Alix B. and her Genuine Buddy are a week and a half into their P.E.A.C.E. scooter tour, and blogging away with gusto rarely seen on epic scooter tours. We should probably interview her or something. In other scooter tour news, Josh and Peter the Scootstars have another dead 50cc Chinese scooter on their hands and are apparently stuck in Chicago weighing their options. We’ll hopefully hook up with them before they escape.
Take this, all you people that complain about reading white type on a black background.
Bajaj, while catching up with the Indian scooter market they abandoned a couple years ago, is now looking to catch a piece of the growing super-cheap automobile market. Forbes reports Bajaj is looking to form a joint-venture with Renault to produce an automobile to compete with Tata‘s highly-anticipated US$2,500 car.
Scooped again by the Scooter Scoop, who report Piaggio today published a patent for an electric moped with two motors, one driving the back wheel, the other located inside the front wheel. Over the years, many manufacturers have tried to power the front wheel, usually from within, as seen in the 1922 Megola to the current Revo Power Wheel. Most of these met with little success, but Piaggio seems bent on innovation lately. Perhaps this patent is just a legal lockdown of a rough idea, or maybe an integral front-wheel electric motor is an alternative to their HyS gas/zero-emission concept, or even a powerplant for the Carving Tool. Who knows what madness Piaggio is up to?
In the last week, both Honda and Yamaha have announced new factories in Vietnam. The Japanese marques are targeting a booming Vietnamese market for scooters and small motorcycles, Honda will build mainly scooters at their new facility, and Yamaha will increase capacity for their bestselling “Nuovo” and Sirius” big-wheeled scooter models. Even if the Vietnamese market growth continues, Piaggio will find plenty of competition when their Vietnamese plant opens in 2010, though analysts suggest the higher-end Vespas will find their own niche.
From Motoblog.it: Designer Paolo Corcagnani’s Piaggio CT (“Carving Tool”) Concept. Feel free to translate/speculate.
Chicago Stellaspeed just announced a ride on Saturday (July 28, 2007), leaving from Kuma’s Corner (2900 W. Belmont) at noon. The ride will stay in the city and last a couple hours. All scooters and scooterists are invited, but expect some Stella tuning and maintenance talk.
Apologies for not posting Section 8’s Wisconsin Rally a couple weeks ago, I forgot to post it before I left for vacation. Both Motor City Shakedown and the Quad Cities rally are coming up next weekend, then Rockerbox in Milwaukee a week after that, followed by Rattle My Bones in Minneapolis, then the Hell’s Fairies ride to the Gay Rodeo, and then the mighty Slaughterhouse 13 rally in Chicago on Labor Day weekend. It’s been a busy summer for scooterists, and August seems to ramp it up yet another notch.
Almost slipping past our notice at the bottom of the Vespa S press release, Piaggio has announced a new international online store, vespashopping.com. At a glance, items that are hard/impossible to find in the U.S., (their “Club” jacket, and most of their helmets, for instance) aren’t available online, either. The “accessories” listed are accessories for you, not your scooter, but there is a decent selection of gifts we’ve not seen anywhere else (the cute but expensive handlebar-grip LED flashlight?). Surely this endeavor was a tightrope walk to avoid cutting into boutique sales at dealers, but even dealers have a hard time procuring some items, it’d be nice to see more available online.
Piaggio made three big announcements yesterday, each with large implications on the scooter market:
This was the surprise, of course, an absolutely retro and luxurious new Ape dubbed the “Calessino.” Appointed with whitewalls, chrome, leather, and tropical wood, with a 422cc 4-stroke 4-speed diesel engine the Ape Calessino is being released in an edition of only 999. It’s safe to assume no one reading this crappy excuse for a scooter blog will ever see one in person outside Monte Carlo, let alone own one, but it re-establishes the dream that someday Piaggio may just surprise us with a loving reproduction of the GS160 with a modern geared engine.
Hybrid Piaggio MP3, X8, and Vespa LX
The only surprise here is that the HyS hybrid engine (more info here and here) is still in the prototype stage. These appear to be more or less the same machines tested in Milan last April, apparently the “news” is that the MP3 has newly been outfitted with the HyS as well. Without getting into details again, the technology is promising: an electrical-assisted gas engine that can be switched to zero-emissions electric power only. We love the idea, now please make them available to consumers!
Vespa S 50 and 125
The Vespa S was announced last fall among several other models. It seemed to have been buried in Piaggio’s priorities at the time, though it got a fantastic reception from the press. Now with the top-priority Piaggio MP3 entrenched in scooterdom worldwide, Vespa is releasing the S in 50cc and 125cc versions. The design is a tribute to the smallframe Vespa, notably the square-headlight Vespa S, and it’s nearly entirely successful visually, no other modern Vespa comes so close to emulating the details, lines and style of the vintage models we all love. The only conceivable complaint (at least on paper) is the displacement, but we’d argue that the owner of such a lovely scooter deserves to be cursed with the speed of its ancestors. Bravo, Piaggio, bring it to America ASAP. While previous press photos showed the S only in white, it will be available in “Dragon red, Shiny black and Montebianco white.” Piaggio will also offer several optional graphics kits (“Flowers,” “Europe,” “Sport”) and Jet-style matched helmets.
A source has informed 2SB that VespaUSA did file a recall with the NHTSA (back on May 24) and it was due to be announced today. According to the source, the paperwork takes time when it’s not an emergency recall (no one has been injured). The recall is now listed on the NHTSA’s ODI – Office of Defects Investigation page. You can summon the report by typing in the Make/Model/Year (Vespa GTS 2007) or the NHTSA Campaign ID number (07V253000). The gist is that 2,757 2006 and 2007 Vespa GTS scooter owners will be notified by mail, and can have their header, pipe, clamp, and gasket replaced by the dealer at no cost. Note that not all GTSes are affected by the recall. All GTS owners, even those with the redesigned assembly, should note that the two parts of the pipe should never be separated, the pipe should always be removed in its entirety. At each dealer service, the clamp should be checked for alignment and the torque of the bolt checked (11-13 ft-lbs for the stainless steel clamp, 9-10 ft-lbs. for the plated steel clamp).
Jana, a ModernVespa.com user from Calgary, reports she’s heard firsthand from Vespa Canada that a GTS 250 Exhaust Recall is about to be announced. Here’s some backstory on the situation, if you’re not familiar with the problem. While Piaggio HQ has issued a Technical Bulletin that outlines potential dangers, solutions, and maintenance (without acknowledging possible manufacturing or design flaws) to dealers worldwide, PiaggioUSA has never publicly acknowleged the issue, despite bad publicity, misinformation, and recalls in other countries.
Speaking of ScILFs who run scooter shops, POC Phil has opened a new Pride of Cleveland Scooters showroom and service facility in a neato (and huge) former ski shop in Lakewood, OH. The spacious first floor is already full of scooters, and the second floor will soon become a “scooter museum” featuring Phil’s collection of scooters and emphemera. POC’s Ohio City shop will remain open (for the time being, at least). Here are a few photos of the shop before the move, and a recent Lakewood Observer story (click to download PDF) about the new shop. Congrats, Phil and Merritt, you’ll be running a national chain of scooter shops before you’re finished.
If something has been around the scooter scene as long as 2strokebuzz, it’s fair to call it a Venerable Institution, right? Well, Chelsea of the Venerable Institution formerly known as SCOMO has asked us to let the world know some re-jiggying has taken place, and her new-and-improved operation will heretofore be known as Scoot Richmond. Best wishes to Scoot Richmond and all who sail with them; in tribute, here’s a link to 2SB’s famous topless photo of Chelsea.
Finally, all of my Amerivespa 2007 photos are in the 2SB Gallery. They’re mostly from Vashon Island (Sunday), with a few from Saturday (including the Adly Lambretta and the Seattle Kwik-E-Mart.) Jordan has hundreds more, we’ll post those soon, and there are a million more on Scoot.net. A lot has already been said about the rally all over the web, but I’ll have another writeup about the rally (and my first-hand observations on the Adly Lambretta) soon.
Tomorrow is Ride To Work Day. Don’t mind if I do.
Sorry about the lull. I’ve been on vacation, and to Amerivespa, and oh do I have some good stuff coming up. Lots of big news on several fronts last week, we’ll try to make a dent in it tonight. You weren’t looking at all those other scooter sites, were you?