Monthly Archives: March 2012

Aprilia’s SRV 850. 850cc Scooter. Is it Still a Scooter?

Aprilia SRV850

Aprilia have released their official video for the monster scooter known as the SRV850 (shown below).

With an 850cc fuel-injected 90° V-Twin engine producing 79 horsepower, this scooter surely holds the accolade for the most powerful production scooter on the market.

While I have no doubt it is a remarkable machine – which I would love to spend a day on, It does, however, cause me to pause and wonder: is it actually still a scooter in the generally accepted meaning of the term?

While writing my recent book, Buying Your First Scooter, I had to make an attempt to define what a scooter actually was, because the lines are beginning to be increasingly blurred.

Here is what I came up with (quoted from the book):

  • It will have a “step-through” design. Meaning that to mount the vehicle, you “walk” through the gap between the saddle and the handlebars. This is as opposed to the motorcycle where you swing your leg rearward over the saddle.
  • It will likely have automatic transmission. The most common type of automatic transmission is the CVT or Constant Velocity Transmission, which we will cover later. Again, there are instances in some of the larger or “Maxi” scooters where it is possible for the operator to control gear selection by the use of “paddles” on the handlebars, but this is most definitely the exception, rather than the rule.
  • It will most often have considerable under-seat storage.

I may have added to that list that they generally have smaller engine sizes than motorcycles.

The item on that list that comes first is the fact that it has a “step-through” design. It was first on that list for a reason. Personally, I feel that the SRV 850 would be not so much a “step-though” as a “stumble-onto” design.
I feel I would be at a loss to decide whether to swing my leg rearward as I would on a regular motorcycle, or do the one-legged hop with right leg extended like a half-maimed flamingo.

I also have to wonder whether – once the engine and power characteristics reach this level – it is actually still a scooter, or merely a slightly differently configured automatic bike?

Now, I understand that scooters with a larger than average step-through portion are nothing new – witness the fine Suzuki Burgman and even the Genuine Scooter Company’s Blur, but this trend to push the boundaries of traditional scooters is causing me to question the point at which a scooter becomes a motorcycle even more.

Don’t get me wrong, I welcome the progress in the scooter world, and think that little but good for us all can come out of it, but it does keep forcing that question on me: When does a scooter become a motorcycle?

I would welcome your thoughts on this. Do you consider this a scooter? would you buy one? The comment thread is open!

Throttle Sense

Today, I’m going to talk about something which carries a lot of benefits – most especially for the scooter rider. Some of these benefits include:

  • Better Hazard Avoidance
  • Better Visibility
  • Increased Fuel Economy
  • Less Wear on Your Scooter
  • Less Rider Fatigue

Quite an impressive list, wouldn’t you agree?
All of these benefits can be achieved by the cultivation of what I call “Throttle Sense”. Continue reading Throttle Sense

Spring is Here!

I got to spend the day riding in the beautiful North Georgia (USA) mountains on Bella today.

There really is nothing better. Of course, I ride all year round, but weather like this – and seeing nature awakening from the winter – does make me appreciate where I live – and that I get to enjoy it on a fine Italian scooter.

While I was out, I came across an interesting road sign that seemed very apropos for this blog, so I had to share it. (Click for larger version).

Here’s wishing all my readers a very enjoyable and safe spring and summer of riding!

There is much more to come with the blog this year. I’m currently experimenting with the optimum camera set-up for creating some on-scooter video blogs.
The attempts I have made so far have been quite nausea-inducing, so I don’t want to inflict anything on my readers until they can view it without reaching for the Dramamine!

So, stay tuned, subscribe to be notified as new content is posted, and let’s all have a great season!

Scoot Safely!

66 Year Old Retired Police Officer and Civilian Naval Captain to Race from Savannah to San Diego on a Vespa Scooter

MARIETTA, GA, March 07, 2012 – On April 22nd, sixty scooters will line up in Savannah, GA to participate in the Annual Cannonball Run.

The 8 day race stretches 2,648 miles across the U.S. and ends in San Diego, California. This year, newcomer Capt. Gary Kinney plans to finish the entire race riding a 2004 GT200 Vespa scooter.
What makes Capt.Gary different from the other 59 avid scooterists, Capt. Gary is 66 years old and he is riding to win.

With a resume like Capt. Gary’s, it doesn’t take much to see why he describes himself as an adventurer. Born in Traverse City, Michigan, Kinney moved to Dothan, Alabama and joined the police force as a motorcycle officer. Retiring in 1988, Kinney began his new career as a boat captain.

For the next 24 years, Capt. Gary sailed oil boats, yachts and Naval research vessels in the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, Mexico, Cuba and in the Pacific along the California Coast. He calls these his pirate years.

Kinney got the idea to participate in the endurance race from Floyd Grimm, Shop Manager of Vespa Marietta in Georgia. Gary claims Floyd “tricked him into it.” According to Kinney, ”we have a scooter that can win it and an old man who’s stupid enough to do it.” Within a few months,

Kinney had a team of backers including Vespa Marietta and several large powersports manufacturers who are supplying Kinney with the equipment he needs to complete the race.
The winning is up to Kinney. “The journey is more important than the destination, but if you’re not the lead dog the scenery doesn’t seem to change. With “world-class mechanic” David Brogdon from Panama City, Florida, and a truck full of tools, Kinney feels “pretty darn comfortable” that he has a good chance at winning.

Over the past five years, the Cannonball Run has become the top race for hard-core scooter riders across the nation. Each rider has eight days to make the almost 3,000 mile journey.
They must check into 3 control points each day and mark their time on a timecard. The winner of the race, is the rider with the fastest overall time, minus any handicap on the scooter depending on its age and displacement.

It’s not just the new fast Vespas that are entered in the race. These new bikes can easily coast along at 80 mph and still get 70 mpg. Included in the line-up this year are a rare 1946 Salsbury 85, several 1950’s and 1960’s Vespa and Lambretta scooters and even a modern 50cc Yamaha which screams along at 35 mph.

When asked about any challenges he sees ahead Kinney responded, “I don’t have a whole lot of quit in me. When you’ve been a boat Captain as long as I have…and if you’ve passed as many lighthouses as I have…you’ve got to be pretty darn handy making things happen.” As Kinney puts it, if something happens on a boat “you’ve got to get it fixed and get it going.” Is Kinney worried about the distance? According to him, “there’s a lot of endurance involved. It’s a mindset. Its another day

Scoot Network Launches Electric Scooter Sharing in San Francisco

A company called Scoot Networks yesterday announced a dream to place electric scooters – which can be rented by the hour, or by the minute – in every city.

They aim to create “pods” in convenient locations where customers can pick up and return the scooters.

Currently, the service is in “closed alpha” mode – meaning it’s not yet open to the public.

Scoot Networks is buying up a model of electric scooter from a Chinese manufacturer to populate its fleet.

The scooters have a maximum speed of 30 MPH, which means that you won’t need a motorcycle license to ride them.

Their aim is to first create a network of scooter “pods” outside of work-spaces and company campuses, and the next phase will be to liaise with public transportation, and, finally to open up to the public when the infrastructure reaches “critical mass”.

Monthly subscription for this service is expected to be between $100 and $150.

Curiously, they are operated by putting “your iPhone” into the dashboard.
I guess that means us Blackberry users or Android enthusiasts have to walk.

Scanning and Hazard Fixation

Today, I’m going to talk about about a very important skill that the safe scooter rider practises continually – Vigilant Scanning.

And, on the other side of the coin is a phenomenon that strangely seems to affect those of us on two wheels more than it does drivers of “regular” vehicles – Hazard Fixation. Continue reading Scanning and Hazard Fixation

Update on St. Louis Scooter Store Owner Busted For Drugs and Gun Crimes

(KMOV) — Police have uncovered high tech surveillance cameras, loaded weapons and thousands of dollars inside a St. Charles County business.
They call the owner of a scooter shop a major player in the drug game.  Neighbors are relieved he’s locked up, but customers of the legit side of the business found themselves caught in the middle.

Customers showed up to Brad’s Scooters only to find that police had shut it down.  One customer says he had already paid $1,500 for a 4-wheeler, but, Brad’s in jail and they’re out of luck — for now. Police say the business was hiding a meth lab inside.

Police believe Brad Gelber was the money man for a big meth-making ring in St. Charles County.  He and Thomas Scurlock, Chantel Harshbarger, Jeffrey Runyon and Thomas Runyon were all busted Friday night when police took down three different meth labs.

Drug Task Force investigators say they found meth cooking inside the office at Gelber’s scooter shop, along with loaded guns and $1,900 cash.  High-end security cameras and a microphone system kept a 24-hour watch on the shop.

Full Story: KMOV St. Louis