Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Binh Checks-in from Fairbanks, Alaska

Binh updates us from a public library in Fairbanks, Alaska:

Got to Fairbanks a day ahead.  Yesterday was another 400+ mile day.  Camped about 20miles past Tok.

Yesterday was the first day of constant rain past Koidern.  The bike did well I was able to pass Goldwings, Harleys and RVs in the rough wet roads.  Getting to Koidern the pavement got rough.  Crossing the border the gravel road here in Alaska is horrible..way worst then in Canada.  I'm only able to do up to 30mph.  Looks like the Dalton will be just as bad if not worse so it will take me all day to go from Livengood to the Circle and back.

Woke up to rain most of the morning.  Nearing Fairbanks it got warm and dry.  68-degrees here in Fairbanks today.  Up this far north I'm having a hard time sleeping because it is constantly light out.  I rode up until midnight again yesterday and the sun was still up.  It does get cold around 4am and I have to zip up my sleeping bag.

The bike is still holding up just fine.  It is finally muddied up.  Will do another oil change before I hit the Dalton Hwy.   Seems like fixing the exhaust leak slowed it down a few mph, but it could be the rain.  I also just noticed the last two days that my gas mileage is not quite the same.  It seems like I'm only getting about 90miles per tank instead of 100-miles per tank, this could be caused by the rougher roads or the exhaust leak repair.  I'm gonna check the valves again before hitting the Dalton.  Oh it could also be the tire change that is causing lower mpg and/or slower speeds.  There are just too many factors to have any real conclusion. Only time will tell.

So I plan on heading up to Livengood just before the Dalton tonight.  I'm going to ride up to the Circle then back down in one day instead of up to Coldfoot then back on separate days.  It should be about 250 miles of gravel road.  If the Dalton is really bad and it takes me longer then expected then I will just head up to Coldfoot and stay there for the night and head back the next day.

By the time I reach the Circle the bike will have about 4000mi

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

News: Polini Cup Race Series Cancelled

This news from Louie at SPI Parts:

Hello Polini Cup Racers
It is with a heavy heart that we have decided to cancel the Polini Cup events for the rest of the year.  We are not  a race promoter but began last year planning  the Polini Cup event because of the demand from our customers.  Last year the attendance was great but began to taper off at the end of the year. We have also seen online in different social sites that many of the people don't have the resources to allow them to continue to race or have posted negative statements that have inhibited  the growth of the event.  It has been a great event for us and we have enjoyed meeting all of you.  Thank you to everyone that has been so kind to all of us here at Polini USA.  Best of luck to everyone with their future racing endeavors.  We look forward to continuing to support racing.  As the interest improves we will remain involved.
Louie Peverini
SPI Parts

Bummer! Racing in the USA is hard to sustain because those who are interested in racing don't often live near each other. The cost of creating & maintaining a scooter, traveling, and finding the time to race can be too much. I hope that the other race series can attract and retain plenty of racers in order to keep it going.

Quick Binh post...

Another update from Binh:

I'm in Prince George, BC now and will go maybe another 200 miles today.

Yesterday was a long 400+ mile day.  Canada Customs thought my trip was pretty outrageous so they had me go through the questioning area so it took a while.  Hit the Trans-Canada Hwy 1 for 70+km bike was able to go 55-60mph the whole way.  Camped a few miles shy of 150 Mile House.  BC Hwy 97 looks a lot like hwy 395 in California. After this I won't update till I get to Whitehorse (the next large town).

Monday, June 28, 2010

On the Road with Binh

As promised, here is the next installment on Binh's Journey. He has posted some photos and sent some brief updates on his first few days on the road:

First day:  a late start only did about 250miles thru the Central Valley.  Stayed just north of Chico on Highway 32.  Did the second oil change around 300 miles.

Second day:  a long one, over 450miles.  I wanted to make the ride into Seattle a shorter one for the third day.  Stayed a little past Bend, Oregon.  Did the third oil change around 600 miles.

Third day:  This day had some drama.  My original route was snowed covered.  I had planned to go over the Gifford Pinchot National Forest passes but got stuck in the snow.  Had to turn around and go around.  This added over 150 miles to Seattle, turned out to be a 450+ miles instead of the 300 as planned.  I had to go by local direction which made it take even longer.  The bike started to make funny noises and I noticed the license plate starting to crack. Epoxyed it.

I was only going to stay the night and continue north but decide to stay in Seattle for a day then head north.  This break gave me time to do break in maintenance: valve adjust, chain adjust, clutch adjust,
4th oil change around 1,275 miles started using synthetic.  Bike sounds normal now and runs much smoother and quieter then the previous day.  The funny noises was cause by a very loose drive chain.

Epoxy didn't hold up so my buddy Fred here in Seattle made me a backing plate for the license plate so it can be held using all 4 holes.  Bike now has over 1,300 miles and runs strong.  The fastest I got it up to was just shy of 70mph down hill and about 60mph on the flats.

More posts to come...

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Binh to Alaska?

When the Scoot! staff created the Buyer's Guide, we remarked that 125cc scooters best were suited for "Cross-town riding, casual weekend excursions, light passengers on flat terrain for short distances." This is typically true, but every once in a while there is someone who breaks the stereotype and shows that the 125cc scooter cannot be underestimated.

Recently, our friend and local scooterist Binh Cheung embarked upon a real adventure riding from San Jose to the Arctic Circle along the Dalton Highway on a 125cc SYM Symba. Binh estimates that this trip will take about a month and log about 8,000 miles on the little Symba.  "Almost everyone thinks I'm crazy to do this trip on such a small bike, but that is what I find challenging and adventurous," he says.

This isn't his first long-distance trip on a smaller scooter. A few years back he and Jason from rode to Denver, CO on 50cc Honda Ruckuses. Binh also rode to Seattle on his Honda Metropolitan. His longest stretch riding was 540 miles in a day. Why do such a long and intense trip on a small scooter? Binh has a larger motorcycle, yet he says he find that is "too easy and isn't as enjoyable as a small bike."

We reviewed the Symba in Scoot! issue # 52 (October 2009) and had a blast zooming around town, but never thought that the bike would be a one to attempt a journey like Binh's. He originally planned to use his own Metropolitan, until the SYM distributor stepped in to offer the Symba. While a new bike is a great asset, it did offer a few challenges. First, Binh had to break in the engine. The standard break-in period is 500-miles, but Binh only had a few days. So, with just over 70 miles on the odometer he took off. The first leg to Seattle would have to function as the break-in period.

Daring adventures are quite the fashion on television shows. But, those trips are often accompanied by cameramen, producers, technical advisers and chase vehicles. Binh is doing his trip without all those conveniences. It's just him, his scooter, a backpack and a loaded rack. Have you seen the rear rack on the Symba? If so, you're probably surprised to hear that his holds a spare set of tires and camping gear. His front rack holds an auxiliary gas can.

Binh had originally planned to undertake this trip last year, but was unable to. At that time I had asked him if he needed any help from us. He only wanted help to share his story. No plea for money, "sponsorship" or free swag; just an interest in spreading the word. He's a pretty self-sufficient guy. "I'm self-reliant so this trip is a self sustain[ed] one…I like to keep it as simple and spontaneous as possible. No real plan or destination really 'cause the journey is the soul of the trip," he says.

I'll do my part by sharing Binh's story as it unfolds. Check back tomorrow for an update.

Blog Entry Soundtrack: "Dark Eyes" by Iron and Wine + Calexico

Monday, June 21, 2010

Ride to Work Day is TODAY!

Let me start this post out by saying that I will not be riding to work today. Unfortunately, I am sick with a chest cold that has kept me down for 2 days. Perhaps I will ride to the doctor's office, instead?

Rid to Work Day is to encourage motorcycle/scooter rider to use their bikes not just for leisure, but also for utilitarian reasons like commuting to work. Since most people live a relatively close distance to work,  it can be a quick trip that is not only fun, but saves gas, reduces traffic congestion and makes you look cool. [I added that last part. I don't think it is in the official RTW propaganda.]

My commute is about 47 miles on the freeway each way, which makes taking my P200 (or my VBB) impossible unless I want to leave ultra-early (I don't) or just arrive late with numb hands (ibid). So, my plan was to take the Scoot! Yamaha TMAX which is "TheMAX" in most things. It's big, heavy, powerful and can pass cars alarmingly well. It also pays no attention to grooved pavement, which is a complete buzz kill on my 10" and 8" wheeled vintage Vespas. Combine grooved pavement with gusty wind and you have my idea of a crappy ride. So, Josh made sure we had new tires just in time for Ride to Work and I made sure to get sick just in time (although it was totally unintentional).

Any of you riding to work today? What are you riding? How far are you riding? Are you connecting with any other riders, perhaps for an after-work pitcher of root beer?

Blog post soundtrack: "Elemental" by The Limp TwinsFrom Beyond the Groove

Friday, June 18, 2010

Win a Vespa S model

JetBlue is holding One Thing That Is Green a contest which is encouraging people to incorporate more eco-friendly practices in their lives. The 1-week program is giving away a Vespa S 50 model a week. The Grand Prize is a consultation with Deepak Chopra. Maybe if you win, you can go on a scooter ride with Chopra. That always makes me feel better! The contest has been going since April, so get your entry in now, before it ends on 6/25.

Blog entry soundtrack: Follow The Leaders (2005 Digital Remaster) by Killing Joke

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Stella 4T Update from Genuine

This news was posted by Genuine:

Our first production shipment of 2010 Stella 4-Stroke arrived in Chicago on 6-9-2010, and was staged for review by United States Customs (Homeland Security) for clearance. Normally, this process can take a few days or up to a week. However, we have been advised that the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has requested an "extensive" examination of the vehicles. Simply stated, EPA is evaluating the Stella 4T to validate all aspects of compliance outlined in our original certification documents issued for this model. At this point we have been advised to wait for a response from the government without any indication of how long it may take. We intend to cooperate fully with any of their requests.
We have the finest EPA certified test lab and certification agents in the business. We are doing everything in our power to expedite this review, but at this point the government has not given us a completion date. This is extremely difficult for us, for the dealer, and for you our customer, all of whom have been waiting for Stella 4T.
Be assured that we will keep you informed as this governmental process and review continues and we thank you for your support.
We appreciate your confidence and patience, and we look forward to delivering your new Stella as soon as possible.
Your friends at Genuine Scooters.

Farewell, John Gerber

Members of the Vespa Club of America are likely familiar with John Gerber, who may have been the penultimate "scooter tourer" as he had traveled all over the world by Vespa (several of them) throughout his life. Josh alerted me to the sad news that John recently passed away.

Oddly enough, last month I conducted my first interview with John for what was to be a look at some of his more extensive trips. I hadn't yet scheduled the second interview, and now I never will. We were also planning to identify which of his photos (from his extensive collection) we would use in the article.  It was going to take a few interviews as John had tabulated that he had ridden over 412, 000 miles since 1964 and visited all the continents except for the poles an Africa.

He had some incredible stories.

Blog entry soundtrack: "Light My Fire" by Erma Franklin

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Gardening by scooter

I found this mulch brick which fits great on my rack. When wet, it expands to 2 cu ft of bark. Woo-hoo.

-- Post from my iPhone, out-n-about...

Ride to Work Day: Monday, June 21st, 2010

If you Ride to Work on the official day (or any other day) let us know! Send us a photo of you on your commute and include some info such as your name, city/state, how far you commute each way, and the reasons why you commute by scoot. You might also include any tips that others can follow to make commuting easier. Submit your comments here and select Letters to the Editor. They may end up in a future issue of Scoot!.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

30th Annual Intl Motorcycle Show Announces Dates

The 2010-2011 International Motorcycle Shows 12-city tour schedule is as follows:
  1. November 12-14, 2010, Dallas Convention Center, Dallas, TX
  2. November 19-21, 2010, San Mateo County Event Center, San Mateo, CA
  3. December 10-12, 2010, Qwest Field & Event Center, Seattle, WA
  4. December 17-19, 2010, Long Beach Convention Center, Long Beach, CA
  5. January 7-9, 2011, Rock Financial Showplace, Novi, MI
  6. January 14-16, 2011, Washington Convention Center, Washington D.C.
  7. January 21-23, 2011, Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, New York, NY
  8. January 28-30, 2011, I-X Center, Cleveland, OH
  9. February 4-6, 2011, Minneapolis Convention Center, Minneapolis, MN
  10. February 11-13, 2011, Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, Chicago, IL
  11. February 25-27, 2011, Carolina First Center, Greenville, SC
  12. March 9-12, 2011, Ocean Center, Daytona Beach, FL

The International Motorcycle Shows will feature gear, accessories, stunt shows, demo rides, new rider programs, must-attend seminars, kid’s activities, Media Previews and more. Additional opportunities will exist for licensed riders to test ride new motorcycles at five locations including Dallas, San Mateo, Long Beach, Greenville and Daytona Beach. An added Media Preview in Chicago will supplement existing media events in Long Beach and New York, showcasing the latest new vehicles and product debuts.

For more information visit

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Land-Speed Record Competition for Scooters

For those of you that are interested in fast scooters, scooter racing, or speed tuning scooters, the Motor-Scooter International Land-Speed Federation may be of interest. A group of scooterists has come together to test their scooters with a simple race against the clock at El Mirage Dry Lake near Barstow, CA.  
Since most land-speed racing events are closed to scooters (MSILSF cites the 5-inch wheel requirement of The Southern California Timing Association as an example) the scooterists formed their own association just for scooters. Their first annual event is November 21st, 2010. They are also trying to get a scooter class in the 2011 BUB Motorcycle Speed Trials at the Bonneville Salt Flats.

If you are interested in testing your scooter, the fees are small, the safety requirements are basic and the scooter classes are plenty. Check it out!

Scoot! Magazine is a sponsor of this event.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Motorcycle/scooter Delivery in Mexico

This recent article by Alvin Starkman highlights how Mexico uses motorcycles and scooters to deliver items. It has some fun photos! I wish we had more scooter-delivery options here in the States. Several dealers have told me that it is difficult to find commercial insurance for them, so most people don't try to incorporate them into the mix.

Do you use a scooter for delivery? I'd love to see photos and how you are able to do it!

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Cool Clothes for Scootin' Kids

It's never to early to inculcate your children with the scooter bug. Here are some cool gear for them to wear to scooter rallies.

From Oliebollen:

Daily Tea jumper on sale for $19 now.

Ben Sherman t-shirt for just $20 (way better that at their brand shops)

When not in use, the clothes can hang on these fab hangers by Ladybug Art for sale at Rosenberry Rooms:

England Belongs' Onesie:

Monday, June 07, 2010

Julius & Clancy in Legos

If you saw the #55 April 2010 issue of Scoot!, you may have seen the incredible Lego creation by Canadian Lego enthusiast, Paul Hetherington. He created Paul Frank Industries' Julius the monkey and Clancy the giraffe riding in a scooter.

If you are a casual Lego user or (like me) haven't picked up Legos since childhood, you are probably in awe at how he was able to recreate these very recognizable characters.  Also, the details are quite impressive.

You can see more photos of this project as well as other even more complex and impressively executed projects by Paul (who goes by Brickbaron) on his Flikr stream.

If you create scooter-themes crafts or art, let me know. We might be able to include it in an upcoming issue of Scoot!.

  Blog Entry Soundtrack: "Young Guns" by Wham!

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Sunday Scooter Testing

The Scoot! team will be out testing some 125cc scooter head-to-head today for our next issue. On deck will be he KYMO Agility, Genuine Buddy,  Lance Cali Classic, Yamaha C3, and a Yamaha Vino. We might have another late entry. These head-to-head comparisons are a little time consuming, but fun to do and give the readers and apples-to-apples look at the stats.

I'll post some photos after we're done.
Doh! Mistake, I blew it when I was listing the scooters that were for the specific test for sunday. The 125cc test did not include the C3. I wish they had a 125cc version! We do have a loaner C3 from Yamaha, but it is for another article. I can't keep our test bikes straight.  

Blog entry soundtrack: "Love Cats" by The Cure

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Yummy Gift for Scooter Bakers

Just saw this super-cute baking kit using the Dumpling Dynasty artwork of Fiona Hewitt. Hewitt is a UK based artist whose work has been featured on several products for BlueQ and Chronicle Books. A fun kit for the scootering baker in your life.
You can buy this set from All-Pop, Fridge, and  Oliebollen.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Scooter Insurance Questions from Foremost

I got this press release from Foremost insurance and thought it brought up some interesting ideas to keep in mind when purchasing insurance. While it is a press release, it is a good reminder of what to keep in mind. One thing I would add is that when comparing rates, make sure the coverages are the same. I have received quotes that left off uninsured motorist coverage. No wonder it seemed so much cheaper than my current policy that covers UM.

Top Scooter Questions for Agents: Brought to You by Foremost Insurance
(Grand Rapids, MI) – While you’re getting around town with great gas mileage, there are things you should know about scooter insurance.  Here are six questions Foremost Insurance Senior Product Manager Kevin Henry suggests you ask your agent about coverage for your scooter.
1.  Do I need insurance for my scooter?
“Some people think that their scooter is adequately covered through an endorsement on an automobile policy,” explains Henry. “Or, worse yet, they disregard coverage altogether. Both are mistakes. You should have an insurance policy that offers the coverages that are important to your specific bike and lifestyle. It’s good to keep in mind that a scooter is a motorized vehicle that is most likely excluded from your homeowner’s policy. You never know what’s going to happen, especially for liability purposes, so it’s better to be prepared and have it insured.”
2. Do I have coverage for my safety apparel?
“Helmets, goggles, gloves and any other clothing designed to minimize injury are considered safety apparel,” says Henry. “Buying these safety equipment items can add up quickly and a good policy will provide some sort of coverage for them.” 
3.  What discounts are available?
“Discounts will help you save money on the premium you pay for your policy,” states Henry. “You may qualify for a multi-policy discount if you insure more than just your scooter with the same company. Some other examples you may qualify for include a discount for renewing your policy, taking safety courses or being part of an affinity group.”
4. Is Towing and Roadside Assistance available?
“Optional Towing and Roadside Assistance coverage should be available in case your scooter breaks down,” adds Henry. “This is a great coverage to add to your policy. If you run out of gas, get a flat tire or have other mechanical problems far away from home, you will be thankful you can call someone for help knowing these services can be covered.”
5.  Is the type of scooter I have eligible for insurance coverage?
“No two scooters are alike,” explains Henry. “Whether you have a sporty, vintage or three-wheeled model like the new Piaggio MP3, it’s best to make sure the company covers it. Honda, Piaggio, Vespa® and Yamaha are just some of the major manufacturers of scooters. However, your insurance company should offer coverage on several other brands – if it doesn’t, ask your agent for a company that does.”
 6.  Are there any rewards for responsible riders?
“Special rewards are sometimes available for riders with good driving history or who follow certain safety precautions,” Henry provides. “Some companies offer to waive first accidents, increase coverage for using approved helmets or give you a break if you have a stolen vehicle recovery system installed.”
Foremost Insurance Group is a great source for personal property and casualty and commercial insurance. A part of the Farmers Insurance Group of Companies®, Foremost® has been a leader in the insurance industry since 1952. Foremost is headquartered in Caledonia, Michigan. To learn more about our products or share your feedback, visit

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Scooter Themed Desktop Wallpapers

Continuing on the custom PC theme, I have found some fun scooter-themed wallpapers that can e used o your computer.
A good place to check for wallpapers is Flikr. many artists post them for users to use non-commercially. Check these out:

Chris Matta's Vespa Wallpaper
Vespa Vintage Wallpaper by (used above)

Some other online resources:
Wall Paper Pimper Vespas

UK Vespa site with cool downloads (see above)

think you can create your own cool scooter wallpaper? Enter the PixelGirlPresents design contest which isn't scooter specific, but is a great place to get your wallpaper designs seen. Deadline is July 31st.  I have found some cool scooter wallpapers there:

Vespa by Ian Mardsen


Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Get Firefox Scooter Personnas

Do you use Firefox as your browser? If so, you can personalize your browser with a "persona" which changes the look of the browser environment. I have noticed that there are several scooter-themed personas. By searching under "vespa" I found these. Some are better made than others and are not only cool looking, but add to the browsing experience. Some of my faves:

This one is called Vespa Scooters although there is clearly a Lambretta in there.

LXV Fans will dig LXV Mania.

Other interesting themes include a Lambretta Horncasting collection, a Cento theme, and a modern Piaggio scooter theme.

Another way to customize your browsing experience.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Pistol Pete= 2; Slow Race=0

 photo by John Davenport/Express-News
Our pal Pistol Pete won the AmeriVespa gymkhana Slow Race, which was written up in the San Antonio Express-News [thanks to Eric Amendral for the alert]. From all reports, it sounds as if AmeriVespa was a blast!

UPDATE: it turns out that the newspaper was wrong (can you believe it?!?!) and Pete actually won Slow Race. The Gymkhana winner was Jason Curci of Pensacola, Fla. Thanks to those notified me of the correction.
Blog entry soundtrack: "The Horror" by RJD2