Farewell, John Gerber

I’ve just heard that John Gerber has passed away. As an active participant in the U.S. scooter scene since “the old days,” John was the preeminent historian of American scootering history, collecting his own memories, first-person accounts, and laboriously-researched stories for American Scooterist. He was frankly the heart and soul of the Vespa Club of America. Aside from that, I have no details at all, but I’ll share the information when I get it, and a proper tribute when I’m less speechless.

Ride to Amerivespa with Kymco

KymcoUSA (once again) seems to be more excited about Amerivespa than VespaUSA, they had the kinda-neat idea to plan a group ride from their South Carolina HQ down to San Antonio, Texas for Amerivespa (May 27 – 31, 2010). They’re even offering to pay for gas for anyone else that comes along. If you’re a Kymco fan, this sounds like a pretty neat opportunity to get some face time with Kymco. On top of that, it’s good to know Kymco’s sales and marketing folks actually ride scooters occasionally, unlike most other brands. Find more info in this ridiculously long Constant Comment link, because I couldn’t find anything about it on Kymco’s site. VespaUSA, likewise, has nothing about Amerivespa on their site, despite being the title sponsor. Even worse, Vespa has not posted any news on their site since December. I don’t expect these guys to be blogging daily, frankly, no one would read it, but when you take the time and effort to plan an event or promotion, put it on your site, if for no other reason than to make it clear you’re still in business! I take all that back, see below, sorry.

Amerivespa, High Rollers updates

The Amerivespa 2010 website is up. It’s earlier than usual this year, May 27-31, in San Antonio, TX. , One new feature I’m kind of excited about is a scooter art show that will include great Amerivespa artwork from this year’s designer Robert Tatum, plus Shag, Shepard Fairey, R. Black, Glen Reid and some poseur named Bryan. Rally registration is open now, as usual, it is CRITICAL to pre-register if you want to participate in all events and get a fully-packed goodie bag.

The Vegas Rally is February 25-28, and returns to Fremont Street, which should be goodtimes. The Inciters are playing the Saturday Allnighter, with the usual load of great DJs. Pregistration closes February 12

Corazzo behind New USTT Foundation

Our friend and Corazzo owner Bradford Duval stepped down from the presidency of the VCOA a couple months ago (Mike Bobadilla of Vespa Club Los Gatos took his place, btw) but he’s putting his time into another great two-wheeled organization. The new United States Tourist Trophy Foundation is looking to send Alaskan Jimmy Moore to the Isle of Man TT in May/June. The backers of the USTTF feel Moore is the man destined to be the first American on the podium in the races’ history, and they need your help getting him (and his bikes) there. Read more at RoadRacerX.com.

When that’s done, Bradford, Eric Almendral and I need your help getting Silent Ron to Dakar on a Blur 220EFI next winter. Eric and I have a new years’ resolution to make Ron the first American to not kill himself in the desert of South America on a Taiwanese moped.

Seattle’s All-City Scooter Community Day

I love the idea of Seattle’s All-City Scooter Community Day. There are always a lot of rides and rallies in any major city, but we’re usually just enjoying ourselves and we rarely think of ways to engage the greater community. I keep thinking of ways it could be expanded: transportation forums, local government involvement, riding classes or demonstrations, rider education, and maybe even some community service… with a lot of planning and publicity, it seems like a terriffic way to promote scootering.

Become A Fan of 2SB, If You’re In To That Kind of Thing.

This 2strokebuzz.com contributing author was highly resistant to social networking sites. It wouldn’t be a stretch to imagine how Facebook could degenerate into the next myspace with horrible backgrounds and unavoidable embedded music. But a networking site that allowed 2SB to have it’s own fan site can’t be all that bad. If you are a fan of the ‘blog’ and are on Facebook, show your affection and Bryan will probably be touched, or possibly disgusted (Your guess is as good as mine.). If you’re not ‘on Facebook’, you’re not missing all that much except the possibility of finding that one girl from high school that you always wished you had asked out on a date.

48 days in Columbus

Columbus Ohio’s new dedicated motorcycle and scooter parking, unveiled last week, has been making national news and will hopefully serve as a model for other communities. The best part: it all happened over the course of 48 days, starting with a well-organized protest, followed by good communication and swift, positive action by the city. It’s amazing to relive the entire process in this thread on the Cutters’ forum. The more I learn about how this happened, the more I’m floored. This is historic stuff, and how cool are the signs?

Amerivespa 2008 registration open

Amerivespa 2008 in Chattanooga, TN, is now open for registration. Amerivespa is the Vespa Club of America’s national rally, I’ve been the last three years (Cleveland, Denver, and Seattle) and it’s been fantastic. Events include several rides (including the legendary Deal’s Gap “Dragon,”), a river cruise, a concours and gymkhana, a pub crawl, a vendor area/swap meet, raffles, and an awards banquet, plus much more. If you’re going, be sure to preregister, it seems expensive, but it’s worth it. (The cruise and banquet, for instance, fill up quickly, and generally aren’t included in the [higher] day-of-event registration fee). Of course, it’s cheaper if you’re a VCOA member, and you’ll get four issues of VCOA’s fantastic American Scooterist. The rally (and the VCOA) welcomes all scooterists, new and old, modern and vintage, and it’s a really friendly atmosphere* to make new friends.

*Aside from that one guy.

Ford blocks publication of Mustang club calendar

This story about a Mustang Club being told by Ford that they were not allowed to publish photos of their own cars just seems like some sort of silly mix-up, but it’s probably only a matter of time before Piaggio tries the same thing. When Piaggio returned to the U.S., they sued several long-time Vespa shops, including dealers that had been around since the last Vespa invasion, for using “Vespa” in their name. They’ve also blocked several Café Press users and other folks selling Vespa merchandise. Every company has every right to defend their intellectual property, and block people from cashing in on their trademarks and copyrighted designs, but to crack down on a club of enthusiasts for publishing photographs of their own vehicles and preventing them from using a brand name to describe events or clubs is ridiculous. Sure, Harley-Davidson has lost some cash over the years to the underground biker community, but it’s that same underground biker community that’s kept their brand alive through thick and thin for a hundred years. The same could be said of Vespa enthusiasts, but in Piaggio’s never ending search for profits, it wouldn’t be surprising to see a similar crackdown soon.

Update: The matter has been resolved. Thanks, Becky! But this still doesn’t bode well for clubs and enthusiasts, I think we can expect more battles in the future.

Is It Time For An American Scooter Confederation?

The Australian website, mcnews.com.au, reports on an association of scooter importers that will represent manufacturers and dealers in an effort to “assist riders to avoid potential pitfalls”. This seems aimed directly at upstart importers of lower quality scooters brought in by the container load for fly-by-night organizations. The Australian Scooter Federation boasts membership from many top flight manufacturers including the marques of the Piaggio group, Honda, Yamaha and Kymco. The article states that the ASF members will conform to a ‘code of conduct’ to ensure high quality and dealer support. Is it time for such an organization in the U.S.A? I think so. I recall a little sticker on the gas tank of many an Allstate scooter that suggested there once was. Discuss.

2slowbuzz vs. American Scooterist

Sorry about the infrequent posts the last week or so, I’m trying to get issue 53 of American Scooterist to press before the holidays. If you’re a Vespa Club of America member, you should be getting issue 52 in the mail any day now, but we’re still woefully late, largely because of my busy schedule. Remember that your membership is good for four issues, however long it takes us to get them to you. If you are a subscriber, I hope you find it worth the wait, it’s a lot of work and we take great pride in its quality, if not its punctuality. We’ve got some new blood on board (thanks Pete!) but we can always use more writing/editing/production help, and if you’re in a position to advertise in American Scooterist, we’d certainly appreciate the support.

Amerivespa 2007 photos

Finally, all of my Amerivespa 2007 photos are in the 2SB Gallery. They’re mostly from Vashon Island (Sunday), with a few from Saturday (including the Adly Lambretta and the Seattle Kwik-E-Mart.) Jordan has hundreds more, we’ll post those soon, and there are a million more on Scoot.net. A lot has already been said about the rally all over the web, but I’ll have another writeup about the rally (and my first-hand observations on the Adly Lambretta) soon.