More Chicago Vespa dealer rumors

We continue to hear rumors that Old Town Motocycle Shoppe on Wells Street will soon become Chicago’s official Vespa/Piaggio dealer. Old Towne and their Cicero-based parent MotoplexUSA currently sell Aprilia motorcycles and scooters, another brand owned by Piaggio.

It’s unclear what happened when Sam Tomaino sold West Suburban Auto Group, but it appears a dispute between Tomaino and Old Towne may be holding up an official announcement. While the VespaUSA site lists no shops in the Chicago area, Tomaino has apparently opened a new shop in Roselle (with the same phone number once listed for the Maywood dealership) and lists only the Diversey Ave. Vespa “boutique.” Ex-Vespa of Chicago sales manager Dan Kay is rumored to be involved in the MotoplexUSA operation. We suspect Tomaino is (quite reasonably) attempting to retain WSAG’s past customers and sell what’s left of the WSAG stock. In any case, this holdup can’t be helping PiaggioUSA’s sales during this busy sales season.


VespaUSA finally shifts into second gear and comes above the surface with their “Vespas are ecological” PR campaign thats been such a success in getting them press: Vespanomics. There is certainly some economy, and maybe ecology, in scooter-riding, but they’re glossing over an awful lot of math, science, and common sense to hype it to this level. Still, it’s nice to see them actually selling some scooters. More later.

ScootRS develops new Vespa tubeless rims

ScootRS has introduced their third-generation tubeless rims for 10″-wheel Vespas. The new design improves on earlier designs for Lambretta scooters. As big fans of the convenience of the Vespa split-rim design, 2sb would ask: “Why tubeless?” ScootRS, of course, has an answer:

A rim that requires a tube, as all Vespa rims do, means your tire suddenly and dangerously blows out when punctured. On a tubeless rim, however, you merely have a slow air leak, as on a car. No blowout means no danger.

Vespa Chicago reopens in Roselle

2sb reader, Wezul, reports:

I just spoke with Sam [Tomaino]. Vespa Chicago has relocated to Roselle on Lake Street. Phone number is (630) 936-7980. Helpful? I hope so. Enjoy your ride!

Thanks, Wezul! Vespa Chicago‘s website has removed all references to West Suburban Auto Group, and lists only the Boutique address (557 W Diversey Pkwy.) so apparently, Tomaino has parted ways with WSAG but kept his Vespa dealership. Presumably, the boutique will stay open, with service and sales support from the Roselle location. We reported last month that Joliet-based MotoplexUSA and their Chicago location, Old Town Motocycle Shoppe, were to become Vespa dealers, but they have yet to return our emails to confirm or deny the rumor. It’s unclear whether that deal was Tomaino’s backup plan, or if Chicago may yet still have two Vespa franchises.

“Tracy! are you OK?”

WLS scooter crashI heard about this when it happened a couple years ago, and never thought I’d get the chance to see it, but thanks to the dual magic of Tivo and Youtube, here it is: With mere seconds of instruction and an unbuckled half-helmet, WLS Channel 7 meteorologist Tracy Butler crashes a Vespa, during a PR piece with Vespa of Chicago’s Sam Tomaino. God bless you, Vespaway. Now if only I could find Les Nessman’s Vespa crash on WKRP…

Vespa Chicago closing?

2strokebuzz sources report that local Piaggio/Vespa dealer Vespa Chicago will soon close their Vespa Boutique on Diversey and their showroom in Maywood (within the Volkswagen dealership of parent company West Suburban Auto Group). The new Vespa dealer for Chicagoland is rumored to be Motoplex USA, a motorcycle/powersports dealership with showrooms in Worth and Joliet, IL, and an upscale Chicago showroom on Wells Street called “Old Town Motocycle Shoppe.”

As Motoplex did not immediately reply to our confirmation request, this information is still hearsay, but such a move seems absolutely consistent with recent changes in Piaggio’s strategy. West Suburban seemed unlikely to add Piaggio brands Moto Guzzi and Aprilia, while Motoplex is already an Aprilia dealer. Old Town Motocycle Shoppe has a prime upscale retail location and employees with motorcycle experience, and Motoplex’ other two dealers may be more accesible to suburban and even rural customers. According to one of our sources, Vespa Chicago’s general manager Dan Kay will move to Motoplex along with Vespa/Piaggio. It is unclear whether Piaggio or West Suburban Auto Group terminated the relationship, why it was terminated, or exactly when the transition will take place. Vespa Chicago opened in 2000, they’ve been Chicago’s sole dealer since Vespa’s return to the United States in 1999.