Tag Archives: Genuine Scooter Company

2013 in review

I got this ‘blog in review’ email from wordpress this morning and thought that sharing it would be kind of fun, since it’s new years and all. I just want to thank all the loyal readers that have stuck around with us as long as you have. It means a lot to us as scooter enthusiasts, but also on a personal level. We have posted some silly things, but also the struggles we have encountered with finances and our machines. Thank you for taking time out of your lives to read about ours. More great stuff to come, I promise. So, without further delay, WP. The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog. Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 17,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Scooter Pic of the Day:

The best post wedding transport ever!  I wish I could of done this, but when me and the Mrs. Trotsky (would that make her Frida Kahlo? Nevermind… art/history nerd joke) got married, we were so broke that I didn’t even have a scooter.

It was a happy but sad time to be sure… Happy to marry, but sad there was no kickass Stella like this to ferry us home. 

(It’s ok: We actually got Jack-In-The-Box on the way home since we didn’t even get to enjoy the wedding food we were so busy. Fast food is always tricky on a scooter)


An Automatic Stella?!? Yes, they’re making one.

No, you are not hallucinating: That is an ad touting the all new, 4-stroke AUTOMATIC 125cc LML Star.  This is the same line of bike sold in the US, but under the Genuine Scooter Company ‘Stella’ name.

From the press release, it’s everything you love about the original steel-body scooter clone, but without the manual transmission (and the spare being on the WRONG SIDE OF A P-SERIES!!! But, perhaps that simply bugs me alone).  But, there are some fundamental issues I find with this bike….

The appeal of the Stella (or the “Star” for the rest of the world) is that it isn’t like your everyday scooter.  It’s as close to the original P-series Vespa that you can get without spending the money on the brand-exclusive, hipster-priced original.  And, LML has been making bikes for Vespa and on their own for a VERY long time.  Their quality is typical vintage P-series scooter: Durable, easy to fix and, well, quirky but will always survive whatever you throw at it.  When they made the switch to 4 stroke mills, I accepted it.  It’s the way of the environmental awareness drive in society, and it’s better for the planet and our resources.  So, I’ll be cool with that.  But, now the engine doesn’t even resemble what the original rocked, and that to me is not cool.

You see, there are people who want things the easiest way possible.  They want it to “just work”.  They want everything done at the push of a button.  They want their meat sanitary and packaged in synthetic wraps with a free anti-bacterial wipe to be reminded it doesn’t come from a real animal.  They get offended when there’s dirt and the occasional bug on their produce.  They flip out when their computer needs to reboot once every month for a restart to install free upgrades and updates on their software that will take a whole 5 minutes.  They want it as easy as possible and want it to “look” like it’s easy and cool all at the same time.

This is where the Stella/Star/Vespa P-series doesn’t fit their life. It’s a mechanical, simple and stylish common person’s bike before “retro bohemian chic” was a selling point.  It’s as organic as it gets, as mechanically connected to riding on the road as you can be without dragging bits of yourself along the asphalt.  You are a part of the machine, and every clutch engagement, every gear, every turn and every blip of the throttle is yours for better or worse. You have COMPLETE control.  And people today don’t like control, because it means they need to actually put in effort.

And who wants to actually DO something when you can make an engineer do it for you? Amirite?

So, to me this is NOTHING like a vintage scooter.  It may be in a metal body, but this is not “just like a Vespa P-series”.  It’s a new bike. No better than a Kymco, Modern Vespa or Honda.  It’s boring, bland and designed so any fashionista can ride it and claim she’s “sooooo ‘mod’  “.  And I’m sure it will sell AMAZINGLY well if it hits the US.  And, we will then lose our manual shifter bikes soon after because of poor-sales.

Is it no surprise that Piaggio of Italy also just “leaked” that they are developing a PX-bodied revival scooter with an automatic CVT as well? 


Over at the In N Out with the Phoenix Meetup Scooter Club

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So, I had a weekend night with no shows.  This meant, as a production tech with no life, I had zero on my plate on a hoppin’ Friday night.  But, I saw on the local Phoenix Meetup board a notice that there was going to be a meet at the Tempe In-N-Out burger joint.  So, after a quick wash of the scooter and a fill up, I headed out to finally try to be social with *other* riders in the valley.

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As it turned out, it was a great time! There were about 12 others there on bikes of all types.  From a couple of Chinese rides to top-of-the-line Vespa GT300’s, there were even a few Kymcos (Including my trusty little Agility) and even a 4-Stroke Stella and vintage style Honda Helix!

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Turns out that the rider, Keith, is a reader of this very blog!  It was crazy hearing him recount articles that I have written on this very page… it was like someone was actually reading this drivel.  And, it was a first chance for me to hear a 4-stroke Stella in person, and it’s almost too quiet.  And, it didn’t “smell” right, but that’s the 2-stroke enthusiast in me.  Otherwise, it was a sweet machine.

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Another bike that caught my eye was this Honda PCX.  It was a really slick machine at night, but after sitting on it I came to the conclusion that, after riding the Agility, the seat “hump” on the PCX’s saddle was just in the wrong place, forcing me forward. But, from the owner’s reports there is more than enough power, if it weren’t for the limiter chip installed in the bike from the factory. Major suck on limiters..

As I mentioned, there were a few Chinese scooters there, but they were all running which was unusual in it’s own right.  One of the riders, Prescott, was already mentioning his interest in looking for a step up from his ride (which cost about $1049 from what he reported).  But, it sounded in working order and he like the rest there was a great guy and very welcoming!

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There was even another Kymco in the mix to welcome others of the Taiwanese marque.  This Grandvista had a few years on it, but from the looks and sound you would never know!  These bikes hold up extremely well and seeing one look this good after a few years only increases my confidence in my bike.

It was a great meet up and I had a chance to finally meet some other riders in the valley. It was honestly refreshing not having to deal with the vintage-snobs and the cliquish club riders that have pretty much faded into obscurity in the valley.  Hopefully I can get on a few more of these rides when I can get even a little time off. 

And, the weather was PERFECT: 71 degrees and clear skies.  Can’t get better than that.


An Arab Spring so close, you can smell it over the 2-stroke smoke!

So, you’ve contemplated riding to Amerivespa this year and found it too pedestrian.  You’ve thought “Alaska? Eh, there’s still asphalt”.  Even the cartels and unstable political forces in Mexico don’t pique that sense of adventure when you’re looking for a *true* long distance haul.  What’s an adventurous scooterist to do?

Egypt. 

Yep.  There is a company currently still going full tilt into offering scooter tours in the form of a trans-Egypt challenge.  Nevermind the factors such as a brand new government where even it’s own people aren’t sure who is effectively in charge and a flashpoint for Christian, Muslim and other indigenous peoples and faiths.  This is one of the oldest nation-states on Earth, and while they may not of had the best of press in the past year, the sense of wonder and adventure are REALLY tempting! 

The tour is set for October 12-20 2012, and details can be found at http://www.crossegyptchallenge.com/.  The details (as copied from the website):

Cross Egypt Challenge is not a commercial event, therefore the following rates / fees cover part of the actual cost of participating in such a unique event while we look to cover the additional cost through our loyal sponsors.
Registration fees for the 2012 season of Cross Egypt Challenge are: LE 9,600 or USD 1,600 (the fees are subject to 10 to 20% deduction in the case enough sponsors come on board)
All fees are to be paid at the time we confirm your participation spot f the Cross Egypt Challenge 2012 season. All banking details will be forwarded to you at the time of notification.
THESE FEES INCLUDE:
– Securing a scooter for the participant during the challenge
– Securing a brand new helmet for the participant’s use during the challenge
– Securing a brand new gloves for the participant’s use during the challenge
– 2 branded polo shirts + 4 branded long sleeve t-shirts for each participant to wear during the challenge
– Refueling during the entire challenge
– Oil changes during the challenge
– Scooter maintenance during the challenge
– Road tolls (where applicable)
– Cost of army/military and special permits for the entire route
– Accommodation for 7 nights in hotels
– Camping in the desert for 1 night (with all camp gear provided)
– Desert camping activities
– All meals during the challenge including welcome and farewell dinners.
– Return flight from Luxor to Cairo
THESE FEES DO NOT INCLUDE:
– Flights from/to Egypt (for international participants)
– Visa charges
– Extra accommodation prior or after the above schedule
– Extra food and beverage beyond 3 meals a day
– Any personal extras or any expense not mentioned above

If I had any spare cash and didn’t have a driving push to finish my two degrees, I would be TOTALLY down for this!  Mrs. Trotsky (would that make her Ms. Frida Kahlo technically? Eh, only the art geeks got that one…) thinks of course I am insane. 

I’ve grown accustomed to such things.


A Genuine Scooter on Skid Row…

So, one of the many reasons it’s been quite here is because for the past few weeks, I have been scooter-less.  Before that I was stuck with a Vespa P200e that could NOT pass emissions in Arizona, no matter how much engine rebuilding it took!  Eventually, I realized that the draconian laws in Arizona were out to keep both Hispanics and 2-Strokes oppressed in different ways.  But, rather than move states (which was an option to both keep my Scooter and to avoid SB1070, but that’s another story for a different kind of blog), I decided to cut my losses and move on to a different bike that I KNOW would be legal.

This led me to the Rattler 110 I had mentioned previous from Genuine Scooter company.  But, the bike itself actually came from an untrustworthy dealer who initially didn’t say they were a dealer.  They emailed me as if they were a private party stating they had a Rattler for sale, and that it “only” had a performance variator and some holes drilled in the airbox for better venting.  Other than that, the bike was bone stock with 2,200 miles.  On the surface this seemed tempting.  And, within a few days he was in Phoenix and took possession of the Vespa in it’s disgraced state, and I took possession of the Rattler 110.

Performance-wise, the “racing” variator was a hard-engaging beast but the bike overall was “OK”.  Decent acceleration and otherwise didn’t seem like a bad deal at all.  Heck, I even got a new spare rear tire out of the deal!  But, on the way to class about a month later, the  bike turned on me and the truth was soon to be revealed…

At around 24th and Van Buren in Downtown Phoenix, you will find many things

-Drug dealers

-Prostituttes (although not as many as there used to be. Phoenix PD has done a great job cleaning it up!)

-No-Tell-Mo-Tells

-Maricopa County’s own Mental Health Corrections facility.  Locals call it “Sherriff Joe’s Arkham”

-And…  My Rattler 110 that randomly stopped dead for no reason!

With no warning, I lost complete power with no compression and no hope of a re-start.  So, it was off to the scooter shop since I was still in my apartment and had no where to tear the engine apart.  The local Genuine Scooter dealer in the East Valley is a shifty and untrustworthy lot, and generally will sell you a China-scoot as soon as any other bike and leave you twisting in the wind.  So, obviously getting it fixed there won’t happen.  But the Urban Commuter, a local shop in Tempe, was more than happy to take it in!  So, with $95 of hard-earned student grant money later, the tow truck deposted the scooter on their doorstep.

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(The interior: A nice little hole-in-the-wall local shop that specializes in electric bikes, scooters of all makes and the occasional wierd –ass Chinese horror like you see in the right side of the pic)

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(And yes… that is an Italjet Dragster 50. Yes, it was for sale. No, I didn’t have the money Sad smile )

After about 4 days, they were finally able to get to it.  The verdict?

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Yep.  That’s a hole. In the TOP of the piston, where it shouldn’t be! 

Turns out that there was QUITE a bit more done to this scooter than was previously mentioned, including:

-Removal of BOTH top and bottom cylinder gaskets in order to increase compression.  How did they seal it up then? Oh just by using a SEALANT squeezed onto the parts.  Yeah.. that’ll work…

-re-jetting of the carb to the WRONG specs

-Install of the WRONG spark plug that was sticking out 2-3mm into the combustion chamber

-An entire performance clutch kit with 1,500 RPM spring, the heaviest weights known to be on a Rattler and a whole mess of things that aren’t fit for a daily driver

-And, as it turns out, the bike is actually a 2008, but the title says 2010.  Yep, they lied to the DMV as well to get it to register as newer.

In short this bike was amped up to be a mini pipe bomb without rebuilding one part on the internals, which were all stock and not meant to be hot rodded.  The dealer lied (again) and this time I was stuck with the bill.  I didn’t even bother dealing with them since I know with this many lies not one thing they can do will be trustworthy.  And, since they sold it as a private party sale there was really no recourse, especially in another state.

The Urban Commuter ended up doing me good.  They may be a bit slow (about 2 weeks, and that was the fastest I’ve got a bike from them), but their work once again was good for me and for just under $600 I got a new Cylinder, Piston, bearings top and bottom, PROPER gaskets, head, plug and clutch service.  The performance variator and clutch are still in there, but at least now the weights aren’t worn to shit and it actually accelerates with a little more smoothness.  The idle is still a tad high, but I’ve just been too busy to fix it.  The bike does run solid and it’s by all accounts a new bike.

Do I regret selling the Vespa? Every day.  But, with my new job, new home further from job and the dreadded “off season” approaching, I need a CVT powered bike that can take the hits.  Now that this hit is over, I can pretty much run this thing into the ground because… well, let’s face it: It’s a bike by Genuine Scooter Company!  These have a rep as good as Honda for being one durable scoot.

Do I dig the style? Well, no.  It’s got great suspension, amazing acceleration for a 110cc and it’s built super solid, but it’s not really my thing,  So, I will soon be looking for another Stella, Vespa or Buddy to put me on a proper style scooter.  But at least I won’t have to worry about finding something ASAP since ride-wise, this is one solid scooter that will take the hits and come back for more.

But, the search for the perfect bike will continue.  In the meantime, I have a good bike to keep me company until then.  Who knows? I may still keep it as the backup/urban runabout bike.  There really is no scooter more fitting or more powerful for the sub-45mph streets of the inner-city.  Screw 50cc scoots, Zumas or even small dirtbikes: This bike has them ALL beat!


LML releases a torrent of new tech: Automatic Stars, Fuel Injection and even Sidecars!

EICMA 2011 is supposed to be the big time event for motorbike manufacturers, and while Piaggio may of made many go “Meh”, LML (the manufacturer of the Star scooter better known as the “Stella” from Genuine Scooters in the US) has come out swinging!  They released not one new bike but a HALF DOZEN new models with tech that wouldn’t seem possible on a bike based off of the steel Vespa P-series scooter.  They include:

The new “Star Light” 4T with CVT.  Yes, they have released a fuel injected 50cc version of the venerable Star scooter… and it’s an AUTOMATIC?!?!  Say what you will about non-shifty bikes, this is said to be a steel bodied scooter that offers modern convenience with full style.

(Could this be the supposed “smallframe” Star we’ve been hearing about?)

Next are the new Stars in 50cc, 125cc and the inclusion of fuel injection on their bikes.  A cooperation with Polini has also produced a performance kit for the 4T Star/Stella that includes an exhaust, cylinder kit and Mikuni 22mm carb, but it wasn’t mentioned for what displacement of engine.  but, if it’s for the 1504T, the 22mm carb would be a nice upgrade from the 2o currently used.

Also included were several new “special editions”: The Corsa, the Off-Road and the Bicolor (meant to invoke the two tone P’-series scooters of the 80’s)

Lastly, LML released a factory version of a sidecar for their new bikes that actually looks quite stunning.  It’s less on the chrome, but still retains the vintage-esque character.  No word on pricing or availability yet

Of course, most of these innovations will probably NOT make it to the US, since the bike market here is a joke to the rest of the world.  But, there is at least one importer here who is serious about Steel bodied scooters from LML and hopefully they’ll take a chance on a few of these bikes.  We may see some of these as re-branded Stella scooters, but only time will tell.

A special thanks to Eric at ModernBuddy for giving us the scoop on all of the hot new bikes coming out of EICMA 2011!!!