Tag Archives: Amerivespa

Amerivespa 2017

Happy Monday Slow Kids!

While perusing the interwebs about scooter related business, I came across this fun announcement: Amerivespa 2017

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July 6-9th in Seattle, WA

Celebrating 25 years of Amerivespa in the picturesque Seattle, this rally will include multiple opportunities for riders to mingle, shop, showcase their scoot, and take in all that is the Pacific Northwest with coffee and culture. If you’re a VCOA member, registration is $60 on average, and a bit more if you’re not a member.

See the website for the schedule of rides and other events.

Anyone planning on going? Let us know what your plan is and where you’re traveling from if you’re planning to make the trip. We’d love to know who is out there representing.


FINALLY back for a new year, and the word is: Determined

So, I know… it’s been ultra dead around here.  This is because life has got in the way of scootering BIG time.  So much that I hardly see anyone that I regard as friend or family with work and school goings ons (Is that even a word?).  But, we trudge on.

The Agility is doing well, in case you were wondering.  We’re still a “gang” of one running scooter, one non-running.  But, the Kymco is plugging along just fine.  In fact, I was gifted with a rather goal-specific Christmast tiding from my mother in law for the bike: A brand new DETACHABLE top case!

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The mounting hardware doesn’t quite fit, but the mounting plate fits right on to the rear rack like it was custom made!  It’s a locking ABS plastic economy deal, but since most of the rest of the bike is the same grade plastic (only thicker) it will do just fine.  The lock for the lid is also the lock for the latch to the base plate, so it only takes one key.  A few test runs shows that it could use a bit of firming up on the mounting points, but otherwise I think it will do just well for the epic journey.

As for the journey, you bet it’s still on!  I have to start getting in gear since Amerivespa is only 6 months away, and there’s still plenty to do.  The biggest hurdle right now is actually getting a new passport.  For reasons unknown to me, my mother refuses to give me my birth certificate. She’s more than willing to photocopy or scan it, but for some reason she thinks she has eminent domain over my only proof of birth and hence info for my evidence of immigration. And, the entity that is the Department of Homeland Security has determined that passports are required for all Mexico entry.  So, once I can figure out how to get a certified copy of my proof of birth, we shall be on to stage two: Actual planning!  So, stay tuned because I PROMISE I shall start keeping this blog more up to date since the epic Mexico to Amerivespa road trip …thing… will start having many more posts!

That, and I’m open to submissions for a snazzy title.  Yes, I intend to make a scooter trip video that does NOT suck, unlike the variety of vids that are on YouTube and the like right now.  And, being an audio engineer I fully intend to do the voice overs right and even compose the music myself (yes, I am taking all of my production cues from “Long Way Round”. What of it?) 


Slow Kids Field Trip ‘13, Part 2: From daily life to preparation

For most of us, our scooter is a daily mode of transport.  It’s the workhorse of the transportation world and as such is ridiculed by many other motorcycle riders as not being a “real” bike.  As someone who’s ridden everything from Triumphs to Harleys to Vespas, I of course would disagree. 

But, that’s not to deny that they are made for a particular environment.  It’s why I myself chose the Kymco Agility 125.  It’s a durable, reliable if not boring looking scooter.  It does the job of commuter better than nearly anything on the road for it’s price and it doesn’t look like a Chinese POS (which is very important in the scooter world ). And it does the daily chores expected of such a scooter with ease (such as the weekly bottled water runs seen below)

Or even grabbing a pizza:

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But, when you talk about cross country trips, THEN people really start looking at you like you’re nuts, and perhaps you may be just a little.  But, that’s half of the joy: Taking something designed for one purpose on an adventure doing something completely out of the ordinary.  When we think about Amerivespa, it means taking our daily riders and subjecting them to several THOUSAND miles of asphalt, gravel, dirt roads and NO roads in two different countries.  That means that both the bikes and the riders are going to have to prepare for things they never had to do before (for most). 

In the following entries, I’ll highlight my experiences with cross country riding, and how it’s going to be far different on a scooter.  I may do it with this Agility I have.  And why not? It’s known for being bulletproof reliable, simple to work on and made to be abused.  I also may do it on a Stella or a vintage P-series that has the same reputation from 30 years ago.  Either way, the choice of bikes is critical.  Also, there is the physical training of taking your body and wrestling a single cylinder small bike across Northern Mexico and the Southwest US.  It will be anything but easy, and probably more physically grueling on the rider than doing it on a fancy BMW or Kawasaki Adventure bike with 1200cc’s of power and custom made off road suspension.  Then of course there is the financial and mental preparation.  Any motorcycle adventure succeeds or fails on proper planning when it comes to logistics and financing.  Do we need carnes? What about Passports? What is the exchange rate? What if we break down and needs parts? What if we need a tow? HOW do we tow it home if needed? All of these are critical. 

So, stay tuned and you will see how we as city commuters start to attack the daunting task this next summer.  I think the difference in perspectives will shed some light on an awesome subgroup of riders most motorcyclist overlook… even when they are your own kind!


The “Replacements”: So long, Piaggio. Hello… Kymco?!

So, as the few regular readers on here know, it’s been a bit of a fight as of late to keep a scooter on the road here.  Much of it is funds, since I work in the arts and life has this pesky way of taking that meager artist’s salary and finding ways of spending it before I can.  But, a lot of the issue is finding a bike that can put up with the insane environmental conditions of where I live in Phoenix, Arizona.  Where temperatures are in the high 110’s to 115’s, and on the street surface can easily climb over 122 degrees machinery doesn’t last too long out here.  Cars literally burst into flames on the side of the highways and tires become so overheated blowouts are as common as the ubiquitous Filibertos Taco Stands that dot the city. 

There is another factor that keeps many scooters off the roads here in the US: Parts.  You see, Piaggio thinks we in the United States are no better than a rural farm town in Russia, or a tiny island in Malaysia.  This is because scooter sales here are tiny in comparison to the rest of the word, and for Piaggio and Vespa, if it’s not the number one market, they simply won’t care.  In fact during the LARGEST Vespa rally in North America, Piaggio USA did not send ONE representative.  Not one person from Piaggio came to support the largest group of Vespa riders.  Also, if you have ever tried to order parts for your Vespa, you pretty much can’t.  If you do get it, expect to wait a month to 4 months for it.  And, then there are the dealerships… or lack thereof.

Of course, then there is the price for being a member of the “elite” Vespa brand image.  What was once a shining example of transportation and style for the masses has become the iProduct of the motorcycle world, commanding prices that only the upper middle class can afford and twice to three times that of an inexpensive used sedan

It’s enough to drive you up the wall!!

So, what is a scooterist who values affordable, fashionable and fun transportation to do?  Companies like Genuine Scooter Company in cooperation with LML and PGO have done wonders in keeping the nerdy spirit of scootering alive, but they aren’t the only ones in the game.  I myself LOVE , LOVE, LOVE the Stella but their “Buddy” line of scooters are just too small to fit my tall, skinny English frame.  The Japanese makers see scooters as an afterthought in the US, where they can easily sell a liter superbike faster than a 50cc.  So we get the cast offs and the most sparse of offerings from them.

But  another company has caught my eye, and knows what they are doing when it comes to scooters.  They are the 5th largest manufacturer of motorbikes in the world, have offerings that outsell Vespa in Italy itself and have decided that the United States is where it’s at next.  It’s Kymco.

After 15 years in the US, they have gained traction as a reputable company with amazing ATV’s, Quads and scooters.  They started out working as a Honda OEM manufacturer in the 60’s, and now make some of the most popular bikes in the world and are even the manufacturers of the new BMW scooter engines and the BMW 450cc engine they use in their enduros!  They dominate in Taiwan and Austriallia, have taken HUGE positions in the market in Japan and Italy and are known for reliability and quality that rivals Honda, and that puts Piaggio in it’s place. 

And, Kymco has been building their image in the US by partnering up with NHRA race teams, sponsoring giveaways at local scooter rallies where winning a T-shirt isn’t an option, but an ENTIRE SCOOTER!  And, they have themselves thrown some crazy rallies in the US in an effort  to show that not every company ignores it’s enthusiasts.  And, it’s People 150 scooter is still considered one of the best bikes on the market nearly 10 years after its release in the US.

And, it’s down to two of their scooters for me: The Like 200i and the Agility 125.

The “Like” 200i must be one of the most bland names in scooter history.  It’s not passionate, driving or even sensible!  But, for what it lacks in creativity, it brings in features!  Now, the Like 200i isn’t actually a 200cc… it’s 163cc.  Yeah, a little misleading.  But what it doesn’t tell you is that it makes up for this with a Fuel-Injected engine with front and rear disc brakes all on a largeframe scooter chassis backed by the typical bullet proof Kymco engine and a 2 year/unlimited mileage warranty!  While some are quick to point out that it’s “retro” styling is too close to Vespa, I tend to disagree.  Vespa didn’t invent the scooter even if it wants the world to think so  (much like Apple not stopping people from thinking it invented the touchscreen smartphone).  To me, it says more “Lambretta” with those flat vented sides and strong front rake. 

So it’s fuel injected, well equipped with braking and even comes with the topcase as standard.  What’s to make *me* buy this over a Vespa LX150?  Well, the LX150 starts at $4,200US plus fees.  The MSRP on this? $2,599US.  And, Vespa will only give you a 1 year warranty.

This is the front runner because a local dealership has TWO on sale for the low, low price of $2,095US!  You get all the features of a Vespa (save the all steel body) with a lot more piece of mind.  And, you can actually find more than one Kymco dealer in your state as opposed to the Italians (if your state even has a Piaggio dealer).  In fact, many states have more Kymco dealers than Yamaha dealers, and I have respect for the tuning-fork logo!

The other scooter on my radar is at the bottom of the price range, but not the last in the line when it comes to quality: The Agility 125

This is a bare-bones scoot, but well put together: 125cc air cooled, carbureted mill.  Front disc, rear drum.  It’ has all the modern scoot basics and an engine that will get you to 60-ish miles per hour… and that’s it.  No auto-stability system, no GPS systems, no nothing.  Just scooter.  It’s the modern smallframe and that’s a good thing.  It’s the same base engine as the Kymco 125cc lot of other scoots, but in a clean, poly shell and tube steel chassis.

So, why the hell is this thing so interesting?  Try an MSRP of $1,799US.  No, that’s not a clearance price.  Yes, that includes the 2 year warranty.  Their 50cc Version eeks in at under $1,399US!  You can hardly get a China-Clone scooter for that!!! And, it’s one of the top 10 selling scooters in Italy, known for being one of the largest and most competitive scooter markets in the world!  They sell more scooters there than in the entirety of North America!  So, that’s a lot of Agility for the buck.

To be fair, these scooters aren’t manufactured in Taiwan, where Kymco is headquartered.  They are made in a Kymco-only owned factory in China.  Now, some may balk at this idea especially after how much I rag on Chinese scooters.  BUT, this is a Kymco run facility and they have a rep around the world for running a *tight* ship.  Also, consider that the Vespa S150, Piaggio Fly and Piaggio Typhoon are ALSO made in China under a plant owned by Piaggio.  Yep: You think you may be buying Italian and thus buying “better”, but as it turns out Piaggio is taking a page from Kymco in an effort to stay competitive. 

So, it’s down to these two for me.  There will be another Stella in my drive, make no doubt about that!  But, for the winter and for commuting, it’s down to these two juggernauts of the scooter world that 10-15 years ago would have been unthinkable: Taiwanese scooters out-performing and out lasting Japanese and Italian competitors?  Then again, who would of thought ten years ago that our cell phone choice would depend on what operating system and what video phone options we could get.

The times, they are a’changing….


A quiet time here, and due to many things…

Ok, so I know it’s been dead as of late. That’s because it’s been chaos as life throws us. But, while the Amerivespa trip idea may be shelved for this year, some of us here are still trying to struggle on.

My little story is that of loss and gain: I had to give up the P200e after gaining not only a new job, but a promotion at that job to Assistant Director! This is a great oppurtunity filled with overtime and long distance commutes that the Vespa did not dig. So, it was traded out for a Genuine Scooter Company Rattler 110! But…

It died.

So, while I sit here doing homework for a 20-credit semester on one screen and a sound design plot for a show at the full time job, my scooter sits at a local shop. It will probably be at least 2 weeks before it is back on the road, and it may be at least another month before things restart on here. Have faith!!! This project has not been abandoned. Life has just thrown a few wrenches at us. That and the vast network of Slow Kids Scooter Club command bunkers (i.e. our houses) are in the process of being relocated all at once. So. We shall be around still. Just hang out for a bit.


And so it FINALLY begins: The rise of a Scooter Club… and the registration nightmare

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My poor scoot…  So forlorn at the scary scooter shop.  Sadly, this hasn’t been the most glorious start for our small rag-tag group of scooters.

The biggest problem with riding a vintage bike is the effort it takes to maintain a vintage bike.  Like any mechanical device, they need upkeep and repair.  But, with old machines, the upkeep is particular and the repair can be rather involved and costly, especially since many “vintage” machines run on parts that aren’t manufactured much anymore, and use technologies that many technicians and mechanics have long-since forgotten.

That brings us to my lonely little P200e’s story.

While it runs fantastic, my bike faces a particular problem of not being able to pass Maricopa County emissions.  Yes, here they emission every small bike, car, truck and…well, anything with a plate.  Nevermind that there are probably a half million 2-stroke weed trimmers and leaf blowers contributing more pollution than all the cars in the valley.  But, the law is the law and after countless fiddling with the carb, the jets and mix settings, the death blow was a pretty obvious one: A large puddle of fuel under the bike after it had sat being parked.

This meant a carb rebuild.  Now, on any other bike in a normal house this would be pretty simple. But, I live in an apartment and repairs are a no-go.  Having a vintage scooter while in an apartment makes it doubly difficult, because you WILL end up wrenching on the scooter.  And with finals and transferring to a new location for work, the poor bike has sat idle since, well, the last posting on here.

But, that sad little image above will hopefully have a happy ending, when a carb rebuild and a few other new bits will finally put this bike on the track to getting legal plates and prepare us for the journey to Amerivespa ‘12!

So, stay tuned!  Things are beginning to take shape and FINALLY get interesting.  Soon, the scoot will be on the road and the rides will begin in earnest to prepare for the 4,000 mile adventure!  On here, we will be bringing you video updates and build ups with gear advice, test runs and all sorts of shenanigans a-la “Long Way Round” style.  Or at least, that’s the hope…