Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Saturday, February 24, 2007
Thursday, February 22, 2007
Once I left the slower confines of Nall and began my trek westward on Shawnee Mission PKWY, I decided to see where the throttle would take me. The power delivery of the X9 for real world use can be described in one word: smooth. In two words? Really smooth. You twist the throttle, and the bike simply glides to speed, regardless if at a standstill or from a 30 MPH pace. It was sorta like being in my car, just faster! A lack of throttle-lag or jumpiness made the acceleration extremely predictable and it really surprises me how much I enjoyed that.
After I made my way home, I told the girlfriend what I was up to and she put on her gear, hopped on the back and we were off towards the Country Club Plaza. I was anxious to see if the neutral handling remained with a pillion passenger. On most bikes, the addition of a pillion not only increases your braking distance, but makes accelerations slower, and turning a pain as it can require more effort to get the bike leaned over. The X9 passed my test with flying colors. It remained neutral throughout, with just a touch more braking pressure being required of the Brembo calipers when stopping at stop signs and traffic signals. Getting ahead of traffic was a continuous surprise as weaving in and about slower moving cars was very easy! I wasn’t expecting that since streetfighting is next to impossible in moderate traffic with the X9’s competitors, especially the big Burgman and Silverwing. Then again, the X9 isn’t as big as those maxi-scoots either.
We quickly arrived at our destination: Balsano’s!! While sitting down to enjoy our Gelato, the GF gave me the 411 on what she thought of the X9. She enjoyed the wide seat, the hand rails, and most importantly, the wide-seat. As an owner of a Vespa ET4 and a semi-regular passenger on the back of my Ducati, she’s the authority on the uncomfortable vs. comfortable butt, and it was good to hear that she enjoyed the X9. Although it smarted a bit when she not only agreed that it was comfortable but added, “it was WAY more comfortable than the Ducati!”
The X9 and I had another jaunt through Overland Park this morning. This time, it was to find out the limits of its high-speed handling and to experience its interstate mannerisms. I entered the “testing grounds” of the Brookwood office park prepared to throw the bike into its 8 small-radius turns and small elevation changes. Even at the speed limit, the testing grounds are a good way to obtain information on braking, cornering and acceleration; just ask all the Mini Cooper folks and superbike guys that scream through those streets ‘round midnight.
The X9 felt surprisingly nimble through the first set of esses, and when squeezing the brakes for the long left-hander that follows, the Brembo Series Ono brake system does a great job of giving you the feedback you need to feel within your limits. Through the rest of the test, the bike’s cruiser-like acceleration and turning made for slower stopwatch times, but the X9 is not a sport-bike and it doesn’t pretend to be. Its performance I-69 however was freaky! I jumped off 87th and drove south to the 103rd st exit.
The predictable cruiser acceleration got me to 60mph with no surprises, but by the time I looked back down at the speedometer, I had somehow arrived at 85 MPH in an instant, and it still felt as if I only was going 60! Even heading into the wind, the bike kept pulling, its windshield and fairings sending all the turbulent air around me and keeping me comfortable and in control. I won’t post how fast I was going before I decided to stop breaking the law, but I will say the machine has power to spare!
The final real world test was to see if I could put groceries in it. I could. I went to HyVee this morning and stuffed two egg-sunny side up- with bacon and hashbrowns, an Arizona Tea bottle, and a broccoli and raisin salad under the seat and I had more than enough room left over to store a gallon of milk and a pair of shoes. Nice stuff!
Over all, I had a lot of fun with the X9 over the last number of hours and instead of it being the bike I was least excited about, I’m now very enamored with it. While it still shines at high speed cruising above all else, its not a bad bike for the city, especially if riding with two folks is what you plan on doing more often than not.
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
If you haven't ridden your bike all winter, its pretty much guaranteed that the air pressure (PSI) is going to be low in at least one of your tires. Before you decide to go grocery shopping, you're going to need to fill the rubber back to factory specs. Easy stuff!
First check your owner's manual and see what the suggested amount of air is per tire. Its going to be different between the front and rear wheels, so read carefully. (If you can't find your owner's manual, check the label inside of the glovebox, the info is there too!) Remove the valve stem covers, and while the tires are cold, check to see how much air is actually in there. If its crazy low (I did our X9 demo this morning and the front tire was reading at 3 PSI instead of the 30 PSI that should have been in there!) don't freak! Take your pump and fill your tires accordingly. Done.
For those of you not near an air machine/ or air compressor. If you can make it to the shop, we'll fill your tires, free of charge! If you're lucky, we may even sell you something :)
If you're going to be in the area anyway, you might as well schedule a full service to get your bike ready for the riding season ahead.
Whatever option you choose, make sure your bike is ready and safe for the road out there!
-Shiny side up!
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Posted on Yahoo! in the Business section yesterday, it seemed that New York City has been trying to figure out ways to reach that goal they set to reduce the city's emissions by 30%. Guess who is coming to the rescue!!
Using the Synchro/Sim traffic modeling system, a simulation of downtown Manhattan traffic, mixed up with 80% cars and SUVs with 20% scooters yielded the following results:
- A total decrease in delay of more than 4.6 million hours per year -- which translates to time savings of nearly 100 working hours per person
- A reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by over 26,000 tons (52,000,000-pounds) per year
- A decrease in fuel consumption by over 2.5 million gallons per year
- A total savings for New York City of more than $122 million per year in fuel and labor productivity
Now thats modeled for a year's span of time, but man, those are some amazing numbers! A few things are very important to note here too:
- This proves (as if it needed proving), that scooters are NOT more polluting than SUVs, which has been argued rather weakly by those in the car industry (someone's getting nervous eh?) and so-called "greenskeepers."
- Scooters really do save you $$ on gas! Imagine if all of New York were to adapt to the European lifestyle and say, 20% of the populace rode to work instead of driving their cars.. Heck, what if all of Kansas City did the same?? Not only would that be a big step in descreasing our addiction to fossil fuels, it would help the enviornment, save us money, and we could have much more fun doing it; how is any of that a bad thing?!?
The report also goes on to say that the simulation was still conservative on the impact of scooters in that it didn't take into account that two scooters can occupy a lane in side-by-side riding (as permitted by NY law) whereas you can only fit one car in the same space!
To sweeten the experience, Piaggio's CEO, Mr. Timoni is quoted in talking about the effect of scooters in general.
"Throughout the world, scooters are recognized as a smart transportation alternative, and this traffic simulation underscores the tangible impact that two-wheel vehicles can have on a major urban area like New York City," said Paolo Timoni, President and CEO of Piaggio Group Americas, which sponsored the modeling project. "The impact of this kind of shift has already been seen in London, which instituted congestion tariffs for commuting cars. That policy led to a significant increase in vehicles like scooters being used for commuting. Research is now validating that even small behavioral changes, like using scooters for a portion of one's commuting, can benefit the economy and help address critical environmental issues like global warming."
Check out this great article HERE.
Friday, February 09, 2007
Yeah, its supposed to snow all weekend long, but that doesn't change the fact that in a few weeks, it'll be time to ride once again!!!! New spring weather brings out everybody and that means, your vehicle of choice needs to look the part. No point in cruising by Sheridan's to wave at the hotties when your scoot is in need of a wax (or paint job in my case)!
There are a lot of ways to freshen up the ride before it officially becomes show and tell on the mean streets of KC, but one way in particular is excitingly clever: Enter Pimp my Scoota!
The site says that it exists to turn Vespa PX scoots into "funkafied showponies." Awesome. As of now, this artist-scooter collabo exists for PX owners, but you never know... Check out the awesomeness!