Vespa Scooters – The Essential Buyer’s Guide

Veloce's Vespa Buyer's Guide AppVeloce books, the British motorsports publisher responsible for at least half of the decent scooter books available out there, has published a Vespa Buyer’s Guide mobile app. The last thing I need is more vintage scooters so I’m too cheap to drop $2.50 on it, but if it’s anything like their books, it’s probably useful, worth the money, comfortingly Anglocentric, and <snark>not as well-designed as it could be.</snark>

Ch-Ch-Changes

Two big changes in the U.S. scooter world this week:

Arguably the most influential player in the growth of scootering in America in the past two decades, Philip McCaleb, has stepped down from day-to-day operations at Genuine Scooter Company , to be replaced by Dorothy Hanley.

After five years as president of the Vespa Club of America, Mike Bobadilla has stepped down and passed the reins on to John ‘Jac’ Carolan of New Orleans, and Amerivespa will return to the Crescent City for 2014.

Well, It’s Happened

In 2003, writing about the CycleWorld motorcycle show, I wrote:

The Ruckus has “personal injury lawsuit” written all over it. (…) What can I say? it was hands-down the most ridiculous, ugly, pointless vehicle on display in the entire arena. And Grace, Vina and I all loved it. It’s basically a 2-wheeled ATV. You can’t look at it without thinking about ways to hurt yourself riding it. It simply inspires jackassery. It’s just begging to be covered in chicken wire and papier mache, or to be ridden “Bad-Route-style” through the woods while tripping, wearing nothing but cutoff shorts and a gorilla mask. Love it. It’s the future of scootering.

Here we are, ten years later, and my prophecy is fulfilled: Are You F*#kin Nuts? Chicago 2013. Actually it was fulfilled last year, when 40 riders attended the mostly-Ruckus-centered event, but as an expert globetrotting scooter journalist who posts once every two months these days if you’re lucky (you’re not), it passed right under my sad-old-man Cushman-polishing radar. We’ve been seeing more and more hot-rodded Ruckii at our own rallies in the past few years, and as far as I’m concerned, everyone’s welcome at most of our rallies, so we’re glad to have ’em, and more power to ’em, but obviously it’s not my demographic, I can’t even pretend to understand it, and I’m sure they’ve had their own blogs and tumblrs and sext aggregators and whatever it is that hipper, younger, carefree scooterists do these days to justify their existence. So as 2strokebuzz enters its wane of old age (seriously you guys, I need to pull the plug on this thing and put it out of its misery) cheers to the next generation, you’re just as stupid as we were and if you’re luckier than us, you’ll stay that way.

SIP to produce smallframe cases


Hodgespeed let us know that SIP is currently in the process of making tooling to produce Vespa smallframe PK-style engine cases. Great news in itself, as they’d gone out of production, but to me, the interesting part of the post is the CAD drawings of the mold for one side of the case. You hear a lot of people saying “Why don’t they just make….” Here’s the answer, look at the complexity and SIZE of that mold, and that’s just for one case-half (engine cases having two halves, you see.) So knowing that SIP has invested tens of thousands of Euros already, with all the machining and production costs to come, and testing, and the concern that the demand might be less than anticipated, or any tiny mistake in engineering or quality control could be disastrous, it’s a wonder they’ve taken on the project, though I’d wager most scooterists are certainly glad they did.

Now, a note, because everytime I post something like this, I get emails once a month forever from non-english speakers: 2strokebuzz does not sell this or any scooter parts. If you are interested in this product, please contact SIP in Germany.

The Old Weather Challenge?

Jeffraham Prestonian posted a rebuttal and alternate challenge (in the NOHO thread since we’d blocked the CWC thread from anything but entries). Jeff’s a good dude, and he makes some good points, so I thought we should link it up in a fresh post (open to comments!) and take the chance to spiel a little…

First off, as you’ve surely noticed, 2SB has slowed down and is going through some changes. I started it as a zine in 1995, and it’s been online (mostly) since 2000. I’m pretty much ready to retire, and since Matt (with support from our pal Peter from Piston Ported) took the initiative to run the CWC this year, I told him he could do it however he wanted.

But I support his decision to restrict the Cold Weather Challenge to vintage(-ish) bikes, and here’s why:

Over the years, I’ve gone way out of my way to write about modern scooters and try to make new scooterists and modern scooterists feel like part of 2strokebuzz. I tried to look outside the ska/mod/skin thing, and show how diverse scootering was, even then.

In 1995, the main means of communication among scooterists was photocopied flyers and phone calls, followed distantly by Usenet (already with a rift between alt.scooter, and alt.scooter/classic, I haunted the former.) There were only a handful of worthwhile scooter shops nationwide. The only ‘modern’ scooters available were from Honda and Yamaha, and both were selling crusty models introduced in the mid-80s (the same models that contributed to Vespa’s demise in the U.S.). A big city would have a club or two, but if you didn’t live in L.A. or Chicago, it was hard to find anyone to ride with. There was a rally SOMEWHERE in North America any given weekend, but it may be a 14-hour drive to meet the same small group of regulars that would show up at all of them. Most of us were young, unmarried, childless, and underemployed.

In the late 90s when Vespa came back, and a few other marques showed up in the U.S., the rift grew, and I didn’t like it, and I spoke out about it. I felt like all scooterists needed to band together and be supportive to grow the ‘scene’ or ‘hobby’ or whatever it was and any scooter on the road was a good scooter.

Today, there are still a lot of reasons for scooterists to band together, and they do, and I like that. But things are easier now, just about any decent-sized city has a shop, and a couple clubs, and a weekly ride, and a couple rallies every year. Thanks to the internet, you can find infinite people with your same interests, either in your town, or around the world.

At the same time, after years of writing about modern scooters and trying to keep track of some truly shitty importers and too many importers that were nice enough but just didn’t know what the fuck they were doing, and dealing with legal threats and shady people and sifting through Google News looking for stories to repost, I’ve realized that even though I ride a modern scooter (far more than I ride vintage scooters these days), and I’m very satisfied with it, I just don’t get the same throb inside as I do when I see an old Vespa. It’s still fun to ride, and it’s fun to hang out with modern scooterists and go to big rallies where everyone’s welcome, but it’s also good to realize that there’s a lot of events going on, and more people with scooters than I’ll ever meet, so it’s great to have the option to spend a weekend with people I’ve known for 17 years, riding the unreliable bikes that got me interested in this whole mess. If I go to a car show, even a car show where anyone’s welcome, it’s gonna be the vintage cars that are gonna make me drool, and I’m gonna walk right past the ’95 Thunderbirds and Low Riders and custom vans and NASCAR replicas and customized modern Minis. No dis, it’s just not my thing, and I’m too old and WAY too busy to feel obligated to pay attention to stuff that doesn’t interest me much.

So hey, Jeff, I’m not offended at all that you’re offended, and I’m glad you’re picking up the event for the modernistas. Between the mild winter and the slow death of the commitment to 2strokebuzz, we only have one entry to date, so maybe yours’ll be more successful, and I’m cool with that. But to Matt (and me, too), there’s something special about dragging an unreliable, decades-old decomposing scooter (or a shiny restoration that you should really be more careful with) out of the garage in the dead of winter and sticking it to Mother Nature. Doing the same thing on a modern bike, even a warrantied, factory-fresh bike with electronic ignition, is still quite an accomplishment, and it’s absolutely cool to celebrate that, too. The Stella ‘loophole’ isn’t perfect, but it makes the line simpler to draw, and our sponsor probably asked to include Stellas simply because he supplies parts and accessories for Stellas.

So no hard feelings, it’s all good, the more people on scooters the better, the more scooter blogs and shops and clubs and rallies and winter challenges the better, I hope it all keeps growing so we can celebrate our differences as much as we celebrate our similarities, with the option to do both as the mood strikes.

New Maryland “Motor Scooter Law”

The Maryland MVA has announced a new Motor Scooter Law requiring titles, insurance, and a helmet and eye protection, in addition to existing laws that require a drivers license or moped permit.

Maryland has famously been very liberal regarding scooter operation, this law brings their requirements in line with most other states, but it’s interesting to see the word “Motor Scooter” used by a government license bureau. Most states differentiate between mopeds, motorcycles, and scooters in their laws, but use hazy and arcane terms like “motor-driven cycle” and “motorized pedalcycle.” Perhaps “motor scooter” still leaves room for interpretation (I haven’t seen the exact wording of the law) but it’s nice to see that terminology thrown around for once. Even if Maryland riders are not likely thrilled about the law, they can say “motorscooter” at the MVA and maybe not get a blank stare.

Thanks for the link, Alex Tasi (via facebook).