Tag Archives: P200e

2012: Off with a fighting chance, and a wheezing bike…

Well, I know there hasn’t been much activity on the ol’ club page here.  That’s because there’s been a bit of a snag:

None of the bikes of the whole two riders on here are legal. 

The biggest downfall is honestly, myself.  I bought a bike which I was TOLD was in perfect nick, and from the few hundred miles I was able to log on it, it seems *ok*.  Turns out… not so much.  After taking the head off the engine to see what was what during a carb rebuild by a local shop, my concerns were confirmed:  The piston and cylinder are shot!  This means that the bike does NOT have “less than 4k miles” on it like the previous owner said.  Then again, one must assume every Craigslist seller lies.  This is the one mantra I have for everyone buying a bike.  But, I should’ve adhered to my own words better.

But, the chassis is still fine, and it’s hardly dead.  But, with grant money being tight it won’t be until next month until we’re back on the road proper.  But, I promise that this rebuild will be well documented, especially this will be the first time I will have rebuilt a top-end on a P2o0e!  Also, new suspension, rubber and some bearing work will also be top on the agenda.

Others of us have been put off by a poorly timed car accident totaling the “cage” of another one of our riders, and her now consuming drive to find a new set of wheels in order to get her scoot legal and on the road as well.  2011 just fought us all the way down, and that’s all I’m going to say about it.

Sadly this also means that Amerivespa is in question for us.  With the costs of replacements, it will be difficult at best.  But, only time will tell

So, once again, hang in there kids!  I know, that line starts to sound like a broken record but there will be a solution. Trust me, you’ll dig it.

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…

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.


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…