Twin Cities scooterists are very fortunate to have more than one quality scooter shop. I sat down with Blue Cat Motors co-owner, Ryan Scott, to talk about himself, his shop, and scooters in Minnesota.
Blue Cat Motors in St. Paul is a dealer of SYM and Sachs scooters and small-displacement motorcycles. Mr. Scott, along with his brother Aaron, also import vintage Vespas, Lambrettas and European motorcycles from India. When I was in the shop, they had a couple nicely restored Vespa 150s, two Lambretta GP-200s and a Series II Lambretta.
Ryan was introduced to scooters when he was a kid, riding dirt bikes and mopeds in Wisconsin. When he got older, he didn’t want a Japanese motorcycle or a Harley, which led him into the British bike scene. Vintage Italian scooters weren’t on his radar until a neighbor asked him to get his Vespa running. Ryan didn’t get into the motorcycle and scooter business until he got to Minnesota and even then it wasn’t really on purpose.
Ryan shared a space in N.E. Minneapolis with a boat builder and did furniture restoration with a bit of motorcycle restoration on the side. When it became apparent that there was more of a demand for Yamaha repair than furniture repair, he got into the business full time. He first moved his shop into his two-car garage and finally to their current location in St. Paul “under the water tower.”
From the very start, Blue Cat worked on pretty much anything with two wheels: vintage to modern motorcycles and scooters; even Chinese scooters! Customers sign a waiver when they bring in their Chinese scooter. It says that they understand they may leave with a $300 bill and still have a non-running scooter. Mr. Scott explains, “the techs at Blue Cat have gotten really good at fixing them. Blue Cat has the eight or nine parts that tend to break or fail the most on hand, all the time. Additionally, we know all the vendors that sell Chinese scooter parts, so there is no back order problem,” Mr. Scott continues.
Last year, Ryan added a co-owner, Neil Sikora, a former tech at other shops. “Neil is a genius. He can look at a part from a Harley Topper (a ’60’s Harley Scooter) and know that a part from this Triumph or other motorcycle can replace it. He is great.”
I asked Ryan where he thought scooters and motorcycles were headed. He sees scooters on the top of a cycle that has been waxing and waning since the 40s. But he doesn’t believe that it will fade as much as it did in the 80s.
Ryan thinks that small displacement manual shift motorcycles is where everything is headed and Blue Cat carries the Sachs Madass and the SYM Symba to fill that niche. The Madass is a 4-speed “minimalist” motorcycle that comes in 125 and 50cc. Blue Cat has a 50cc on the floor, heavily modified to 118cc by Sikora. Ryan claims that it will go over 60mph in that state. Although it is manufactured in China, the demo that the shop received last fall was really beat on and they have found to be a pretty quality product.
The SYM Symba has yet to make it into the shop, but 60 million people can’t be wrong. The Symba is a very close relative to the Honda Cub and SYM cheekily wants you to know it. “Simba” is Swahili for lion. Also, Simba was the lion cub in The Lion King. Blue Cat is expecting the 110cc 4-stroker, made in Taiwan, to be a good seller, with buzz already building. Customers were asking about the bike while I was talking to Ryan.
Blue Cat is looking forward to a great 2009 with their scooters and motorcycles. If you need your two-wheeler repaired or are looking for something new or vintage, give Ryan and Neil a call at Blue Cat. Reach them at 651.645.1172 or bluecatmotors.com