Monthly Archives: September 2011

A race that really raises the roof!

In Turin, Italy, the original Fiat automotive factory still sits.  It was at one point one of the largest automotive factories in the world, and had in it a unique problem:  In Turin, the population is so dense and the traffic so congested that Fiat had no space to test their products. 

Solution? build a track ON THE ROOF!!

Time has passed and Fiat no longer uses the factory, but Red Bull and their zany group of motor-driven marketers somehow got permission to run a scooter race on TOP of the factory on the old track.  Participants had to pass a “mechanical” test before being allowed to race by testing their skills with a front tire removal and replacement.  The slowest 50 were eliminated, while the fastest 100 were then allowed to continue on with the actual race portion of the competition.  After each lap, the slowest rider was eliminated until there remained a single one. 

Congratulations to Giacomo Tiberti of Tuscany!  (A Vintage Vespa rider as well)

Vintage Vespa and Lambretta scooters were in attendance, but not much mention of other makes.  No word on if this will remain a seasonal event.  If so… I think I know where the next Slow Kids Scooter Gang field trip is going to be!

Here’s the original article for more pictures.

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And, a little largeframe Porn.

Ever wondered where those “excellent” condition Vespas you see on Craigslist disappear when you hesitate 5 minutes to check your bank account or do the monthly budget in your head while the other guy is calling and buying it?

Well, have a look. For once, I was that “other” guy. These are the scooters you hope to find when looking for a good condition vintage daily runner. No, the paint is not perfect, but the engine is. More of that later…

Until then:


Me and the P: A preview years in the making

This is a reunion pic of sorts, although myself and this scooter have never met before a few weeks ago.

The reunion is actually between myself and the art of riding a Vintage bike. You see, several years ago I was diagnosed with cancer. Now, as far as the big “C” goes, it wasn’t the worst it could be: Testicular Cancer. A couple of surgeries and follow ups and you can escape with one of your “boys” intact and go on well enough. It gets touted as the “easy” one to beat. But, that takes the one thing I didn’t have at the time:

Health Insurance.

So, in an effort to cut bills and start what I could, I started selling equipment and stuff to pay for medical bills. After my SUV, my firearms and various other things, the one thing I had left was my scooter: A Vespa GTS250ie. But, as things got worse, repairs became harder to afford. Eventually it had a critical failure, and by a series of events a new engine was required that I could not afford. By this time, I couldn’t physically ride because I had stopped treatment due to funds. They got “most” of the tumors but the rest was in question when it came to follow up, and state medical services are about as advanced as any other form of state “assistance”. There was a lot of damage but no more cash. So, I plugged on without wheels and without a map.

Fast forward a few years, and by the grace of friends bolstering my spirits, the encounter with a pretty girl who would later become my wife and a “crap” job that turned out to be one of the best things to happen to me in the past several years, I was able to not only find health insurance, but a true solution to the crap treatment that I had before! And, not a moment too soon: Major reconstruction was required on my abdomen and removal of a bunch of scar tissue and damaged muscle tissue. Long story short: They patched me up right, removed things that didn’t belong and were able to state that I was officially cancer free! Seems the previous work did the job, but the follow up was so shoddy that it caused more damage than it solved! Thankfully the aggressive surgical option was a success and while there is still talk of a return since I refused chemo or radiation treatment, I’m satisfied with things as they are and prefer to be fully functioning as long as the tests remain clear.

Why do I go on about this? Well, this all kept me from riding. Modern or Vintage, original Vespa scooters are expensive. VERY expensive! You’ll probably spend as much on a vintage bike or a brand new GTS300 as you would a Harley Davidson or BMWGS650, and the bike culture with Vespa is just as heavy. Also, riding is very physical, and the older the bike the more work it takes. All of which is pretty difficult when your lower abdomen has been held together with the medical equivalent of drywall patch for 6 months with no muscle.

But, after all this work, I was finally able to get physically fit enough to return to riding. And, with a bit of student grant money, a bit of savings and the grace of both my beautiful wife and a very good and loyal friend who’s known me from before this mess started, I finally became re-acquainted with the silver scoot you see above. And, the culmination of all of this will be at Amerivespa 2012 when we, members of the Slow Kids Scooter Gang, will ride from Phoenix, AZ to Lake Geneva, WI for the national Vespa rally! If that isn’t a badass way to celebrate a return to the saddle I dunno what is.

Over the next few days, I’ll be relating the adventure of getting this bike, and the ongoing fight to get it legal and registered in my state. It may not be pretty, and there will be horrible language but it will be entertaining a bit. So sit back and read on! Pictures, video and even product reviews of new gear to follow!

And, other male riders can see these posts as a bit of a warning as well, since I’m hardly out of the woods yet. It may not seem like a big deal, but I’m not the only rider who’s been taken off the road by this. Cyclist Lance Armstrong and Team BMW rider and BBC Presenter Charley Boorman have also dealt with the “thing” most men never talk about. It seems to hit riders more than other athletes I’ve noticed, and it’s got a stigma against talking about it. Hey, I can get it: I’m protective of my balls as well, but when it can kill you or take you from the sports you love, you have to say something. So, this scooter is my way of pointing it out, because it takes balls to ride a Vespa in the US as well as talk about a Cancer most men won’t.

P.S.

Thank you Wende and my pretty Panda. Without either of you, this wouldn’t of happened!


It’s finally happened… the winner is:

Me!! I finally have found *the* bike, and the deposit was laid upon the barrel head yesterday with an expected delivery on next Thursday. 

BEHOLD!  The best “daily driver” vintage you will find: A 1980 Vespa P200e!

'80 Vespa P200e

200cc’s of glory!! It’s in excellent condition, runs like a top and stops like…well… like a 31 year old motorbike with drum brakes.  The shocks are a bit worn and it needs a new kill switch.  Other than that, she’s a perfect scooter!  Admittedly I am paying a *bit* more than the average market price, but clean vintage scooters are impossible to come by in Phoenix unless you dig REAL deep or can afford to pay someone else to build them for you.  I was determined to find a vintage bike that was a good platform for my OWN work.  This shall fit the bill exactly!  And, these are the workhorse of the Vespa world with the most powerful engine built by Piaggio until the “modern” era in the 90’s and will fit excellent for our groups long term “field trip”: The ride to Amerivespa ‘12!!!

Now, does that make my opinions on Stella scooters from Genuine Scooter Company null and void? Hardly!  The Stella is a fine modern version of the shifter scooter, and is a great bike.  But, the P-series scooter is what the Stella started from, and there are certain bits that make this scooter stand out.  The materials are just *slightly* better: The steel is thicker, the factory rubber is amazingly new feeling even after 31 years, and it has a fit and finish only Vespa can bring.  That doesn’t mean the LML-made Stellas are junk, but they do have their issues. Their rubber material is prone to UV damage and rot early on, some of the steel on the body aren’t as thick and modern parts such as plastic fuel tanks instead of metal ones just don’t match the Vespa feel.

But, the Stella does come with three things that make it VERY much a better first time rider scooter: 90% of Vespa parts will fit a Stella (so you can upgrade the “good” parts for “excellent” parts!), and you get a front disc brake and electric start.  Those two points alone make a bike far safer and more convenient.  In fact, I will be adding a front disc on this bike later on, but I’ll ‘”suffer” with the kicstart only since it’s only a 200cc bike. 

All in all I’m VERY excited for this scoot and will post a full review and even video when I get it in my hands next week!

And so it begins…


So, why the silence?

 

Ok, so it’s been a bit of a while since our last post.  But, there’s a reason:

We’re still lacking scooters.  ALL of us!

It’s not from lack of effort.  Like anything else in the US these days, it’s simply lack of cash or lack of resources to get things rolling.  But, have no fear!  We haven’t become one of those tens of thousands of scooter groups who had a flash in the pan idea and then let it rot on the vine.  One of us has her scooter paid for and waiting for the shop to put the finishing touches on it.  The other is waiting a few months to get the ‘perfect’ bike it seems.  Me?

Well… it’s cash.  HOPEFULLY by next week there shall be the news of a new Stella or vintage Vespa gracing the screen here for your naked steaming eyes.  But, at the moment we’re in a limbo of the worst kind.  It’s the week before funds are released in my program, which is where I’m sourcing a lot of the cash to get this done.  Of course, I also have an education to pay for, a family to support and bills to catch up on.  There are cars to be fixed and/or replaced, groceries to be bought, mattresses to be replaced, computers to be upgraded, books to be downloaded, semi-expensive vodka that has been drank by the roommates replaced… eh, you get the point.

So hang tight kids! We’ll soon be terrorizing your neighbourhoods.  That is, once we get all of our ducks in a row.

I promise, it WILL be epic!