Timoni’s Travels through Time

Former Piaggio Americas CEO Paolo Timoni has written an editorial speculating on the future for Dealernews. If we ever seemed less-than-confident in Timoni’s guidance, this editorial piece should make our case nicely. Timoni’s hopes for the future in many ways are parallel those of 2strokebuzz, but we’d never in a million years imply that our dreams are realistic. Granted, he admits it’s all a bit of a fantasy, but one can’t help wondering if Piaggio’s U.S. growth plan was hitched on the same fantasy.
Let’s take a quick look at his predictions:
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BMW “Concept C” to U.S.

Hell for Leather reports they were told firsthand that the widely-hyped BMW Concept C scooter will enter production with a planned 2012 U.S. market debut. (2SB suspected this might be the case when we, apropos of nothing, started getting BMW PR emails last week.)

Guido Ebert followed up on Facebook:

…some media outlets have been wondering whether it’ll come with ABS and LED headlamps. Answer: Yes. The company likely to build the scoot already offers ABS and LED lights on its own scooters.

That sure sounds like Kymco to us. Kymco’s a fine company that builds great scooters, but will Americans pay BMW prices for Taiwanese scooters with a roundel?

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?

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.

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.

A Swiss-tastic e-Bike

I usually avoid posting about trendy e-Bike prototypes, but this nifty-looking folding e-bike is apparently available in Switzerland. You may note it’s quite evocative of another famous Swiss product (not cheese) and might be a better candidate for your car’s trunk than the Motocampo concept posted the other day. Voltitude is taking pre-orders for international delivery in late 2011.

Return of the Honda Motocampo?

Scooter Station features photos of a new Honda Motocampo concept, a modernized version of the scooter that was designed to fit in the back of the Honda City automobile for the 80s Japanese market. It was a great idea then, and still is, but will Madness be available for the television commercial?
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Fremont Motors Electric Scooter Concept Show In Seattle

In the past I have posted a few items on the electric conversion offerings from Soundspeed Scooters in Seattle. Now the man behind those efforts, Jeb Gast, has designed a new electric scooter to be unveiled this Friday, March 4th at Motore Coffee in Seattle, WA. The party begins at 5:30 and the designer/builder will be on hand to show off his work and talk about the process and plans for the future.

The new venture is called Fremont Motors and the scooter has been named “Fido”. The goal was to make a new, clean design that would allow user access for maintenance, but simple enough to minimize the need. Jeb has shared some preliminary ideas and specifications that sound exciting. He’s promised to send photos of the event but if anyone from the gray, damp city can attend, please take some snaps and send them to brookespeed at that google email service.

Fido Release Party
Friday, March 4th, 5:30pm
Motore Coffee
1904 9th Ave, Seattle

Rok Bagoros, Slovenian Stunt Rider

As if Americans need further proof that scootering is far more evolved in Europe, stunt riding has been growing in popularity across the Continent. Originally featured in exhibitions at other motorsports events, stunt riding apparently has its own competitions now, and one of the leading stars is Rok Bagoros, a 21-year-old Slovene who grew up idolizing German sportbike stunter Chris Pfieffer and has been practicing since he turned 15. Rok performs astounding stunts, all on his customized automatic Yamaha Aerox. He’s got sponsors, a flashy website, autographed photos, magazine features, and a growing fan base. We’ve all seen our share of ill-advised scooter jackassery, but wouldn’t it be great to see Americans take stunt scootering (and racing, and customization) to such a professional level?

2010 Land Speed Trials

The long-awaited first MSILSF scooter speed trial took place last Sunday (November 21, 2010). The event faced a late change of venue from El Mirage Dry Lake (which turned out to be not-so-Dry-Lake) to a (slightly hilly) half-mile stretch of Route 66 near Devore, CA. The new shorter and hillier course perhaps wasn’t ideal for speed testing, but attendance was good and at the very least, a bar has been set in the various classes for future events. Overall winner was Patrick Owens at 90mph (Yamaha TMAX 500), all winners are listed here. The California Scooter Company posted a good overview and some great photos. Two MSILSF events are already planned for 2011, a Salton Sea Endurance Rally in March and a trip to IMOLA in July, as they work towards getting scooters officially sanctioned for AMA/BUB events at the Bonneville Salt Flats.

LML Electric Scooter Revealed At EICMA

As posted earlier, LML Italia has promoted the arrival of an electric scooter. The German scooter shop SIP has delivered the goods with four snapshots of the literally green Star Electric. The scooter is an electric conversion of the popular LML Star (aka Genuine Stella). Electric conversions of largeframe Vespa scooters has been available as custom work from Soundspeed Scooters in Seattle. I’m betting a Stella Electric may come in at a similar price as the conversion plus an old project someone has never finished. We’ll wait and see. How much would you pay for an electric Stella?

LML ready to counter Vespa threat

Can Vespa shut down LML in Europe with their new PX retread? We’re betting it won’t be easy. The LML was on the market first, and even their top-of-the-line 4-stroke model is quite a bit cheaper than the Vespa model it apes (no pun intended). On top of that, Italy and PGO are offering subsidies of up to 22% for the 4-stroke LML Star Sure, there is a crowd that would never settle for an LML over a Vespa, but we bet plenty of thrifty Europeans will choose the cheaper LML, especially where subsidies apply. And Vespa’s threat is further mooted with new LML models expected to be announced at EICMA this week. Rumors include automatic transmission, electronic fuel injection, an electric version, and 50cc, 200cc, and even 250cc variants. We don’t expect to see all of those (especially the 250) but you can bet on a few of those, and a “Create your Star” program becoming available soon, at least in Europe.

In the disintegrating U.S. market where the LML Star is sold as the Genuine Stella, Vespa is unlikely to import the PX. The PX models sold a few years ago were priced at about $5000 and were unavailable in California. That price would likely be higher today, and California’s CARB emissions standards are spreading to 16 states, including scooter-friendly Washington, Oregon, New York, and Florida.

Ironically, the Vespa’s dated-but-beloved 2-stroke engine might be it’s biggest selling point, as LML is allegedly phasing out their 2-stroke version. But it’s still a mystery why Vespa, who were forced out of the US market in 1985 by emissions laws, haven’t bothered to develop a 4-stroke engine for the classic Vespa frame in the ensuing 25 years. Vespa and Piaggio continue to innovate in other product lines, so perhaps it’s a smart decision (and minimal investment) to keep the Vespa PX frozen in time, but LML is likely to cut deeply into the PX’s relatively small pool of customers with the same classic body, competitive pricing, and more modern engineering.

SIP Scooter Shop Photos And Hints Of Another New Lambretta

SIP Scootershop has a great collection of photos on flickr from INTERMOT in Germany. Among the photos were several interesting snaps of new offerings. First, one that caught my eye as a novel design for an electric scooter. I’m not sure of the origin. Please, if anyone recognizes it chime in. According the the INTERMOT booth chart the company next to Hyosung-Germany is “SUZHOU HANDE ELECTRIC BICYCLE CO.”. I think it’s just a good use of long, horizontal, flat floorboards and the raised channels space as well as other ergonomically sensible configuration aspects.

But most interesting was the appearance of the Lambretta name in one of the photos. Sadly, no machine. While several entities vie for the Lambretta name and image, the teaser image on the web-site is attractive if even just the tail end. This group is apparently Irish, spreading the claim to yet another nation. Hopefully we’ll have even more to write about this and other new Lambretta efforts soon.

Fuji X-100 (Not a Scooter)

As a scooterist/reader of this site, you’ll surely know the feeling of consumerist love at first sight. I’ve become obsessed with countless vehicles at countless rallies and motorcycle trade shows, and I’m sure you have too. Once in a while, you get to the point where you see an early prototype and know you will eventually own that bike, as long as the manufacturer doesn’t screw up between the concept and manufacturing stages (sadly they usually do!)

Well, this week Fuji Co. (The film/camera concern, totally unrelated to Fuji Heavy Industries of Fuji Rabbit scooter and Subaru fame) unveiled the camera of my dreams, and gave me a lot of insight about the scooter market and the difference between what consumers want, what they think they want, and what they get. On top of that, I know of at least two other scooterist designer/photographers that are counting the days and saving pennies until it’s released, so maybe it’s of interest to scooterists in general.
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