“Tribute” Vespa for your Superyacht

We don’t throw the word “Yacht” around on 2strokebuzz very often, which is surprising since several maxiscooters could fairly be described as “yachts,” and VespaUSA seems to have been targeting yacht owners since 1999. But they’ve clearly been doing it wrong.

If you have been keeping up on your southern-hemisphere superyacht news, you’ll know that an outfit called Digital Veneer in New Zealand is offering a Limited Edition “Tribute” Vespa designed to max-out the pretentiousness of a regular Vespa LX50 by adding woodgrain-sublimated vinyl and some seafoam-colored upholstery. Like any good yacht, if you have to ask how much it costs, you can’t afford it.

Via the facebook feed of the mighty Vespa Lexington. You probably know this, but @Scooterism and I were just saying the other day, Michael and Whit probably have their online presence nailed down better than just about any shop in the country and you should be copying everything they do, from the attractive and up-to-date website, to the customer photos on the blog, to the great tweets and facebook posts, to sending 2strokebuzz free t-shirts. Especially that last part.

“Forever Vespa”

A review of Pippo Cappellano and Marina Cappabianca’s film Forever Vespa from the 13th Cathay Pacific Italian Film Festival in New Zealand. The reviewer is a Vespisti (and admittedly a bit snobby about it!) with an astute grip on the current scooter craze, he notes that it’s an independent film so well-supported by Piaggio’s archives that it sometimes appears to be a Piaggio promotional video. It’s played at a few festivals, but I can’t find a trailer or any more info… anyone?

Australian Yamaha scooter TV ad

Via Steve, a nicely-done Australian Yamaha TV commercial showing the economical aspects of their scooters. Genuine and even PiaggioUSA are working on pretty limited budgets, but you have to wonder why Yamaha and Honda, who actually do run national spots on cable TV, haven’t done anything like this here in the U.S. yet. If it wasn’t for the Australian coins shown at the end (and if they added a few models to their lineup), they could even run this one.

Aussies: goodbye PX, hello $10K MP3

The Courier-Mail in Australia reports Piaggio has shipped their last containerload of Vespa PX scooters to Australia. We reported that Vespa PX production effectively ended in December, 2006, though the U.S. received 2007 models (likely manufactured in 2006) and a 30th-anniversary limited edition of 1000 white PXes was released last October in Europe. It’s unclear whether the anniversary and Aussie-market PXes were leftover stock from the 2006 batch, or a later production run.

Also from that story: after a recent AU$1000 price drop, the price of an MP3 250 in Australia is close to US$10,000. I’ll never complain about U.S. scooter prices again.

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.

News chunks 10/23/07

  • A Korean student in England decided riding his scooter back to Korea would be less uncomfortable than a 13-hour flight.
  • The Times of London is digging the new Vespa S. Current rumor is 50cc and 150cc versions to the U.S. in the spring.
  • The Age of Melbourne, on the other hand, may be the first media outlet to see through the façade of Piaggio’s “green” marketing, after receiving a life-sized non-recyclable promotional piece featuring the MP3. Australia is hot for scooters this month. A University of Tasmania team has assembled the first Australian-made hybrid scooter, powered by Ethanol and batteries, and Sydney is apparently searching for its identity as a scooter city.
  • The Sun rides Aprilia’s new Mana 850cc automatic motorcycle.
  • Leonardo DiCaprio’s ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend sideswiped a photographer’s scooter in Israel. Oh, sorry, that’s not even interesting to E! Online readers.
  • If you’ve always thought “Sure, Segways are great, but man, I hate standing up, and I wish they were uglier, lower-tech, and more expensive,” Toyota has a concept vehicle for you.
  • In London suburb Croydon, citizens are teaming up to document “antisocial” scootering and report it to police in the wake of the death of a local police officer.
  • D.C. police are on the other side of the fence, after a scooter cop was hit-and-run by a white van. (Fact: recklessly-driven white vans now outnumber all other vehicles on Chicago streets, 6-to-1.)
  • For some reason there were at least… let’s see… 1, 2, 3, 4, 5… five stories in the press last week about Piaggio’s new plant in Vietnam, without any new info beyond the announcement they made in February. Thanh Nien News had the decency to follow up their PR-wire story with a fairly interesting story on the vintage scooter scene in Vietnam.
  • A New Jersey yoga instructor and mother of six becomes the first woman in America to eat thousands of dollars of depreciation and trade in her SUV, replacing it with a $11,000 Vectrix electric scooter. The expense is totally justified by her reduced carbon footprint and the dozens of dollars she’ll save on gas between now and the first day it snows and she has to make six separate trips to drop her kids off at soccer practice, girl scouts, and karate. Yes, that’s pretty cynical. As Smarthouse points out, the Vectrix has many merits, and it’s a positive step for ecology, but as I’ve said many times, it seems that consumers aren’t considering all the factors when looking at the economic benefits of scooters, like this Wisconsin couple who seem to be ignoring the fact that riding a pair of 60mpg scooters isn’t really any better than driving one 30mpg car.
  • In that same story an Oshkosh, WI urgent-care clinic director estimates that scooter-related urgent-care visits will rise to 5,000 nationally this year, up from 1,300 in 2000. If the national urgent-care industry is actually keeping stats like that, we’d love to see them, but it seems a little unlikely that anyone would have been accurately tracking nationwide motorscooter injuries in 2000, or that any study of that sort would differentiate urgent-care visits from emergency-room visits.
  • A new SYM dealer has opened shop on the Incriminators’ turf. “You see them all over Hollywood,” store manager Tonya Stewart says, “[Scooters are] in movies and music videos, and stars are riding them as well.” Well, sure, Tonya, but those aren’t really SYMs now are they? God, I’m bitchy tonight. This is like 2strokeTMZ.

Gizmag rides the Vectrix Maxi

Starting up the Maxi is a disconcerting affair – switch the key on, hold the left brake lever in, touch the right brake to start the bike and… Well, nothing happens. It’s completely silent. Only a large “Go!� on the well-designed instrument display gives away the fact that the power’s on.

The Vectrix electric scooter has been on the market for a while now, but this is the most thorough review we’ve seen. It’s clearly leagues above other electric bikes on the market and it features some innovative technology beyond the electric motor, but it sounds like it just can’t quite compete with a gas-powered scooter on price and performance. Kudos to Vectrix for trying though, it’ll only get better and better.

Stellas soon?

My best friend’s sister’s boyfriend’s brother’s girlfriend heard from this guy who knows this kid who’s going with the girl who saw LML making scooters at 31 Flavors last night. I guess it’s pretty serious.

OK, it’s not quite that convoluted, but we just heard that LML’s plant is officially back up and running, making Euro-market Stars and N.Z.-market Belladonnas (sisters of the U.S.-market Stella), and that LML brass have been in the US to talk to Genuine recently, so things are looking good that we’ll see more Stellas soon (new engines may be here as soon as July). A photo on LML’s Japanese site labeled “May, 2007” shows an assembly line loaded with scooters (anyone out there read Japanese?). Being put behind the Stars and Belladonnas is probably good news for Stella fans, LML can hopefully get up to speed on the Kiwi bikes and be at full strength for the U.S.-market.

Vespa exhaust gasket update

Two new developments in the Vespa GT/GTS exhaust gasket recall story:

  • VespaUSA CEO Paolo Timoni vaguely addressed the exhaust problem in a story naming him Powersports Business’ 2007 Executive of the Year”: “‘We have made some really good improvements in parts availability and our capability to serve dealers,’ he said, ‘although we cannot claim the job has been completed. We’re still working on, for example, the manifold casting.'” While not quite public, (the magazine is targeted at dealers), and not very specific, this was the closest we’ve seen PiaggioUSA come to addressing the problem publicly. (The rest of the story is enlightening, too.)
  • An Australian reader reports that Australian importer Peter Stevens Motorcycles has sent letters to GT/GTS owners advising them to visit their dealer for a free 35-minute service to replace the “exhaust leader pipe.”

News Bits, Jan 8, 2007

We’re still catching up on news reports from our holiday break. This should bring us up to date:

  • Authorities have banned the Segway from public streets and sidewalks in the Netherlands, citing their lack of a mechanical brake as a safety hazard. It’s easy to make jokes, and we should, because Segways are ridiculously stupid, but this does pose an interesting question about how governments will react to the many alternate-fuel vehicles coming to market, especially those that don’t conform to standard vehicle categories. Few companies can afford the luxury of developing and marketing a product that may likely be banned on streets, just one more reason why huge companies already armed with lobbyists and lawyers will probably continue to dominate the market. In other words, good luck getting licence plates for your new Vectrix electric motorscooter (what’s the displacement, sonny?), and welcome to 2007.
  • New Honda Metropolitan rider tells the Arizona Daily Star how much she loves her scooter.
  • “At one point I was going to lease a BMW to try to meet women,” Jeff Schultz tells the Louisville Courier-Journal. Luckily, he came to his senses and bought a Kymco People 250. We assert that scooters’ environmental impact is notable, yet generally overstated, so we found both comments pretty funny.
  • Kymco has expanded its relationship with ARI to improve customer relations by streamlining warranty claims and product registration.
  • Following up the results of an earlier report, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries confirms that scooter sales are kicking ass in Australia. While several Australian companies, notably Bolwell, have been importing rebadged scooters from Asian makers, Vmoto has gone a step farther and bought their Chinese supplier, Freedmoto, outright. (That’s ONE way to ensure decent quality control from a Chinese company.)
  • Motorcyclenews.com reports on a 112-horsepower Italian racing scooter built by Team Cristofolini Racing. The custom-made aluminium 4-cylinder 350cc engine is mounted in what used to be a Malaguti F12 frame.

Yamaha Maxam news (or not)

Today’s story from Gizmag teased us once again with Yamaha’s ultra-cool-looking Maxam3000 scooter, before going on to say that the popular Japan-market-only Maxam 250 will make an international debut soon at an Australian motor show, with the rest of the world to follow. Not so exciting as the futuristic “3000” (that’s 3000mm — almost ten feet — long) version, but new scooters are always good news, right? Unfortunately, Gizmag (who knew they were Australian?) is apparently unaware we’ve had the Morphous250 (the same scooter) here in America since early this year.