Amerivespa, High Rollers updates

The Amerivespa 2010 website is up. It’s earlier than usual this year, May 27-31, in San Antonio, TX. , One new feature I’m kind of excited about is a scooter art show that will include great Amerivespa artwork from this year’s designer Robert Tatum, plus Shag, Shepard Fairey, R. Black, Glen Reid and some poseur named Bryan. Rally registration is open now, as usual, it is CRITICAL to pre-register if you want to participate in all events and get a fully-packed goodie bag.

The Vegas Rally is February 25-28, and returns to Fremont Street, which should be goodtimes. The Inciters are playing the Saturday Allnighter, with the usual load of great DJs. Pregistration closes February 12

Lambretta in MotoGP 125, WTF?

The provisional 2010 MotoGP 125cc Rider list was released today with two riders, Italians Luis Salom and Marco Ravaioli, representing team “Lambretta Reparto Corse” (“Lambretta Racing Department”) Surely, this is a joke, right? One can name a team whatever one likes, but both have “Lambretta” listed as their bike for the season. Both riders were abandoned by Chinese manufacturer Loncin, I can imagine one of the several entities posing as “Lambretta” these days sponsoring a 125cc GP team, but surely they will not be riding anything resembling a Lambretta, modern or vintage, on the track?

Thanks for the tip, Cy.

Chinese Food for Less!

Last month, a dealer sent us an “end of the year sale” email that he received — unsolicited — from a Chinese scooter importer.

2strokebuzz policy is to maintain a certain level of privacy regarding wholesale prices. Dealer markup on most scooters is pretty modest, and keeping that number a secret is only fair.

In this case, though, I think it’s only fair to consumers to show how low dealer prices have dropped on Chinese scooters. So we’ll list the prices, but not the importer. The importer in question is not a top brand, but they’re a brand that’s been around a while and advertises in scooter and dealer magazines, so they’re not a bottom-feeding internet outfit, either.

Here’s a sample of their DEALER prices on 2009 models:

150 Scooter: $400
150 “Deluxe” Scooter: $450
150cc ATV: $500
250cc Motorcycle: $900

Turns out, a few weeks later, the importer filed for bankruptcy, which is hardly surprising. But even if these prices are below their cost, what does that say about the quality of the scooters? Would you ride a 150cc scooter that cost $500 to build? Think about all the cost of all the individual components of the scooter, the labor to assemble it, and the shipping costs to deliver it across the country. Think about the cost of running a business, warehousing the scooters, supplying parts and service. And even if the importer is taking a bath on these bikes, the manufacturer in China surely made a couple hundred bucks in profit, selling it to the importer. Do you want to ride a 150cc scooter that cost $300 or less to make?

Do you want to pay $900 or $1200 for the opportunity? Dealers sell these bikes because they can mark them up 100% over dealer cost, and they still look like a bargain compared to the (quality) competition. So the importer is making more per scooter, the dealer is making more per scooter, and customer gets a particularly crappy scooter, without even getting the good deal that the dealer got. These sales hurt quality dealers and importers, who put a higher percentage of the customer cost into manufacturing and quality assurance.

Knuckledragger Dean on American Pickers

Rumor has it Dean from the Knuckledraggers SC (Quad Cities IL/IA) appears in the second episode of the new History Channel show American Pickers, featuring a Vespa Ape. The episode, “Super Scooter,” should eventually be available for streaming here.

UPDATE: it’s up now on Thanks again, Scrambler.

Via Scrambler17 on ChiScooterList, thanks!

Now More Than Ever…

Several people have sent us the Denver Post story about Sportique’s financial woes. That’s certainly a sad story worth reading, and proof that even the best scooter dealers are in big trouble right now. Sportique’s been around for twelve years and certainly has a reputation equalled by only a handful of shops, so if they’re in trouble, we’re all in trouble.

A lot of fly-by-night scooter shops (and a few good ones) have already closed down, and many more will close in the next few months. This attrition of dealers is actually a good thing in one way: we’ll finally see fewer strip-mall dealers selling questionable or illegal bikes with virtually no aftersales support. Dealers that survive are the ones that know their stuff and love scooters. Anyone who’s been involved in scootering for more than a few years knows the market is brutally cyclical, but scooterists in the know hoped to see these “good guys” — great shops run by true scooter fanatics — survive. These shops aren’t bandwagon jumpers, they knew what they were getting into. They realize that a hemorrhage of sales can be replaced with chirping crickets in a matter of months. A few shops have been around since the eighties and have already been through the cycle. But even with vision and responsible planning, the triple whammy of the global recession, the end of a scooter-sales boom, AND the winter lull is proving too much to endure.

So this is a call to arms: if you like your local dealer, they need your support now more than ever. It just plain sucks to be a scooter dealer right now. So if you’ve been considering a new bike, or a performance upgrade, or a new jacket or helmet, or a rebuild, now’s the time to do it, and it’s more critical than ever to buy local and support the people that have supported you. Your dealer’s prices might be a bit higher than online or catalog prices, but they’ve worked hard for your business and chances are, they’re up against a wall. Your dealer needs you. Fewer dealers and fewer sales means fewer new scooter models being imported and fewer new scooterists, and reduced parts and accessories availabilty. If your local dealer closes, you may be stuck driving to the nearest big city (or the bigger city past that) for service and accessories. If importers start shutting down, you’re going to need to learn foreign languages to find parts.

If you’re new to scootering, 2008 was as big as it gets, but the lean years are great, too. A smaller scene separates the real life-long scooterists from the trendies, creates tighter bonds between scooterists, and paves the way for the next ‘boom.’ We’re going to lose some dealers, it’s a fact, but we MUST keep the best dealers going. With just a little boost from customers to survive these worst-case-scenario next few months, the best shops will eventually thrive, even through the lean years ahead.

Taffspeed Closing

Venerable Welsh parts supplier/tuner Taffspeed Ltd. will close at the end of the month after 27 years of service to the worldwide scooter community. Ian Frankland is scheduled for heart bypass surgery, and his former employees will continue running the shop (and dyno) as “Welsh Scooter Parts.” The Taffspeed name will live on in Frankland’s “Taffspeed Special Products” which will still be available from the new shop.

Thanks for the tip, Matt, and best of luck to Ian and the new shop!

Piaggio Drops Marketing VP, Sales Staff

Confirming rumors from last week, Dealernews reports that Piaggio USA has cut a few management positions, including vice president of sales/marketing and three sales directors. President/CEO Paolo Timoni looks into his crystal ball and speaks:

We don’t expect 2010 sales to go back to 2008 numbers.”

Thanks, Nostradamus! We’ve long mocked PiaggioUSA’s top-heavy management, expensive infrastructure, Harley-style marketing, and ridiculous sales goals, so maybe this is just the change they needed. PiaggioUSA does seem to slowly learn from their mistakes, so hopefully this is just a step towards a more sustainable model for long-term U.S. success, rather than the first step towards abandoning the U.S. market–yet again–when things look grim.

Corazzo behind New USTT Foundation

Our friend and Corazzo owner Bradford Duval stepped down from the presidency of the VCOA a couple months ago (Mike Bobadilla of Vespa Club Los Gatos took his place, btw) but he’s putting his time into another great two-wheeled organization. The new United States Tourist Trophy Foundation is looking to send Alaskan Jimmy Moore to the Isle of Man TT in May/June. The backers of the USTTF feel Moore is the man destined to be the first American on the podium in the races’ history, and they need your help getting him (and his bikes) there. Read more at

When that’s done, Bradford, Eric Almendral and I need your help getting Silent Ron to Dakar on a Blur 220EFI next winter. Eric and I have a new years’ resolution to make Ron the first American to not kill himself in the desert of South America on a Taiwanese moped.