Genuine Stella 4T 3,000-Mile Review

Eric (and probably Eric alone) has been riding a 4-stroke Stella for a few months now, and has racked up 3,000 miles, here’s his review.. You’ll likely find it more insightful and more up-to-date than our review of the prototype from two years ago.

My take remains the same: It’s good for the environment, and good for gas savings, and to the untrained eye, it looks just right, the only downside (compared to the 2-stroke) is reduced parts and accessory interchangeability with the Vespa P-Series.

Vintage Vespa fans may find one other complaint, which Eric summarizes nicely:

All those vintage faithful prematurely complaining about the Stella 4T’s performance may have some newfound respect for them once they ride next to one. Or they’ll just hate it because it doesn’t sound and smell like a 2T.

LML, Cairo, February 11, 2011

If you’re truly obsessed with scooters, you’ll spot the unmistakeable corner of a legshield from a mile away. I was scanning through thumbnails of photos of the Egyptian celebrations on Flickr and this great photo by Joel Carillet jumped right out at me. It was taken on the 6th of October Bridge on Friday night, after Hosni Mubarak stepped down. This photo of an Egyptian family waving the peace sign as they cross the bridge four-up on an LML scooter is suddenly and permanently locked in place as my mental picture of the celebrations.

February 11, 2011 — Cairo, Egypt, originally uploaded by Joel Carillet.

UPDATE: Another great one!

Genuine Buddy 170 for 2011,
Electric IDEP coming to Europe

Bosco on Modern Buddy beats us to the scoop: 161cc fuel-injected Genuine Buddy in three new colors for 2011. If they can keep the price reasonably close to the carbureted models, these will rule the scooter market.

In other PGO Buddy news, PGO’s promisingly redesigned eBuBu is called “IDEP”, it’s a “Buddy” with electric motors mounted within both wheels, It’s due in Europe soon.

LML Electric Scooter Revealed At EICMA

As posted earlier, LML Italia has promoted the arrival of an electric scooter. The German scooter shop SIP has delivered the goods with four snapshots of the literally green Star Electric. The scooter is an electric conversion of the popular LML Star (aka Genuine Stella). Electric conversions of largeframe Vespa scooters has been available as custom work from Soundspeed Scooters in Seattle. I’m betting a Stella Electric may come in at a similar price as the conversion plus an old project someone has never finished. We’ll wait and see. How much would you pay for an electric Stella?

LML ready to counter Vespa threat

Can Vespa shut down LML in Europe with their new PX retread? We’re betting it won’t be easy. The LML was on the market first, and even their top-of-the-line 4-stroke model is quite a bit cheaper than the Vespa model it apes (no pun intended). On top of that, Italy and PGO are offering subsidies of up to 22% for the 4-stroke LML Star Sure, there is a crowd that would never settle for an LML over a Vespa, but we bet plenty of thrifty Europeans will choose the cheaper LML, especially where subsidies apply. And Vespa’s threat is further mooted with new LML models expected to be announced at EICMA this week. Rumors include automatic transmission, electronic fuel injection, an electric version, and 50cc, 200cc, and even 250cc variants. We don’t expect to see all of those (especially the 250) but you can bet on a few of those, and a “Create your Star” program becoming available soon, at least in Europe.

In the disintegrating U.S. market where the LML Star is sold as the Genuine Stella, Vespa is unlikely to import the PX. The PX models sold a few years ago were priced at about $5000 and were unavailable in California. That price would likely be higher today, and California’s CARB emissions standards are spreading to 16 states, including scooter-friendly Washington, Oregon, New York, and Florida.

Ironically, the Vespa’s dated-but-beloved 2-stroke engine might be it’s biggest selling point, as LML is allegedly phasing out their 2-stroke version. But it’s still a mystery why Vespa, who were forced out of the US market in 1985 by emissions laws, haven’t bothered to develop a 4-stroke engine for the classic Vespa frame in the ensuing 25 years. Vespa and Piaggio continue to innovate in other product lines, so perhaps it’s a smart decision (and minimal investment) to keep the Vespa PX frozen in time, but LML is likely to cut deeply into the PX’s relatively small pool of customers with the same classic body, competitive pricing, and more modern engineering.

LML Must Pay Tariff on “Engineering Drawings”

To your average Economic Times of India reader, it’s a boring Indian tariff law ruling. To a scooterist, it’s a gateway into a world of mystique and speculation. Where is LML importing engineering drawings from? Are they related to LML’s long-delayed plans to manufacture their Clipper/Vespa ET4? Is it an 8-stroke 1200cc Stella? WHEN WILL WE GET IT!?

(Thanks, Rob!)

Your Government at Work?

The cause of the several-months-long 4T Genuine Stella delay is revealed thanks to FOIA request. The emissions stickers weren’t sticky enough, and the idle mixture screw wasn’t sufficiently tamperproof. I don’t know if “Epoxy coating” means they were supposed to glue them in place, or if that’s referring to the dumb plastic cap that covers the 1/2″ hole in the airbox (Nevermind, looking at my photos of the prototype, the 4T carb isn’t inside the airbox), but either way, that seems like a pretty minor issue. And honestly, that screw is there because it sometimes needs to be adjusted.

I applaud the U.S. and California governments for looking out for our security, safety, and ecological future. I’m absolutely glad they’ve ramped up enforcement. But they basically screwed Genuine here, badly, after ten years of letting anything with two wheels enter the country.

The real irony? The pollution created by shipping these buggers back to India and back (1000+ scooters, by land and sea) has a measurable environmental impact that surely outweighs the infraction. But that’s (mostly) outside the U.S., so who cares, right? Way to save the earth!

Props to Ralph for taking the trouble to find out instead of speculating on the boards for four months, like the rest of us.

Dealers get a Stella 4T Update

Genuine dealers finally got an official update today on the status of the 4-stroke Stella. In short, the first batch was not manufactured to the specifications approved for import. Genuine explains that the fault lays with the manufacturer (LML) and that the variation was “easily corrected,” non-mechanical and not emissions- or safety-related. Plans are underway to return the first batch for correction and have a second corrected batch manufactured and delivered ASAP. The word (literally) on Modern Buddy is “October.” That’s a painfully long wait for folks with deposits at their dealers since late spring, but it’s good to hear there’s a plan in motion.
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Scooter Superstore
and the Beginning of the End

On July 27, Scooter Superstore of America, a Ft. Lauderdale-based chain with several dealerships in Florida and Georgia, filed for bankruptcy. While many shops have closed their doors lately, and individual importers have faced some unique problems, SSTAM’s trouble could be–pardon the tired idiom–the straw that breaks the industry’s back.
Continue reading “Scooter Superstore
and the Beginning of the End”

Genuine: Discounts Coming

Tweet from Genuine honcho Philip McCaleb:

Genuine scooter will announce “save ferris” prices for 150, 125, blackjack, and 2 stroke stellas early next week.

Thanks to a combination of the economy, market saturation, too much regulation too late, and bad luck, things are bad for everyone in the industry right now, sadly even the best of ’em. Again, I promise a big story over the weekend with some more details about what’s going on behind the scenes in the industry.

Pinasco Gears Up For New Stella

Pinasco sent out an email announcement last week describing their new exhaust for the 4-stroke LML Star (AKA, the Genuine Stella 4-stroke. It is described as made from special INOX steel. That must make it fast. The dyno charts included in the email showed an increase in power from about 7.5 to 8 HP, but increasing the RPM range by about 1000 RPM or more. The best part is that it looks pretty cool. I think that’s what’s most important. So when the Stella breaks through the red tape to put smiles on the faces of Californians and other fans of two superfluous strokes, Pinasco should have something with which to void your warranty.

Stella 4T Delivery Delayed by EPA

The first batch of 4-stroke Genuine Stellas is being held up by the EPA to validate the production model’s compliance with earlier testing (which, obviously, was done on prototypes). In typical transparent and honest fashion, Genuine explains it all clearly, and apologizes for the delay, here. I know the delay must be frustrating for would-be four-stroke Stella riders, but whining about it on the internet isn’t going to get you a bike any faster, and just think, further government confirmation about how green your bike is will just give you hippy 2-stroke killers more to be smug about, amirite?

Too much racing for one headline

If you’re interested in scooter racing at all, read on! Simply put, there’s a big schload of scooter racing going on this summer, and that is awesome.

Our 2SB Rally Calendar should now be up to date with all events for the following organizations/leagues:

Are we missing anyone? (Probably!) See any errors? (blame Google Calendar!) In either case, please let us know!

You’ll see we’ve added a new series of events, following the success of Twist and Gone in May, the North American Scooter Racing Association is hosting a full season of drag races in Nashville, IN, sponsored by Scooterworks.

One last bad news/good news bit: MWSR’s organizer Seth tells us that the race this weekend at G&J Kartway in Camden, OH has been postponed, but the good news is the track will be open to scooters for only $10.

Kymco racer photo above is courtesy of Alan Spears, MSILSF