by Stephen Heller
Scooters at the International Motorcycle Show
I guess I am just getting a bit too greedy or jaded. After the scooter pavilion at last years IMS, the number of scooters to sit on and look at was down, the number of new scooters to drool over even less. If you have been to the dealerships over the past 6 months then there was nothing new to see. For those that haven’t, Honda had the SH150i, their big-wheeled scooter and the new Elite. With its looks, the injected, 108cc, liquid-cooled, 4-stroke Elite blends in with the rest of the scooter crowd but what you are paying for is the Honda engine. Vespa didn’t have a stand-alone booth, but the upgraded LX50 was there. The looks haven’t changed, but they have improved the engine with a 4-valve head that improves the power in this little 50cc scooter. SYM Symba, which I have covered here before, was also present. Finally, Kymco had the Like 50 and the Super 8. If you missed the show, I encourage you to go to the dealers and check out these high quality new scooters.
I know I’m not hardcore. Once the snow flies my scooters get put up for the winter. I have seen too many prematurely rusted out scooters to do that to my babies. But I was more than happy to ride a Genuine Rattler 110 equipped especially for winter riding with a front ski and a studded rear tire. Scooterville’s Bob Hedstrom explains that Genuine Scooters of Chicago sent up the prototype kit to test. The kit includes a ski mounted to a nicely made aluminum bracket that mounts though the front fork using the wheel bolt. The ski looks to be a mini-parabolic, like one used for free styling. The rear tire didn’t come studded, but after a trip out in the parking lot it was apparent that studs were necessary.
In the video that the manufacturer posted of the ski scooter in action, they take a gondola up a glacier and then ride back down. This wasn’t going to happen in Minnesota, but I do know of some vast flat areas that would work well this time of year. I just have to avoid the little houses.
The learning curve isn’t too steep on trying to ride the snow scoot. The scooter wants to go straight so the first time out I let it. Going out and back on the lake, taking a wide slow turn, after 10 minutes my arms were sore, probably from holding on too tight. I progressively got more comfortable each time out until I was riding with my feet on the floorboards, carving larger figure 8’s in the packed snow. Snow and ice conditions on the lake made some turns a bit hairy, the snow ski just slides on bare ice. I think that going down groomed hills is what this setup is designed for. Any kind of hot-dogging doesn’t work, the first time that Hedstrom went off a small berm the ski tip came up and broke the front fender and damaged the headlight housing. Going across a snowmobile trail broke the ski in half from the impact. A new ski from a snowmobile with a carbide runner is on the way. We’ll see what that does.
I think that a home brew ski and tire combination might be the better way to go instead of this set-up, because of the cost estimated $500 and the fragileness of the ski. You can do what Colin Doyle current leader of the Cold Weather Challenge and runner-up in 2009 did, stud the tires with 3/4” self-tapping screws and attach a 70’s Artic Cat front ski with some square tubing. Read the story at 2strokebuzz.com and enter the Cold Weather Challenge yourself.