Test ride: SYM Citycom 300i

SYM USA lent 2strokebuzz the new Citycom 300i for a few days. Ron Brockman and I rode it for a couple days each, mostly on urban interstates and city streets.

I’ve always felt that the sweet spot for scooters is in the 125-200cc range. 50cc bikes have always seemed like a letdown, and Barcaloungers like the Honda Helix (at a whopping 250cc) and its descendants (pushing towards 1000cc these days) were just not interesting to me. Obviously, different people have different tastes and needs, and it’s great to see such a wide range of scooters available these days, but to get around the city and the occasional longer ride, 150 cubic centimeters was always sufficient for me.
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Vespa Vintage 2009 catalog

Piaggio’s latest Vespa Vintage catalog is available online. The PDF download doesn’t seem to work, but you can peruse it in Flash. The first “Vespa Vintage” catalog came out around the same time Piaggio returned to the U.S., and sent many Vespaphiles running to their local VVRS (remember those?) expecting to find some of the lovingly depicted reproductions of rare bits actually in stock. The new catalog (have there been any in between? Is this a once-a-decade thing?) seems a little less, well, imaginary, and VespaUSA’s parts department has improved (a bit) since 2000, so now’s your chance to score that Piaggio-approved GS spare tire gas tank.

Powersports Mail-Order Mega-Warehouse Condescends To Scooterists *UPDATED*

While perusing the local craigslist today I came across a post (which I dutifully tagged as spam) announcing the new scooter oriented online shop by traditional powersports mail-order powerhouse Dennis Kirk. Their new site is called dkscooters.com and offers accessories and gear for the scooter owner. For many years the Rush City, MN based retailer has had excellent catalogs aimed at several powersports divisions from off-road to metric cruisers. Now in the digital age they’ve made a separate website to group the items that would be more likely purchased by scooterists. They have covers, locks, jackets and even one token brand of 2 stroke oil. But when looking in the top category on their left-hand menu, helmets, I found it lacking. Not that they didn’t have my preferred brand or that they didn’t have a Valentino Rossi replica lid, but that of the 163 options there wasn’t a full-face helmet to be found. Do scooterists not deserve the same protection offered to other power-two-wheel enthusiasts? Do they really think that scooters are so harmless that no one needs the protection available to a cruiser pilot? Or is this completely sensible and the only question is why the website isn’t entirely pink with bunnies around the border?

Write this post off as a narrow minded rant if you’d like. Dennis Kirk will probably have no problem with the free advertisement (normally I’m a big fan and until now shopped their at least once a year). And it could be said that you shouldn’t even buy a helmet online without trying it on first, and you should buy it from the local shop where you tried it on. The behavior of embracing and marginalizing scooters at the same time just seems a bit insulting.

UPDATE: Dealer News reports on the news of the DK online store for scooters. The article gets some interesting comments from a few of the prime movers in the scooter commerce arena. LINK

Can YOU Beat Piaggio To An Electric Vespa?

Jeb from Soundspeed Scooters in Seattle dropped a line to say their electric vintage Vespa conversion kit is now available to the general public. The price tag isn’t for the weak of heart but it has a few things going for it. First it’s the only way to get a good looking electric scooter. Second is that the price is over half made up of the new lighter Lithium battery pack. Hopefully advances in technology can drive this price down in the future. But most importantly it’s stated to come with directions. I’m sure people have run in to DIY projects about electric motorcycles with vague descriptions of the accumulation and assembly of parts. This kit is supposed to fit any largeframe Vespa. While Piaggio has made (and burried) the Zip and Zip in the past and has promised a hybrid vehicle to be coming soon, it’s not here yet. Any tree huggers up for taking the situation into their own hands?

In Memory of Marshall Tito: A Scooter Contest

To celebrate the upcoming officially recognized birthday of Josip Broz Tito I would like to offer the opportunity for one lucky trainspotter to win a fantastic Scootmoto decal. The first person to identify the model scooter displayed at 1:07 of this BBC video will win this prize. Don’t put links in your response below just the make and model and I’ll ‘fact check’. (If the feed goes dead here’s the direct link: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8032132.stm )

Disclaimer: Not an official contest. Subject to Bb pulling the post and replacing it with a helmet review. But I swear I’ll send one to the first lucky winner, as soon as I get around to it. -bgk

Symba: First ride impressions

Earlier today, 2SB met up for a chat with our local SYM rep Ken Rudoy, and ended up leaving with a SYM CityCom300i and a NEXX X30 Viper modular helmet to try out for a few days. More to come in that department. The visit also included a quick spin on the much-heralded Symba, in fact the very same preproduction example from the DealerExpo floor. If you’re like me, your first scooter was a rickety deathtrap with a convoluted manual transmission and way too much power for its own good. If you’re like me, you’ve since settled into a comfy automatic with push-to-cancel beeping turn signals and other modern conveniences (like brakes! and traction!), and forgotten all about springs in your butt and stalling and wheelies and the awesome, wonderful terror of your first ride. If you want to relive that magic, get thee to a SYM dealer, pronto. The Symba is a beautiful, well-made bike, but nothing (aside from maybe a vintage Honda Cub) will prepare you for clutchless foot-shift 4-speed. We’re hearing most dealers aren’t offering test rides, and now we know why. It’s a 101cc, but it just about shot out from under me a few times, and I didn’t dare test the upper gears. I’ll give it another try once I regain my composure, and write a more in-depth review, but for now, suffice to say that the Symba felt like (with apologies to Smog) a wild horse on a collision course with the sun, and we dug that feeling.

TSR Vespa smallframe disc brake in the works

tsrdisckit4In the 2strokebuzz tradition of finding scooter news and putting it under a tarp in the garage, we bring you month old news of a new Vespa smallframe disc brake system in the works that uses the traditional smallframe fork. The Scooter Republic is an outfit based in Vietnam that has been stealthily producing some reproduction and bespoke parts like SS90 replicas and some crazy exhausts for the smallframe range. When contacted for more information regarding the new smallie stoppers, a representative from TSR said the unit is in the late prototype stage and heading for production. The project is advanced to the point where they are currently accepting deposits on the first round of production. Now there appears to be an option for smallframe enthusiasts to get modern stopping power without resorting to the use of a PK fork. One caveat for the unit shown and to be produced first is that it is suited for the older style V90/V50 rim. While the numbers of riders with these wheels are smaller it is a great look and it’s possible to convert a scooter with the new style hubs and rims to the old pressed steel hubs. Further news revealed the addition of an anti-dive solution as well as a prototype for the newer style rims. Contact TSR by emailing: info AT tsr DOT vn. The tsr.vn website doesn’t give any additional information beyond a cool scooter cartoon but it’s worth the price of the click.

Symba, unleashed

Orin test rides the first Taiwanese scooter to be given a (misspelled) Swahili name. It’s a good overview, from a scooterists’ perspective. It appears the first shipment has spread around to dealers nationwide. SYM must have a new midwest sales rep who doesn’t know me, because he’s been in touch, hopefully we’ll have 2SB Symba and CityCom 300i reviews soon. If you think you’re going to need more Symba news than 2strokebuzz can provide, be sure to check out Team Symba.

LML launches 4T “Stella” in India

LML has apparently launched their 4-stroke “NV” (known to us as the Genuine Stella) in the Indian markets of Delhi and Ghaziabad. This Indian-market version surely varies to some degree from the DOT/EPA/CARB-approved version scheduled to come to the U.S. in early 2010, it’s good to read more about it. Sadly, this story seems to have many factual errors, such as the claim that it’s branded as a “Vespa,” or listing every country besides the U.S. as “Stella” territory. (It’s also a safe bet this is a third-generation re-write of an LML press release, and the bike’s not actually on the market yet) Two interesting numbers: They’re claiming almost 130 mpg, and an MSRP of $851 for the deluxe version. Genuine suggested 120mpg, so that’s maybe not far off, but the price is rather hard to believe. Genuine’s surely marking them up a good deal to make it worth their while, but we’d like to think it’s not that much.

Also good to see that the Indian scooter market is bouncing back a bit. Remember, we’ve been predicting a “retro” Bajaj for 2010, though if LML is only selling 1500 scooters a year domestically (and only 5000 worldwide), maybe India’s not ready yet. (Thanks for the link, Pete Selkowe!)

Seattle’s All-City Scooter Community Day

I love the idea of Seattle’s All-City Scooter Community Day. There are always a lot of rides and rallies in any major city, but we’re usually just enjoying ourselves and we rarely think of ways to engage the greater community. I keep thinking of ways it could be expanded: transportation forums, local government involvement, riding classes or demonstrations, rider education, and maybe even some community service… with a lot of planning and publicity, it seems like a terriffic way to promote scootering.