Wally Wonders Why

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Scooterism

Derelict Wing

P1130062Well as last fall approached my scooter moved to the mission fields of Northern Baja and it’s place in the garage was filled with derelict GoldWing whose previous owner called Pearl.  Rather than a pearl, I was hoping to find a diamond under all the rough that was every conceivable do dad that someone could burden a perfectly good motorcycle with over 3 decades.

The scooter had gotten me back into the fun of riding that I had lost for a time, but the lack of even occasional highway speed made less than practicably for commuting to work.  Enter the Derelict

1973_GT380K_red_700The  ’79 GoldWing seemed fitting.  I graduated high school in 1979 and a bike like this was certainly unattainable to me at the time and I only read about them in magazines.    The GoldWing was pretty cutting edge at the time with a high performance flat-four water-cooled liter motor, shaft drive,  not to mention three disk brakes on tubeless tires.  They were smooth, fast, reliable, quiet and quite the opposite in most respects from the 1973 Suzuki GT380 that  I was riding the heck out of,  leaving two-stroke blue smoke trails across the state.  1979What the bikes had in common then was that they were both standards.  With the exception of a Harley, which in the 70’s were fairly unreliable, there really wasn’t such a thing as a tourer, crotch rocket or cruiser in those days, just motorcycles.  In 1979 bikes with full fairings and bags were an oddity.  GoldWings of today come standard with everything but the kitchen sink, however in 1979 you couldn’t even order yours with a fairing.  So I chose a 70’s GoldWing, hopefully a 1979, as my target get back into it bike, because it represented the kind riding I like most and the kind of bike I would have chosen if I had been able to afford one.

P1130082So rather than being ridden for the last few years the Derelict has been sitting in a driveway uncovered and exposed to all the weather.  It was was not a pretty sight, but it was a ‘79, the price was right and now it is sitting in my garage.  I was told by Pearls previous owner that it was running great until it was parked and that all it needed was a little cleaning and a new battery.  I loved his optimism, but took his words as a grain of salt.

P1130094First order of business was to strip the Derelict of all its rusty crap: Fairing, bags, pizza box, light bar, neon lights, chrome dodads galore, floor boards front and rear, engine guards, exhaust guards, exhaust extension, luggage guards, leg guards, aftermarket horn, cruise control, extra winkers and one of the hugest ugliest and mildew-iest seats I’ve ever smelled.

PartsBut as nasty and undesirable as I thought this huge pile was, it only served as more proof that one man’s junk is another man’s treasure because within a few days a guy from east of the mountains came and bought the whole thing.

P1130086Second order of business was to give the electrical and engine a semi-thorough run through so that I wouldn’t damage anything by installing a new battery and turning the motor over.    It was easy to identify non-stock wiring because every last accessory seemed to have been installed using red wire and black electrical tape.  Previous owner had said that he once cleaned the solenoid, but that it must need a new one because every time he hooked it up to his car the starter just would just spin even without the key on.  Turns out, that’s what happens when you hook the wires up wrong after your cleaning.

P1130145In addition to the wiring, I also checked out and replaced timing belts, fuel lines, fuel, and fuel filter.  Changed oil, oil filter and poured a little oil down the sparkplug holes to get at the rings.  I felt a bit like I was overdoing it before even trying to start the bike, but the last thing I wanted was to ruin the motor because I was too impatient to be thorough.   One broken timing belt and the whole Derelict would be toast.

Next up, will it run?

Then, will I be able to locate stock front pegs, rear pegs, kickstand, handlebars, front signals, rear signals, grab rail, headlight and seat?

Traffic Guy on scooter parking

scooter park“Can more than one scooter park in a parking spot?  Are scooters allowed to park on the sidewalk if there is ample room?” The Herald digs for answers to a couple of burning questions in their article Scooter query requires clarification.

And now right to the legal answer.

State law gives motorized foot scooters the same access to roads as bicycles, however many local jurisdictions have added restrictions.

The more traditional Vespa-style scooter fits the legal definition of “motor-driven cycle.” Drivers must have an endorsement on their driver’s license and obey the same laws and requirements as motorcycle drivers, which includes not parking on sidewalks. As far as parking more than one scooter in a parking spot goes, the state doesn’t have a specific prohibition against it, but it might be good to check with the local jurisdiction.

So, now to the not so legal answer.

  • I’ve had people shoe me off an obviously well used parking area on a sidewalk
  • I’ve had people yell at me for taking a spot when there is a wide open sidewalk to park on
  • I’ve had police in Seattle ask me to park on the sidewalk
  • My brother was once ticketed for slowly riding across the sidewalk to park in front of his house.
  • When parking spots are few, I’ve shared spots with other cycles, only to have them take off before me, leaving me to receive sneers, jeers and an occasional comment, because with the other cyclist gone, it looks like I wasted a car size spot on a little scooter.
  • And then there was the time that I dove into the bushes to avoid getting run over by the driver of a car who darted into what looked to him like an empty spot, but really was home to both myself &  motorcycle.  No one hurt, but I wished I’d opted for illegally parking on the sidewalk.

So the legal and not so legal answers add up to you being damned if you do and damned if you don’t.  And  even if the law is black and white, the black and whites seem to be either ill informed or they are playing the gray area.   Considering my experiences, the general confusion that probably led to this question, and even the answer which if reported correctly, means that the officer is ill informed, because last time I checked Vespa style scooters under 50cc didn’t require an endorsement.

I have never been pulled over on my scooter and have never been cited, so my parking advice, regardless of the letter of the law, is to be courteous, careful, safe and think of the other guys first.  You may still have to endure jeers, sneers and rude comments, but in my experience you will not likely run into trouble with the law.

Joyride

06-27-08 fillup

I guess I love my roots in the British culture because I can appreciate their humor and life perspective. Take joyriding, usually where someone young, stupid or drunk, or young, stupid and drunk, steals a car just for the pleasure of driving it. Some end in joyriding tragedies like jail time, injury or even death as witnessed locally with teens joyriding a steamroller. Amusingly, the British don’t call joyriding theft as we do here in the colonies, they refer to it mildly as twocking, from the acronym TWOC for Taken Without Owners Consent. Your not stealing, your twocking. Twocking kind of, sort of puts the joy back in joyriding.

Well today another sort of joyriding needs to have some fun put back in it. Rising petrol prices, as we all are certainly aware of, are making even legal joyriding (aka the Sunday drive) difficult to enjoy. How do you justify the cost of a purely for fun 100 mile excursion. Especially living out in the county where even our shop local buy local options are 20 mile round trips. It’s a matter of managing resources, i.e. money. Although, as a resourceful family we could twock someone whose just filled up? but with kids, booster seats and the dog, I just don’t think we would make a clean getaway.

We could take a Sunday drive on WTA, after we walk 5 miles to the nearest transit center, but that doesn’t sound at all joyful. And what about the freedom to just turn left or right and see where a road leads; how’s the driver or fellow riders going to deal with you saying “hey, what say we hang a left here and just see where it takes us.”

What’s a guy to do when there is no more joy in joyriding? Scooter!

What a great evening we had yesterday for taking a joyride, for no other reason than joy. And with a scooter it’s all joy. There isn’t the petrol price spectre looming over you, or a little red faced Al Gore sitting on your shoulder giving a carbon-footprint lecture. I filled up my trusted Chinese steed with mid-grade oats for about 5 bucks. I’m now good for another 80 or 90 miles of joyful joyriding.

** And it’s a joyful bonus when I see a passerby do a scooter double take on my Rossi sticker.

Pirelli scooter tires

pirelli

As I mentioned somewhere earlier in this recent rash of scooter posts, my wife and I ride a couple of relatively new 150cc Roketa scooters that we purchased from Urbano Moto in Bellingham. They are fairly inexpensive Chinese models so I would be foolish not to anticipate regular repairs. The fact is that neither of us would be enjoying scooters if we had to pony up the cost of a Honda or Vespa.

I initially went through the scooters checking all bolts and fasteners for tightness. I found a few loose, but nothing dangerous. I also checked all fuel lines, intake parts and miscellaneous hoses, but found no problems.

My wife’s Carpi (Carpi not Capri) has been really trouble free, while I haven’t been so lucky with my Fiji. The Fiji came from the factory with a bad rear wheel hop over about 40 mph. I deflated and reseated the tire which ever so slightly improved the ride, but it still seemed dangerous. Urbano moto was more than willing to correct the problem with a tire and or wheel change as needed. But with the usually wet roads we have in the NW I was already planning on replacing the budget tires with something a bit higher up the scale.

I settled on a set of Pirelli SL26 tires which they describe as being made from an “all year use” compound” and having big grooves and blocks in the tread pattern to give good wet weather performance. I purchased online from Tires Unlimited and the order went off without a hitch. I spent about $50 a piece including shipping for a pair of 130/60-13′s and had them mounted at Mt. Baker Motorsports for a rather inexpensive price that I now can’t recall.

And the results were as I had hoped; no more wheel hop and I’m riding a set of quality tires that really stick to the road.  They stick well on dry roads, wet roads, a bit of sand on the roads and the oily strip too. They stick so well that I have to continually remind myself, especially coming up on corners, that I’m on a scooter.

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