Archive for Scoot Culture

Scooting Back into Your Life

If I were Catholic I would be saying, forgive me father, it has been four weeks since my last post. For those of you waiting for the disparaging words of self loathing and apologies, forget it. The fact is, I have a busy life and the best I have been able to do is store up the scraps of notes I have been making in anticipation of a soon to come barrage of insights, reflections and clever anecdotal scooter stories. All I can say is you’ll have to be the judge of that.

One point of interest in my life has been the travel I have been doing over the past few months. I have been out to Denver, where on my way to check out the new Ducati Streetfighter

Ducati Streetfighter

I stumbled upon a basement motorcycle museum that contains almost every vintage Italian motor bike I have ever lusted after. While driving down Market Street I caught a glimpse of a 90cc MV Agusta out of the corner of my eye. Since Market Street is one way, I circled back around the block and pulled up beside a fully restored masterpiece. Next to the bike sat a small sign pointing to a basement entrance of a warehouse that is Vintage Motos It houses hundreds of original and restored motorcycles, including Ducati, Giliera, Italjet, Motoguzzi, Parillia bikes and more. Most are under 250cc. What makes this such a find is that in order to do a quality restoration, one the best reference points is having access to an original specimen and at Vintage Moto, they have one of just about every 50s or 60s Italian bike imported. They even have a few rare scooters, like the 1956 Rumi Formuchino (Little Ant).

MV Agusta

So here’s my returning gift to you, a new place to check when trying to source parts or a place to go to get a first hand view of what a real Italian import survivor look like. For a small fee, you can ogle, touch (if you talk nice to the owner), speak Vintage Italian and take lots of detailed pictures. Check out all my pictures from the museum  HERE.

Stay tuned for a new podcast and a recap of my recent visit to Seattle and a return to my roots in the Pacific Northwest.

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Jason Reeves and the Vespa Experiment – Episode 94

 

Back in April I was following a few of my peeps on twitter when someone posted a tweet about a group of three musicians who were putting together a west coast tour called The Vespa Experiment with sponsorship from Vespa USA. As an extension of the “Go Green” campaign Vespa was providing three musicians with scooters and they were planning a ride from LA to San Francisco with stops along the way to play small venues. Usually these marketing things don’ t really catch my eye, but I became more interested when I began to look into the back story and found out that Jason Reeves, one of the singer song writers, had started his career in Iowa City Iowa and had become one of Myspace’s most successful artists. To date his songs have gotten more than 6 million plays. Those are big numbers on or off the Internet.

I became even more curious, when I read Brian’s post over at 2strokebuzz, where he rightful railed about the miss-perception that scooters can make a significant impact on our environmental problems (bring on the hate mail).

I hope you will take a minute and listen to what Jason has to say about all this and make your own judgement about the Vespa marketing machine. I found Jason to be unpretentious and surprisingly reserved. It reminded me of what most of us were like when we first got into scooting. I say it’s all about enjoy the ride. It doesn’t need to really be any more complicated than that. With all the strong personalities in scooting, it’s nice to talk with someone who is low key and far from fanatic about things. Jason is new to scooting, but hopefully the scooter bug will stick with him long after he does 450 miles on a Vespa GTS.

I would like to thank Jason for taking time out of the tour to speak with me and also thank TJ at Warner Brother Records for helping put the interview together.


Day 9 – The Vespa Experiment

LA Latebirds Moped Video by LAEdge

I got an email this week from Imiuswi Aborigine pointing me to the March 2009 Flock Yeah rally. The event was put on by the LA Latebirds Moped Club along with help from the  Choke Motorcycle Shop. The following video of the rally is done by LAEdge. Nicely done mi amici!

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Scooter Tweets, Rockabilly and Mashups – Episode 90

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The last couple of weeks I have been ignoring my blogging and podcasting responsibilities. Sorry. I was sick most of the week after returning from Denver and haven’t gotten back in the groove until this week. This hasn’t stopped me from scooting a bit during the brief warm weather hits that are popping up every few days. The 7 Hills Scooter Club had a delayed ride a few weeks ago after the first Sunday ride of March was rained. Although everything in the garage is running, I was a bit lazy not wanting to risk a break down, so I took the Vespa GTS out.

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My favorite scooterist, Alex from Peace Scooter has posted a video on her site she is calling a minumentary. It a mini-documentary that chronicles her two years of scooting for peace. It occurred to me this week that Alex didn’t have one of today’s great social connectors when she was riding. I am talking about Twitter. Loved by some and hated by many, Twitter is an amazing tool for connecting. I use it myself, mostly when I travel. Right now there is a guy called the Twitchhiker who in just a few weeks has traveled from New Castle in England to New Zealand San Fransisco by using twitter to connect with people who help him get from one place to another. You can see all the details of his trip on his website.

I got tagged as one of the top five scooter blogs on the Go Motor Scooter website. I am not really sure this has any credibility to it, as I tend to think that reader and podcast listeners’ feedback is most valuable. It may be a bit pedantic, but shouldn’t we really be talking about the real powerhouse scooter blogs like 2-stroke buzz, Scootin Old Skool , The Scooter Scoop and Scooter in the Sticks. I have always thought of them as having an editorial credibility and an authority that I can only aspire to. But my thanks goes out to Paul, who does the site. Any link love is appreciated.

I want to comment on a post over on 2-stroke buzz, where the blog posts are usually to the factual with minnimal editorializing. But in this case a bit of editorial license was just what the scooter doctor ordered when it came to talking about Steve Guzmans’ departure from Carter Brothers and SYM. The post makes several very good points about how the power-sports industry not seem to understanding the scooter lifestyle. We are very accepting of almost anyone who comes into the community with an honest interest in scootering. One of the problems, not that I profess to know anything about Steve’s situation with SYM, but when a short-term perspective motivates what you do, you can expect the deal to go south pretty fast. Thanks to 2-stroke buzz for speaking up and we wish Steve the best in keeping up the Scooter Scoop Blog and anything else he jumps into. He is an honest, straight-up kind of guy.

Scooter Website Link
All Styles Scooters – A ton of information, including brochures,repair manuals, owners manuals, schematics and much more from a scooter parts site out of England. Focus is mostly on Vespa and Lambretta, but not just vintage bikes. They have instructions on making racing modification including barrel tuning, intakes and plenty more. The tech page seems to compliment all the parts options they offer, the kind of thing that could really get someone like me in trouble.

Music For this show

jonnybarberpromophotoDance Hall Night from Jonny Barber, an old friend of Chuck Hughes another Denver Rock-A-Billy star and also known as the Velvet Elvis. Jonny has played with numerous and is associated with the Rock-A-Billy Record Co. label. I love this music, but to get the full experience you have to see it live. Jonny is constantly on the road so make sure you check his website to catch a live show.
Mashuptown has endless remixes of known and unknown music. Six Songs Collide played on this show mashes: Jason Mraz, Howie Day, Five For Fighting, Angela Ammons, Boyzone and 3 Doors Down.

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Denver and a Visit to Sportique Scooters – Episode 88

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If you follow me on Twitter you know that I made a quick trip to Denver. I had plenty of time to explore the depths of my ipod and found two podcast you must know about. The first is “Digital Flotsam”, a nice break from a monotone life, with PW Fenton a creative writer who reminisces and remarks on himself and the world. The other is irreverent and will likely offend anyone who has even a speck of moral or ethical standards. “You Look Nice Today” seems like three frat boys in conversation, looking for any opportunity to exaggerate the truth or perpetuate an obvious lie. Wait and listen for those moments of brilliant humor.

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I am compelled to seek out scooter shops. On this trip to Denver I wanted to visit Sportique Scooters in Englewood. The original store is an old gas station on the west-side in Denver. I don’t know the whole growth story surrounding Sportique, except to say that some of their success has to be credited to Colin, one of the original owners. If that name sounds familiar, it probably because he has been around forever and is an author. Colin is now calling the Englewood store home, where most of Sportique’s vintage bikes are being sold. The shop had plenty of vintage and new Vespas, Lambrettas and a surprising Honda Ruckus with a stretched chrome frame and performance exhaust.

Colin talked about how he is going to keep the next Big Ruckus that gets traded in, referencing it as a good scoot for old guys. Here is one of Denver’s early scooterist, who has his own sorted scooter past like all of us talking about slowing down and getting old. I guess no matter who you are, eventually you start to recognize that things never stay the same. Colin has done a lot for the scooter community over the years and with a fourth shop planning to open in northern Colorado he definitely qualifies as a successful businessman, even though he likes to throwout around the f-bomb a lot. Thanks to Sportique Scooters for the welcome and friendly conversation.

Music for this show features The Mourning After and Chris Trapper of The Push Stars from the Podsafe Music Network.

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Two Years of Podcasting about Scooters – Episode 86

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Today’s show marks a milestone, my second full year of podcasting and blogging. I owe you a great deal of thanks for encouraging me to continue working at it. Those first couple of  shows sure sound dodgy.

The scooter forums are lighting up in anticipation of the spring riding season. As usual the High Rollers Weekend in Las Vegas is being pimped all over the net. If you haven’t seen the videos and pictures from last year, it definitely looks like one of the years best party rallies. On Saturday night there will be a performance by ska legend Dave Wakeling and The English Beat. For full details of all events, see the High Rollers Weekend website.

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I frequently end my day by surfing the net for new scooter blogs. I skip the chinsese scooter sales sites and look for people writing about their interest and scooter passion.

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Image via CrunchBase

This past week, StumbleUpon took me to a sight dedicated solely to 50cc scooters and mopeds, one of my current obsessions. The site is called 50ccs and is written by a Michigan member of the Moped army, Micheal Edelman. Recent posts have included a rare Lohman diesel moped , a Zundapp, a Bellini and even an electric. Another StumbleUpon discovery of the week is only partly about scooters. Retro Thing is about vintage gadgets and technology written by a team based in Calgary and Chicago. One recent post is all about the resurgence of pinball. For those of you who can’t get to the Pinball Expo or the UK Pinball Show, but you are going to make it to the High Rollers Weekend in Vegas, consider hitting The Pinball Hall of Fame. So there it is a scooter – pinball link. Who knew I could ever make such a connection.

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Music for this show is from the Pod safe Music Network and features Vel Omarr. Check out his influences, like Jackie Wilson, Ottis Redding and Sam Cooke.

The Wigan Casino and Scooter Info – Episode 79

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SHOW NOTES: I don’t know how you organize yourself, but for years I have relied making lists. Right now I am walking around with a pocket full of paper, mostly illegible chicken scratch. I started using my iPhone to keep track of my thoughts and the combined list of my electronic and paper resources has grown so much I thought I had better bring some of them to you before I get lost in all my ramblings.

My first note is almost three months old. It is a follow-up to an email from a listener in England who asked about the Wigan Casino in the midlands. Looking at the club’s history is like jumping into a time-warp. The Wigan was the place to go for a dance club in the 70s. The doors first opened at 2am on September 23, 1973. While we in the U.S. were wasting time on disco, the DJs at the Wigan pulled vinyl soul from the 50 and 60s, without being particularly about where it came from as long as they had the ‘Wigan sound’. It had to fill the huge 1940s ballroom which could hold over 1200 smart dressed members. An ante room known as Mr. M’s was another dance area that brought the total capacity of the venue to well over 2,000.

People came from all over England and at the height of its popularity in 1975 the Wigan had over 100,000 members. The final night came in late 1981, after many of the best-known DJs had jumped ship and the manger Mike Walker committed suicide. The club lives on in the minds of people who were there and many who were not, kept alive through a strong northern soul music movement in England. Numerous fan groups flourish on the internet, especially in MySpace and Facebook. If you want to know more about the Wigan look for a copy of For Dancers Only: the Story of the Wigan Casino by Chris Hunt or check the following websites for more on the club and the music.

Other Links of Interest to Scooterists

  • Blue Smoke Studio, is scooter blog, a mash-up of humor, art and scooter musings by Kevin Montanaro. He is in Vermont, originally from New York and has some gorgeous pen and ink drawings of classic scooters.
  • Sweet Honey, Bitter Lemons; travels through Sicily is a book about Matthew Fort’s odyssey and his passion for the food, scenery, and Sicilians. It was a nice follow-up to our trip to Sicily.
  • Last week was the Indian Summer Rally here in Richmond and my P200 sidecar rig drew some serious scooter envy. There were meet-ups, rides in the rain, a gymkhana, duck-pin bowling and a bunch of door prizes mostly donated by Scoot Richmond, Check out the pictures in the gallery section of the website or at the 7hills scooter club site.

Music for this show is from the Podsafe Music Network and features Hey Hey Sister and Not Responsible by Laura Clapp

7Hills Scooter Rally, more of Ed and the St Louis Scooter Club – Episode 77

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SHOW NOTES: If you are even remotely in the vicinity next week I am hoping you will consider coming to the Indian Summer Rally in Richmond. This is the premier rally of the 7Hills Scooter Club and I am sure it will include a killer city ride along the river, one like those I am always talking about on the show. Be assured, there will be plenty of over indulging activities of the oral kind. It’s easy to register, just go to the website. The rally starts Friday October 24 and runs through Sunday 26th. For those of you feeling the chill of season, it is still beautiful here in the south. Today I rode home from work in 82 degree weather.

I picked up another Accident Hash podcast from CC Chapman. If you haven’t heard of it, it is a music podcast from Boston, very eclectic with lots of bands that are connected in one way or another to the internet community. He played two artists I have played earlier this year, so I thought I would revist some of their music on this podcast. The first is Geoff Smith, who has a talent for catch tunes. He also was playing Mathew Ebel, a musician I met at Podcamp NYC. Like any good geek musician Matthew has a flashy website which offers premium content along with free music.

On last week’s podcast I cut off the conversation with Ed just as he was talking about producing fringe festivals. On this segment, he talks more about that, about scooting and the development of the St Louis Scooter Club. Click the player to listen to what he has to say.

Ed Reggi and the St Louis Scooter Club – Episode 76

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SHOW NOTES: Sorry for the delay in getting this podcast out. Once again, I have been consumed by work and all my scooting activities have taken a back seat to attending  meetings and writing reports. But this past weekend I had a well deserved reprieve. If you have been reading the blog, you know that I finally made it to another Sunday ride with the 7hills Scooter Club. In addition to that, I was able to spend most of Saturday working on the freshly powder coated frame of my project moped,
I have often thought that the scooter scene has a lot of big talkers. I don’t mean that as an insult, but more of an observation. My real point is that when I meet someone who is multi-dimensional, into scooters, art, music, reading, history, politics and more, I find that the conversation becomes more interesting and personally challenging. I like that.

I first started following Ed Reggi on twitter after he emailed me about the show and to say that he and his friends were starting up a new club in St Louis. This is nothing new, clubs start-up all the time and I get lots of emails from around the country talking about events and rallies. But Ed’s emails and his tweets are different. He post at all hours of the day and night usually saying he is starting a new project. For those of you who haven’t met Ed check out his website. Last week, during a trip to western Virginia, I took time to talk with Ed who was up in Wisconsin. The conversation lasted over an hour, so I have done some editing and split the conversation up into two parts. On this show, Ed talks about his interest in scooters, the St Louis Scooter Club and his acting career. Go ahead, take a chance, LISTEN TO THE PODCAST! It’s good.

Music for this show is from the Podsafe Music Network and is by The Sojourners, The Clintons and The Fump.

Scooter Cannonball Update – Episode 74

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Show Notes: Last night Rob Taylor gave me an update on the Cannonball ride from somewhere in eastern Kansas. There have been some beautiful rides, but also several crashes and a few tickets. The riders are midway through the ride and have experienced a few break-downs and one serious injury. JimT is out with a broken collar bone along with several broken ribs and Bobo has headed home to take care of some family business. Listen to the podcast for all the details.

I have included several pictures posted by Dave, you can find them here. You can also follow his progress on the SPOT here.

Piaggio Co History and the Vespa Museum – Episode 72

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SHOW NOTES: There have been a ton of books written about Italian scooters maybe because they are, at the same time, both practical and nostalgic. The Piaggio company was founded in 1884 by Rinaldo Piaggio just outside of Genoa, Italy. The company started as a woodworking shop, making interiors for ships, but branched out by the turn of the century in to building rail carriage cars and engines. They entered the airplane business shortly before WWI and by 1923, were making some of the best planes built in Europe. As you might expect, WWII was devastating to Italy as well as the Piaggio company. As a weapons maker, the factories were prime targets for the allies and were bombed heavily towards the end of the war. In addition, as the Germans retreated from areas they occupied in Italy, like Pontedera, they either blew-up or heavily mind the Piaggio factories.

Enrico Piaggio challenged an engineer named Corradino D’Ascanio to come up with a vehicle that would be comfortable, easy to ride and with an engine that could not be seen from the outside. He was not a motorcycle fan and was motivated to come up with something different. Solutions came from the companies extensive background in aeronautics and borrowed both from the designs and the technical aspects of airplanes. As a result, the scooter’s front suspension was a single fork design, similar to what was used in landing gear. They used a load-bearing sheet metal design instead of a frame and a horizontal single cylinder engine that would pivot on the frame, eliminating the need for a swing arm. The same basic design factors, although modified, continues to exist today in the modern Vespas produced today.

If I was disappointed, and I should say I wasn’t disappointed in much, I know that the museum is showing just a fraction of it’s collection. Also, since the collection focuses on the Italian market, it means that many of the variations we have come to know and love are no where to be seen. I am not even sure how much time we spent at the museum,(it was hours) but it proved to be both a pleasure and an education for me and surprisingly for Marcel, who endured the whole time without a cappuccino break. For more information on how to contact the Piaggio Museum or how to get there check here for directions.

Other Piaggio and Vespa References

Music for this show is from the Podsafe music network featuring Girl Stuff from Italy and The Plastic Soul Band.