... to experience ... to share ... to photograph ... people to talk to ... to live...to scoot...to ride

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Quick photo

OK, its been a week since I picked up my scooter. And its been really cold hovering in single and lower double digits. I've been taking off the cover, starting her up to let her idle for 10-15 minutes, sitting on the seat making vroom vroom noises, and putting the cover back on. So I had to get a battery tender. This involved removing the base-plate where one's feet go - 5 philips head screws later and after getting beyond the nervousness of electrocuting myself, I got the alligator clips on the battery and Ariel is well again.

Sunday the temperature soared to 25F and the wind was a whisper. I decided to install the permanent hook ups. I carefully loosen the screws from the battery and pull the battery cables up and OH! there goes a screw into the compartment.

I carefully reach for the screw and IT SLIPS THROUGH THE LITTLE HOLE where the cables come out!!! Rats! i can't reach or see the screw in yet another sealed compartment between the battery compartment and the ground... off to the workbench for 10mm ratchet and wrenches.

Time passes, I retrieve the screw and get the battery tender hook ups hooked up. Replace the bottom plate under the scooter. Replace the foot plate for the foot bed, connect the battery tender, watch the light go green, replace the cover, job done. As a reward, I take some more pics :)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Please Welcome ... Ariel

After many months of researching, trying on different scooters, reading forum posts and test driving... I finally chose the SYM HD200 scooter!And yes I named her. Ariel is mid-night blue, peppy and ready to roll!

That is, once I take the MSF class next some weekend soon and bring her down the mountain to where the roads are clear, then I can creep slowly around some suburban neighborhood - I knew they had a purpose. The photo to the right shows me with helmet and armored jacket - the edging really does shine!

By the time we got back from Sportique in Denver, unloaded her from the truck (another story) and found the safest, most secure spot with the least wind to park, it was getting dark. Unloading the scooter is going to take some getting used to.

And since its winter, no sunshine hits this side of the house; all of this is to explain why the photos I've posted online are not the best. Can you tell its blue?It's been incredibly difficult to get a good photo of the color.

And the helmet matches! See more photos. I will be adding more as time goes on.

We had hoped to park the scooter indoors, however the handlebars are too wide, so under the steps she went, with her cover... facing into the wind in case we have any 50 mph blasts of wind, which we are having right now! Poor baby! I have a Battery Tender keeping her battery fresh so hopefully she'll be fine.

The final choice came between the People 150 and the SYM. As I stood there looking at them, I have to admit I had to say goodbye to the P150 with a touch of sadness, "Sorry grrl, its just not going to work". The deciding factor came down to seat! Of all things... The seat holds both Bob and I at the same time and being able to transport both of us is really important to me. Oh, and I'm sure I will enjoy the extra power on these Colorado hills (mona lisa smile).

I am soooo excited and can not wait until I can take her for rides around Boulder! and Nederland this spring! Thanks everyone for answering my myriad of questions and journeying with me while I agonized through all of the details.

Scoot on!

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Test driving a scooter - a newbie's experience

Courtesy Just Gotta Scoot - will be replacedI am a newbie to riding a motorized two-wheeler although I've biked for years.

So far I have taken one other set of test spins on a Buddy 50 and the People 50.

Another post goes (will go) into what and why... I thought I would share what its like for a newbie rider to go out on a test ride and to provide my [limited] impressions on SYM HD-200 and Kymco People 150. If you are looking for thorough reviews of these scooters, there are plenty on the web:
SYM HD 200

People 150

My impressions on test scooting the SYM HD-200 and Kymco People 150:
Ok, its not a retro look one bit; however, the HD-200 does have 16-inch wheels and has the power range I'm looking for. I straddled it and found it balanced well. I can almost flat foot while sitting on the seat (forward a bit) while wearing hiking boots. There was plenty of space between my body and the handle bars while getting on. Sitting on the scooter my arms felt good, the handlebars are at just the right distance from me, I don't feel either cramped or over extended. The grips are a little smaller and not quite as nicely cushioned as the Buddy; this probably can be altered.

I started off doing laps in a parking lot across from the dealer. First lap it was a battle between thrill and terror that I was really doing this. I crawled along looking for gravel and just remembering the mechanics of riding. Then I realized I still had the jaw guard of the modular helmet up -- dork alert. Second lap was much quicker and I felt pretty good. I found that holding on to the brake slightly kept it from rolling backwards when starting up. The first couple times of starting up felt like I had to turn the throttle 'far-ish' to get started - I'm a newbie remember.

Then Val said why don't I take a spin around the block? You mean on a road? Adrenalin enriched terror courses through me for a moment... then I hear myself saying 'Sure!'. I'm riding a scooter! On a road! By myself!! Yippie!

And then I had to turn left and go up a steep hill. I had a momentary user-induced fear moment by not turning the handle bars enough and keeping my hand too hard on the throttle. I didn't quite run into the curb, and it was right in front of the salesperson (yikes!) - I had to tell my right hand to LET GO OF THE THROTTLE and all was well, up the hill I went. Something to practice.

Fortunately Sportique-Denver is on the edge of a very quiet neighborhood.

So as I accelerated up the steep-ish hill, there was plenty of power without feeling like it would accelerate from under me. It felt good. Turned right and a car was behind me - and if I took a relaxed moment to turn right at the next stop sign, it didn't seem to bother the car driver (who went left).

Then going downhill, I went over two washed out road cut-ditches - meanwhile I'm thinking to myself... Val said to have fun... am I having fun?... yes!... now coast over these ditches carefully, hand off throttle, slight braking - it felt fine. The roads were slightly wet from the snow melt and still felt good with the braking. I came back into the shop lot with a smile.

Once I got back, Val had a Rattler ready for me to try. Its a 2-stroke which for environmental reasons I want to avoid. It felt a bit small, so I went right to the Kymco People 150 to test drive.

Now for the past 3 months I've focused most of my research on the People 150 and 250 with some attention to the SYM and occasionally the Piaggio 150 . I've been looking at Craig's list for the Kymco for 3 months and have watched how the prices vary throughout the U.S. My laptop wallpaper has a modified People 150 image. And now I got to try one on.

s I swing my leg through, my first thoughts were ... 'gee its kind of cramped but I can easily straddle the floorboard, sit and get my heel on the ground'. Val gave me the pep-talk and reminded me to have fun and that I would do fine. I went through all of the toggles on the handlebar to buy a little psych-up time and then off I went. And this time I believed her... I'll have fun!

It felt smooth going up the steep hill - not quite as peppy as the SYM, but with good verve nonetheless. Stopping and starting on the hill was fine - going left and through wet streets with slush spots was fine. In fact it felt a little more nimble. The brakes felt a little less immediate than the SYM, again still quite good. The final flat straight away I accelerated moderately and could feel the acceleration.

Now that my nerves had settled down I decided to test the HD-200 again and pay attention to how the scooter felt rather than focusing on all of the mechanics of riding (left-turn signal on, then brake, stop... put feet down!, etc).

This time I ended up going down an alley so I could get to the flat road... and went over some slush-spots. I felt the rear end twitch, so instinctively counter steered the front end slightly (like riding on sand on a bicycle) and it was fine. I'm sure as I learn more, I'll have a better way to deal with these small issues. Looking further down the alley I saw lots of slush/ ice covering the whole road so I turned into a parking lot and went back to the main road.

I returned to the same flat and straight road so I could compare acceleration with the People 150. I got up to 50! Then I remembered that the outer ring of numbers on the speed are kph so I really was doing 31 mph. I felt like I was flying

The final test was getting both Bob and I on the scooter seats. Bob is 6' 3" with long legs. Both of us are ... not twigs. We barely fit on the People 150 together (me driving of course) while there was plenty of room for both of us on the SYM.

I know these were not huge test drives and I'm so new at scooting that my ability to do a deep evaluation is limited. You've got to start somewhere.
So here's my summary:
SYM HD 200:
Better pick up and go
Braking seemed more solid
Fits the two of us better

Kymco People 150
more nimbleness
Cute! Adorable!
Very comfortable - could place more of my foot on the ground.

Both look solid, feel solid, handle well, have 2 year warranties, fun to drive

For me, I am leaning toward the SYM HD200. I'm a little bummed that I like the SYM better, but for me it seems like the more appropriate scooter. And its not ugly by any means, just... you wouldn't call it cute like the Peopl 150. Time to think. I'll keep you posted!

Saturday, January 05, 2008

The Journey to a Scooter Named Ariel

This rather long entry provides the back story of my journey to purchasing my first scooter. Its written in chronological order... hopefully that won't be too confusing. And I don't really expect anyone to ever read this, but perhaps it will help someone out who is in the throes of searching for their first scooter. Here goes.

Mon Sep 10, 2007
The scooter bug first bit me when there was a Vespa shop right on my bus route... such graceful scooters; I saw those beauties every day. Then a neighbor down the hill showed up with a Silver Wing - handsome - out of my class. I've had a few colleagues at work who are also avid scooter fans. Now I'm seeing them everywhere around town and everyone I know with a scooter just oozes excitement at having one and the fun they have!

I've probably visited/ bookmarked 30 scooter sites so far; all these names are making my head spin! I even found a 2006 Vespa LX150 close by - at least I can drool over it though I'll probably end up with something more rugged - People 150? Rattler? or if a really inexpensive used 50 cc scooter falls in my lap, I might be totally irresponsible and just go for it.

I'm not looking to go fast, my goal is to have a scooter to reduce my car usage so it would get me (and my DH [dear husband]) to the park'n'ride bus stop and to go into town for errands. OK, and go play some along the peak to peak and back roads.

The setting:
The challenge is that I live in the mountains in Nederland, Colorado at 8200 feet; just west of Boulder and live down (up) a dirt road about 6 miles from town (and the bus stop). Over half of the trip is on dirt roads. We're in the middle of granite country, so our roads are hard pack... with some gravel to make life exciting. And yes, we've had to change the air filter on our car/truck every 5k... and then there are the washboards to make things rattly.

This is low speed driving - probably 15 - 25 mph - I don't even go much over this in a car on these roads. The road I live on is steep and dirt... 20 mph speed limit. The flat dirt road has a 25 mph speed limit. Sometimes we don't see a car for a half hour and then a few will roll through. We can walk down the middle of the road quite safely. There is the road the connects us to the town with a speed limit of 45mph. And surprisingly enough, most folk go close to the speed limit.

I don't have an interest in riding to Boulder - to me that's equivalent to a black diamond ski slope and I'm only ready for the green dot bunny slope. Besides, I've got an eco-pass to get me down there.

So what do I need?
I see our neighbors with dirt bikes doing OK and there's even a Harley that majestically rolls slowly through now and then. I've talked to motorcyclists and its their opinion that a dual sport would be good. My DH thinks that scooters are over priced and perhaps I've gone bonkers; my bus friends think its impractical because its so cold in the winter, not to mention snow. And I say 1) there are good scooters that keep their value 2) good clothing negates those 20 degree mornings (heated vest anyone?) 3) Scooters are fun - who cares about these practical aspects!

I took a look at the Ruckus BB... looks durable, now about those tires... I saw a Rattler on the road this evening and then I saw a beautiful Vespa... [slightly whiny sound] and I really want a pretty scoooter [end whine]; slightly girlie and independent.

Wed Sep 12, 2007
My visit to the Boulder Sportique was lots of fun - they let me try out a Buddy 50 (in pink) and a People 50 (in white, color yawn) ... riding around the building I immediately like the People because it felt more stable (it has 16-inch wheels)

Their advise was to aim for taller wheels since they handle gravel and washboards better. And to consider a slightly bigger engine to climb the hills (speed limit is 45) and to combat the altitude. By tire/wheel size, probably in the range of 13" - 16" diameter with maybe slightly gnarly tires?

Oh, there is a bike rack at the bus stop (park'n'ride) or maybe a sign post would work to secure the scooter to something unmovable. There are a few dead cars I could probably attach to too in a pinch. Smile.

Thur Sep 13, 2007
About Wheel Size and Width
Did a little more research and talked with a pro-dirt bike rider, a dirt bike riding neighbor, and Sportique staff. I modified my discussion slightly so I didn't get the dirt bikers distracted with the concept of a scooter. I asked them the same question: which will handle better, a bike/scooter with 16-inch wheels or with 10-inch wheels, both with knobby tires? And uniformly it was the 16-inch wheels provide better handling for 2 reasons. 1) the relative size difference between gravel and a 10 inch wheel means it has to 'climb' over that gravel more than on a 16-inch. 2) a 16-inch wheel has more surface area in contact with the ground than a 10-inch wheel. I wish I could do an empirical test to verify.

Then there's fat vs skinny, smooth vs knobby. and as everyone has noted, fat and knobby tires are better. Except in snow where skinny tires are preferred (why? dunno. just watch a rally car race in Norway and they all have skinny tires on.)

With this in mind, it really does narrow my choices quite a bit! (But then why is the Ruckus so popular?) After sharing the information I've gathered to date, my DH thinks that I should really think about a 250cc bike - that 150 cc is probably too small!! I'm willing to consider a bigger than 50cc and it must be 4-stroke to be more environmentally friendly. How about I get a 50 cc to learn on and then upgrade next year is my thought.

Fri, Sep 14, 2007
Transporting a scooter in the bed of a truck. I see lots of dirt bikes tied into the back of trucks this way:

Had a good talk with a local Kymco scooterist. We talked riding philosophy, technique, weather, visibility, safety, and more. While he has a 50cc People 50, he thought for up here a larger cc scooter would pull the hills better. As we discussed transporting one’s scooter to Boulder and how to tie a scooter down in a truck bed, lo and behold, a truck pulled onto our main street with a scooter in its bed. So he proceeded to show me all of the mistakes they had made loading it (the owners were shopping).
1) do not place on center stand or kick stand... you want to put a downward load on the front suspension.
2) Place a large block between the front of the scooter and the truck bed - save your bodywork.
3) Hook one end of the tie down at the front of the truck. Make a loop over the handlebar grip AND the brake on the same side of the truck. Cinch it tight - but not too tight yet... now get the other side started. .. and cinch down both sides until the front suspension is pulled down most of the way.
(By this point I'm thinking, how am I ever going to do this by myself?)
4) You don't have to tie down the back of the scooter - unless you are paranoid, which I am and I will.

Bigfoot, your wisdom has been stellar!

Mon Sep 17, 2007
Helmet shopping: So far I've tried on 4 brands, Shoei, HJC, Nolan, and ??? (I forget) I had a really good talk with Andy at Boulder Powersports - he's an ok guy; still gently pushes for me to consider a dual-sport dirt bike - but was very helpful with trying helmets. Then I called 3 other dealers - is everyone closed on Mondays? And went to Mikes... and ended up liking the same RF1000. Anyway, all of the helmets that fit (key word) were close to or more than $300. I'll pay it if need be... I'm just wondering if Boulder stores only carry the most expensive stuff. That pink VOX is pretty - but I can not find one professional review about it, which makes me wonder who really makes it.

P.S. Remove earrings before donning the helmet!

Tue Sep 18, 2007
I went by Sportique today to look at "my" scooter - a 150 cc Kymco People in pale green. Even took a picture. In Colorado you must get your motorcycle endorsement - no permit (from what I can tell)... so I'm looking at the motorcycle class...

Plus had a informative talk with their mechanic about the Piaggio... and how replacement parts will be expensive and hope you don't need them in August (when all good Italians go on holiday). On the other hand, there are state-side vendors with most parts...

Sun Sep 30, 2007
Just got back from the Outer Banks, North Carolina (OBX) ... specifically Waves. I was in such scooter envy... yes, they were there to be rented... some Chinese make that probably costs $700 which they are renting for $250 per week. Not interested at that price. So I just lusted after the very wide variety that I saw on the road.

Now on Ocracoke they had really cute 50cc Vino's and saw some 250cc somethings keeping up with traffic along the highway. On the one day that it did rain, some very courageous woman motorized her scooter through the rain, on the shoulder from Rodanthe to Avon; my hat off to her...
BTW, the water was AWESOME!!!

Fri Oct 05, 2007
On staying warm (around the neck)
Having lived in Nederland for a while and through many high-wind sub-zero winter days... my thoughts about polar fleece are 1)sometimes its just too bulky 2) not wind proof at all 3) makes hair stand out at weird angles in the winter. I have many wool hats and scarves but they get itchy. So I started to look around for a head/neck cover to go under a hat and covers that gap from hat (helmet) to jacket collar and could be pulled over the mouth. Its interesting that these desires overlap the motorcycle world so closely! Silk scarves do work well, but then I came across these tube like neck warmers/head wraps that are made out of some other material. Which has lead to more searches, here's what I found so far.

Zub - wide variety of colors and patterns. I'm ordering a couple to test out in our next wind storm - its a stretchy micro-fiber

Rukka neck warmer - looks very wind proof however stops at bottom of helmet, see review for the whole kit: Bikers Comfort in Action - Motorcycle Windproof Underwear; now the underwear might be worth the investment!

Frank Thomas Antifreeze Neck Guard

EDZ neck warmer

Wed Nov 14, 2007
Which to do first, get the scooter then go to class... go to class and then buy the scooter... I really want to take the Motorcycle Safety Foundation Course. One thought is to take the class now and take a refresher in a few months. Do I even have the time to take a class before Christmas time?

Wed Nov 28, 2007
Dear Santa,
I have been a good girl this year. I've been very nice to my husband and cats; I cook nutritious and fun meals; I even let my kitties cuddle up on my feet so they can stay warm. For Christmas, I would like a sea-green People 150 with a plum colored helmet... Yours truly, Shelley

Fri Dec 14, 2007
I've been in San Francisco this past week at the AGU meeting. There's lots of scooters here and not all on the road! Found an awesome scooter ornament at GUMPS and then saw one in the Macy's window, along with some kitties for adoption.

Fri Jan 04, 2008 AM
OK, now that I have the funds... I can go for a People 150 (new/almost new) or I found two Kymco People 250's that are 2007 slightly used for the price of a new 150 or I can wait to see what new 2008 Kymco EFI's come out this spring or should I take a look at the SYM? The choices are killing me! This is my first scooter so I don't want to over purchase, however I don't want to be exchanging within 6 months either. I'm a little concerned about the weight difference between the two People scooters.

Fri Jan 04, 2008 late PM
Tomorrow is helmet and sit/test ride scooter day! I'm sooooooo excited. We had dinner with some friends who have been motorcycle riders in the past and that's all we talked about was cycles and scooters (why a scooter and not a dual sport), gear, etc; plus some becareful stories. The equivalent of 'you'll shoot your eye out kid!' advice along with the try-everything-they'll-let-you-try.

So far I've test ridden a buddy 50 and a kymco people 50 and liked the kymco. I've sat on the P150 and the Aprillia Mojito 150 plus a few others. I'd really like to see the Sym as well. With the weather so iffy, nows a great time to go kick the tires - and maybe get a great deal... we'll see!

Sun Jan 06, 2008
It was so much fun! The sun was shining, it was warm out, no wind either! I rode in a flannel shirt, jeans, helmet (of course), and hiking boots and never was cold.

We drove down to the Sportique in Denver and worked with Russel and then with Val to figure out my/our needs and to show me their scooters. And they let me test drive a SYM HD 200 and the Kymco People 150! Val was really patient answering all of my questions and was very encouraging as I took the test drives. While I haven't quite plunked down the money... its going to be soon! [see post: http://terraunbound.blogspot.com/2008/01/test-driving-scooter-newbies-experience.html]

Mon, Jan 7, 2008
I'm seriously considering an HD200 or the People 150. I am a little concerned that there's not much presence for SYM yet in this country. I've looked online and the reviews have all been really great... have found a handful of SYM scooter owners ... but no forum/blog to sink my
teeth into. The other scooter I'm just as ready to buy is the P150... only issue there is that my DH and I barely fit on the seat two up (he'd be pillion)

Also I found out that I can have my choice of red, silver, and midnight blue in the SYM; all available in the crate at the shop waiting to be assembled and haven't been ridden by anyone yet.

Tue Jan 8, 2008
Difficult choice:
Sometimes it takes time to emotionally accept the practical answer; I've been emotionally attached the idea of the People 150 that it a little hard to let that go even though the SYM is a better fit. I'm trying to gauge my husband's desire to be pillion and whether that should be a real consideration to factor in. If not, then there's a really cute green or black P150 waiting. I did try on the P250 for size and had to tippy toe even in my hiking boots... now if I had some serious platform boots maybe the 250 or the 500 would work.

Wed Jan 9, 2008
Its like waking up from a daze of details. Being detailed-oriented, I go through this process where I analyze every shred of evidence I can find in print, on the internet, at the shop, [I even read the owner's manual and asked the salesperson for clarification on some details]. And sometimes drives people nuts... I think I spent less time deciding on which house to buy (except for the year of checking postings first)! So sometimes I need a nudge to step back from the details and ask what my gut says is right.

I'm kind of glad that I've happily mulled over the prospect of scooterhood for months as my requirements have become more clear with time. I thank everyone for their support and putting up with me as I have pulled you through this process too.

One nagging thought that emerged over the past two months was, how do I and my DH get to the bus? or to Rainbow Lakes? or other local places? He's not going to have his own scooter/cycle for a while.I've been the passenger many a time on a cycle and so has my hub - and he's had his own cycles for many years, many moons ago. He's willing to be the passenger, once I can handle the extra weight and his height; I've got a lot to learn. He's also getting that glint in his eye that he might be interested in his own ride (Harley?) First to learn the mechanics of riding, then add in the pillion factor.

The other nagging thought has been 'is 150cc going to be enough for our high-altitude roads'? So I want to re-check this out. If the weather holds and the wind settles down just a little, I'm off to do a last round of test rides and hopefully make a decision. (Can you tell I'm an INTP?) I've read read read everything, everywhere I can so now its time to see what my gut tells me.

About Me

Join me in my adventures as I learn to ride a scooter and experience the world through two wheeled transport.