Up with Plastic!

A thoughtful letter from reader James Ballot:

What a terrific site! The logo alone is worth the price of admission!

I have a small issue to bring up: the subtle prejudice against plastic retro-style scoots, evinced in 2SB’s paen to the resurgent Bajaj America. You claim the new breed of 50s, presumably the Vino, Metropolitan, et alia, are slower than their vintage 50cc counterparts. This, of course, is patently false. While I cannot comment on the US iteration of the Metropolitan (which features 4-stroke tech that will in all likelihood set future standards for scooters, damn it all), the Vino should at least be accorded grudging acceptance by the Classic scooting cognoscenti. The Vino’s speed is restricted to make it, for the purposes of registration in the US, a moped. With a few minor modifications, howeveroones of subtraction, rather than addition–the Vino will run with practically any stock 50 I’ve encountered. And, in this guise, it performs a bit better than similarly equipped and displaced Vespa ET2s and Italjet Velos. Also, there is a burgeoning after-market parts trade for the Vino, which should grant at least a veneer of legitimacy to this new-age two-stroke model so often maligned and yet so terribly popular. (Gee, maybe someone should start
marketing steel replacement body panels for the Vino.)

Laugh if you will,but Yamaha cannot keep these things on the showroom floor, despite the fact that they are marketed practically by word of mouth alone. The latest Vespa 50, by comparison, hasn’t enjoyed similar success, despite a massive marketing and publicity campaign.

I won’t even comment on the gorgeous, popular, and hideously overpriced/underpowered Velo, except to say that it costs $3300 and that Puff Daddy owns a few. While the Bajaj Cheetak’s price falls in the same range as the Metro and Vino (actually $300 more), it is a different animal entirely, mostly because it’s got a 145 cc engine, which demands that, in most states and provinces, one register it as a motorcycle and be licensed as a motorcycle driver. Still, it’s a damn cool ride that will, hopefully, reduce pressure on the used Vespa/Lambretta market. Matter of fact, I plan to get one, if only to have a ride that features a naked spare off the back.

But for that same reason, tooosatisfying demand for classic-looking scootsovintge scoot enthusiasts shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss the Vino and its ilk. For some, scootering is a labor of love–and thank god, or we likely would not have your publication, among other things! But for others, it’s merely a preference or something entirely more practical, hence the demand for Vinos, Metros, etc. Consider it a case of different 2-strokes for different folks.

Stay cool, keep up the good work!

Yer pal in the Big Apple,

James Ballot