Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Simplicity

Scooters are the soul of simplicity.  There's no clutch so acceleration is steady and seamless. The riding position is comfortable yet can be aggressive if need arises. Scooter engines are small and easy to maintian.
Riding to work, running small errands, riding just for fun; it's all possible on a scooter. Add to that list long distance ridig, with the proper sense of adventure, and they are the perfect little machine.
On top of that, you can surprise random people on a scooter. Today I popped into Manheim to grab something from the auto parts store. I'd been buzzing along back roads and came to a stop light.  A guy in a 3 series Beemer pulled up alongside and expressed his shock at how fast my little rattle-trap can go. This led to a short conversation about what make my scooter is and so on.
A couple weeks ago,  I went for a ride with a friend. He has a 250cc Yamaha V-Star and he had a buddy along on an old Goldwing 1100 trike. Both were amazed that the little 150 kept up, and even out-accellerated both of them. It made for great conversation,  and it shows just how good Honda engine design really is, not to mention the testament to Kymco's build quality. 
There's a lot to be said for simplicity. Things don't need to be complicated or flashy to surprise people; they just have to work well.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Gone to the dogs

There are disadvantages to having a small dog. One receives insults for not having a "real man's dog." One doesn't feel quite as secure when walking down a dark alley...while walking a shih tzu. Hunting is somewhat out of the question, since a small dog has, what one man at church referred to as "a low wheel base."

But, there is a huge advantage when it comes to riding on two wheels. Small dogs work. Little Maggie, my eight pound Maltese, loves to ride. She has an "Outward Hound" flat bottom pooch pouch, which works very well for her to perch in front of the rider and gives her great access to the wind around the edge of the windscreen. There has been one issue with the bag. The drawstring around the top of the pouch was not well attached and pulled loose. This does not seem to change the safety of the pooch since she is still well secured by a collar restraint, but it does allow her to put her paws out over the edge. This happened after only six uses of the product.


 The flat bottom allows the pooch to feel secure, and when the drawstring was still attached, it allowd the owner to cinch the opening closed so doggy paws can't get out. There is also a small zipper pocket in the front gives a place to put a small leash and perhaps a plastic baggy for potty stops.

Then there's the newest addition to Maggie's riding attire: Doggles. They are PetSmart brand dog goggles, but they seem to work. She certainly looks happy wearing them.


On the way home from the pet store, she really leaned out around the windscreen, "lapping up" the feel of the wind. The construction of the goggles seems sound and they fit her well, though she needs a bit of a haircut. Maggie tolerated the doggles well until we were almost home. this might have been due to her need for a trim.

We don't have a doggy helmet as, from what I've read, the jury is still out on whether they even are necessary. 

To sum up, a small dog is a lot of fun to ride with. There are safety issues that should be addressed first, such as securing and protecting the animal, but if you have a small dog who likes rides in a car, chances are, rides on a motorbike will be a big hit as well.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Making light of things, again


It has been a lovely day. The day dawned with some low lying fog and a glorious sunrise. I spent a fair bit of the day on the scooter. After my early shift at work (I'm working splits at present), it was off to Terre Hill I went to drop off a book for my pastor and riding buddy. He has just over 900 miles on his Honda Elite 110 since last summer, which is respectable I think.

We rode out of Terre Hill and over to Ephrata to run some errands. The sun was bright and the air clear. I did pick up something useful at Auto Zone. As my few followers may remember, I installed LED lights on my scooter a few years back. Due to my amateur attempt at wiring them in, I accidentally over-volted them, so today, on the advice of my friend Guy, I bought an inline fuse socket and some 7.5 amp fuses.



After replacing the damaged LEDs, everything seems to work fine again. If anything, I think these new lights are brighter than the old ones.


Tomorrow is another day. I'll be buzzing around a lot between home and work and training and back to work, so if you're in the Lancaster area, who knows, you might see a crazy guy on a silver scooter buzzing around like a mad worker bee.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The old work horse

People think I'm crazy. Yeah, I know, this is a shock. On the way from Lancaster to western New York state, through the middle of New York state, up into the Adirondacks, down through the Berkshires, then back to Pennsylvania through the Catskills and the Delaware Watergap, several people I met along the way seemed surprised, even dumbstruck that such a feat is possible, or at least that anyone would be intrepid enough to try it (intrepid being a nice word for "looney").

Most of these folks were met at gas stations while I was filling up, but one stands out. I was at an intersection in Westfield, Mass., getting ready to make a left turn in front of what used to be Popoli's Honda, when the guy in the truck behind me honked his horn. I turned to see what the matter was, as the light was still red, and he hollared out the window, "You didn't really drive that all the way from Pennsylvania, did you?" I responded in the affirmative and invited him to pull into the nearby package store parking lot for a chat.

We pulled in and had a nice conversation for several minutes. He and the lady with him were very interested in my exploits, and astonished that my little scooter was able to make it to Massachusetts from Pennsylvania.

When one stops to think about, it, while this is shocking to Americans, who are used to big bikes and don't realize what a small bike can really do, it's not a surprise to the rest of the world.

Other work horses, well, one is technically a mule

In many less developed countries, scooters are everywhere. Not only are they everywhere, they are used to carry everything. Pictures abound on the Internet, of scooters with whole families riding on them, or scooters being used to haul unlikely or ungainly items.

This is my favorite third world scooter picture. I don't think his spares are the right size.

The presenters of the British motoring show "Top Gear," did a special several years back in which they motored up the coast of Vietnam on small displacement motorbikes, two of which were scooters (well, the Honda 50 is somewhat of a hybrid scooter/motorcycle, but it's scooterish enough for my purposes here). They went over a thousand miles and the Honda had no mechanical problems the entire distance of the trip.

Of course, Vietnam isn't the United States and there are many differences in socio-ecconomics, so it's not terribly surprising that most Americans can't get their heads around the idea of long distance motoring on a small bike. It can be done, and it is a blast.

There are issues of seat comfort of course, but there are remedies for that problem. Just the same, long distance rides are worth it. The solitude alone is priceless. I can say without question that this is the only time I've ever gone on a vacation from which I returned truly invigorated and refreshed.

Yes, it's a little crazy by American standards, but when I consider the savings in fuel and the adventure and the memories, yeah, sometimes it's worth it to be a little crazy.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Take the long way home...

A lot of ground was covered last week. If you'd like a rough map of where I went, you can find it here.

The route starts at "horseshoe road" and ends in "East Petersburg". I put in a good bit more than the miles listed though.

Here you can find a link to the route down "Adirondack Road"

Then there's the lovely stretch of route 895.

And For good measure, I've outlined route 23 in Massachusetts, starting at Stanley Park and heading down Western Avenue to route 20, then off up into the mountains on 23.

If you ever do make it to Westfield, Massachusetts, Stanley Park is a definite "must see."