by Stephen “Hell Cat” Heller
Scooter Love Bus
Ed Raschke was always the first person to greet you when you walked in the door at Scooterville. His quips and bad jokes were soon to follow. And he always made the experience of learning about and buying a scooter a fun one. I don’t think that there is anyone who has taught more people to ride scooters than Ed. So, it was a perfect fit when Genuine Scooters asked him to be their Goodwill Ambassador. As Ambassador, Ed has been driving around the Eastern United States talking about scooters and giving unsuspecting dealers and scooter enthusiasts some of that Ed “charm”.
I have been getting excited messages from Ed since he left in January about lines on some RD400 motorcycles and where would be a good place to open a scooter shop of my own. (Toledo, Ohio if anyone is thinking about it.) I caught up with Ed recently after he had spent the day riding around Mobile, Alabama to see how it was going, and to get his take on the scooter scene around the country.
So far he has traveled over 9,000 miles in his Turbo Diesel “Scooter Love Bus.” With responses varying from people running out the door of the shop to check out the scooters in the back of his van, to people looking at him like he has two-heads. Over all, the response has been very positive. On the back of the van it says, “Honk if you want 100 mpg.” It is pretty unnerving to have a semi blast it’s horn when it is in your blind spot, Ed says.
Speaking of horns, some of the new Genuine bikes come with 120 db horns standard. “You blow that thing, and you have them instantly sold,” Ed says. But selling isn’t his crusade, it is just to go around and show people scooters and go for a ride.
A number of Honda and Yamaha dealers that he has visited don’t carry any scooters at all. They don’t see them as any sort of transportation. Others are only familiar with the poor quality Chinese scooters that are drop-shipped to customers. They don’t know that there is an alternative out there, explained Ed .
I was very jealous to hear about his rides in the warm weather with scooter clubs in Birmingham and Memphis, but he has had to dodge his fair share of bad weather, too. Ice storms in Georgia made him change his plans to go down to Florida instead of up the West Coast.
While I will keep a short update here in the future, you can check out a comic strip version of Ed and his dog, Scooter, travels around the country on genuinescooters.com.
I think scooter manufacturers are finally realizing that they can make quick headway into the US scooter market by selling what we want to buy. PGO figured this out when they partnered with Genuine and changed the Bubu into the Buddy and gave it some catchy colors and accessories.
SYM, the newest top tier Tiawanese manufacturer to start selling scooters in the US is learning that, too. With some high quality scooters already being sold here, SYM has announced that they will be selling a scooter exclusive to the US market. A “retro” styled 125cc, liquid-cooled scooter called the Vogue. The design could probably be found in the scooter family tree as the lovechild of a Vespa LX and a Yamaha Vino.
If the streets of Minneapolis are any indication of a scooter’s success, then the Vogue 125 will do very well. With all of the Yamaha Vinos, Honda Metropolitans, Vespas, and Kymco Peoples running around, the SYM Vogue will fit in well on the Heck’s Angels scooter ride. I look forward to testing one when they become available this summer, and of course I will report about it here.