Thursday, February 28, 2008

St.Pats day ride in Shawnee

On March 16th (Sunday), the Yahoo KC Scooter riders folks are going out and doing a mile long ride in Shawnee. From the page:

"Hey all scooterists, it's time to think about warm weather and the annual Shawnee St. Patrick's Day Parade. It is on March 16th, that's a Sunday. We have had Ken Bridges, Jack Winne, and Earl Baker participate in the past, besides my family. We ride very slowly for less than a mile on Johnson Drive. We decorate our scoots with St. Patrick's motif and you can decorate yourself too. Anyone is welcome to participate if you have a scooter. Let me know for sure if you can participate and I will put your name down and the type of scooter you'll be riding. Put the year and color too for your scooter."

If you're interested, check out the KCscooter page!

New Google Group of KC riders!

Click here for more!

I've created a Google Group of Kansas City area riders named the KC Scoot Riders. It's just a place for local cats to meet online when they're looking for rides or more information about events. Very informal, extremely casual and very, very free. Ive even included a box for visitors on the top left portion of this blog.

Find it?


Now click on it and join up and let's make this year the best year yet for riding and having fun!

Scooter Breakfast

During the month of May, There will be a Scooter Breakfast! It's a chance for you to meet other local scooterists and have a good time while enjoying some good food! More details will be released as I get more details locked down, but for now, Lucky Brewgrille in Mission, KS will be supplying us with the tasties, the parking spaces, and the place to rest our buns.

If you're interested and want more info now versus later, let me know.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Vids to enjoy

Scooter Club Golden Triangle's blog had a number of scoot related videos posted up on Oscar night. One of which, was a pretty nice montage of scoots and folks doing what folks with scoots do.

The clip is titled "Vespa Forever" and is in Italian (go figure), but is still a fun watch, regardless of the language barrier.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Going once.. Going twice..

Winding, a vehicular blog (mostly about the newest cars, trucks and concepts), is showcasing their "ebay auction of the day."

You have to check this one out. Beauuuuutiful!

A 1966 Vespa with sidecar! While not the most original thing (faux military setup) and missing a few peices (where's the front wheel fender?), it's still a nice looker. [Insert wolf whistle here]

Check out more about the auction.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Protect Ya Head!

Lately, we at the shop have been getting a fair number of walk-ins and calls about helmets. Not just about if we carry them, but what types, what brands, what models, what sizes, etc. So, I thought I'd share with all of you, here on the blog (and save us both time later down the road). So, here is the Vespa KC helmet faq.

Q. What helmet brands do you carry?

A. Everything! No seriously:

  • AFX
  • AGV
  • Icon
  • Moose Racing
  • Nolan
  • Suomy
  • Thor
  • ZR1
  • Bell

The AGV, Icon, Nolan and Suomy (especially Suomy) are premium brands. They fit better, wear better (durability), are quieter, and usually come in brighter, bolder designs than the cheapy lids you'll find everywhere else.

Q. What types of helmets do you carry?

A. Because Vespa KC is part of a bigger group, we actually carry off-road and street helmets. Choosing the right type is very important. Within the street catagory we have plenty of choices to choose from:

  • Full-Face
  • Modular Full-face
  • Open Face
  • Three quarter open-face
  • Jet style open-face
  • Skid lids (boo, hiss!)
  • Half-helmets

Choosing between the different types of street helmets can be daunting, but as long as you have an idea as to what type of riding you plan on pursuing, we can help you choose the one that will work the best for you. Note: Bicycle, hockey, and skateboarding helmets are NOT on the above list. Why? They're not DOT, SNELL, BSE, etc. approved meaning they will not protect you in the event of a crash at speeds faster than walking-speed! Don't fool yourself!

Q. How do I figure out what's going to fit my melon?

A. Get fitted! And by that I mean, if you can't come to us, go someplace that can properly fit you and your family's heads for a street or off-road helmet. Note: Getting your head fitted for a scooter or motorcycle helmet is NOT like getting fitted for a bicycle helmet. Not one bit.

If you're lucky enough to find a shop that knows what they're doing, you'll probably find a helmet that is not only comfortable when trying it on, but comfortable when you take it home too! All too often a person walks into a shop full of gear after trying on size after size, can't figure out what works and just goes with isn't too small. Bad idea. The chances of you getting a helmet that is too big and slides around while riding are pretty high when you do that. Another problem is that different brands fit differently. Just like shoes. Sometimes, different styles within the same brand fit differently too! It can be confusing. And then there's the whole ordering a helmet without trying it on first game...

Q. What goes into a fitting?

A. Your head! Ha ha ha! Actually, a fitting consists of a fabric tape measure to take a head measurement, reference of a given make's sizing chart, and a little bit of experience. At our shop, we'll take a head measurement, sometimes even if we have the helmet you think fits you in stock. If we have the helmet, or if it comes in after ordering one, we'll have you try it on and test for movement, fit, comfort and if there are any gaps between the padding and your noggin'.

Q. What's the big deal about getting a helmet that's too big? I mean, it fits right?

A. No, it doesn't fit. The problem is that.. well, imagine this. Say you just got a shiny new motorbike and you're itchin' to take it out on the road and hit the library, maybe the market, maybe show off to a few friends while they're at work, etc. It's a beautiful day and you can't wait to experience the freedom that a scoot brings a rider. You head out on the road and you're enjoying the sun on your face, the cool breeze against your chest, but... 5 minutes in, you realize your helmet keeps sliding toward the back of your head. At the next stop, you reposition the helmet and cinch it down tight, but after you get going again, it starts sliding... Again. You play that game for a while and then realize that you've only been on the scoot for 10 minutes and your neck is sore and you and your shoulders are aching?

"Man, this seat must be harder than I thought," you think. But it's not the seat. It's not the position of the handlebars, and it's not (entirely) that big suitcase you call a purse you have slung over your shoulders. It's fatigue from your ill fitting helmet.

Another scenario? You have a full-face helmet that keeps moving around on you and you fail to see the traffic light ahead of you turn red and you run the light and get hit by some lady in a miata full of groceries.. Why? Because you couldn't see!

Worst case scenario? You have a helmet that's a bit loose, but it slides on and off easy when you want it to, you can chew gum and sip soda through a straw while on the move, and the lid still doesn't move around on you while you're out and about. One day, you're oogling some girl in a mini-skirt and you hit the curb, fall off the side of the scoot, and because your helmet is too big, it slides off your head when you need it, despite being cinched to your chin. The next few days, the mini-skirt is bringing you flowers in the hospital, smiling dryly at you and your bandaged head.


Q. Can I bling my helmet?

A. There are many different helmet accessories available for the many different helmets. Some protect the eyes, some the ears. Some accessories are just for looks, some are for safety and visibility. Check with us or whoever your buying your helmets from for more info.

Q. Why the big difference in price between helmets?

A. Some helmets are made with better materials and finishes. A lower priced helmet may help you meet your state safety requirements, but a more appropriately priced lid will be lighter and quieter (less fatique on the body = comfort!), have a nicer paint finish (so you don't look like that dork you're afraid of looking like on the road), loads more ventilation and probably a removable liner (so you don't have to throw your helmet away after every summer because the liner smells like sweat and wet dog), and overall hold up to abuse a LOT better. To sum up, a more expensive helmet now will last you longer than the two or three you'll end up buying at a cheaper price because, at the time, "spending that much on a helmet didn't make sense."

Well, that's it for the Faq, for now. Feel free to call us if you have any questions or comments, or send me a tell.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Vintage Coolness

Sorry about the lack of posting last week. My excuse is that we've been pretty busy: Sold some stuff (Congrats John on your new LX 50!); I've been talking to some folks about doing a breast-cancer awareness ride; I've been approached about being a sponsor for the Bikers Against Diabetes ride for 2008; lots of phone calls have been made about First Fridays and setting up rides for and through the new KCPL district downtown! Busy for me now hopefully means REALLY busy for you all later this spring and summer with new rides, new friends and good times throughout.

Anyway, on to the new.

Raison D'etre, a blog about things hip and fresh, posted a nice find on some extreeeeeemly classic style helmets.

I'd write more about it, but without pictures.. this post is worthless. Click here to check it out!

Monday, February 11, 2008

New scoots arrived today

Five new scoots were just unloaded off the freight truck today, including the new Yellow GTS and Yellow LX 150. Both scoots have a list of names attached to them; everyone wants the new color, and who can blame em?

If you're interested in either of these scoots, let us know. Chances are, someone on the list is going to buy, but if you contact us anyway, we'll know how far in advance we should reorder these in the new color.

The other scoots avaialble as of today are a Portofino Green LX 150, a Portofino Green LXV and a Sky Blue MP3 250!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Help your scoot friends help themselves

Every once in a while, we get this publication at the shop -DealerNews- which highlights the powersports industry and has interesting articles about numbers and trends and blah blah blah. Well, this month's issue was more of the same, but what did stand out amongst all the blahs was the sheer number of ads for new scooter brands looking for dealers to sell them!

I'm not talking about Piaggio or Kymco (although there was a Kymco ATV ad in there) or some other well known OEM, but a large number of Chinese manufactured models with no home or distributor. There was over 20 in total and many of them looked to be the exact same types of scoots, just with different colors or stickers applied to them. Naturally, I began to wonder if all of these different "brands" were actually the same brand with different logos and badges glued to them.

So I did a little research.

It seems that, for the most part, while a lot of the scooters are built in the same type of manufacturing plants and centers, they are actually produced by different companies. While I have no opinion if that's a good thing or a bad thing (I do think that the pollution coming out of Shanghai must be attrocious), I guess I am a bit surprised. I really expected all of these scoots to be coming from the same company.

Here's the list I compiled before I realized that it would take all day to do this and got lazy:
  • Znen Motor - Zhejiang Zhongneng Industry Group Co Ltd
  • Peace Sports -Zhejiang Peace Industry and Trade Co Ltd
  • XRT - Obviously Chinese, but they've masked the manufacturing info. Site only lists the U.S. distribution address.
  • SYM - Xiashing Motorcycles Co Ltd
  • Adly Moto - Her Chee Industrial Co Ltd. Full page ad noting how quality is more important than price but still had some extremely cheap wares to sell.
  • Qlink - Not the first ad I've seen for this Chinese firm of clone-cycles, but they've hidden their manufacturing information.
  • Bam X - uh..
  • Jonway Motorcycles - Shanghai JmStar Motorcycle Co LTD & Shanghai Shenke Motorcycle Co LTD. The only one I could find being produced by two susbidairies of one conglomo company. Scary. Site is poorly translated and produced by a company in China for the U.S. market. Bad move.
  • Crossrunner - Says produced by "North American," some U.S. company but a deeper look reveals that the actual name is "North American Imports."
  • Veken - This one is funny. The site is crap, totes that they're the "leader of Power Sports technology," but has a picture of an MV Agusta f-1000s sportbike and a BMW Boxer Cup replica racer. Obviously not Veken vehicles. Who does that? They do showcase a "hybrid" scooter that gets a supposed 200 mpg, but after looking at it and the specs, I'm assuming that it would only get 200 mpg once and then fall apart. The Veken China site by comparision, is amazing. No info on products though (my Kanji comprehension isn't that great...)
  • Keeway - Qianjiang Group of China
  • Meitan - Shanghai Meitan Motorcycle Co Ltd.
  • SunL - Says they're homegrown in Texas but there is NO manufacturing information avaialble. A hard look at their product shows that the bikes are obviously Chinese

MANY of the companies listed above flaunt not only scooters, but streetbikes, dirtbikes, golf carts, ATVs and sometimes dune buggies. My problem with that fact is that even big OEMs like Honda and Suzuki aren't equally strong in everything they build, so why would I think that these Chinese firms with little history of quality and reliability would be any better if not just outright horrible? It would be one thing if these companies advertised that they were building bikes as "weekend toys" or cheap gifts that are for immediate entertainment only... But they don't. They advertise to prospective dealers and customers as if the products can compete with existing, proven marques such as Vespa and Kymco.

Anyhow, thought I'd share share that fun stuff with you guys and gals. I say, if you have any friends looking to buy a scoot sometime soon and they mention some brand you never heard of, show them this list and beg them to do some research.

I hope this post doesn't come off as I'm bashing Chinese products; it's just that most of the new "hot and cheap" is coming from the country and not a lot is being said about what these products really are nor who the companies are the are producing them. With the recent scare with pet foods and children's toys, I think it's only fair that folks take a little bit of caution when spending their hard earned money on a new ride as well. After all, isn't buying a scoot is about flexibility and having fun? Nothing fun in buying something only to have it not work the way it was intended.