Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Dracula ride: a Halloween event

It was two days before Halloween, and I led a ride for the St. Pete Beach scooter club from Treasure Island to Dunedin, FL. It was a beautiful evening for a ride. Unseasonably warm, which made for a great ride. I left my trade mark aloha shirt at home, and wore a special Halloween Margaritaville long sleeve T as my costume.

I realized that my route to Treasure Island took me over Florida Highway 666 "The Devil's Highway". I thought it was appropriate for this spooky event. My Vespa was covered jack-o-lanterns which light up for the ride back to Dunedin.
My costumed Vespa on "The Devil's Highway"
When we got to Dunedin, it was packed with witches and ghouls of all types. There where even a few other scooters on Main street. We left our scoot-o-lanterns flashing and started down Main street. We stopped in a Pan y Vino for dinner. We ordered some wood fire pizzas, and I had a great glass of wine. While the food was really good, we did feel it was a little pricey. I definitely recommend Pan y Vino but be prepared to spend more than your average pizza place.
Stella and Vespa decorated with glowing jack-o-lanterns
After dinner we took a walk to the park and caught a few minutes of the classic Dracula. The park was packed with people. Not being able to find anywhere to sit, we walked down to Flanagan's Irish Pub for a pint. We were entertained by Peter Robinson singing some classic Irish songs with lively audience joining it. Flanagan's is a great place, and we stayed for a couple hours, and a couple pints, having a great time.
Peter Robinson at Flanagan's Irish Pub
While there wasn't as many scooters on the ride as I had hoped. The six of us who showed up ended up having a great time. Next time, maybe we'll skip the movie and go straight to the pub.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Getting ready for Halloween

October in Florida is a great riding month. The humidity is down, and the temperature has been in the 80s. Florida is a great place for Halloween rides, as the weather is warm enough to wear any costume you want.

On October 29th, I'll be riding with the St. Pete Beach Scooter Club to Dunedin for Movies in the Park Friday. They will be showing the 1931 version of Dracula.  

I thought I would get in the spirit and decorate my scooter for the ride. Today, I started testing out some decorations for a Jack-o-Vespa theme, some of which I can use only during the day, and some which I can keep on all night. I plan on doing a test ride to make sure it all stays on.


Saturday, September 25, 2010

Vespa Rear Drum Brake Adjustment (How to)

Scooter Girl demonstrates how to adjust the rear drum brake on a Vespa LX150. This procedure can be applied to any scooter or motorcycle with rear drum brakes.

TIP: If either the lock nut or adjustment nut will not loosen, possibly due to corrosion, the outer cable must be held stable. There is a 7mm nut at the cable sheath end of the threaded shaft (at the opposite end from the locknut) specifically for holding the cable steady.  See image below

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Ahoy, a great time at Action Wheelsport's scooter maintenance seminar. Ye'll ne'er get me buried booty!

Today Maureen and I celebrated International Talk Like a Pirate Day and attended a free scooter maintenance seminar given by the guys at Action Wheelsport in Saint Petersburg, FL. Although our first time at this event, this is the second year in a row AW came in on their day off to give scooter enthusiasts some very helpful education on some advanced do-it-yourself maintenance.

As usual, Maureen and I showed up about 5 minutes late. We walked into to a group of 20+ scooterists sitting semi-circle around a Kymco scooter on a lift right in the middle of the show room. My first impression was that I was really impressed with the set up of the demonstration. I fully expected a half dozen people standing in a garage looking down on a scooter. Quite to the contrary, AW made it a point to make everyone comfortable. They had drinks, cookies and handed out every chair they had in the building. As far as the content of the seminar, it too was more than I expected. Not just checking the oil and tire air pressure, but for two hours they covered some advanced items. They actually took a part the CVT transmission to show the parts and how it all works together. We learned some basics on charging systems and got to compare new and worn variator roller weights, stators and tires. My one contribution was telling the group how to pick up a dropped bike.

After the class, Dan Lynch, one of the owners of AW, spent some time showing Maureen one of the new Buddy 125 models they had in stock. Dan was a really nice guy, who was willing to talk scooters as long as I wanted. Maureen really was impressed with the Buddy. She said it definitely looks better in person than on Genuine Scooter's website. I think Dan may have sold her on it as he demonstrated how an optional basket can attached right to the frame on the front. We'll have to see how she compares it to an LX150 or Fly150 down the road.
Maureen and Flo at Action Wheelsport

Once the group broke, we were invited to take a ride down to the Drunken Clam on St. Pete Beach with some of the members of the Saint Petersburg Scooter Club and St. Pete Beach Scooter Club. During the ride, it dawned on me that I had rode tens of thousands of miles on group rides on my Harley, but this was actually my very first time riding on my Vespa with a group. The first thing I noticed that it was all fun and no rules. An unorganized pick-up ride, we just went. We changed leaders twice when they both took an "unplanned detour", but it was just pure fun as we cruised down from Treasure Island to St. Pete Beach. Maureen and I had a commitment we had to get home for, so we said goodbye to our new friends and headed north towards Clearwater Beach on our way home.
Maureen snaps a pic over my shoulder on our ride

On the way home, our stomachs told us that we hadn't eaten since breakfast. Ignoring the time of our prior commitment (I mentioned we are usually late), we stopped in a fun looking beach place named the Kooky Coconut in Indian Rocks Beach. We split some coconut flavored Fuze and a pork quesadilla. Just another delightful surprise of the day. The quesadilla was delicious. Today was truly one those great riding days where everything seemed to exceed any expectations.  I'm looking forward to the next chance to ride with a bunch of fun loving scooterists.
Eating at the Kooky Coconut

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A postcard picture perfect ride

This past Saturday, I took scooter girl with me on some errands. On our way back, we drove through downtown Dunedin. Unfortunately the Green Market is stopped until fall so we couldn't shop for veggies and such. Dunedin is a very fun town. Full of Celtic heritage, but also some very progressive bars and great places to eat. It's definitely a great destination for a scooter ride. There are a number of artistic murals on the buildings in the downtown area. I just had to get a picture in front of the one which looks like a touristy Florida postcard.
Scootin' on Dunedin's Main Street

Monday, August 23, 2010

Vespa Brake Fluid Change (How to)

Scooter Girl demonstrates how to change the hydraulic brake fluid on the disc brakes of a Vespa LX150. It's important to change your brake fluid regularly. Vespa recommends every two years for the LX150. This procedure can be applied to any scooter or motorcycle with disc brakes.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

My Expanded Scooter Family

My brother Tom got a scooter. I'm very excited for him! He is very practical and was looking for supplemental transportation for daily commuting. Since he lives in New Jersey, he'll only be riding part of the year. So, he chose a very basic inexpensive brand. As part of the shipping process, the scooter was not fully assembled. He needed to finish the assembly which included items such as the front wheel, speedometer, front breaks, handle bars and top case. He also needed to charge the battery by adding the acid solution. The company he bought if from told him it would take about 30 minutes to assemble the scooter. Two days later he got it all together, and took it out for a test ride.

While at first it seems unfathomable that a company would require this much "some assembly required". I really think it had a good benefit. Tom is now fully intimate with most of the parts of his scooter. This is some really beneficial knowledge which will come in handy when he needs to do maintenance. Many people pay 2-4 times as much for a scooter, and then have no idea how to do some of the most basic maintenance, such as changing the engine oil, gearbox oil, or replacing a tire. So maybe having to put it together himself, while at first seemed cumbersome, could end up being a valuable experience.

I really wish Tom many miles of fun on his new scooter, and I'm happy to see one more two-wheeler in my family. :-)
Tom on his new scooter

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Scootin' on Honeymoon Island

Wednesday evening I took a ride to the beach at Honeymoon Island (a Florida State Park). It is really a beautiful island with multiple beach areas; one for pets, one with soft sand, and one with a lot of shells to find.

I rode up to the entrance gate and showed my annual pass. The two park rangers at the gate were very nice ladies. I sat there for about five minutes answering their questions about the Vespa. The said they saw the red color far away and watched me arrive. They were amazed when I told them that I can get up to 60 mph. They agreed it is a great mode of transport to the beach.

My first stop was to the main beach. It was moderately crowded for a weekday, but people do tend to come out for the sunset. I was able to find a spot right in front of the building. I was able to lock my cable to a sign post, but I was rather disappointed that there where no motorcycle/scooter parking spots. Maybe I'll pursue getting these added.

The beach was great, the water was warm, and the sound of the surf took the stress of the day away. I spent about 90 minutes on the beach, and then took off on a little ride around the island. Everyone was so relaxed, and gave me a friendly wave as I rode past. I stopped at the ticket booth for the ferry to Caladesi Island. It was closed, but I took a little walk around.

Finally, I took off to ride home in the sunset, feeling full of life after my trip.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

A green day at the Dunedin green market

Today was the last day of the Dunedin Green Market, and it was a perfect morning for a scooter ride. I have some house guests visiting, and I thought they would enjoy some fresh fruit for breakfast. I woke up early and left the house at 7:45 to be there right at the 8:00 published start time. Although only four miles away from my house, it was a fun ride and the cool temps at that time made it even more enjoyable.

Main Street Dunedin is a great place, and I really like what they are trying to do with the Saturday Green Market. Vendors come in with local or "green" products to sell. Today, there were even two produce vendors. I got a great selection of pineapple, papaya and cantaloupe. I even got two great loaves of breakfast bread; banana nut raisin and carrot. Of course, I had to pick up some limes, an essential fruit for any Parrothead. The milk crate I bought (don't steel milk crates) came in handy bringing it all home. 

I was able to get in a great little ride, and serve up a true Key West style B&B breakfast to my guests. What a way to start the day!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Drying out at the beach

I feel like a drowned rat. It rained for about 5 days straight here in Florida. Fourth of July weekend was pretty much a bust. I think the least amount we got one day was 4 inches.  But the sun finally came out today. After work, Maureen and I took a ride to the beach. There is just something about feeling the wind in your hair, and smelling the sea air to take all the stress away.

Luckily, the BP oil spill hasn't hit the beaches here, and it was perfect weather to walk in the water while the sun was setting. It's interesting, all the things going on at the beach, but when a Vespa is riding by in the sand (parking on the causeway is in the sand) everyone stops to watch it go by. Maybe it is the symbol of total beach enjoyment, maybe it was the big guy in a Hawaiian shirt, or maybe (most likely) it was the big smiles on our faces.

Can you spot the scooter in the picture?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Finally back to riding

Finally after a few weeks of moving, I'm back to a daily scoot. I can definitely tell that I'm in a more populated area with the number of cars on the road in the morning. The good news is that I've seen a lot of motorcycle and scooters on the road. Maybe, it's being closer to the beach, but people definitely seem to be taking to two wheels. We are in full summer riding time. The early mornings are nice, and don't get caught riding in the late afternoon, unless you want to get wet. This week I've started my morning ride to my new workout place, and it's been a great start to my day.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

May 7th is International Female Ride Day

Calling all female riders! International Female Ride Day is a campaign for women, whose sole purpose is aimed at highlighting and profile the female motorcycle rider. Its mission is that of building and underlining broad-spectrum (and public) awareness of female motorcyclists while simultaneously encouraging other women to take up the activity; demonstrating the ease of the activity.

The event shines a spotlight on women motorcyclists—it’s a synchronized global day for women, of women, everywhere. A day emphasizing the many numbers of females who ride motorcycles--supporting their diversities, agelessness, limitless abilities and the enjoyment embraced for the activity.
View more details about IFRD on (a site which connects women with motorcycling by engaging our readers within the passion they seek in every aspect of their motorcycling lifestyle.)

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Hone your riding perception skills

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation has published an online tool to help you train your mind to look for  and recognize, both road signs and collision traps hazard.

An experienced rider, I tried my hand at each of these. While scoring 100% on the signs test, I performed miserably on the collision traps hazard. The test gives you just a few seconds to look at a scene, and then answer a question. The nice part is that they give some really good feedback when you pick the wrong answer.

I encourage you to take the Rider Perception test. I know I'll be going back again to see if I can improve my score.

Friday, April 23, 2010

A 100% electric motorcycle I would actually want

It's the day after Earth Day, many people wore their t-shirts yesterday and posted on Facebook how they are for saving the Earth. This morning many of them got into their gas-guzzling SUVs to drive into work. Here's something for those SUV riders to help them save the Earth everyday.

I came across the Brammo Enertia all electric motorcycle in the May 2010 issue of AMA's American Motorcyclist. This bike actually looks like a motorcycle. While the Enertia won't be a total replacement for your car, SUV,  or your highway scooter/motorcycle (20-50 mile range per charge depending upon speed and conditions), it is something that most of us could definitely use for our daily commute. Check out their site for some interesting facts on both cost and carbon savings.  Currently sold at Best Buy in California and Oregon, I hope we will be seeing some Enertias on the road in Florida very soon.

Play Video

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day! Ride a bike, save the planet.

Celebrate Earth Day by riding your bike. Scooters and motorcycles provide greater fuel economy, reduce congestion and wear and tear on our roads and bridges. Newer scooters are even more eco-friendly as many of them are now 4-stroke engines with catalytic converters.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Tampa Bay loses a Vespa dealer

Maybe it was the extreme cold winter or the economic recession has taken it's toll, but Vespa Tampa (actually located in St. Petersburg) has closed it's doors. It wasn't too long ago that gas was over $4 a gallon, and everyone was looking for scooters and small motorcycles to commute. It's a shame, Vespa Tampa's store in downtown St. Pete was a unique boutique type store.

It's been confirmed on that Vespa Clearwater (part of Universal Motors) is open for business with bikes and parts in stock. Hopefully with the weather turning the warmer, we'll start to see more happy faces out riding on scooters.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Testing my camera while riding

Last June I got a new camera, and I wanted to test out the quality if I hand held the camera while riding. Probably not the safest thing to do, and I wouldn't recommend it to anyone. I tested this on a street in our community, so I new there would be little traffic. The camera worked pretty well, my next step is to try to mount it with a gorilla post for more extended riding. All of our videos to date have been shot on the Sanyo Xacti 2 waterproof camera.

Here's short clip of me and the beach. I may have gotten carried away with some of the iMovie sounds clips.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Vespa Air Filter Cleaning (How to)

Scooter Girl demonstrates how to clean the sponge type air filter used in Vespas. This video shows a Vespa LX150, and how to clean both the primary and secondary air filters.

Scooter Girl Euro Turn Signal Kit Installation on Vespa LX150

Scooter Girl demonstrates how to install the Vespa LX150 Euro Turn Signal Kit from Motorsport Scooters. This kit allows you to remove the stock turn signal pods, and convert your running lights into running lights and turn signals. Your scooter will regain the original European look.

Vespa - Rear Tire Change (How to)

In this video excerpt, Maureen demonstrates how to change the rear tire on a Vespa LX. The reassembly is available in "Part 2: A Florida Scooter Girl's Vespa LX 150 Maintenance Video".

To watch the full procedure, including the engine and gear box oil changes, please view "Part 1: A Florida Scooter Girl's Vespa LX 150 Maintenance Video".

Vespa LX 150 Engine Oil Change (How to)

In this video excerpt, Maureen demonstrates how to change the engine oil on a Vespa LX. To watch the full procedure, including removal of the wheel, please view "Part 1: A Florida Scooter Girl's Vespa LX 150 Maintenance Video".

Vespa LX 150 Gear Box 'hub' Oil Change (How to)

In this video excerpt, Maureen demonstrates how to change the hub (gear box) oil on a Vespa LX. To watch the full procedure, including removal of the wheel, please view "Part 1: A Florida Scooter Girl's Vespa LX 150 Maintenance Video".

Part 2: A Florida Scooter Girl's Vespa LX 150 Maintenance Video

Maureen wanted to learn how to do some of the Vespa maintenance. I told her why not make a video to share with other scooter riders who may want to learn as well. She thought it was a great idea. 

In this video, she demonstrates how to: change the rear tire; change the gear box oil; and change the engine oil. Part 1 shows the tire removal and part 2 shows the reassembly. We had a great time, and I hope you enjoy watching.

Part 1: A Florida Scooter Girl's Vespa LX 150 Maintenance Video

Maureen wanted to learn how to do some of the Vespa maintenance. I told her why not make a video to share with other scooter riders who may want to learn as well. She thought it was a great idea. 

In this video, she demonstrates how to: change the rear tire; change the gear box oil; and change the engine oil. Part 1 shows the tire removal and part 2 shows the reassembly. We had a great time, and I hope you enjoy watching.