Saturday, October 24, 2009

Ups and downs

Well...It's been a busy, and difficult couple weeks.

My wife has been in the hospital with a serious illness.

My son and I went north to Massachusetts so my family could help me through a bout of depression due to my wife's illness, this time in my wife's car since it was too cold to travel all that far with him on the back of the Sabre. We had a fairly good weekend, and it was nice to see my mom and family again.

We returned home, and I worked three days in a row, alternatively riding the Sabre or driving my wife's car.

I finally rode the scoot again last night after replacing the windshield. I did decide to go with another Slipstreamer Scoot 30. The price was right, and it would have cost about $30.00 more to buy a Kymco specific shield.

With the new windshied, I finally felt comfortable riding the scoot again. Today, I rode the scoot to Friendship Community's annual banquet. I parked it in front of Yoder's Restaurant so the scoot would be out of the wind. Nobody seemed to mind my parking it on the sidewalk next to a soda machine, and I checked with an employee just to make sure it was ok, and they thought nothing of it.

The banquet was nice enough, though the speech was a bit long. The keynote speaker was Anne Beiler, founder of Auntie Anne's Pretzel company. The speech was good enough I suppose, but I'm not a big fan of speeches anyway.

After the banquet, I followed the house van back to the group home (I'd taken the scooter since the van was full), and it started to rain. Unfortunately, I had not had the foresight to wear my rain gear, so my jacket got a bit damp. It wasn't too bad, but when I was ready to go home, it began to pour. I think I shall start making it a practice to keep my rain gear with me every time it's even a little cloudy. I must say that I was very thankful to have a new windshield. It kept me from getting completely soaked before I got home.

Windshields certainly make a difference. Acceleration and handling are greatly improved. Now all I need is a new basket for the back of the scoot and I'll be set.

Friday, October 23, 2009

No more floppy mirrors

After my scooter's most recent wind experience (being blown over), the piece of metal that holds the left back-plate / mirror mount in place had snapped off. I'm not sure how, since it's a bit more than a 1/4 inch thick and round, but I suppose with enough force and the repeated times which the wind has blown the scooter over, it was inevitable.

I purchased a replacement back-plate and attempted to remove the old one. I had to remove several screws to loosen the headlight cowl so I could get at the screws on the old back plate. It took a while, but I finally got the cowl loosened. Kymco doesn't make it easy to get the plastics off their scooters.

To top it off, the handgrip was well and truly stuck to the handlebar. It took quite a bit of cajoling to convince the handgrip to slide off, but eventually I did. I slid the old back plate off as well (which you can see from the picture was somewhat scuffed from flopping around), and slid the new one on.

I replaced the handgrip, screwed in the mirror, and voila! The scoot is ready to ride again.

I'll take a little ride this afternoon since I have some errands to run. I'm looking forward to it.

All I need now to be prepared for the winter is another windshield (the old one cracked in the last fall). I've been looking at my options and while another slipstreamer scoot 30 would be ok, I'd really like something a little more sleek looking.

For the moment, I'm just relieved my mirror won't flop around while I'm riding down the road.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Another SH-150i review

The November issue of Motorcyclist magazine has a review of the Honda SH-150i. I was unsurprised to find that the article is not mentioned on the cover, and was also unsurprised at their evaluation of the SH-150i in the little "They Say, We say" blurb set into the title photo which states: "They say: 'So hip, so smart, so Honda. We say: True, but it's still a scooter."

Of course, this is from a motorcycling magazine with no real love for scooters. I get the impression that they cover them to keep an aura of complete reporting.

Personally, I have a soft spot in my heart for scooters, but I'm willing to accede to the fact that not all folks share my particular vantage point, and that's quite alright.

Despite their obvious bent toward manual transmissions, they did a rather complete and accurate assessment of the SH-150i, mostly inline with my own. They did state that the SH-150i is "reasonably priced" and I still am not sure I agree with that. While it is probably the nicest big wheel 150 I've ridden, I'm not 100% certain it is worth dropping that much cabbage on. Is it worth the money? I think so, yes, due to its high quality; however, it is the highest priced of the big wheel 150's that I have looked at. Considering that the MSRP on a Piaggio BV-250 is only $400 more for comparable quality with a bigger (highway capable) engine, the merit of the statement "reasonably priced" rests with the individual buyer.

It's interesting to note though that this review concurs with my own (and all the others I've seen), that the SH-150i is an impressive scooter.

I can't wait to see the new Elite 110!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Autumn riding

There is nothing like riding on an autumn morning. The crisp air and the fall colors refresh the soul. Lancaster county is beautiful this time of year. The pumpkins and winter squash are just coming in, and the corn has all turned brown.

In this part of the county, the land is mostly flat, with lots of farms and few trees. What trees there are, have just started to turn colors.

There is quite a bit of wind, which makes riding the scooter just a little dicey. When the wind is at its peak, I've been riding the Sabre. With its heavy steel frame, the Honda doesn't even budge even when the gusts would blow the scoot off the road.

Of course, that has given me an opportunity for autumn riding when I would normally be staying home. As flat as the land is around here, the wind whips through with no impediment. It makes riding the scooter like holding onto a wild bull.

Either way, regardless of whether I'm riding the scooter or the motorcycle, the briskness of autumn riding is something I truly enjoy.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Kymco strikes again!

Ok, if Jerry at ScootLancaster can be Vespa-centric, I can be Honda and Kymco-Centric.

While browsing through the Urbanscootin' forums, I came across a thread started by the poster known as Metronid, with a link to an article regarding upcoming changes to the Kymco lineup.

There has been some buzz about these upcoming scooters for some time in the scooter-blogosphere, but this information is a little more up to date than what I had seen before.

They give some good information on the Downtown 300i, but nothing on the Like 200. It will be interesting to see whether the Like 200 is a true 200 or just another 150-180cc branded falsely as a 200. I'd really like to see a 19hp+ scooter with a 199cc+ engine. That might be hoping for too much.

If the Yager 200i is any indication, the Like 200, may still miss that mark. The Yager 200i has only a 174.5cc powerplant...which is still better than the People S 200's 163cc's, but is not truly a 200cc. At 16hp, it's just barely highway capable, which is impressive by itself, but something bearing the 200cc moniker should have an engine that at least approaches 200cc. Call me a perfectionist if you like.

Unfortunately, I could not find more information on the web about the Like 200 (or 200i perhaps), so I called Kymco USA directly and spoke to one of their representatives. Unfortunately, again, she had no information on the Like 200, but refered me to Kymco's main website (which had no info), and their marketing department (whom I emailed).

So, for now, I shall have to content myself with secondhand information, which is rather frustrating.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Safe return

The sky looked grim this morning. I arose from the depths of my mother's basement and looked out upon cloudy heavens, but no rain. Just in case, I donned my rain gear, said my goodbyes, and mounted the Sabre.

About 10:00, I was cruising through Connecticut and the sun made its glorious appearance. I stopped to remove my rain suit along a dam on route 318 (I think), popped it into one of my bags and hopped back on the bike. I hopped over to route 8, and eventually made my way to I-84 West. I chanced upon a pair of riders heading in the same direction and fell into formation with them. The leader was riding some sort of custom chopper and the second gentleman was on a smaller bike. I didn't get an opportunity to get a good look at either bike though. They kept to a moderate speed, which was very nice, since I did not have to fight the wind as much.

They turned off onto US-7, and I continued on to I-684. I went down the Sawmill Parkway to I-287, then over the Tappan-Zee bridge. Despite the signs on either side stating "No stopping on bridge," some numb-nut decided to stop to look at the boats, nearly causing an accident.

The trip through New Jersey was uneventful, though not being allowed to pump my own gas was highly irritating.

I arrived in PA at about 2:00 and all was going well until Kutztown. Suddenly there was a knot of traffic up ahead, so I tapped my rear brake several times to alert the drivers behind, and slowed down as I neared the stopped vehicles.

It turns out that a rider on what appeared to have been a Triumph Speed Triple (from what remained of the bike), had been weaving in an out between other vehicles when an annoyed cager slammed on his/her brakes. The rider swerved, lost control, and was disconnected from his bike which did several graceless cartwheels down the road. The rider survived with what appeared to have been only a few scratches, though he was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance just to be safe. The bike was not so lucky. I wanted to get a picture, but did not wish to have an accident myself, or annoy the emergency crew that showed up.

When I arrived in East Pete, the road into town was blocked off due to another motorcycle accident. Apparently, the rider took the turn at the corner of Graystone road a little too fast and lost control of his bike. He was not as fortunate as the rider in the earlier accident. An eye witness reported to me that this rider's leg was almost entirely severed.

I, on the other hand, have returned home safely and without incident. My second trip to Massachusetts on two wheels was a success, and I look forward to another trip in the Spring.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Old bikes...Old memories

Yesterday I visited my old school. I attended Pioneer Valley Christian School in Springfield Massachusetts from fifth grade through graduation from High School. They recently completed a new wing and while some of the building was familiar to me, there were many differences, almost to the point where I felt quite out of place.

I saw the three teachers who had the greatest memorable impact on my development into an adult.

The first was my science teacher, who taught me to explore the world and not be afraid to ask questions, even if they go against the mainstream. I learned from him that science, and life, should be approached with an open mind.

The second teacher has taught French at PVCS since 1989. I greeted her in French and carried on for a few minutes until she could apparently tell by my expression that I was starting to run dry. But I learned from her that while it is great to be an American, we ignore the rest of the world at our own folly and knowing a second language opens up new doors and opportunities that one would otherwise never realize.

The third teacher (Mr. W) was my sixth grade teacher, though he now serves in a more general role in the middle school. He taught me that it is O.K. to be a little different from everyone else and that we each must forge our own path using the gifts and talents granted by the Almighty.

All of the teachers at PVCS had an impact on my life, and I do not wish to diminish that in any way, but these three are the ones I can look back on and see that I learned more than mere accademics from them.

While I was talking to Mr. W, he wanted to see my bike, so we went out to the parking lot and he stopped abruptly as the bike came into view, grabbed my arm and exclaimed; "Is that a Sabre v45!" I confirmed that it was indeed, and he went on to say how that was his favorite bike of all the bikes he had ever owned (I hear that a lot from folks who've owned Sabres of that era). I let him start it up and rev the engine a little, and he closed his eyes in bliss.

So, while I took a trip down memory lane, I gave one of my mentors an opportunity for the same.

It's all good!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Happy trails...

To me!

Yesterday, I left from home for a weekend trip to visit my mother in Massachusetts. The trip took a little longer than expected since I decided to avoid Danbury CT since I would hit it at about rush-hour. Since I was starting to tire a little, I thought it prudent to avoid that particular adventure.

I stopped to eat at the Milford Diner in Milford PA, and had a Cheeseburger with Fries. That's something that seems especially good at diners for some reason. Sure, I could have stopped at a McDonald's and ordered the "same thing," but a McDonald's hamburger and a diner burger shouldn't even occupy the same sentence.

The trip was uneventful, even with my wonky speedometer. I kept to a reasonable spead, using my tach as a guide since the speedo itself is funky.

It was a cold ride, and today is a bit better. The overcast made it somewhat challenging. A windshield is on the top of my list for the Sabre since it's brutal to ride in the cold with no shield. All in good time.

I found Wi-Fi at the Westfield Athenaum (fancy word for library with museums attached), since I tried without success to find a connection for free elsewhere. I did stop at a McDonald's in Holyoke Mass., thinking I could get Wi-Fi there, only to find that they have it, but want to charge $3.00 to use it for two hours. I like free. I'll gladly admit that I am cheap.

So, time to check my e-mail and the status of my cities in Evony, then off I go.