When owners of Piaggio scooters with computerized engine control systems bring their steeds in for service the attendant hooks up a ‘code reader’ to help diagnose any issues. These codes give advice on how to proceed with repairs. Now, for the first time, the secret codes are revealed. Formerly only known to those with a secret set of instructions, these codes can now be interpreted by all. Continue reading “Secret Vespa GTS Brain Box Codes Revealed”
Famous daredevil and, for a time, England’s greatest Vespa and microcar dealer Andre Baldet passed away last week. Baldet allegedly invented the “dealer special” when he launched his customized line of “Arc-en-Ciel” Vespas with a 150cc model in 1957. The line continued through 1961 with the Vespa GS160, and possibly even into the SS180 era. By Baldet’s estimation, he sold 600 such scooters, usually with a few upgrades and a two-tone paint job achieved by spraying a second color over certain sections of the stock paint. During the same period, he became world-known for racing, daring stunts, and endurance rides featuring Vespas and microcars. He continued to sell Vespas until the early 1980s when he sold his dealerships. A great Baldet biography by John Gerber appeared in American Scooterist issue 48/49 (The GS anniversary double issue). (Image from the collection of John Gerber)
After naysaying rumors of a 210cc upgrade for the Genuine Buddy on ModernBuddy, I found Nitro’s photos of a prototype of the 210cc kit (presumably) taken at Scooterworks, from six months ago. So the rumor is this upgrade will be available soon, I still say it’ll be prohibitively expensive and require upgrades to the frame, carb, supsension, exhaust, etc, but we’ll see. The thought of a Buddy with a 210cc engine is alternately thrilling and terrifying.
Power Sports Factory, who recently announced a collaboration with motorsports legend Mario Andretti and Benelli, wasn’t taking any chances on getting exposure at DealerExpo. Every attendee’s badge had a PSF logo sticking out of the top and PSF ads were prominently placed in every official publication. They had an expensive-looking aluminum-and-glass booth in a great location right near the RCA dome entrance. And, of course they had Mario Andretti, in the flesh.
Continue reading “Dealer Expo 2008: Andretti/Power Sports Factory”
The March 2008 issue of Scootering confirms earlier reports that LML (the Indian manufacturer of the Genuine Stella) is ready to start production of 4-stroke geared Vespa-PX scooters. The story, written by an owner of UK LML importers Eddy Bullet, reports that 125, 150, and 250(!)cc versions are in the works. On a recent trip to New Zealand, VCOA historian John Gerber met the local LML importer (Retro Scooter, who import the LML as the Belladonna) who also confirmed the news, though he didn’t mention a 250cc version. He reports the Belladonna is selling very well in New Zealand. Gerber also met an Indian scooterist living in New Zealand who had actually ridden the long-rumored LML Clipper (a clone of the Vespa ET-series).
Continue reading “LML: 4T PX, ET clones available soon?”
Let’s get the DealerExpo ball rolling again (finally!) with a booth that didn’t offer many surprises, but gave us a first look in person at a few bikes we’d been hoping to see in person. The return of the Stella was of course big news to long-time scooter fans, but only one avocado model was on display at the booth shared by sister companies Genuine Scooter Co. and Scooterworks. Presumably, they sold the rest of their first small shipment since 2006.
Continue reading “Dealer Expo 2008: Genuine/Scooterworks”
NOTE: I got a couple things wrong in the original story, hopefully I’ve covered all the mistakes. Apologies to Cobra Powersports for the mistakes and the delay in correcting them.
As Brooke pointed out last week, one of Dealer Expo’s biggest surprises was that TGB importer Cobra Powersports has added historic German marque Sachs to their lineup. Cobra is a solid operation with a good dealer network, and most dealers we talked to were pretty excited by the news.
Continue reading “TGB/Sachs at DealerExpo2008 REVISED”
2SB reader Jon Madorsky of Chicago was in Florida for the 2008 Daytona 500 last Saturday and sent these cool photos of police patrolling the track perimeter on white Honda Elites. Thanks, Jon!
Continue reading “The NASCAR Elite”
Close your eyes. Take a deep breath. Picture a midwestern pro football stadium. Got it? Now picture it totally full of Chinese motorscooters. Hold on, we’ll save you the trouble, here’s what it looks like:
We have a lot to say about Dealer Expo, and a lot of photos, so instead of one really long writeup, we’ll split it up into smaller posts all week. Stay tuned.
Piaggio today announced the immediate availability of two 60th-anniversary Vespa models in navy blue (“Midnight Blue Metallic”). The LXV and GTV are retro-ized versions of the LX and GT that were originally released in 2006 to coincide with the Vespa’s 60th anniversary (and it took me until now to realize that “LX” is the Roman numeral for “60”). Continue reading “Vespa Navy”
Our old friend and contributor Phil Waters of Pride of Cleveland Scooters sent this informative and funny dispatch with much insight about Piaggio’s dealer training, and some dirt on their upcoming scootersâ€¦ including photos of the Piaggio MP3-badged Gilera Fuoco 500!
Last week The Rabid Badger (Renae) and I attended Piaggio Dealer Training in lovely Costa Mesa, California. A rumor has been going around that Piaggio is closing their Costa Mesa Tech Center to dealers. We would only be able to get future training secondhand from certified “training centers” located regionally. In other words, it sounds like Piaggio is going to make folks from “ABC Motorcycle Mechanics School” pay big bucks to attend a training class, which will certify them to train the ever increasing number of questionable Piaggio/Vespa Dealers at a cost I’m sure will be split with Piaggio/Vespa. Call me a conspiracy theorist, but I haven’t been wrong yet.
The A-Z of Popular Scooters and Microcars, Cruising with Style, by Michael Dan
Veloce Books, 2007
Paperback, 256 pages
The peak of the current “scooter boom” (surely it can’t get any bigger?) has been marked by an ever-growing number of books, each more general than the last. Most of the current scooter books are targeted at wheel-kicking neophytes, and some were clearly written by folks that have never straddled a 150cc engine. Even books targeted towards scenesters, like Colin Shattuck’s great Scooters: Red Eyes, Whitewalls & Blue Smoke have their faults; listings of events, models, and clubs are outdated soon after publication and there’s just not enough space to do justice to the diverse range of subjects covered. Few scooter books find an engaging “hook” and really focus on it, and too many books rely on fifth-hand recycled historical boilerplate, most of it simply re-hashing Piaggio’s self-scripted mythology.
On the opposite extreme, Veloce’s books are (hurrah!) written by anoraks for anoraks, and while The A-Z of Popular Scooters and Microcars, Cruising with Style perhaps isn’t quite as slick-looking as other new books on the market, it seems likely to appeal to a fanatical scooter/microcar owner or someone wishing to just skim the surface. It’s great to find a book written from first-hand personal experience. Michael Dan is a solid writer who clearly loves and respects his subject matter. He fills the book with engaging stories of his exploits in the fifties riding various tiny-wheeled contraptions. Doubling the subject matter by throwing microcars into the mix seems like a bad move, focus-wise, but this book is probably the first to explore the connections between these two “niche” vehicles, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a devotee of either who lacked (at least) a passing interest in the other, so it’s a smart combination. Dan discusses the connections in detail: not only did many companies produce microcars and scooters concurrently, there was also crossover in the transportation market and the rally scene. Microcars were also a popular upgrade for scooterists finding themselves with a larger income and/or family.
The book starts with a brief overview of its subjects, building a historical context for the machines we love and the scenes that developed around them. The next section, and the most pleasant reading, goes into more detail on several specific models, featuring photos, ephemera, and the author’s first-hand period anecdotes from fifties Britain. This section is followed by nearly 100 pages of “A-Z” listings, featuring three scooters or microcars per page with specifications and notes about each model. The listings aren’t slavishly comprehensive, but they feature a good mix of the common vs. the obscure, with scooters and microcars from around the world, from the forties to the current day.
After the listings, Dan has assembled simple but great feature: a series of timelines, sorting popular marques and models by decade. The timelines put the models and their development in a temporal context with their contemporaries, depicting booms and draughts. A photo gallery fills the remaining 25 pages, bringing the book to 256 pages, each packed tight with scooter and microcar goodness.
Veloce’s design and typography is a bit disappointing. A $60 book simply deserves a bit more care in that department. Veloce seems to follow the Scootering magazine school of jamming as much photography and text on the page as possible, using wacky angles, drop shadows, repeated images, stretched type, goofy oversized captions, and similar “corporate newsletter” design traps. A simpler, cleaner design would serve the information better. Stranger still are the shots where a scooter or car was digitally added to an idyllic landscape, surely they didn’t think they were fooling anyone? Aside from those quibbles, the printing and binding is top-quality, and most of the photography is solid. The period ephemera is tops–ads and brochures we’ve never seen before, reproduced very cleanly. The majority of the “A-Z” section features snapshots taken at swap meets and car shows. If you’re expecting big-budget Art of the Motorcycle-style portraits of hundreds of models, you’re not going to find them here, these are real-world machines in various states of repair, restoration, or decay, and the eBay-auction-style photos are actually an engaging way to present them.
A trivia-obsessed scooterist might debate a few finer points of the text, but there’s certainly nothing blatantly wrong, which can’t be said for many of the ‘scooter boom’ cash-ins on the market. Assuming that the microcar data is similarly sound, this book is perfect for a devotee of either vehicle, and a great bridge between two scenes that don’t communicate much, but share many common elements. Any vintage scooter fan won’t be disappointed with this book, the scooter information is fresh and personal, and the microcar content offers instant immersion in an unexplored, parallel world.
More info available at Veloce’s site.
A month ago, I saw some flyers around the neighborhood about an Oktoberfest at the park next to my house. I noticed that it would include a “Car Show” and I figured that a) it wasn’t very well-publicized, b) it was being run by amateurs outside the car-show scene, and c) entrants were required to pre-register in person or by mail, all three factors that would probably pretty seriously limit entries. So I mailed in an application to show my “award-winning” (ha) Vespa Primavera, mostly just for fun, but also secretly in hope that no one would show up and I might win something. Once you get a taste of sweet, sweet trophy, you want more.
Plus, I broke my other trophy.