Catalog Critique: Revving Up

PJ Chmiel is one of the best designers I know, and the Scooterworks USA catalog is one of the most daunting design projects known to mankind, so I was floored when I got my copy (what was it, two years ago?). When I bought my first Vespa in 1995, the Scooterworks catalog was a typed price list. It’s been redesigned several times since, but even design icon Carlos Segura’s take (circa 1996) didn’t hold a candle to P.J’s version. (P.J. also designed the Stella, Blur, Rattler, and Buddy identities for Genuine Scooters, but left Scooterworks/Genuine last fall.) Today, Trish came across a design critique of the catalog written by a couple catalog design “experts”. While they make some valid points, it’s clear they (and the catalog industry in general) have no idea about how much impact a catalog can make when it’s actually looked forward-to, enjoyed, talked-about, and kept on-hand for years by a carefully-targeted audience, rather than a by-the-numbers book full of cranberry duvet covers cluttering up the mailboxes of millions of people that didn’t even request it.

Return of the Fiat 500

Fiat 500
Manufacturers and marketers have sucked the efficiency and economy out of the Vespa, Beetle, and Mini, by repositioning them as upscale nostalgia items, so you just knew the Fiat Cinquecento would be next. It’s weird that you have to dig around the site to find actual photos of the car itself. The interior is handsome, but the body is not mind-blowing, nor does it evoke the original as successfully as the other retro-vehicles on the market.

Update In the five minutes since I posted this I learned that the car will be built in Poland and will be fairly inexpensive compared to the Beetle and Mini. Plus, the design is growing on me, I didn’t notice the rolltop at first. I just think the appeal of the Mini and 500 was in the paint and chrome and that’s all gone.

Parking in Chicago: Clear answers

We’ve been talking about scooter parking in Chicago for ages now, here and on the boards, and arguing over laws and interpretations, but Grace just found this (new?) page on the City of Chicago site that clearly spells out a few details in black and white (pixels).City of Chicago Since the URL is six hundred characters long and they’ve already changed the URL twice since I first linked it up, I’m going to post the entire contents here for reference, hopefully it’ll help when people are Googling “Chicago Scooter Parking”

Information About Parking Your Scooter In Chicago

Is My Motor Scooter Required To Display A City Sticker?
Yes. If you live in the city and own a motor bicycle, motor tricycle or moped, you are required by ordinance to purchase and display an annual motorbike tag on your vehicle. The price of a motorbike tag is $45.00 and can be obtained online at Motorbike tags are also sold in person at any Chicago City Clerk facility or at the Department of Revenue payment facilities. For location information see Payment Locations or call 312-744-PARK.

Is My Scooter Required To Display A Residential Parking Sticker?
No. Only cars, trucks, and similar vehicles are required to purchase and display residential parking stickers.

Is My Scooter Excused From Parking Restrictions In The City of Chicago?
No. Scooters are required to abide by the same parking laws as other vehicles [emphasis ours]. Some confusion has resulted from the reliance of some scooter owners on a provision in the Illinois Vehicle Code that likens the operation of a scooter to the operation of a bike. Because bikes can park on the sidewalk, some think that scooters should be able to park on the sidewalk. Unfortunately, the provision does not apply to parking (as parking a scooter does not equate to “operating” a scooter) or to other provisions of the Illinois Vehicle Code “which by their nature…have no application to [scooters].”

Whether or not you like these rules, there they are, clear as day, so hopefully that will put some arguments to rest. Ignorance of the law is no longer an excuse. Don’t forget the scooter roundtable coming up in May, where we’ll have our best chance ever to get involved and talk to the city.

UPDATE: The city link now links to PDFs of a City of Chicago motorcycle/scooter brochure AND a list of “motorcycle-friendly” parking facilities.

ANOTHER UPDATE: The city’s site architecture utterly blows, and they keep changing the (several-thousand-character-long) URLS, try these:

FAQ with Scooter PDF and Parking Garage PDF
Scooter PDF and “Share the Road” PDF links
Parking meter info

Daggit, Muff!

I prefer my Battlestar Galactica as a vague, distant memory involving Lorne Greene and some second-rate action figures, but if you’re into the new version, apparently these chicks posing on these Vespas are what the kids call “hot.” Also, it is awesome that whenever someone posts a photo of attractive celebrity women on a scooter forum, someone starts digging into how unauthentic the bike is. We rule.

Kymco Backs Experienced Duo With “No Factory Support”

Kymco USA has bumped up their motorsports profile by sponsoring the “No Factory Support” AMA Superbike team.  The team will be running CBR1000RR sport bikes with very experienced pilots in the seats.  Motorcycle legend Doug Chandler and experienced former MotoGP rider Kurtis Roberts are going to have a shot at taking on the full factory supported AMA superbike teams.  Kymco Super9 scooters will be used by the team in the pits as well as by the crew of a reality show on the SPEED Channel network.  (In other related news, Kymco is sponsoring a NASCAR team as well).  Hopefully this mainstream injection of scooters into the public arena will reduce the likelihood of Roman Holiday references in craptastic newspaper pieces by at least a small amount.  Thanks to the good folks at Road Racing World Magazine for passing along this Kymco PR information.

From the “contact” page:

Scott is available for all kinds of public appearances, contact Scott directly to book him for your event.

Oh, how I laughed when I read that (thanks M5), but the more I think about it, is there really a better motivational speaker than Scott Smallwood? Give ’em hell this season, Scott!

This month’s Piaggio news

We haven’t done a news roundup in about a month, so we’re breaking it down by company. Here are some late-February/early-March news stories about Piaggio and Vespa:

Chicago unveils motorcycle parking plan

The Chicago Sun-Times reported today that the city of Chicago has solved motorcycle parking issues forever with an amazingly in-depth and carefully developed two-tier plan:

  1. Electronic meter receipts will have… wait for it… ADHESIVE ON THE BACK so they can be affixed to headlights.
  2. Motorcycles are encouraged to park PERPENDICULAR to the road.

Pathetic. The first point addresses one tiny fraction of the concern motorcyclists have about meter receipts, the main complaint being that a driver (or Chicago’s notorious wind) could simply snatch a receipt from a motorcycle headlamp and place it in his own car (the wind, technically, does not own a car, but if she did…).

The second point is even funnier, as it is presented in this quote:

“It [creates] more spaces for all motorists. Why take up a whole space if you can park it perpendicular?” City Revenue Director Bea Reyna-Hickey said.

Why, indeed, Bea? Any motorcyclist, anywhere in the world would naturally park perpendicular to the curb, but IT’S ALWAYS BEEN ILLEGAL IN CHICAGO. Assumedly, the law is (finally!) being changed, and that’s fantastic news, but don’t insult motorcyclists by suggesting that the idea had never occurred to us, or that the motivation for change was altruistic. Electronic meters make it possible to collect six full-price parking fares revenue when six motorcycles park in one parking space. Thanks for the favor!(And thanks to Team Wysocki for the link to the story)

As we’ve mentioned, the Chicago Department of Transportation and the Chicago Department of Environment are hosting a Chicago Scooterist Roundtable at the Chicago Center for Green Technology (445 North Sacramento Boulevard) on Friday, May 4, 2007 from 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm. We encourage every scooterist in Chicago to take the afternoon off work and join us, email 2strokebuzz to find out how you can get involved in our planning for the meeting.

MBI Award winners announced

MBI70.gifThousands of motorcycle and scooter riders in 88 countries voted for the 2007 Motorcycle Bloggers International Riders Choice Awards, and the results were announced today. Scooters, scooterists, and scooter manufacturers took several awards, including:

  • Best motorcycle or scooter blog: Scooter in the Sticks
  • Best new-in-2006 motor scooter: Piaggio MP3
  • Wish we’d thought of that: Piaggio MP3

VespaUSA won second prize for “worst manufacturer website” and the Gilera Fuoco 500 won second for “best concept motorcycle or scooter.”

Congratulations to Steve Williams from Scooter in the Sticks, who beat an amazing amount of competition from motorcycle and scooter blogs to come out on top, he deserved it, SITS is among the most insightful and personal blogs, in any field.

(Complete results)