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by Jeremy Wilkers

Welcome to the 2001 riding season! It has obviously been a long cold winter but I think we can all feel that creeping, itching, tingling feeling that incessantly whispers “ride ride ride” in the back of our heads. Soon enough the sun will be shining and riders will emerge from hibernation. Will your vintage scooter be ready to ride? Or have you got a brand new machine?

NEW SCOOTERS FOR 2001

Ok, I know last year I told you about new scooters coming into the USA and I wasn’t lying – they’re still coming… sometime. Who knows if the Italians are just slow at getting back into the US market or if they are being held up by EPA or DOT regulations? I will make the prediction that scooters in general will be more widely available this year. Not at the levels most of us would like, but at least there will be something besides the little Yamaha for new riders to consider.

If you’ve seen the new Scoot Quarterly you may have noticed the pictures from the first Vespa store (“boutique”) out in California. Umm, hello?! Why does the store look exactly like The Gap? What gives? Guess they weren’t kidding about selling the “lifestyle” thing, but is that really the scooter lifestyle? What will be next? Hopefully not shopping for khakis. I am of the opinion that Vespa would do better to be more inclusive and open more stores nationwide. We need more availability. Still, you’ll probably be able to get a new Vespa this year.

Aprilia has been available for a while now and they’ve got some updated models for this year. Look for their SR50, the Scarabeo 50, the RS50 racing replica and the newest model: the Scarabeo 150. This is a decent looking scooter, with a nod to retro styling, larger tires and a 150cc 4-stroke liquid-cooled engine with disc brakes. Might be a winner.

Malaguti is coming to the US this year with several models, including an all-electric model. They apparently have some sort of arrangement with Ducati, so look for possible cross-promotions.

Italjet has a range of models to choose from: 50cc, 125cc, 150cc and 180cc. But where has the Velocifero gone?

Kymco, from Korea, has a few models showing up. Give them a serious consideration, even though you might never have heard of them.

Derbi, from Spain, is supposedly making a showing this year as well with a few 50cc models. At the end of January, though, it was announced that Piaggio (owners of Vespa and Gilera) will be buying them up. Derbi will still exist as a separate brand. Interesting.

Finally, there are the MZ Moskitos coming from Germany.

SCOOTER REPAIR

Have you been looking for repairs or restoration on your Vespa or Lambretta scooter? There is now an option for you here in the Twin Cities – Derrick Edge at Tonka Bay Scooters. Derrick currently works by appointment only so if you need his assistance, schedule your appointments early. (In the interest of disclosure, Derrick is a friend of mine). I asked Derrick a few questions and here are his replies:

Q: How long have you been fixing scooters?

A: Since 1994

Q: Do you prefer fixing or restoring?

A: They are not really comparable. When you’re done with a restoration you have a really nice piece of equipment. When you repair something you get satisfaction as well, but restoring is a level beyond. It’s much more time consuming, however.

Q: Do you have a favorite model to work on?

A: I like unfamiliar scooters! Something new and unusual. They are all a bit different and that keeps it interesting.

Q: What is the most common problem on scooters?

A: The carb. It’s like a snowblower here in Minnesota. People don’t do the right things for storage and then there are problems come riding season. The carb will get residue buildup and clogged jets. Then people start “fixing” other things that don’t need it.

Q: Why scooters and not motorcycles?

A: I’m scared of motorcycles! No, seriously, they’re more common. I like motorcycles, but I think scooters are somehow more “human.” More form and design. Curves, shapes, composition. It’s like riding a piece of art.

Q: Vintage or modern?

A: I prefer vintage, of course, but I’m starting to develop an appreciation for the modern ones as well. Modern scooters have better availability. But the older ones are more romantic. Everything in the old scooters is similar to the human form. Every part is basic and functional. The new ones are more plastic and more computer-like. But they are pushing the technology.

Q: Have any funny repair situations?

A: A local guy had a really mint Vespa P200 scooter with sidecar and he rode it just a little bit and could smell melting and burning. The engine shroud was actually melting so he called me. When I looked at the scooter and removed the melted engine shroud I found a large mouse nest inside! It was blocking all the air and causing the engine to overheat. So make sure you really go through those vintage scooters when you buy them.

Q: What should every rider have in their glovebox?

A: Some spare clutch, brake, throttle cables. Extra spark plugs. Screwdrivers. Wrenches. The usual. Maybe a cell phone!

Tonka Bay Scooters can be contacted at 952-470-7803 or tbscooters@qwest.net

THE REGULARS NEWS

We’ll be trying a new meeting place this year – Pizza Luce in Uptown Minneapolis – but still on the first and third Sundays of each month at 2:00pm. Please join us for food and fun. Early notice: mark your calendars for August 10-12th 2001 which is when our 2nd annual scooter rally will take place. You will be able to find the latest information about the rally, and other local scooter things, at The Regulars’ website (www.minnescoota.com) or send me a message – jeremy@minnescoota.com or meddlinkid@excite.com

Ride safe, Ride often!

M.M.M.

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