Saturday, May 30, 2009

Ramblings and reflective tape

I had a nice ride around a bit of the county today. My son and I went golfing at Evergreen (see Wednesday's post), and took the scoot to get there since my wife was getting her hair done and she had the only car we currently have registered. Evergreen is very close to home and it worked out very well.

Later in the day, I took a ride to get some groceries. This is when most of my riding occurred for the day as I put in about thirty miles just jogging around the back roads. I'd have gone further and ridden longer, but my wife was feeling ill and I didn't want to leave her alone for too long. Ain't I nice?

I picked up the groceries at a local Giant food store, and headed home. It's amazing what one can fit in a topcase, even a moderately small one. I didn't really get all that much. Just some bread, coffee grounds and a few other small items, but a car would have truly been overkill for such a small errand.

I had to go out again later to pick up some stuff at Home Depot. While I was there, I stopped at Pep Boys to see if I could find some reflective tape for my new half-helmet. I found some, and though it was not exactly what I had wanted, I was able to cut it, with my wife's help, to do what I had wanted. I think it turned out pretty well.

A half helmet may offer only minimal protection in the event of an accident, of that I am fully aware, but it's what I was able to afford at the time, and the feel of the wind on my face is certainly refreshing.
I got a little creative with the cross on the back. It may look a little corny, but I like it.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Scooter Re-tired

I left my scooter at Trans-Am Cycle sales this morning to have the rear tire replaced and have the valve clearances checked. Now that I've seen the clearance check done and i know how to get at the valves, I can do it myself with a little help from my friends at the scooter club.

The old tire was very light on tread in the middle and the tread was flattened out rather than rounded, so I decided it was time, after over 7,000 miles, to get a new one.

I had originally scheduled a "while you wait" appointment, but i had to take a client to an appointment, so i figured, drop the scoot off at 10 am, pick it up at noonish. Unfortunately, our lines of communication got crossed and they had not noted that it was a "while you wait" appointment. They were very apologetic, and I was understanding, because, after all, now I had opportunity to watch them work. They were kind enough to show me how to take off the engine cover and it was amazingly easy. The front access panel on the People 150 makes accessing the engine easy, even if it's a bit cramped.

They then fought with the back wheel for about an hour before they finally got it off and back on again. I am glad I didn't attempt that one myself. They had to remove the muffler, the battery, and the right shock. The finished product is nice though.

The new tire is very grippy. I found myself much more comfortable leaning and countersteering, whereas with the old tire, it was a little dodgy on some corners.

Since it took a while for them to replace the rear tire, I took the opportunity to look over the scooters and cycles they had for sale. As I have previously written, I am interested in eventually obtaining a second scooter in the 400cc+ range for touring, while still retaining my People 150.

They had a Kymco XCiting 250 Ri there, which I sat on and found very comfortable. The 250 Ri and the 500 Ri share the same body and frame, which is why sitting on the 250 was a great way to see how I would like the 500. The only issue I had with it was the width of the floorboards and seat. Both are very wide which might prove uncomfortable when stopping at lights and such. The sitting position is nice, as are the controls.

I had an opportunity to take a GrandVista for a spin. I wanted to see if I'd be satisfied with a 250cc touring scooter. I have to say, I was impressed by the smooth ride. I wasn't really wowed by the engine's power initially, as it wasn't really all that much different from my 150 at the low end. At the upper end of the spectrum though, wow! Smooth, no screaming at 60+, a very pleasant ride, and a comfortable seat. I had it up to a reported 73mph, with throttle to spare and no hesitation. Unfortunately that is not GPS verified, so I can't be certain of the accuracy.

There was a noticeable difference in stability and cornering. Due to the smaller wheels and longer wheelbase, the GrandVista does not feel as surefooted as the People 150. I think I would prefer larger wheels, which is one reason I am leaning toward something in the 400cc+ range.

The underseat storage was impressive. It almost precludes the need for a top box and saddlebags, though I would probably opt for them eventually anyway.

I find the front end of the Grand Vista to be ugly, but if I were to be in the market for a 250cc scooter, the Grand Vista would certainly be in the running.

Since it took hardly any time to check the valves, they cut a good chunk off my service bill, so I bought my first armored riding gear today; a pair of Joe Rocket waterproof gloves
They are very comfortable, and I feel a little more secure about keeping my fingers and palms intact should I be in an accident. I also like the reflective piping on the knuckles.

My next step in the gear department will be an armored jacket or possibly a jumpsuit. I found something rather nice from Olympia Moto Sports that would work well I think. Unfortunately, the price is prohibitive at the moment, but once I can afford it, I think I may go for one of those in hi-vis yellow.

Perchance to dream...

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

18 holes and the two wheeled mindset

I called my best friend this morning after I got out of work. He was at a local golf course at the time, finishing up the back nine. He said he'd call me when he was done and we'd go get a bite to eat.

About a half an hour later, I was sitting in my living room, getting ready to watch an episode of Stargate SG-1, when the phone rang. It was my buddy again, but this time, he wanted to know if I was up for a round of pitch and putt. My answer was, "heck yeah!" of course. So, I grabbed my clubs which have a pack style harness on them, shrugged into the shoulder harness, and hopped on the scoot to go up the road about a mile and a half to Evergreen Golf. The ride was relatively easy, even with the 55 mph speed limit and a bag of clubs over my shoulder.

It was a little misty and the grass was wet, but aside from that, it was a nice day to hit the greens. I played horribly, but then, I'm not a great golfer. I enjoy it just the same, probably more because of the company than because of the game itself.

All of the riding I do, and the errands I run, and the excursions I go on while on my scooter, have gotten me to thinking; what is so hard about living a life revolving around a two wheeled vehicle?

One of the best known icons of America is the Automobile. The American mindset regarding the automobile has traditionally been, "bigger is better." Contrast that with Europe and most of the rest of the world, where two wheeled transportation and small autos have been the norm for decades.

With the cost of gas, the current economy and several other factors, it seems possible that we may see more Americans adopt a two wheel centric lifestyle, but many will still balk at the idea. I read a post on the local newspaper's forum today, in which a woman stated that she could never use a cycle or scooter since she has several children and it would never work for her. I can think of several ways she could make it work. Of course, if she is a parent who has her children involved in several different clubs, extra-curricular activities, and so on, reducing the amount of baskets into which she puts her proverbial eggs, might solve that problem.

In my opinion and from my observations, the large vehicle mentality comes out of the overwhelming privilege we have in this country, which is not at all a bad thing; however, we have, unfortunately, come to take the blessings we have for granted. Instead of conserving, we have used that privilege to build more and more low efficiency vehicles and have allowed our government to mandate changes such as cafe standards and ethanol restrictions (in some states %10 ethanol is mandated in all gasoline, despite its shortcomings), which do little to solve the problem, and in some cases, make it worse.

As a society, it would behoove us to move to a simpler lifestyle. I don't see it happening anytime soon, but there is certainly something to be said for returning to the days of the single car household. Unfortunately, it is unlikely to happen any time in the near future, for more reasons than I care to hypothesize. One possible reason that I will point out is that we seem to be convinced that we need two or more cars in every household, and we shape our lives in such a way as to make it necessary.

The way I see it is, if I can take long distance trips, go golfing, grocery shopping, hunting, fishing, take my kid to school and church functions, and so on, with only a 150cc scooter, there really is no reason that any other adult cannot do so. I in no way wish to force others to bend to my will, but simply want to make it clear that the argument "I can't possibly do everything I need to on a two wheeled vehicle," may not be as true as it seems on the surface.

Edited to add:

There are some exceptions of course. I rented a roto-tiller last week and picked up some salt for my water purifier. Carrying three fifty pound salt blocks and a medium sized tiller on my scooter would have been difficult and would have been too much for the suspension to handle, but for basic daily tasks, a scooter is well suited.

And in reference to Joe's comment, good rain gear can significantly alter the comfort level of riding in the rain. Snow and ice, on the other hand, are an entirely different story, and I do not begrudge anyone the use of a four wheeled vehicle in those conditions.

Thank you for the reminder Joe! :)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial day fun

First, let me express my deepest appreciation for those who have given of themselves in the service of the United States of America. If any veterans happen to read this, you have my deepest thanks for your sacrifice for my freedom.

I had the opportunity to visit Harrisburg today with the men from the group home I work in. My wife and son also accompanied us, which made it all the more fun. The reason for the trip to the capitol was an art festival with various artisans and craftsman from all over the country.

It took us a while to find parking, but I finally was able to see the state capitol building up close. I also had this view up a side street.

There were several scooters being ridden around. I saw a group of about five or six riders on maxi-scoots, but wasn't able to take a picture since I was driving at the time. I also saw a couple on a pair of Schwinn scooters, but again, I was driving, so it wasn't the best opportunity to take a photo. There was this nice little Honda Metropolitan parked near the festival.

The men from the home and the other staff who were with them had to leave, but my family and I stayed and looked through the stalls a bit longer.

We also had a wonderful view of the river. My son seemed especially entranced by the boats and water-skiers.

After we came home, we relaxed for a while, then had some hotdogs on the grill. My son decided it would be fun to spray me with the hose, so I took a scoot to dry off. It was a beautiful evening for it. The sun was nearing the horizon, and the air was clear and warm.

I saw a couple on a pair of Honda Ruckuses, or should that be "Rucki?" In any event, they seemed to be enjoying the evening as well. I had opportunity to speak with one of them at a stop, and she stated that it was her first ride.

I rode for a little longer myself, then turned toward home.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Buying a used scooter...

I was just speaking to an old friend a few hours ago, and he indicated that he is thinking of buying a used 150cc scooter for $750. I looked up the brand name that he gave and and found that, sure enough, it is a Chinese Scooter imported by a company in Texas.

So, here are my thoughts on the purchase of a used scooter. Some may disagree with me, but these are merely my opinions based upon my own reading and experiences.

When purchasing any vehicle, the only way to ensure that no one else has abused the vehicle is to purchase new. On the other hand, purchasing a new vehicle has its own issues, most particularly, depreciation.

With a scooter, as with any used vehicle, it is a good idea to have the vehicle gone over by a qualified mechanic prior to purchase. It's also important to look at things like mileage, model year, and make.

For the most part, a Yamaha, Vespa, or Kymco (to name a few), with low mileage (under 2000) would be interesting. I would be cautious of Chinese scooters of any age or mileage, but a used Chinascoot with extremely low mileage would be suspect. The reason for my suspicion would be that many folks purchased Chinascoots last year through the Internet or through brick and mortar dealers that were not properly prepped prior to riding, or that were simply junk from the outset. Unsurprizingly, these scooters show up on Craigslist for temptingly low prices with sometimes less than 100 miles/kilometers on them. They should probably be avoided, unless the buyer is either willing to waste several hundred dollars, or is very sure of his or her mechanical abilities. It can be very difficult to find support and parts for Chinascoots as well. Few motorcycle shops will service them.

I'd recommend that if you are buying a used scooter, look for a well known brand with a proven track record. I'd also recommend that if you are not mechanically inclined that you should look for a brand that has a good dealer support network, with a dealer or mechanic in your area who will service the scooter for you. Honda, Yamaha, and Suzuki have dealers all over the country. Dealers for other brands, such as Genuine, Kymco, and SYM, are becoming more common.

As time passes, support for Chinese scooters may become easier to obtain. Resources like can be invaluable, but may not be enough for a mechanical neophyte.

To sum up, my recomendation is simply that if you wish to purchase a used scooter, you should know what you are getting yourself into.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

2009 Scooter Rally!

My son and I attended the New Holland Scooter rally last night and today. It was highly enjoyable. Last night we met and the Hollander Motel in New Holland, then went to eat at Sal's Pizza. My son and I went home from there.

This morning, we met the rest of the folks at Shady Maple Smorgasbord for breakfast. After breakfast, we rode around eastern Lancaster counter, and Chester county, and I think we may have gone down into Maryland. We ended up at Cyclemax outside Honeybrook.

Here's a nice little slideshow of the pics I took.

Unfortunately, I had a couple issues with what was apparently vapor lock. I started to accelerate after having the scoot turned off, and suddenly my throttle was mush. After opening the fuel tank and adding some fuel cleaner as a precaution, the problem has not returned.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Summer's coming...

And with Summer, comes lots of questions posed to scootsters about their rides. It must be a seasonal thing, but last year, I had lots of people asking me about my scooter until around October. Suddenly, within the last two weeks or so, the questions have started up again. This could be due to the nicer weather, or perhaps the recent upswing in gas prices.

The questions vary, but generally I get the following:
  • What kind of gas mileage do you get on that thing?
  • How fast does it go?
  • How much did it cost?
  • Do you need a license for that?
Most readers of this blog will be aware that scooters deliver superior gas mileage. The only gas operated vehicle I know of that gives better gas mileage than a 50cc scooter is the Honda Passport (Cub). This is due to the manual transmission. The Honda Rebel also gives superior fuel economy, though it tends to be more on par with a 125 or 150cc scooter at around 75 to 80 miles per gallon (though I've heard claims of up to 100mpg).

Asking about the speed of a scooter makes sense from the standpoint of a commuter, but if the vehicle is purchased for joyriding, speed will probably be less of a factor. A commuter doesn't want to be late to work, and will most likely be in traffic which will not take kindly to someone putzing along below the speed limit. A joyrider, well, joyriders really aren't as likely to care when they reach their destination, though that will vary based upon the individual.

Initial out-of-pocket expense is always a concern. I know it was for me. Additional costs, such as insurance, maintenance, repairs, and so on, also factor in.

The question of licensing interests me most. I was initially among those who chose a 50cc scooter because I did not need a motorcycle license to operate it. Over the past year, I've come to understand that this may be a mistake. I've never shared this before, but on my first ride on my Yamaha Vino, despite having ridden a Honda Elite so many years ago, I lost control of the scooter when turning onto the main road out of my development and almost ran into a curb. Thankfully, I regained control, but that experience taught me to respect the power of the vehicle I was riding.

If you are considering a 50cc scooter for yourself or perhaps your teenage son or daughter, I highly recommend that you take (or have them take) a rider's safety course. Here in PA, it's free.

The point I'm trying to make is this, making the choice to purchase a 50cc scooter rather than something with a bit more power, and therefore more ability to coexist with traffic, based solely upon avoiding the additional cost of a motorcycle license, is not recommended. Getting a motorcycle license isn't all that difficult, and getting rider's safety training isn't terribly hard either. It may take a little time out of your schedule, and may cost a little more (PA charges $46.00 every four years for a CM class license, as opposed to $26.00 for a class C), but the amount is not prohibitive in any state as far as I am aware.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Riding in the woods

I love woodlands in the spring just after a rain. The sound of water dripping off the leaves. The sun filtering through the trees. Flowering trees and shrubs everywhere one looks. It's all very peaceful.


I was riding up in the northern part of the county this evening and happened to be caught in a storm, and was therefore able to view the splendor of the post-rain woodlands.


The woods here seem to be full of dogwood. I've always found them to be beautiful. The flowers, or what we percieve as the flowers, seem so pristine.

On my way through Manheim, I saw this moped on a front porch.


One of these days, I will have to pick up a moped of my own. I find them very intriguing. Sure, they are slow, but I love the way they sound, well, the two strokes at least. Some day I will have to get one.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

2009 Mid-Atlantic Scooter Rally - Reminder

The New Holland Scooter Rally will soon be upon us, as mentioned in a previous post.

I plan to be there with my son. I've already asked for the time off. I hope to see a lot of folks there!

Full details can be found at

Streams of quiet waters....

I've mentioned before that I am fond of the sound of running water. It's not surprising then that I like to stop when I pass over a stream. I took this photo a few days ago.


I worked until noon today, and when I emerged from the group home, I heard the unmistakable weed-eater buzz of a two-stroke engine as it passed. I was inspired to stop in at Miller's Cycle shop in Leola since they often have several old mopeds sitting around, and I was not disappointed. I should have taken some photos, but I didn't think of it at the time.

I left from there to pick up the air filter I ordered from Trans-am, then headed home via some back roads. There I found this little creak babbling through the hills south of Lititz.



I also love the look of old barns. I'm not sure why. It might have something to do with the farming heritage in my family. This one was beside the creek pictured above.


I went on my way and rode past this place.


These little "Euro" street fronts seem to be popping up all over Lancaster county. I get the impression that the idea is to create a place for people to shop, but from what I've seen, they don't really turn out the way they were planned. The "shops" that go into these places seem to be either boutique shops, dry cleaners, or even day spas. I have yet to see people strolling along the sidewalks at these places, which makes it unsurprising that some of the newer storefronts that went in recently stand empty.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Honda strikes again.

Honda has announced that they will be re-introducing the Elite to the United States with a slick new look. It will have a 108cc, liquid cooled, fuel injected engine, which will make it the perfect urban and suburban runabout. It won't be a powerhouse, but it will be a nice upgrade for folks wanting something a step up from 50cc. Heck, if I had the money, I wouldn't mind one myself.

The thing to watch will be Honda's pricing. Judging from their recent pricing changes and the pricing of the SH150i, I'm expecting an MSRP around $3500. I'll be pleasantly surprized if it's less than that.

Thanks to Tortoise on for the heads up on this.

As an addendum, Rawkus23 on made the connection that this appears to be the same as the Lead 110 available in the U.K.. Comparing the two models, it does appear he is correct.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Scootin' to the Movies '09

Well, my wife has been in the hospital for a couple days, so despite the fact that money is tight, I took the Goober (my son) to see a couple movies to get his mind off things (well, mine too).

On Tuesday night, when my wife first went in, I decided to take my kid to see Wolverine. I'd heard a few negatives about it, but I figured he'd like it. My car is out of registration at the moment, and my wife's car was at the hospital, so the scoot was the only vehicular option. Unfortunately, the Goober's helmet was in her car. So, I had him put up his hood and stuck my helmet on him, and popped to Trans-Am Cycle sales in Lititz to grab a cheap half helmet to tide me over (and so I'd have a spare), until I could get the kid's helmet. I really wanted to get myself a nice modular, but at $40 vs. $300...the "Skid Lid" was the clear winner.

So, we got to the Theater Tuesday night, and while "X-men Origins: Wolverine" was exciting for my kid, I'd rather read the comic book. It wasn't a horrible movie, and my kid loved it, but it seemed uninspired and completely unsurprising. They changed a few things here and there, but then, they do that in the comic books all the time, so that's nothing new, and forgivable.

We left the theater on Tuesday evening at around 6:30 to rain spitting in our faces, well, in mine at least. At 40 miles an hour, rain really stings. I was able to duck down behind my windscreen, which helped, but I'm glad my main helmet has a face shield.

Tonight, my son had his helmet back and we rode to see Star Trek when it opened at 7pm. Surprisingly enough, I only noted two geeks dressed in Star Fleet uniforms (the original series kind).

We sat in a nearly full theater and waited for the movie to start...and it was good.

The action sequences were well rendered and gripping. It was Star Trek as it should be...sort of. They screwed around with a few things and set the stage for either more movies or a whole new series. I found it a little unnerving how they screwed around with the storyline, but I don't want to be a spoiler, so I'll leave it at that.

If you are a "Trekkie", you will probably enjoy this newest installment. If you aren't, well, you might like it anyway, though you'll not get half the humor and many of the 'Trek references along the way.

One other thing that bugged me is that I kept expecting Spock to cut off the top of Kirk's head and steal his abilities...Kinda like when I first watched Enterprise and half expected Captain Archer to wake up in somebody else's body every show...oh boy...

But, I digress...

All in all, I give Star Trek four and a half out of five stars. Wolverine gets two stars...yeah, it was that bad.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Ride-in Rained on

I've heard of the Ephrata Ride ins for quite some time, and thought I'd finally make my way to one. It wasn't raining when I left the house, so I was hopeful for nothing more than a semi-drizzle.

The Ephrata Ride in is held monthly on the first Sunday. Bikes start to show up before 8:30 (when I got there), and, from what I was told, start to leave a good bit after that.

There were very few cycles there (I estimated around 30 or so), and those were spread around the parking lot of the American Legion. There was one other scooter there, a Burgman 400, and not much else.

I purchased a danish and some coffee from the refreshment stand, and mingled a little with the other riders.

One gentleman had a very positive opinion of my scooter, confessing to having a Yamah Riva 125 in his stable at home.

I'm looking forward to next month's ride-in. Hopefully it is a little less damp.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Gettin' caught in the rain...

Yesterday's forecast promised a fair amount of vertical humidity sometime during the course of the day. I had to go out, so I decided to scoot and just wear my rain gear. I told myself there were some errands I needed to run and made a mental note of them. First I stopped in at Burger King and got some lunch, I then went to the pharmacy and dropped off a prescription (errand 1 complete). I then headed to work to do some odds and ends. About a mile from work, I remembered that I had neglected one of the tasks I had mental notes for, and thought, oh, I'll just get it after I leave work.

I got to work and my rain gear drew some odd looks and comments from the staff there. I'm used to odd looks though as I've spent most of my life being a goofball. That tends to draw a bit of attention.

In any event, after joking about making my way back to the trawler to catch some flounder, I got back on the scoot, and started down the road (errand #2 completed). The rain was sheeting down, but I was ok, despite my gloves getting moist. About a mile away from work, the scoot started spluttering and spitting, then died. I then realized I should have taken care of that last errand first...getting gas. Oops. Well, After pushing the scoot to a gas station and getting my shoes and gloves thoroughly soaked (the rest of me was warm and dry thanks to the rain gear), I got to a garage and they let me have some gas to get me to a station. All they asked is that I refill the 1 gallon gas can.

So, after putting enough gas in to start the scoot, I went to the closest Sheetz and filled it up the rest of the way, and topped off the borrowed gas can, which I promptly returned.

Through this experience, I discovered that rain gear is nice, but waterproof gloves would be a good addition, and I might want to take my gas gauge a little more seriously when it's pointing at the E.