Posts Tagged ‘commuting’

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.

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

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 Dealernews.com
2009vectrix

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.
vespagts300super

‘Hey Pumpkin Head, What’ya Ridin’?’

January 7, 2009

Motorcyclists in Nigeria have been wearing dried pumpkin shells on their heads to dodge new laws forcing them to wear helmets, the BBC reports.

Under a law imposed as of Jan. 1, motorcyclists not wearing a helmet risk a fine of N2,000 ($14.50) or six months in jail. Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Sector Command of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) told the All Africa news agency it had impounded thousands of motorcycles and arrested more than 200 motorcycle riders for not wearing safety helmets.

“The facts are very clear: Head injuries are a leading cause of deaths in motorcycle crashes; the most important step riders and passengers can take and in fact must take in terms of protecting themselves and staying alive is to wear crash helmets every time they ride,” FCT Sector Commander Nseobong Akpabio told All Africa.

nigeria-mapAll Africa reports that, because of the rush for the purchase of the helmets, helmet prices are now rising from about N2,000 ($14.50) to between N7,000 ($51) and N8,000 ($58.25), and that those who cannot afford the price in this economically depressed country have deserted the roads or sought out alternative forms of head protection.

Officials in the northern city of Kano say they have stopped several people with improvised helmets. Kano Federal Road Safety Commission Commander Yusuf Garba told the BBC authorities are taking a hard line with people found using the improvised helmets.

“We are impounding their bikes and want to take them to court so they can explain why they think wearing a calabash (a dried gourd) is good enough for their safety,” he said.

Stupid Hurts

December 10, 2008

The Orlando Sentinel reported today that a 6-year-old was tossed from a motorcycle operated by his father, landed on a van and sustained serious injuries.

Here’s the newspaper’s account:
“The boy, Paul Politan of Cocoa, sustained serious injuries and was taken to Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children in Orlando, the FHP said. The motorcycle driver, Paul Politan II, 38, of Cocoa, also was ejected. The elder Politan was in serious condition at Orlando Regional Medical Center.

“Both were wearing helmets, the FHP said. The two were riding north on U.S. Highway 1 on a 2007 Honda motorcycle when the motorcycle hit the rear of a northbound 1996 Dodge van at around 8:20 a.m. near Melaleuca Road, the FHP said. The motorcycle failed to slow down, the report said.”

1) A 6-year-old as passenger
2) A 6-year-old as passenger while traveling on a highway
3) A 6-year-old as passenger while traveling on a highway and the father allegedly fails to slow his bike and collides with the rear of a van

I’m all for freedom of movement and living a life free of government intervention, and I’m sorry the boy is injured, but … really?

Stupid hurts.

Lane Splitting … Legal By Opinion

December 8, 2008

The Contra Costa Times in California features a Q&A column titled Queen of the Road. Today, questioned by a reader, “the Queen” delved into figuring out what is legal when lane splitting in California.

“In California, lane splitting is legal as long as it’s done safely,” Sgt. Trent Cross of the California Highway Patrol answered. “If the lane splitting was done in an unsafe manner in an officer’s opinion, based on his or her training and experience, he or she could issue a citation.”

Hmmm, an officer’s “opinion” … that’s a word that often proves pesky to anyone attempting to defend against a citation.

According to the CHP Web site: “Lane splitting by motorcycles is permissible but must be done in a safe and prudent manner.”

Again, who is to say what is safe and prudent?

The Queen also queried the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. Ray Ochs, director of training for the MSF, says the organization supports the practice if it is legal and can be done safely

“Do it when you have an escape area where you can swerve right or left if you need to,” Ochs told the Queen. “In higher-speed traffic it’s not appropriate, and it should be done at the speed at which traffic is traveling.”

It’s no wonder other states haven’t legalized the act of lane splitting. The rules on the books in California aren’t exactly definitive.

Nevertheless, chances are that this guy’s maneuvers aren’t legal in most urban environments:

The Kymco Like — “Classic is one scooter …”

November 26, 2008

OK, Kymco’s already got scooters with names like the People and the Xciting so I guess the Like isn’t that far out there. In fact, it’s the kind of name that definitely sticks with you. What’s the Like look like? It’s profile is even more memorable. This is a pretty sleek looking scooter.

Future retro? Sleek? Whadda ya think?

I don’t have much info on the new 125cc scoot unveiled at the EICMA show in Milan, but what I can gather from the Italian blog Motoblog it’s a 4-stroke machine that cruises around on 12 in. wheels. It also appears that a 2-stroke 50cc version is somewhere around the corner. Can anybody translate some Italian for me because here’s how the translation tool in Sherlock reads the info:

Kymco Like 125/50 is new scooter a style retrò, cured from designer
the Italian Zaniboni Maximum; classic is one scooter, but with one
modern and personal, dry and compact line, ricercatissima in finishes
and the details evoked to you.

Like is born from one deepened study of the history of the scooter of
years fifty and sixty; the new Kymco is a comfortable vehicle and
adapted to every requirement: the wheels from 12 inches render it
perfect for the city traffic, but also ideal for gite outside the door
in the weekend.

Like is introduced in the versions 125cc and 50cc, both movements from
powerful single cylinder 4 times 2 valves, with cooling to air; in
future, version 50cc with motor to 2 times will be also available one.
The refraining system is to double disc (monodisc for the 50cc) and
the equipments are to the top of the category, with complete
instrumentation, beacons you halogenated and wide space portacasco.