Tag Archives: Manual transmission

A little humor and updates

Happy Weekend Slow Kids!

I thought to myself that I should share this little comic a friend of mine sent me. It’s so great, especially for those of us that live in the Southwest United States.

Stay tuned for my engine rebuild series. I’ve got all the parts I need and I will be attempting to rebuild my LML 5-port engine over the coming weeks. With a little one and a full time job, there’s little time to devote to a new project, but I’m really itching to get the V running again. It’s going to be premier weather in no time.

Anyway, here’s the humor!

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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? 


Trial and error, and error….

One note before I start writing about what I want to write about… I have been driving a car for close to 15 years. Most of the cars I’ve driven in my life are manual transmissions. I’ve owned something in the ballpark of 10 cars, 2 have been automatics and I hated them.

Now that little piece of info is out of the way… I cannot for the life of me figure out the clutch on this damn scooter. There, I said it. All shame aside, I’m seriously having a hard time getting it. Granted… in my defense, I’ve logged about 1 mile on the V so far, purely by accident, I’m sure… that, or a stroke incredible luck. Either way, I’ve gone about 10 houses away from ours and there’s an inordinate amount of stalling involved with even that.

I think part of my problem is that a) I’ve not had nearly as much time on it as I’d like, work and school have a way of cramping my style, for sure. But also b) I’m still kind of afraid that I’m going to break it. I am of the “gentle is best” mindset when it comes to doing things I’m new at… nevertheless, this whole process takes me back to the glory days when my high school boyfriend tried to teach me to drive his manual transmission pickup truck. Yeah, he gave up after the 10-20th stall out in a fit of rage. I ended up having to “borrow” my mom’s car with a friend when mom was out of town to teach myself. Sorry mom. I swear I didn’t break it.

Now, I’m an adult and faced with this experience of learning to drive all over again. It’s not fun, I have to say. Once I can get going in 1st gear, WOW, it’s everything I want the experience to be. It’s fun, and exciting…. but if I have to stop for any reason, like, I don’t know… another car, I’m sorta screwed. I know it’s going to take time. I know that Vespas, especially old ones, are very difficult to learn for a BRAND new rider… but come on. It’s quite frustrating.

This is something that I’ve wanted for as long as I can remember, so I’m going to keep at it. But for the love of all that’s good, I wish that I could just figure it out without all the fits and starts.

In other news about the V, after the first ride (today was my second) as it was idling in front of the house, the nut that’s supposed to be attached to the front shock just fell out. Yup. Nobody was even near it. That’s a little nerve wracking. But we got it tightened back up and there doesn’t seem to be any problems now with it. We’ve got to tinker with the timing or fuel/oil mixture too. It’s been running a little rough today. It could be something else… who knows. Here I thought after months of waiting, it’d be all set to go for a while. Nope. Tinker we must.

All in all, this is quite the learning experience. Not only am I learning how to ride a two-wheeled machine that’s not a bicycle, I’m having to overcome doubts and fears that I’ve had a long time in addition to a new form of mechanics. I can work on cars, no problem. But cycles are all kinds of foreign. Hooray for adventures! It’s scary and exciting all at the same time. I’m really just looking forward to being able to ride places, not just our street. THAT will be awesome.

Anyway, thanks for reading!