Vintage Lambretta rider and ex-Mod Bernard Judge was named mayor of Oldham, England this week. Judge, who is also a huge Motown and soul music fan says, “Music has the power to change things,” and is already being called “The Musical Mayor.” An old photo of Judge in his mod days adorns an album by L.A. band The Jamie Lamb Quartet.
(Man, I love Dawn’s poster). Remember, the Mod weekender starts tomorrow night with the Allez Cats’ reunion at Delilah’s. (complete schedule). We’re looking forward to seeing some old faces and hearing some great tunes (Grover is a god), even if we’ll be among the less-snappily-dressed. The rest of the weekend brings more parties, rides, and a visit to Chicago’s famous Chess Studios.
Jo and Ants have officially hit the road, starting their international tuk-tuk adventure. Best of luck, girls! Don’t forget to write!
Since our report last night about the return of the Velocifero, in which we reported that ItaljetUSA.com was going through a domain name transfer, several other long-dormant Italjet sites, all working last night (Italjet.com, Italjet.it, and Australian importer ItalScooter), have also been replaced with domain transfer announcements. Is Italjet gearing up to market the Kinetic-manufactured scooters internationally? Will the Kinetic Italiano scooters bear an “Italjet” badge? Who will be the U.S. importer? Will they get it right this time?
Another (the last, or is it?) Galewood has come and gone, but our high cholesterol levels live on. Congrats to Bacon Cookoff winners Mark (3rd), Kristina (2nd), and Quentin (1st, first two-time winner). No one got hurt on the three-wheeler OR the bouncy castle. We’re gonna call John Hodge the winner of the Chicco showdown not only because he was fast, but because it’s just too weird that a 8-month-old that can’t even stand up can ride a Chicco. There are lots of photos on scoot.net and here are more from Dawn (who took the photo above). If you missed it, or didn’t get enough bacon, Durso sent us this blog of daily bacon recipes.
More rumors are developing about a new LML partner, but nothing substantive yet.
Kinetic Engineering announced today that the Velocifero, the second in its line of license-built Italjet scooters, will debut soon. What comes as a fairly huge surprise is that the Kinetic Velocifero will be “exclusively manufactured for exports to (the) U.S.” ItaljetUSA has been dormant for a few years, and it’s unclear who’s running the show. The italjetusa.com site appears to be changing hands (or at least hosts), so watch it closely for more info. (a “whois” search revealed nothing). Kinetic chairman Arun Firodia was quoted in a release as saying “We plan to export 20,000-30,000 scooters in a year. Each vehicle’s cost is around $500-$600.” (that’s their cost, not yours, settle down)
Can Kinetic sell up to three times as many scooters in the U.S. as Vespa? Can they do it with a 50cc Indian-manufactured scooter that debuted here more than ten years ago? The Velocifero design was highly regarded when it came out, and aesthetically it holds up well. Quality was respectable, but supply of vehicles and parts,–and service support–was dismal. Italjet prices were comparable to similar Vespas and Aprilias. Both Italjet and ItaljetUSA seemed dormant by early 2003 (the Italian site is frozen in time in early 2002–by which time the Velocifero had been discontinued), but the Italjet announced the Kinetic deal late in 2004. If Italjet USA hopes to sell that many scooters, they’ll need all cylinders firing: advertising, sales, service, parts, quality, and a price lower than the $3200 they were asking in 2000. Adding the Dragster to the U.S. lineup sure wouldn’t hurt, either.
This review of a prototype Kinetic Velocifero indicates that it maintains the look and steel body of the Italian version (a 2000 Italjet model is pictured above), but calls the 50cc 2-stroke engine “hopelessly underpowered.” The Velocifero, along with the other six scooters in the “Italiano” family, is to be manufactured at its Pithampur plant in Madhya Pradesh. The first of these models, the Blaze, was released in India a couple months ago, to a good amount of fanfare, and is selling about 10,000 units a month. In a world full of respected brands selling their names to Asian companies, this may be one of the few cases where the final product earns more respect than the original.
10-15 years ago, if you bought an old Vespa, the next thing you bought was the Haynes Manual. You had two choices: one covered P-series Vespas, and the other covered all other rotary-valve Vespas. They were limited in scope, contained a few errors, and the language was often confusing to American scooterists (“look inside the gas tank with a torch,” or “secure the new item via the Douglas spares replacement scheme”) but they usually got the job done. Since then dozens of scooter books have been published, but the Haynes books are still indespensible to vintage Vespa owners.
Since then, Haynes has added more scooter books, notably one for Vespa and Piaggio automatics and “The Scooter Book”, a general reference for scooterists. Their latest book, Twist and Go Scooters Service and Repair Manual contains specific specs for a wide range of scooters, as well as mainenance and repair info that applies to all automatic scooters in the 50-250cc range. Haynes’ US distributor does not appear to stock any of the more recent books, but some are available on Amazon, and the rest are available directly from Haynes.
As 2500 locked-out LML employees tried to collect their long-disputed temporary checks today, they discovered that LML had terminated 12 employees active in the union, including union president Jai Prakash Pandey and general secretary Suresh Singh. In the ensuing chaos, the enraged and chanting employees did not collect their checks, and union officials, including Pandey, were refused permission to enter the factory to meet with management. Two labor inspectors were present as specified by the original agreement, but were apparently unable to quell the masses or mediate any discussion. As we suggested last week, if you have your heart set on a Genuine Stella, don’t wait for the next batch to come in.
Chad comes through for us again: Les Nessman’s scooter crash from WKRP in Cincinnati. They don’t show the crash (that would have been expensive to shoot), but Les vividly describes it. I think another episode shows him riding over one of Cincinnati’s many bridges on a Vespa, maybe that will turn up someday.
Garelli’s website is working, if you have time to wait for the Flash to load. As is the trend, they’ve enlisted a member of the Italian national soccer team. At first, we thought “Wow, they got Totti?” but it took us a half hour to figure out that it’s Alberto Gilardino, who we imagine cost them a good deal less than Suzuki paid Alessandro Del Piero. The site features “their” new models (ooh, another Chinese Vino clone!) and a history of the company, which is interesting even for those unable to read the text. “Facile essere liberi,” by the way, means “It’s easy to be free,” though we suggest the slogan “Facile essere cinese.”
MODchicago‘s annual “Our Way Of Thinking” festival of Modness is coming up next weekend. OWOT is always a good time, but this year they’ve stepped it up a few notches with more scooter-related events and a special scooter section on their website. Best of all, the event has spawned the new Mayday Scooter Club and the reunion (Thursday, June 1 at Delilahs) of the Allez Cats Scooter Club, one of Chicago’s big clubs of the 80s and early 90s. The site also features an archive of ACSC memorabilia including Mike Park’s photo (above) of the club in front of the old Vespa of Chicago on Clark Street (which closed just a month or two before I got my first scooter). OWOT also features a party at Design Within Reach’s Evanston store and a tour of the Chess Records studio. Whether you love or hate Mods (no comment!), next weekend should be a blast for everyone.