Archive for the ‘commuting’ Category

Motorcyclists as Insignificant Windshield Splatters — A Great PSA (and a Poll)

September 21, 2009

I’ve seen more than a few motorcycle safety PSAs (public service announcements) from around the world and I’ve got to say they pack a far more visceral punch than anything I’ve seen stateside. Are Americans too squeamish to see the reality of inattentive driving? I wouldn’t think so judging by the content of much pop culture over the years. (Hostel or Saw anybody?).

Still, I’m wondering if and when we’ll start seeing motorcycle safety messages that aim to shock the driving public into paying attention like this one does.


Scooterists Assemble in Twin Cities for ‘Rattle My Bones’ Rally

August 16, 2009

Hundreds of scooterists from all over the Midwest assembled in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul Aug. 13-16 for the 2009 Rattle My Bones scooter rally.

RattleMyBones2The four-day event started with a meet-and-greet and scavenger hunt on the evening of Aug. 13; had participants assembling Aug. 14 for five ride possibilities, a “historic sites” ride and one ride each for geared scoots, automatic scoots, vintage scoots and for scooterists who have never been on a group ride before; continued Aug. 15 with a 70-mile, large group ride followed by dinner, a gymkhana, bike show and music; and wrapped up Aug. 16 with an organized breakfast, raffle prize giveaway, awards presentation and a final ride.

Sponsors included dealerships Scooterville, Blue Cat Motors and Leo’s South; as well as CF Moto; Scooterworks USA; Binetto/Shad; Aerostich; Bell Helmets; Corazzo; Scorpion EXO and Scoot! Magazine, among others.

As the logo suggests, the Rattle My Bones rally was named after a song by the defunct Twin Cities band The Suburbs.

As the logo suggests, the Rattle My Bones rally was named after a song by the defunct Twin Cities band The Suburbs.

Brammo Tests TTXGP Racer

May 12, 2009

Brammo, a privately held start-up manufacturer of electric vehicles, plans to take part in the upcoming TTXGP – a time trial competition open only to two-wheelers powered by clean emissions technologies – with a bike named the Enertia.

Scheduled for June 12, following the traditional Isle of Man TT, the TTXGP (Time Trials Xtreme Grand Prix) is to be held on the legendary Isle of Man Mountain Course, a 37.733-mile circuit with over 200 corner.

The TTXGP was concocted by British entrepreneur Azhar Hussain. Hussain says the event offers an opportunity for leading global innovators in racing and clean emission technologies to compete and prove to the world that being green does not mean being slow. The planned TTXGP will showcase a diverse range of vehicles capable of reaching race speeds. Teams are likely to be backed by international corporations, universities and high tech institutions, but all eager to prove their credentials in clean emission transportation.

“TTXGP is about competitive innovation – pushing the frontier and making the next leap,” Hussain says. Certainly a look, and listen, of Brammo’s test sessions suggest these bikes could indeed represent the future of motorcycling.

Brammo, founded in Ashland, Ore., in 2002, has said it plans to begin sales of the $11,995 Enertia at five Best Buy stores on the West Coast.

Clarkson: A powersports fanatic

April 22, 2009

Jeremy Clarkson, one-third of the presenting team for the top-rated BBC television show Top Gear, was spotted this week atop a Yamaha Waverunner VX110 while on vacation in Barbados.
As the pictures attest to, the 49-year-old appeared to have enjoyed piloting the 110hp four-stroke PWC as much as driving a 510hp Lamborghini Gallardo.

Last September, photographers spotted the presenter, who often derides motorcyclists, astride a Piaggio scooter near his home in Oxfordshire. Click here to read what Clarkson had to say about his buzz around town on the scoot.

CIECA Opens Competition for Riding Instructors

February 25, 2009

Are you a riding instructor with an idea of how to improve training procedures? Want to win a scooter or a trip to MV Agusta, a MotoGP event or a World Superbike event?

If so, the International Commission of Driver and Rider Testing Authorities (CIECA) has launched a worldwide competition to collect examples of the best rider training exercises. Together with its partnerscieca ACEM, FIM and FEMA, CIECA invites riding instructors to submit rider training exercises related to the ten most frequent accident causes for powered two-wheelers.

Visit the ACEM website and fill out a questionnaire with your proposed rider training exercise and return the questionnaire by March 22. You could win:

Grand Prize: A Suzuki SIXteen 150cc scooter
First Prize: A guided tour around the MV AGUSTA factory in Varese, Italy (travel included)
Second Prize: 2 tickets to the MotoGP event of your choice
Third Prize: 2 tickets to the World Superbike event of your choice

Study: Updated Roads Would Help Protect Cyclists

February 25, 2009

A study recently completed in Germany indicates that the estimated 313 million motorcycle and scooter

The city government in Elk River, MN calls this a pothole.

The city government in Elk River, MN calls this a pothole.

riders around the world would be made safer if governments improved the design and condition of roadways.

Following an analysis of fatal accidents on Germanys road network, Professor Juergen Follmann of the University of Applied Sciences in Darmstadt came to the conclusion that motorcycle safety often is linked to the conditions of the road infrastructure.

I can vouch for that. Here in Minnesota, where roads heave and crack under severe temperatures, motorcycling early in the springtime carries a great amount of risk. If you’re not dodging six-inch-deep potholes or crumbling expansion joints, you’re plowing through tar or slipping on rubberized sealants. Not exactly what you want to be doing while traversing a cloverleaf.

Then there’s the issue of highway barriers, or crash barriers. I have a friend who, while traversing a

Affixing a similar sized steel strip to the bottom of this barrier may reduce injuries and death.

Affixing a similar sized steel strip to the bottom of this barrier may reduce injuries and death.

double apex curve, lost the rear end and slid into the barrier, wedging both he and the bike between the corrugated steel barrier and the roadway. In an instance such as that, both the corrugated steel barrier and the posts supporting the barrier cause greater harm than good to a downed motorcyclist. The solution: affixing two corrugated barriers, one on top of the other.

There has been much written about the relationship between roadway infrastructure and motorcyclist safety. Here are a few of the many links worth perusing about the subject:
European Agenda for Motorcycle Safety

Austrialia Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Consumer Reports Tests Two-Wheelers

February 5, 2009

As scooter and small-displacement motorcycle sales spiked last summer, the crew over at Consumer Reports took a look at the number of new and returning riders climbing back on two-wheels and figured it was time to start testing scooters and motorcycles for the first time since 1981.

Dealernews talked with OEMs to learn what they think of the out-of-the-industry coverage. Click here to read the responses.

Want to see a video about how Consumer Reports tested six scooters and two motorcycles for the magazine’s March issue? Click here.

Dealernews Rides the Vectrix VX-1E & VX-2

January 24, 2009

Electric two-wheeler specialist Vectrix Corp. last week unveiled its VX-1E and entry-level VX-2 scooters, two units that join the flagship VX-1 in the company’s line-up. I rode the two new models this week during a visit to the company’s headquarters facility in Rhode Island.

Vectrix’s VX-1 was introduced in 2007. The 2009 VX-1 will have refreshing new graphics in four colors:

2009 VX-1

2009 VX-1

white/burgundy red, white/metallic silver, white/sapphire blue and white/acid green. The unit weighs in at 515 pounds, has a 60-inch wheelbase and 30-inch seat height, and is outfitted with premium parts like Pirelli tires, a Marzocchi fork, Sachs rear shock and Pro Grip grips.

The only highway-legal electric scooter, the bike has a top speed of 62 mph, acceleration from 0-50 mph in 6.8 seconds, and an average range of 30-55 miles on a single charge. The aluminum-frame unit also features regenerative braking, which uses the energy absorbed by braking to recharge the batteries.

The newly introduced VX-1E uses the same platform and drive train as the original VX-1, yet features a

2009 VX-1E

2009 VX-1E

lower price point and slightly less acceleration and top speed. The difference in price and output comes as a result of its lead-acid batteries versus the VX-1’s nickel metal hydride batteries. Both models plug into a standard 110V/220V outlet, but only the VX-1 also offers regenerative braking.

The VX-1 models are full-size scooters, and feature handling and ergonomics similar to many of the other maxi-scoots I’ve piloted. Since they’re electric, they’re not the fastest scoots, but power lost on the top end is made up in off-the-line acceleration.

I’m 5’10” with a 32-inch inseam and sitting on the stock seat had me balanced on the balls of my feet at a standstill. However, using the lower and narrower accessory seat allowed me to plant both feet firmly on the ground. As for storage space, there’s not much on either unit – due to the eight-foot electrical cord stowed under the seat – but there is room for one full-faced helmet and a top case is available as an accessory.

The VX-2 was designed to be the electric equivalent of a 50cc internal combustion engine bike. It has a

2009 VX-2

2009 VX-2

weight of 429 pounds, a wheelbase of 54.5 inches and seat height of 29.9 inches. It features a 40-50 mile range, 30 mph top speed, and a 48V/20A battery charger that plugs into a standard 110V/220V outlet.

Sourced from China, the VX-2 is similar to the E-Max electric scoot yet carries styling to make it an undeniable part of the Vectrix family. The ergonomics and output are similar to gas-powered four-stroke 50cc units – convenient for putt-putting along surface streets or first-time riders but lacking any real excitement for experienced operators. A “boost’ button that draws more power for increased output to aid hill-climbing ability is a welcome feature, although overuse of it will drain the unit’s battery in a jiffy.

Vectrix’s plans for 2009 also include a new line of accessories for its VX-1 and VX-1E, among them: the previously mentioned lower, narrower seat and top case, a sport windshield about 7 inches lower than standard for riders who like the feel of wind in their face, and a winter windshield nearly 9 inches wider than standard.

The VX-1E is expected to arrive at dealerships in April with an MSRP of $8,495. The VX-2 is to be shipped in June with an MSRP of $5,195.

The 3-wheeled prototype uses an "H" shaped front suspension initially designed by the former Italjet.

The 3-wheeled prototype uses an "H" shaped front suspension initially designed by the former Italjet.

The Superbike prototype was unveiled in 2006 at the EICMA show in Milan.

The Superbike prototype was unveiled in 2006 at the EICMA show in Milan.

Visit Vectrix USA for more information.

Vectrix Shows Two New Electric Units

January 16, 2009

Vectrix Corporation today introduced its “entry-level” VX-2 and 2009 VX-1E urban commuting model at the Cycle World International Motorcycle Show in New York. These two new scoots join the VX-1 in Vectrix’s model line.

Available in green, blue, red, yellow and white, VX-2 is expected to arrive at dealers in June 2009 with an MSRP of $5,195.

The VX-1E uses the same platform and drive train as the original VX-1, yet features a lower price point and a more urban commuter driver profile with slightly less acceleration and top speed. VX-1E is expected to arrive at dealers in April with a MSRP is $8,495.

I’ll be test riding the Vectrix VX-2 and VX-1E next week. Stay tuned for more company information and a review of the bikes here and at

Piaggio Debuts 2009 Vespa GTS 300 Super

January 16, 2009

Unveiled for the world at the EICMA show in Milan last November, the
Vespa GTS 300 Super made its North American debut today at the Cycle World International Motorcycle Show in New York.

The 2009 Vespa GTS 300 Super (MSRP $6,199) is the latest evolution of the company’s best-selling mid-size scooter, the GTS 250.  It’s also the fastest Vespa in the company’s U.S. product portfolio.

Learn more about the scoot here.