Mod Photo Mystery

Also via Scooterism: Help Sandra find the photo of her brother Raymond Kelley used in countless books, ads, and such. I don’t have my copy of Richard Barnes’ Mods handy, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s the original source. Sandra refers to a book “Mods” in the story, but I think that’s a newer book that features the NME cover. As neat as it would be to see Sandra reunited with a good print, it’d be even better to see the original photographer pick up royalties from the frequent and probably unauthorized reproduction of his work over the years, and hopefully get a chance to exhibit or publish more prints from that period!

Piaggio adds a wheel to the MP3

With Mini, Smart, and now Volkswagen all (tentatively) targeting the scooter market, isn’t it time for Piaggio to build a car? Indeed it is. Piaggio’s Indian-market NT3 is based on the Ape platform and Piaggio expects it to be available in India in late 2012, and eventually in Europe and Asia. Props to Piaggio for not calling it “Il Nuovo Vespa 400” even though pretty much everyone else is.

Thanks for the link, Scooterism! You all follow Eric on Twitter, right?

I’m Scooterist, Moto&Go, and the Copa del Rey

Just as we left for Paris, Dawson from Hell’s Fairies came back from Barcelona and told us about a great scooter t-shirts shop there, I´m Scooterist. Then a couple days later, Moto&Go in Madrid emailed to offer their rental services. If you do ever rent a scooter in Madrid, look out for Real’s bus, it’s a menace. Coming soon: Barça will crush Real in the Champions’ League, and I’ll eventually post a bazillion scooter photos from Paris.

SYM Distributor Update

On April 13th, Lance Powersports published an open letter to SYM owners explaining the current SYM situation. An Eastern-U.S. distributor has still not been named, but Lance’s new sister company, Alliance Powersports, will handle left-coast distribution and has taken over SYM parts and warranty service nationwide. SYM owners should contact their dealer for parts and service, dealers should contact Alliance for parts/warranty support. Lance/Alliance National Sales Manager Mike Hickman also tells us that Alliance can supply new bikes to Eastern dealers until an Eastern distributor is named. The full letter and Hickman’s contact info follows.
Continue reading “SYM Distributor Update”

Bieber SEO Scooter Can of Corn

I have never used the word “Bieber” on this site, so here’s my shot at tripling my Google ranking: Justin Bieber on a scooter in Israel. He appears to be wearing clamdiggers (are those actually hip again? I guess they are now) but actual shoes and socks and a full-face. Good kid. Thanks for the link, Bradford, who just happened to be surfing some hispanic preeteen girl’s Justin Bieber Blogspot.


“Scooter Commuter,” 1962

It is absolutely mandatory that you watch the Rank Organisation’s “Scooter Commuter” film from 1962. A lot of the pitch is still true today, but more than anything, it’s just heartwarming to see such well-shot footage of vintage Vespas and Lambrettas (and Corgis, and Bonds, and more) in action back when a silk scarf was all the head protection you needed. It’s like watching Quadrophenia without the baggage and overwrought bass noodling.

Amerivespa NOLA Promo Video

Amerivespa 2011 is June 16-19 in New Orleans, and the New Orleans Scooter Cooperative seems almost TOO eager to host this year. They’ve created this great promo video (that I can’t embed, and you might not be able to see, because it’s on Facebook). if that doesn’t make you want to head down to NOLA and party, I don’t know what will.

Vintage Carousel Ride Scooter

Philadephia-based online vintage-resale boutique Three Potato Four is currently offering a vintage carnival-ride scooter for $1250. Most of us rarely pay that much for a actual, running vintage scooter but, you have to admit this thing is a neat find. They’re calling it a “Vespa” and it has a few Vespa-like features, but scooter nerds will recognize most of the features as more Lambretta-esque.

Thanks to Vina for the link.

Pinasco Slider Clutch Innovation

This morning, the email inbox of many vintage Vespa aficionados contained a message from the Italian aftermarket scooter company Pinasco. The email describes something akin to reinventing the wheel but a bit more intriguing. The new offering from Andrea Pinasco is a replacement for the brass bushing found in the clutch of Largeframe Vespas (#30 in this diagram). The ersatzenbushing isn’t just another sleeve but rather a caged roller bearing. The company claims it will reduce problems in gear changes and fit worn clutches. One wonders if it will fit a non-worn clutch. Anyone have one of those? I’d be interested to see what gear changes are like with this bearing in conjunction with a a multi-spring clutch. It’s uncertain if this fits all models. If anyone knows if the same bushing is used in all of these clutches chime in.

Gaga Gag Gift Vespa

Also via Scooterism: Sadly, this West Coast Customs Vespa designed as a birthday gift from Lady Gaga to Perez Hilton is not an April Fool’s joke. Seriously, is that what “World Famous Customs” shops with their own TV shows do? I have a Michael’s Frequent Shopper Card, a chisel-tipped paint pen, and a hot-glue gun, I should get into the biz. The cake-decorating-show people have way more skillz.

PS, you just *know* it’s a 2009 50cc, and Gaga’s people convinced some dealer to give it to them for nothing (for the “PR,” which there was none of) and then they dropped five figures on rhinestones at WCC without batting an eye.

Brooklyn Motorized’s Electric “Cafe Racer”

I know I’m supposed to support stuff like this, and it’s probably as well-intentioned as the FIDO, which I like (more on that from Brooke soon), and café racers are all the rage (OMG POCPhil’s podcast is amazing, more on that later, too) but this Brooklyn Motorized electric café racer thingy just looks like a Portlandia punchline. It’s like vegetarian “bacon,” I don’t have anything against alternative proteins at all, but why disguise them as bacon? it doesn’t look like bacon, it doesn’t taste like bacon, nobody’s going to be fooled, and it just makes you look like you’re desperate for validation from the mainstream carnivores. Make an attractive alternative to meat and sell it on its own strengths, and I’m there, shoving it in my bulgur hole.

I’m probably being too harsh, the performance (60mph) is compelling, and there are some neat engineering decisions going on (the briefcase powerpacks are nice). And other cafe-racer fans like Scooterism like it, so maybe I’m wrong. If the price was right it could be a winner, but I’m betting on premium hipster pricing.

I’m really interested to hear what you guys think about this, and I can’t wait until it comes up on Cleveland Moto.

Update: Brooklyn Motorized’s Wes Cox sent a worthy response:

I was searching “Brooklyn Motorized” to see what people thought, since today’s NYT wheels post was the first bit of press that we’ve released. I stumbled onto your post.

I completely get what you’re saying, it has been a weird trip designing this thing. Your write-up sounded like our team playing devil’s advocate with each other- You say vegan bacon, but for two years now I’ve been thinking of it as: “sugar free ice cream.” My first machine was a P200E, and last year, after a year on the electric motorcycle project, I had to buy a ’74 RD350. I take deep sniffs of the two stroke smoke, as do most of the team here- most all they guys are either into 2 stroke mopeds, and some of the guys are into bigger 4 strokes, SV’s and stuff like that. Well, we are entering an amazing era: The performance and range of electric motorcycles is going to increase at a pace many people are not expecting.

We thought our bike should draw on old street bike looks, but it definitely should not be too retro or too cafe- this was the first prototype, built a year ago.

I think once we get to production we’ll find the sweet spot. And we’ll all have to decide what the hell these machines should look like. We just dont want ours to look like an electronic transportation appliance.

It comes down to the ride too- the torque on these things is plain fun- the future is full of fun small electric bikes, and 2 stroke smoke will be a precious and rare smell.

Oh, and the price for our machine will be $5999, $5399 after the tax rebate. We priced it to land in Vespa price range, and it has been tough to keep the price down like that. It looks like we’ll be able to deliver at that price point.

Hill Street P200E

Vespa product placement from the early 80s: a P200E guest stars on Hill Street Blues.

You may not remember a time when scooter sightings in the media were rare, but back in 2sb’s ‘zine days (the mid-90s), a vintage scooter appearing in a commercial would set Usenet ablaze with excitement. This appearance (from 1983) would have come at a time when Vespa was active in the U.S. but struggling against falling gas prices, and Honda’s just-unveiled more modern 4-stroke scooters. Within a year, with help from Lou Reed, Devo, Grace Jones, and Adam Ant, Honda would dominate the market. With the added complications of new emissions laws in California, Piaggio abandoned the market a couple years later, not returning until 1999.

Was this appearance a deliberate marketing move, or a writer’s whim? Hard to say, but at this point, it’s likely Piaggio was seeking out any mass-media attention they could get, and law enforcement would have been an attractive market, indeed many police agencies did use Vespas for parking enforcement at the time, (and is that an Ape in the background?) On the other hand, the scooter is not particularly glorified, the officer riding it is humiliated on several occasions. This was the first part of a three-part series, if you can sit through them all, let me know if the scooter appears again in parts II or III.