tastic, and thanks for the link, Matthew) says production officially stopped at Bajaj’s Akurdi plant on December 31st, 2005. (apparently Maharashtra continued building them from ‘CKD packs’ for three months.) The story is depressing, with chairman Rahul Bajaj citing their importance to Indian Culture (“…marriages did not happen without Chetak. It was a compulsory dowry item,” he says), while his son and Bajaj Managing Director Rajiv Bajaj argues, “Holding on to anything from the past is a sign of weakness.” Even if Rajiv has been reading too many western business management books, his statement that “”Like the Volkswagen Beetle, the product had lost its relevance,” is ridiculous, the redesigned Beetle (and soon Rabbit) thrive on nostalgia. Perhaps, like Costantino Sambuy slamming then embracing the Vespa P-series design, he’ll change his story when a “new” Chetak appears in a year or two. In any case, we still have the LML Star, for the time being, and the new Scooter World 2006 Buyer’s Guide for some reason lists the Chetak and Legend, probably because ArgoUSA still had some ads left in their contract.

Don’t tread on Nike

I have a love/hate relationship with Nike. On one hand, they’re a huge, indie-culture-stealing empire that pays chinese infants one cent a week to make $80 soccer jerseys that don’t fit me. On the other hand, they made the coolest hoodie ever and they’ve somehow turned self-centered pompous miscreant Eric Cantona into the Wayne Coyne of soccer. (Thierry Henry is so freaking awesome in that clip). It’s happening. I’m starting to get excited about the World Cup.

What you missed if you’re not a hopeless loser that stalks scooters on the internet

The Vespa turned 60 this week. If you missed the news on 2strokebuzz, or here, here, here, here, here, here, here, or here, I’ll summarize it for you:

Audrey Hepburn Jennifer Lopez symbol Italy espresso economical style wasp 1946 Vroooooom Can of Corn.

So this is just a reminder that we filter through the PR blather, endlessly rehashed wire stories, ‘Scooter’ Libby updates, high school athletes’ volleyball stats, and Indian stock market reports several times daily just to find those precious nuggets of trivia (“Piaggio is unveiling a commemorative bell tomorrow!”) you care about. Any time Brooke wants to write out his theories about the false economy of scooters, I’ll be happy to print it, because I’m getting really bored with the “As gas prices top three dollars…” stories too (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15— that’s only about half the stories from this week).

South St. Louis police join the BV200 force

Police in South St. Louis are hoping a new substation and a fleet of Piaggio BV200s will deter crime. The salesperson that promised the StLPD that a BV200 can go 100mph might have some explaining to do when they top out at 80. From the archives: NYC police bought 300 BV200s in 2004 (notably used by undercover police to disrupt election protests), and downtown St. Louis police have been using Vespas since 2003. Thanks for the tip, Lu$.

International Pop Overthrow 5

The fifth annual International Pop Overthrow is currently underway in Chicago. Two great bands featuring Chicago scooterists play Wednesday night at Wise Fool’s Pub (2270 N. Lincoln): Jeff Tudor’s band The Shifties, play at 8:30 and The Sonnets, featuring Vee Sonnet and Mike Durso, headline at 11pm. The festival continues here through May 6, then continues at the Cavern Club in Liverpool, where both bands will play later in May.

Spark Plug diagram and Motorcycle Repair Course

This reprint of an old NGK brochure is the most comprehensive diagram of plug colors I’ve ever seen. Good stuff. It’s just a small chunk of Dan’s Online Motorcycle Repair Course: “Now, I’m not going to claim that this course will train you as well as a formal Motorcycle school. But then again it is FREE.” Thanks for the link, Nitro, (Who posted some photos from the Scooterworks ride on his moblog.)

D.C. Rob’s Cannonball for cancer research

If you spend any (most) of your time on Scoot.net Chat or the BBS, you’ve probably met Rob Downs III, AKA “D.C. Rob.” If that doesn’t ring a bell, you might remember him as “Rob who got hit by a semi on the Cannonball Run.” A few months ago, Rob’s father, Robert Downs Jr., was diagnosed with a rare form of skin cancer. Rob is riding again in this year’s Cannonball Run, and decided to try to raise money for cancer research and awareness. He’ll be riding about 3500 miles, and his goal is to raise one dollar per mile ($3500) for the ACS. Donations can be made directly to American Cancer Society online (no amount is too small), and he’s looking for corporate/equipment sponsors as well (email Rob).

Vespa World Club Website

vwc_card.jpgLo and behold, the VWC has a website already. The logo is revealed (a ho-hum rehash of the 50th annivesary logo, and where’s the “cog!?”) as is the organizational chart and a “Statute” outlining club rules– in Italian, though the rest of the site is available in “Italiano (Italia)” and “English (United States)”, aka the correctly-but-oddly-translated “Piaggio English” we love so. It’s happily been taken for granted that current national clubs (indluding the Vespa Club of America) have been listed as VWC affiliates. The “Activities” section, where one would expect to find an international rally calendar, instead lists competition events, perhaps they’re standardizing the gymkhana for international competition? A login promises a photo gallery, forum, and, er, blogs, as if there aren’t enough scooter blogs. (The one you’re reading is one too many).