Tuesday, March 31, 2009

TMZ.com is lame, but we knew that already, right?

TMZ.com posted a photo of James Gandolfini flipping a photog a bird while getting on his Vespa. If I had all sorts of greasy stalkers with cameras chasing me around, I'd probably be prone to bird-flipping, too. In TMZ style they facetiously called it "the ultimate ass kicker's vehicle."

Remember those alien films that put forth that we have invited alien life to our planet with our excellent television programs beamed into outer space? Well, perhaps the Honeymooners and I Love Lucy charmed them, but crud like TMZ, Jerry Springer and Temptation Island would only turn them away and make them not want to share time travel and eternal life secrets with us.

Blog entry soundtrack: Break Dance - Electric Boogie by West Street Mob

Monday, March 30, 2009

Top Gear scooter episode tonight

If you didn't catch the UK show Top Gear's Vietnam episode online, you can see it tonight on BBC America. Check your TV listings for times.

Like most TG episodes it is silly and funny but vintage scooterists who have been following the "Viet-bodge" scooter stories will find this episode particularly funny ( or sad depending on if you bought one ...)..

I wish US moto shows could be so playful, but I hope they don't do a Top Gear US and mess it up like they tend to do.

-- Post From My iPhone

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Back from Vegas!

And still recuperating. I got a bloody nose upon returning: dry, warm air and not enough H20. I had a splendid time & will download my photos for posting.

Unfortunately, our hotel was stingy with the Internet, so I only had my iPhone to use and it won't send emails...only receive! That's the only way I can post to Blogger, so it was kaput.

However, if you were following me on Twitter, you would have seen regular updates. Much easier and TwitPic makes it a jiff to post a photo. Thanks, Twitter!

Will be back with some more posts, soon!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Upcoming Event: Ride to Work Day 6/15

Ride to Work Day will soon be upon us. Are you ready? With the recent time change and the improving weather, moto-commuting is becoming more of a reality for Americans.

With a little planning and some determination you can overcome the routine car drive to work and enjoy a fun scooter ride. While it my not work for everyone, I encourage you to try it and suggest it to your friends.

The Ride to Work site has lots of resource to help including recruitment materials, web banners, and other literature. Last year's materials used a scooter, so this year they are back to motorcycles.

Blog entry soundtrack: "Ex Lion Tamer" by Wire..."Stay glued to your T.V. set..."

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Phrase that I never want to hear again...

"Ride it like you stole it."

Who thought this up this lame saying?

First, I like my scooter and the last thing that I would want is for someone to steal it. So, why would I steal another rider's scooter?

Second, I've seen Cops and World's Greatest Police Chases (or whatever) and the people that are being pursued drive like self-centered jerks. Scoot! had a scooter stolen once and it looked like crap when we got it back. That kind of driving ability is not enviable.

Next, if it is your bike, why on earth do you need to put on some air and pretend to be other than the person that you are? If you wanna play Big Biker Dude or Macho Biker Chick, save it for the role playing at home (rahr!) since the drivers/riders around you don't care and anyone else who has to deal with you will think you are just an ass.

Maybe we should say, "Ride it Like You Earned It" or "Ride It Like You Love It" since those seem more like what we're really trying to do...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

SYM Elicits Déjà Vu with the SYMBA

This year SYM introduces the SYMBA, a 101cc 4-speed semi-automatic scooter based on Honda's best selling CUB. When we say best selling, we mean it: the CUB has sold over 60 million units! Honda pulled the CUB from the US in the 80s, but SYM (who has made/sold the bike in Taiwan for decades) is bringing it back and expects it to sell exceptionally well. The bike is said to get over 100 MPG and achieve 49 MPH on 2.5" x 17" tires. All this and two-toned seats for $2,598. Find out more at the SYMBA page or check out the Team SYMBA fan page.

ps: wasn't the cub in The Lion King names Simba? Coincidence? I think not...

UPDATE: I mistakenly listed it as a 50cc when it is actually a 101.4cc. Thanks Suzanne!

Blog entry soundtrack: "Inland Sea" by ...And you will know us by the trail of dead...

Get a Vespa/Piaggio Scooter For "Nothing"...

During the month of March Piaggio/Vespa Dealers are offering some great incentives to buy a scooter. Their "$0 down, $0 payments, 0% interest" promotion is run through a finance company, but here's the fine print:

$0 Down/ $0 payments/ 0% Interest
Offer valid at participating dealers on purchases of new & unused 2007, 2008 and 2009 Piaggio & Vespa models when you use your Sheffield Card between 3/1/09 and 4/30/09. Minimum Amount Financed $1,500; Maximum Amount Financed $40,000. See dealer for details and program dates. No payments required and 0% APR FOR 6 MONTHS. Thereafter, MONTHLY PAYMENTS of 3% of the original loan balance plus any additional charges, for approximately 47 months at the Standard Rate. As of 3/1/09, the Standard Rate is 17.99%, which may vary monthly. For accounts not current, the promotion is canceled, and regular Minimum Monthly Payments of 3% of the original loan balance plus any additional charges, and a Default Rate of 23.99% APR will apply. Minimum Monthly Finance Charge is $1.50. Certain rules apply to the allocation of payments and Finance Charges on your promotional purchase if you make more than one purchase on your Sheffield Card. Call 1-888-438-8837 or review your cardholder agreement for information. Financing is subject to credit approval; not all applicants will qualify for credit. Financing promotions void where prohibited. Offer subject to change without notice.

Might be a good way to get on a new bike, or an old-stock bike that just didn't move. For more info, visit your local Piaggio or Vespa dealer.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Success! Lesney Matchbox Lambretta with sidecar!

Jon and I went to a comics/records/collectibles show this weekend in San Jose, hoping we'd find some scooter swag. It wasn't until the very last row that Jon found one of the things on his must-have list: a Lesney Matchbox Lambretta with a Sidecar. Thay aren't terribly rare, you can find them on eBay, but this one is unblemished with a box in very good shape. He was over the moon! We had seen some in England, but the nearly 2:1 exchange rate kept us from buying.
Here is the photo I Twittered. My iPhone didn' snap the best pic, though.

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic

Sunday, March 15, 2009

High Rollers: Here We Come!

On Friday my crew is journeying to Las Vegas for the High Roller Weekend. Highlights will be the Put Up or Shut Up Biker Build-Off, seeing The Aggrolites, and meeting/reuniting with all the scooter folk from around the US and the UK.

If you are going and want to connect, I'll be Twittering/Tweeting on my ID: Scootmagapril, and under #highrollers. If you are there join me, if not, search on Twitter for it, or follow me.

Sadly, I won't be able to bring a scooter. Mike & Josh are flying in and my boyfriend's Honda Element will be filled with Scoot! Swag and my housemate, Lori.

One cool item is that we have told the Biker Build-Off folks that we will feature the top 3 scooters in an upcoming issue. It is a win-win as the builders get national (and international) recognition for their hard work, and we get some awesome bikes to feature in the magazine. Yay!

BTW...because of the rally, the scoot office will be closed for most of this week and early next week. We'll be back after the rally!

Blog entry soundtrack: "The Rip" by Portishead

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Left Turns at Intersections: A Scooterist's Nightmare

In the most recent issue of Scoot!, I wrote an article about scooter safety. In it I noted that the most dangerous place for a scooter is an intersection. A car driver turning left in front of a scooterist/motorcyclist is the most common accident. For proof you need not look further than the news:
2/23/09: Man on motorscooter struck by car in Florida
2/27/09: Oakland Woman Arrested in San Francisco Scooter Crash
3/3/09: Woman Dies Following Friday Crash in Tennessee
3/11/09: Scooter Struck by Vehicle

Now, I don't bring this up to scare anyone. I know many riders who haven't had this type of accident. But, of those who have had accidents, this sort ranks at the top. It can also be a deadly accident.

What can you do to protect yourself at an intersection?

1) make yourself more visible: most motorists that turn left in front of a rider claim to have not seen the rider. Wear a bright helmet and clothing (especially with highly reflective trim) and keep your hand ready to hit your bright headlights and honk your horn. In congested cities like Los Angeles, I have flashed my lights & honked at intersections to make sure I am noticed.

2) mind your position in the road: if you are too far over or tailgating the car in front of you, you hinder your chances of being seen. Give a reasonable berth for other cars and for you to be seen, and escape if needed.

3) use your eyes: scan for cars in all lanes, and when entering an intersection look at the oncoming cars to gauge if they are looking for you or are otherwise distracted.

4) be scooter psychic: my way of saying that you need to develop a sense of human behavior based on body language of the drivers around you. For example, someone looking down at their cell phone most likely won't see you. A car in the oncoming lane that slows down at an intersection with a green light may still be turning even if they forgot to put on their turn signal.

For more tips on how to be a safer, smarter rider, check out my article in issue #49 with Carlos Alazraqui on the cover.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

New Scooter: The Auto Moto

GadgetReview.com just posted a review of the new Auto Moto scooter which has three wheels and a roof. Reminiscent of the BMW C1 and other covered scooters (Benelli Adiva). I can't recall what other companies made a foray into covered scooters over the past few years, but I know none of them did it with three wheels. We'll include this scooter in our upcoming Buyer's Guide and look forward to giving it a try.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Piaggio Confirms Plug-In Hybrid for 2010

The FOX Car Report snagged an interview with Paolo Timoni where he confirmed that Piaggio plans to next year sell a plug-in hybrid based on the MP3.
According to Piaggio, the three-wheel scooter will travel several miles on battery power alone, and get up to 141 miles per gallon overall, which would make it one of the most fuel efficient vehicles ever made. Timoni misspoke during the interview when he said it would go 40 miles on battery alone, a Piaggio spokesperson saying that final specifications won't be known until the scooter is officially homologated for sale. Previous statements from the company regarding the European version have pointed toward an all-ele[c]tric range of about 12 miles.

The parallel hybrid design combines a 125cc engine and an electric motor in a similar way to the powertrain in the Toyota Prius, and should be capable of accelerating the scooter from 0-60 mph in about 5 seconds. It can be charged from a standard 110 volt electrical outlet, and uses a combination of regenerative braking and several adjustable hybrid modes to charge the battery on the move, balancing performance and efficiency to the tastes of the rider.

Watch the video interview and imagine what Timoni is thinking about fielding all of these rudimentary questions. It's as if scooters were entirely new and not sold int his country for 50+ years... ;-)

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Lady GaGa Goes for Vespa

Doesn't say much for the classiness of the Vespa brand, but Lady Gaga's video for "Eh, Eh..." features a Vespa.

San Jose & San Francisco, CA scooterists for video

I got en email today from someone making a local music video that wants to have scooter riders in it. Sounds like they may want vintage, but not sure.
I'm trying to figure out if I know any scooterists under 35. This ain't 1987 anymore!

I'm a music video Director and I'm shooting a video this month featuring a Vespa which is owned by the lead singer Christian Vela. We're going to be shooting in a retro style in San Francisco and San Jose and we're looking for additional Vespa riders to appear in the video. I'd be very grateful if you could mention it to anyone who might be interested. We're looking for people aged 18-35.

If you are a local San Jose/ San Francisco scooterist who is interested, email me and I can put you in contact with them.

Blog entry soundtrack: "Sender" by Pinback

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Get 30% off at Ben Sherman Las Vegas...

I just heard that attendees of the High Rollers Weekend later this month will get 30% off at the Las Vegas Ben Sherman store (on Las Vegas Blvd South). Get more info when you check in at the rally.

Scooterist Needs Your Help

From Scooter Relief:
[San Francisco] Bay Area scooterist Astrid Molzer-Gunter is in the ICU in critical condition after being hit by a drunk driver on Thursday night, riding home from a club meeting. Her friends from the San Francisco Scooter Girls have asked for donations to support what is clearly going to be an expensive and trying recovery.

Scooter Relief raised money for Scoot! Advertising Director Josh Rogers when he was injured last year which made it possible for him to pay some medical bills and living expenses while he was hospitalized and recovering from a terrible accident. It's a good cause!

UPDATE: It appears that Astrid had one of her legs amputated below the knee. This tragedy will probably involve lots of therapy and a mountain of medical bills. Please help if you can.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

UPDATE: Mike from NOHO on NPR

Here is link to where you can hear the interview with Mike Frankovich from Noho scooters on NPR last week.