Thursday, March 27, 2008

Awareness Test

Found this neat awareness test. Take a look and see if you fail (most likely you will). Then, pass it along to friends and family, regardless if they ride or not.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Gas... It's no gas!

A more frank version of the title could be: "Gas: it sucks!" or "Gas: Boooo!" Regardless of which you prefer, you get my drift. The stuff is expensive and as we get closer and closer to summer, it's going to be even more costly. put out an article about how much gas costs in certain cities, back in December of '07. Back then, they were making a point to mention how expensive gas was at an average of $2.90 a gallon. How funny is that? Gas now is about $0.50 more in KC, I can't imagine what it is on the East coast.

An interesting thing is that as expensive as gasoline is these days, it still hasn't eclipsed it's former peak of 1981-1982. Back then, during the energy crisis, gasoline was averaged out at $3.405 a gallon (national average). So, we're currently sittting at 18 cents below that, yet rapidly approaching the 1982 mark. (According to Yahoo.Biz)

Yet, according to some, the rising costs of fuel aren't all that bad thanks to newer technologies and effiiciencies.
Some interesting quotes from today's Yahoo.Biz post:

"In 1980, the average American had to work 105 minutes to buy enough gas to drive the average car 100 miles, according to Beth Ann Bovino, a senior economist at Standard and Poor's. Now, the average American needs to work only 53 minutes, thanks to better fuel efficiency and higher wages."

"For each penny increase in the cost of gas, U.S. consumers pay an extra billion dollars a year, said Dean Baker, assistant director at the Center for Economic and Policy Research. So to go to $3.22 a gallon from $1.74 a gallon in March 2004 is costing an extra $148 billion dollars this year alone."

"For those hoping things will get better, there may be a while to wait. EIA predicts gas prices will remain above $2.70 a gallon until at least 2010."

More reasons to ride your scooter more, eh? For more on this, check out the Yahoo.Biz post.

Piaggio MP3 had a blog post yesterday about the Piaggio MP3 titled, "... Not your father's Vespa." There's not much to read, but it's nice to read about the bikes on other blogs sometimes.
Check it out here.

Vespa S press release, legendary scooters.

Found this in my inbox this morning from Piaggio. For those in the know, it's old hat, but for the rest, it's a history lesson as well as a learner for the present. Enjoy!

"Piaggio Group USA Announces the New 2008 Vespa S
Classic or customized, this Vespa celebrates the rebel in you

NEW YORK, March 10, 2008 – Italian manufacturer Piaggio, renowned for revolutionary ideas in personal transportation, announces the debut of the2008 Vespa S, a retro-forward 150cc interpretation of the iconic “Vespino”scooters that dominated the European street scene in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Combining advanced technology and iconic styling, the new Vespa S embraces the rebellious spirit that inspired an entire generation to change the world. With its pure, minimalist lines, sporty performance, inconspicuous carbon footprint and creative customization options, the Vespa S is now ready to empower a whole new generation of riders to challenge the conventions of our time.

Vespa Heritage: Designed to Change the World
When Italian manufacturer Piaggio introduced its first Vespa scooters in the post-war 1940’s, they were born of functional necessity: personal mobility for the masses in a changing era. Though designed to be simple, sturdy and economical, the sense of Italian style was never an afterthought. The Vespa’s aircraft-inspired unibody frame, with its clean, efficient lines, stylish contours and revolutionary features set a design benchmark that introduced comfort and elegance to the sensibility of personal transport.
Prominently featured in the 1952 film Roman Holiday, the Vespa began to play a role in popular culture and became an international phenomenon. Beloved by bohemians, artists and actors, Vespa also remained a populist icon, a testament to its charm. In the 50’s, European Vespa clubs numbered in the tens of thousands, while American screen icons John Wayne and Marlon Brando took to the streets on Vespas between takes. British mods, celebrated in such films as Alfie and Quadrophenia, rallied around Vespa a decade later.
During the 60’s and 70’s, the Vespa Special and Primavera models became symbols for the revolutionary ideas of the time. As the protest movement raged, Hollywood stars such as Steve McQueen and Dennis Hopper chose Vespas for their personal style statements and Innovative advertisements and style refinements kept the Vespa ahead of the cultural curve during the 70’s. Today, the Vespa S continues the company’s unique ability to capture its rebellious spirit in one technically advanced package.
Trademark Styling, Advanced Engineering
The spirit and soul of the 2008 Vespa S is in the authentic details.C lassic Vespa trademarks such as chrome trim, the minimalist front shield, the unique rectangular headlight first seen in the 50 Special, the rounded rear light and a 70s-inspired single-seat saddle with contrasting piping all pay homage to the Vespa S’ legendary predecessors.
The Vespa’s structural integrity is just as innovative as its design. The Vespa’s high-strength steel body acts as the scooter’s structural frame, a design solution unique in the world of scooter production. In addition to superior strength, the frame is exceptionally rigid, resulting in excellent road holding and precision control. The scooter’s low center of gravity also makes riding it supremely simple.
Equipped with an advanced front disc/rear drum brake system, the Vespa S offers confident stopping power. The 11” front and 10” rear wheels with light alloy rims add to the Vespa S’ excellent stability, and a 150cc single-cylinder, four-stroke engine delivers sporty acceleration. Located inside the body, the 2.3 gallon fuel tank allows easy access to the engine and maximizes the size of the under-seat storage compartment.
Sporty and agile performance combined with low emissions and high fuel economy reflect Vespa’s commitment to safety, reliability and environmental respect. Like all Vespa scooters, the clean-running Vespa S sips fuel while delivering miles of riding thrills – over 90 miles for every gallon of gas. And, with a top speed of 59 miles per hour, the four-stroke Vespa S is ready to get you to your next protest march, reunion tour – or the office - in record time. Make Your Vespa Your Canvas
Vespa has always been synonymous with freedom of expression, and the Vespa S invites buyers to show their creative side with six new optional graphic kits. Easily applied at the dealership, each decal collection celebrates an element of Vespa’s heritage and personality. For example, buyers can show their passion for la dolce vitae with stylized Italian flag decals or rock on with a very “Mod” United Kingdom flag theme. A Sixties-style flower motif and a retro rally theme complete the collection.
Additional accessories for the Vespa S include a matching body-color 8 ½ gallon top box, a chrome-plated tilting rear luggage rack and a European-style half-helmet. The 2008 Vespa S has a manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) of $4099. Available colors include Dragon Red, Shiny Black and Optic White. For more information on the Vespa S visit

About The Piaggio Group:With over 6,700 employees, an annual production of more than 680,000 vehicles in 2006, 5 R&D centers, 7 production facilities in Europe and Asia, and operations in over 50 countries, the Piaggio Group has a consolidated leadership in the European 2 wheeler market. Its production includes scooters, motorcycles and mopeds in the 50cc to 1,200 cc displacement range, marketed under the Piaggio, Vespa, Gilera, Derbi, Aprilia, Scarabeo and Moto Guzzi brands."

A couple interesting things to note from the press release. If the MPG estimates are correct, then the current L.E.A.DE.R engine is getting slower but increasing it's fuel effiency with each new model. First the ET4 with 60 MPG and 65 MPH, then the LX150 with 70 MPG and 60 MPH, now the Vespa S with 59 MPH and 90 MPG! Nice!

Friday, March 07, 2008

Opinion: Piaggio Posting Profits or Numbers Dont' Tell the Whole Story

Just posted on, Piaggio has posted 2007 year profits of 10.8 percent in comparision to the 2006 year. The numbers were based on Core Profit, which apparently, is earnings before tax, depreciation and amortisation. That number totalled an upward rise of 226.1 million euros or $384.4 million dollars. Net sales rose 5.3%. Sounds like nice work, but is it honest?

Now while any profit looks promising, I think it's important to note that this rise in "profits" is probably directly related to Piaggio's method of opening dealerships and the campaign of which it was based, especially in 2007.

Anyone with a direct history with Vespa KC from a number of years ago will recall that we were one of 15 "boutique" locations in the U.S. We were special in the fact that we were standalone locations that specialized in and only in Vespa and Piaggio products. Kind of like walking into a Ferarri dealership of yesteryear; you'd only see Prancing Horse Ferarri cars, not Lambos and Aston Martins together in the same dealerhship.

Piaggio's stance, at the time, was that there would be no oversaturation of the market, meaning that only a few cities had access to Vespas, and production would be semi-limited. So, if you could find one, a Vespa was a very rare machine to see, was sold at a premium, and held it's resale value for a very long time. In KC, when we first started reintroducing Vespas, the scoots became instantly collectible.

Times change and during the end of 2006, Piaggio decided that the path to selling more scooters was making them available to a larger audience. Now, personally, I totally agree with that statement; how can you sell more machines if folks have no access to them? The problem with the execution on the idea was that Piaggio opened up dealerships to ANYONE who wanted them. Sure, there were qualifications that had to be met, but that didn't stop the influx of new dealers popping up all over the country. By summertime of 2007, over 110 new dealers had appeared in the U.S.

More dealers means more scooters right?

Well, maybe not. A lot of these new dealers, out to make a quick buck, weren't and aren't as passionate about the scoots as the original boutiques. So while Piaggio was able to sell the new dealers more of it's scooters and post these high profits, time will tell if these new dealers are actually selling the scooters. I have a feeling that a lot of the new dealerships didn't quite understand what the Piaggio and Vespa scooters were; that is being premium market vehicles. So, while a carwash may have rights to sell scooters, would you go to a carwash to buy a $4300 dollar scooter that goes 65mph? An expensive toy a Vespa may be to the uninitiated, but for a lot of folks finding Vespas and Piaggios at grocery stores, car washes, and car dealerships, they're more like and expensive joke.

Even worse, the sudden competition has proven to be rather cut-throat and has forced a number of the original boutiques to either move (hi!) or even worse, close doors altogether. I have yet to mention the vast wave of cheap new Chinese imports into the market as well...

I think it's unfortunate and it tarnishes the grand history of the machine a little bit, but over time, it might possibly prove to be better for Piaggio and the scooter scene as a whole. Perhaps, more folks will discover Vespa for the first time through the numerous neo-dealerships, do a little research and sell themselves on what will become their new, lifestyle changing form of transport. I think that the next two or three years will tell a lot on which way the situation turns; for good or for bad.

As Kansas City's first and best Modern Vespa dealer, I'm not too worried, but I'm still keeping a keen eye on the event as a whole. You can count on us to do our part in promoting Vespa and help make those "profit" numbers as honest as possible.
If you're in the know, send me a shout and let me know what you think about the situation.

Things to do in your town: West Bottom Urban Bazaar

Somehow, I'm on the KC Home and Gardens Magazine newsletter (which is funny considering how much I think that magazine only appeals to 2% of the folks living in KC; a percentage I'm not apart of) and, as I normally would, clicked it for deletion. For whatever reason, I decided to actually read it this time and I'm kinda glad I did, for there was an advert for the West Bottoms Urban Bazaar.

This is a two-day event thrown on by Foundation which showcases local art, crafts, music and decor. It's another one of those things that fit into the "If I wasn't working, I would TOTALLY go to that!" catagory. So, I won't be going, but I figure if I share the knowledge of the Bazaar, I can live vicariously through one of you! So, if you're pining for something to do next weekend, I say hit the Bazaar!

For more info, follow this link.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

How I ride

On one of the blogs I check on the daily, Motorcycle, there was an article posted, named "How I ride."

Normally, I would just link to the post, but this is interesting enough, to me at least, that I'm going to copy and paste so you can just read it as is. For most folks, I'm pretty sure a lot of what was posted by Mr. Frankling doesn't apply, (note: for intermediate to experienced riders) but the overall gist of it should.

"How I ride
John Frankling
Photo, video and writing tips
22 February 2008 12:40

"I have been riding for about 15 years and have found that the most important thing to learn that will keep you alive is to have a very alert mind combined with constantly observing of the immediate traffic situation around you.

Update your riding style to adjust the risk factor so it is in your favour to make progress safely. Don't keep in one mode of progress, ie: fast!

Adjust your speed, There is really no great rush to constantly get there with the feeling that you have beaten everything along the way. The law of averages will show that you are pushing you luck!
Every road/Situation changes no matter how many times you have ridden on it...Parked cars/Weather/Lighting/Traffic Speed/People pulling out(Everything is different from day to day) As was mentioned by someone else.

Always Check before you carry out a manouvre/lane change and always act as if the car/lorry or even other bikers have not noticed you coming up behind manouvre around or through when filtering.
Anyway i hope this helps...It has kept me safe so far and NO i don't just plod around on a Honda C90 with a flat cap and bicycle clips.

I have had many different bikes ranging from small scooters to race reps to custom bikes and I do ride fast but....hopefully safe and that's what counts, remember that you are NOT the only road user when riding your steed!

Happy biking everyone and hope you all enjoy our coming spring summer. STAY SAFE!"

For a direct link to the original, click here.

New Poll

I just added a new poll to the blog (look to the left). These polls are nice because they're a great way for me to get an idea as to what you lovely readers are thinking and it doens't require any investment of time on your part... Win-win!

This time, the poll is about how much you think you'll use your scooter this year. Check it out and let us know what you're predictions are!

Join in on the fun!

It's getting closer and closer to the riding season. That in itself, is a beautiful thing, but when you realize that with the new season comes a chance to meet new people, pick up new riding skills, and have a lot of fun in an low-cost and enviornmentally friendlier way... Well, that's just perfect!

Since it was first setup on Saturday, March 1rst, the KC scoot group (via Google Groups) has had an influx of new members everyday, all of which are wanting to enjoy some safe and fun-filled comraderie.

How do you get in on it? Easy!
  • Click the link here on the blog and follow the instructions to join
  • As it gets closer to warmer weather, check back for rides that have been set up, or...
  • Setup and host your own ride on the group
  • Go ride, eat, drink, be merry

Easy right?! See you on the group!

Sticker kits.. again

So, now that the Piaggio Inventory of 2008 is finally over, we at the shop have a bunch of new (and completely usable) item numbers of which to order accessories. Those sticker kits I mentioned a ways back? Yeah, they're available too.
Previously, I haven't been able to post much more than a few pics of the kits, but that changed with the inventory flip. So, enjoy!

The kits (in order of appearance) are:
  • White Sport Stripes
  • Silver Flowers
  • Yellow Red Flowers
  • Red Sport Stripes
  • UK flag set
  • Italy mod set

We have two of the white sport stripe kits on order, one of which we plan on putting on a showroom bike to see how they look on non Vespa S models. Personally, I plan on putting a set of stripes on my ET as well in the not too distant futre.

If you have any desire to grab up one of these kits for yourself, let me know!