AMA “Fuels the Fund”

The only scientific study of motorcycle accidents ever performed in the United States was the famous Hurt Report (download PDF), published in 1981 using statistics and reports collected in California in 1979 and 1980. 25 years later, The Hurt Report’s findings remain the gospel of safe motorcyclists, but even Dr. Harry Hurt, interviewed in 2000 for David L. Hough’s fantatsic and essential book “Proficient Motorcycling,” seemed amazed that a more comprehensive study has never come along to replace it. Finally, in 2005, Congress approved a new motorcycle crash study, budgeting $2.8 million, with the stipulation that manufacturers, organizations, and motorcyclists would need to raise an additional $2.8 million. With a marked increase in both riders and accidents over the past couple years, the American Motorcycle Association has committed $100,000 of club funds to the study, and is asking members and all riders to do their part as well. Their Fuel the Fund initiative makes it easy to donate any amount, funding a study that could make an even bigger impact than the Hurt Report, and save lives for years to come. In the meantime, it’s a always a good idea to re-read Hurt’s study, and Hough’s books.

Fire up the willing engine, responding with a roar

Canadian TV host Rick Mercer has driven a lot of different vehicles while interviewing celebrities and officials, but nothing could be better than riding a Vespa following Neil Peart of Rush to the band’s “Batcave” for a drum lesson. Peart, aside from being an amazing drummer, has written two books about motorcycle touring, and another about “road music.”

Questionable Content’s VespAvenger

The VespAvenger

Aside from the glorious Achewood, to which you should surely be addicted, I’ve never become too engrossed in web comics. But Cy just hepped me to Questionable Content, in which the current plotline features robots, the VespAvenger, librarian jokes, Death Cab for Cutie references, and assorted cute indie rock lesbians. I think the hook is set.

Scootering Magazine turns 21

step away from the airbrushBritish magazine Scootering is celebrating its 21st birthday with a extra-large July issue. Their website and magazine have improved recently, yet they remain an acquired taste for American scooterists who don’t really see the point of engraving and murals. Even if you’re not a fan of the British custom scene, this anniversary issue looks worth tracking down as it includes a “Where are they now” article checking in on many of the hundreds of custom bikes they’ve featured over the years (a sample).

Field-Tested Absolute Beginners

I wrote a review of my favorite marginally-scooter-related book, Colin MacInnes’ Absolute Beginners, for Coudal Partners’ Field-Tested Books feature, in which famous-ish writers (like me, ha) write reviews of books related to their summer vacation. The good news is, it’s finally back in print, if you’ve never read the book, forget you ever saw the movie and read it! (it’s part of The London Trilogy, which costs $1 more than Absolute Beginners by itself.)

New Haynes book for Twist-n-Gos

Haynes Scooter Manual10-15 years ago, if you bought an old Vespa, the next thing you bought was the Haynes Manual. You had two choices: one covered P-series Vespas, and the other covered all other rotary-valve Vespas. They were limited in scope, contained a few errors, and the language was often confusing to American scooterists (“look inside the gas tank with a torch,” or “secure the new item via the Douglas spares replacement scheme”) but they usually got the job done. Since then dozens of scooter books have been published, but the Haynes books are still indespensible to vintage Vespa owners.

Since then, Haynes has added more scooter books, notably one for Vespa and Piaggio automatics and “The Scooter Book”, a general reference for scooterists. Their latest book, Twist and Go Scooters Service and Repair Manual contains specific specs for a wide range of scooters, as well as mainenance and repair info that applies to all automatic scooters in the 50-250cc range. Haynes’ US distributor does not appear to stock any of the more recent books, but some are available on Amazon, and the rest are available directly from Haynes.

Big Ass, Yamaha Vox featured in Moto-Champ

Click for larger imageRyetronics Ryan stopped by yesterday to show me his copy of Moto Champ Magazine, which he picked up at Mitsuwa. (They never have it when I go there, dangit). The “Mini Bike in America” section features a story about ScooterBBS admin “SE” and his shop Big Ass Motors. (click on picture for larger image), and the cover features a Japanese hoochie girl posing with the Yamaha VOX. Being completely unable to read Japanese, I can’t tell you anything about Big Ass Motors, or if the VOX pictured was the prototype or if it’s actually in production, but I can tell you they have a lot of cool bikes in Japan we’ll never see here.

Best… Bust… ever.

Nestled within the usual ads for yarn and alternative menstruation products, the April/May 2006 issue of Bust features a story about “biker gangs” for women. Though it covers bicycle, motorcycle, and scooter clubs, the Secret Servix SC monopolized the bulk of the text and photos, along with the Baltimore Bombshells and a couple other girls’ clubs. If that’s not enough to get you running to the newsstand, you also get Gretchen Mol convincingly dressing up like Bettie Page, and a story on comics artist Julie Doucet. Nice! Janel clearly made the right choice hiring Vina as her publicist.