Tag Archive for vespa

Good News…for me.

I have been pondering this post for the past week. It was about this time seven days ago I accepted another dream job. However, like owning a vintage Vespa, it comes with both risks and rewards. Those of you who know me might say I am a professional do-gooder. I have always worked in social services and in the past ten years, probably through sheer persistence or luck have become a minor celebrity influential in advocacy and politics, mostly  in Virginia.

In August I will be moving to the Washington DC area to continue my do-gooder ways, but it means leaving the Richmond scooter community behind. To some of you, this means nothing, but you must understand that old Richmond has a traditional southern village feel and outsiders are not easily welcomed into the grits and fatback circle that is the south. Amazingly, the Seven Hills Scooter Club is a southern anomaly. It is a curious combination of carpetbaggers, old-timers and young southerners who all flock together around our love for scooters. Regardless of your ride or your scoot-cred, you are never an outsider and anyone who shows up, dues paying or not is treated like a member.

Many thanks to Chelsea, Rick, Ed, Brendan, Dave the Mechanic, the myth legend known as Munn and many more club and ScootRichmond patrons for support of Scootercast and being so kind to an outsider. I will be attending my last Friday night parking lot scoot-in tomorrow night at ScootRichmond to witness the movie madness of “This is Spinal Tap” and revel in one more inclusive event that welcomes even an aging, slightly socially inept scooter nerd like me.

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Scooter Rallies and a Pinball Championship – Episode 92

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2009 Dogwood ClassicThe 7hills scooter club rally is coming up in a few weeks. That is usually a ride out into the country, with camping and bonfires in an area where club members can stay out of trouble and avoid doing too much damage to themselves. The 2009 Dogwood Classic scooter rally will be held at Heavenly Acres Campground in Stanardsville, VA Friday, May 15 to Sunday, May 17.

Another big spring rally here on the east coast is the New York City Scooter Club block party, which is scheduled for the end of May. Their club motto is: If you have a Scooter, you’re in the Club. The block party, held in Brooklyn and attracts scoot fans from all over the northeast. I am jealous of our New York friends. They have a vibrant scooter scene and at least a dozen legitimate scooter shops to choose from in the New York city area.

NYC Scooter Club Block Party

Here is taste of what they have:

epclogo250black In my world, scooters are connected to many of my other interests and activities. One of those interests is a life long fascination with pinball machines. Nick Bennett happens to be one of those fellows whos life is dominated by pinball. I came across Nick’s website a
Nick Bennett few months ago, while referencing the Las Vegas Pinball Museum and later heard from him in an email about this summers European tournament. Although a bit of a digression from scooting, I think you will find this conversation interesting and most likely will see some similarities in Nicks passion for pinball and our passion for scooters. Listen to the podcast for all the details

Music for this show is by Telling on Trixie a New York based band that has gathered a big web. I first heard about Telling on Trixie two years ago at podcamp New York. Checkout their website.

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Building an Electric Vespa Scooter – Episode 91

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It is a regular occurrence in my life. I easily become fascinated with a new idea. A few months ago it was retrofitting a vintage Vespa with an electric motor. I have no useful experience or knowledge related to this interest, but that never stops me. I found that one resource for pursuing such a project is Sound Speed Scooters in Seattle. They offer an impressive conversion package at a hefty price, just over $1500, not including batteries.
Luckily the electric vehicle community is alive and well on the internet. I turned to the V is for Voltage Forum. Much of the forum is devoted to motorcycle and scooter conversions. It has sections on all the basics and not so basics of electrifying your favorite ride without electrocuting yourself. I searched the forum for Vespa and found Jake Stept’s blog with pictures detailing the build of his small frame conversion he has named the Rezistor
Jake spoke with me on the SCTRCST podcast from his home in Portland Oregon. I was impressed. He tackled his project having no experience with electric motors or conversions. Now I can’t stop hearing the whining sounds an electric Vespa in my head. You can see a Sound Speed video here or check out Jake’s Rezistor here.

Bio_Picture_-_Final_-_lowres_smallPod safe Music for this show is from the Podsafe Music Network and features the Redline a Chicago based band.

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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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The Vespa 180ss and Going Back to Denver – Episode 89

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Spring is fast approaching here in the capital city of the south. This has meant working hard to get all my scooters running. My favorite scoot is the 1965 Ferrari red Vespa 180ss, but for most of the winter it has had suffered from the sniffles and congestion along with a loss of power when ever I leaned into the throttle. The other problem was it wouldn’t run without being choked into unconsciousness. What do you think? bad petrol, clogged jets, bad points, an air leak…the possibilities just get worse from there. I took it to ScootRichmond and Dave asked about my tinkering history with the little beauty. I had removed the carburetor, cleaner the fuel screen, replaced the carb/case gasket, pulled and cleaned the jets, flushed the air cleaner and adjusted the air/fuel mixture. But what I hadn’t done is completely disassemble the carburetor. When I pick up my scoot, Dave showed me the float and bowl which was still covered with grime and rust, a remnant from the old rusted gas tank. Once again, a great example of a job halve done.

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I am headed out west this weekend to attend the WordCamp Denver. The conference is created for enthusiasts, users, developers, designers, and fans of WordPress, an open source software platform that functions as the backbone of many websites like SCTRCST.  WordCamp will cover a lot of technical stuff, but also offers a track on blogging and content development. Hopefully a full day of geeking out with other bloggers will inspire and teach me a few things about writing and communicating with readers.

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Thanks to Erik, Steve and all the other Denver fans who have been emailing invitations to get together. The members of the Misfit Toys Scooter Club even offered to hound Sportique Scooters into put me on a scooter for their Sunday ride. Unfortunately, I get to Denver mid-day Friday, I’m in Camp all day Saturday and then up early Sunday to catch a 7 o’clock flight back to the east coast. If you are not already doing so, follow me on twitter we might be able to do an impromptu tweet-up. If it doesn’t happen, I am planning to be back a month or two in time for the spring thaw.

Music for this show features Ben Hammond and is from the Pod safe Music Network.

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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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About Scooters and More Important Things – Episode 85

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Some of you know that my politics lean a bit left. At one point in my life I think my family might have worried that I was part of the weather underground. Over the years I have morphed into a passionate community organizer. This was a good week. It started with an old fashion rally at the State capital that drew more than 500 people. Later that same say, people with all kind of disabilities flooded the committee hearing and demanded a voice in determining state budget cuts. Watching it all I thought to myself, this is the right thing to do.

After all the excitement and several long days, it was good to get back home and be able to retreat to the garage. I spent most of the day Friday, fashioning a new ignition coil, but even with the extra work I get no spark. This is another caution, before you take on restoring a piece of forty year old junk, triple check the availability of parts. I figure that I have two options, I either wait and hope that a new stator emerges from some dusty shelf or I go see if Dave the mechanic can construction some form of hybrid solution.

I have been noticing a number of scooter blogs that have started up in the past year and then have gone silent. So what happened? I think I know. I get focused on other things and all of a sudden it has been a week since I have posted. The other thing I rediscover is that bloggin and pod casting is work. You have to be disciplined, organized yourself and set a schedule or it just doesn’t happen. On January 29th I will have finished two years of blogging and pod casting. Come to think of it, thats a lot of talking (writing).

Webpicks

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  • Copart is a leading online remarketer of vehicles including scooters and motorcycles, selling more than 1 million vehicles per year.

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  • A very popular scooter post this week had to do with a Portuguese craftsman Carlos Alberto who hand built a beautiful wooden Vespa

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Music for this show is from the Podsafe Music Network and features The Plastic Soul Band

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The Scooting Police

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It is not unusual to see police in Italy riding motorcycles and scooters. Apparently this is becoming more true here in the U.S. and other parts of the world as documented at the aptly named “police scooters” website. I was also glad to see that it looks like New Orleans Vespa got a bit of the action down in the big easy.

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The Mother Ship is Down but Episode 82 is Up

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I got the blue screen of death last week when I went to power up my main computer. I was trying to think green and powered it down for the first time in months. It is still down, so I turned to my laptop to produce this week’s podcast (sorry about the audio quality). I have gotten a few comments and emails about using the scooter forums and on the show talked about my point of view.

In the spirit of open communication most of the forums are very lightly moderated. This means you get all kinds of information and feedback, sometime very critical feedback. Don’t you love the ones that end with “you suck, die you idiot”. So who do I believe? I always suggest that you first develop friendships in your local scooter community. This is a significant for me to say, because I tend to be a real loner. But you need these contacts with people you can trust. I like the web and count on my internet friends, but it doesn’t take the place of sitting down with someone while you are stripping an engine.

As for the other big question, “do buy local or buy on the web?” I say, it depends. Since I have a local scooter shop I know from experience that I can trust their recommendations. I also know what they can’t do for me. Around here, it can take forever to get some things done or to get parts, so I have gotten comfortable in going to the web for things I know I can’t get locally. The trick is you must know your own scoot, do your research before you buy and never spend more on an internet purchase than you can afford to loose.

Scooter Web Picks

Music for this show is from the Pod safe music network. Featured are Kick and Holler by Dare Dukes and Keep Movin Jaik Miller Band

Uship Feedback and Buying off the Web – Episode 81

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I always appreciate the feedback that listeners give me regarding the show. Shortly after posting the last show I got a email from a listener saying that he didn’t like Uship. I went back to the Internet and began to search for Uship complaints. but the comments are mostly about the shippers. The rub seems to be that some don’t have the proper license to haul state to state. The implication is that if you have a license you are more legitimate and trustworthy. At a minimum, it means that you are probably running a real business. It seems to me that this is like most web deals and you should follow the age old caveat, “buyer beware.” Ask the shipper for their DOT number, then check on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration website. Like other web transactions, never deal in cash or money transfers, especially before your property has delivered. You are always better off working through Paypal or using your credit card. And last, if you run into problems, meaning something fraudulent is done, report the shipper to the Uship and to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

I picked up on another posting that came through the forums talking about a Vespa restorer in Spain. The shop is called Harry’s Scooters. The shop is in Barcelona and it made me think about how we don’t get much negative feedback about resorted Vespas coming from Europe. I wonder if this reflects the fact that old school scooting in Europe is more of a passion than a business. Just look at the racing heritage and the kind of rallies and their club activities. It seems to me that our European friends are less concerned about making a buck and more interested in continuing the tradition.

Music for this show is from the Podsafe Music Network and features I Love You Honey But I Hate Your Band and Im Invisible by The New Duncan Imperials

Uship and a New Resoration Project – Episode 80

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Fall has finally made it south of the Mason-Dixon Line and I have said goodbye to 70 degree afternoon scoots . It has been raining, but this past week it turned cold. One of our club members, Dave, suggested a First Gear riding suit. It is perfect for the sub-50 degree weather we have been having.


My new project bike was dropped off in the middle of the night last weekend. It is a well used 1966 Harley Davison Sprint 250cc. The old girl is a twin to the one my dad gave me when I started high school. I won it on eBay using auto-bidding software. I was tired of being out bid at the last moment. The one I like is called eSnipe. It places a bid with as little as six seconds left in the auction and by-passes the competitive bidding that takes place in the last 5 minutes of an auction.

I am in Richmond, Virginia and the bike was in Maryland. At first I thought about driving up to get it, but remembered an email that came a few months earlier from Uship asking to advertise on my website. I declined their offer. In the past I have shipped via Forward Air. It is dependable and safe, but expensive, so I have been looking for an alternative. Uship is an online service where shippers compete for your business. There is a sign-up process, and it cost a couple of bucks for each shipment, but the whole thing is very easy. After you register, just provide a few details regarding the scoot or bike. As soon as you post the shipment on their website the bids start rolling in.

On the site, every shipper is rated by customers who have used them. My bike was handled by Will from New Jersey. He brokers shipments up and down the east coast. All I had to do was give him the contact information of the seller and he arranged for pickup, stored the bike in a locked building and made delivery to me within two weeks, all for only $150. All payments were handled securely through pay pal.

Even Marcel’s was excited to see new two-wheeled purchase. Her only comment was, “well it’s not as rusted as the last one.” The last one she is talking about is my 1965 Ducati moped. I have been putting the finishing touches on it by mounting the tires, adjusting the shift cables and waiting for a few last minute parts to come. Before and after pictures will be posted soon.

For those of you who have been wondering, just because I bought another motorcycle, I have not given up on scooting. I am still a big Vespa fan-boy. Besides, it is part of my Italian heritage, si?

Music for this podcast features Want Nobody Tell Me How To Live My Life by Boo Boo Davis from the Podsafe music network.