Scooter Girl 411: The Addiction of Scooter Mods

ORIGINAL CONTENT

One knows when spring is here based on two things – #1 all the blooming buds on trees, flowers, grass and #2 the insatiable urge to ride or get one, whether it be a motorcycle, trike, or scooter.

Perhaps one of the best part of owning a scooter is the ability to customize it and like tattoos, once you start, it’s difficult to stop.

My inspiration was an orange Vespa, complete with racing stripes and white wall tires. I absolutely adore the vintage look of Vespas but I am much too petite to ever ride one, much too poor to ever afford one, and THIS is probably the only Vespa I will ever be able to ride. 🙂

Many of the customizations on my Genuine Buddy 125 I was able to do myself accompanied by hours of YouTube videos. It made me feel rather mechanically inclined … which I am not. LOL

The absolute first thing I did was to model my plain orange Buddy with a combination of car decal stripes and reflective tape from Amazon. It was a very inexpensive mod which made an immediate WOW impact. The first thing I changed which required a screwdriver, was out of necessity rather than esthetics. The stock Genuine Buddy seat is very stiff and unforgiving. Since I only have a 27″ inseam, I took the opportunity of swapping out the seat for the low profile seat which reduced the seat height (inseam) by a good inch or so. One of the down side is that with the lower seat, some under seat storage is lost.

The second item I replaced was also out of necessity – the stock rear shocks is brutally unforgiving and the ride can be compared to bouncing on a cement bench, feeling every nuke and cranny of the road. It was so severe that for the first time in my life I had lower back pain after a longer ride. I installed the NCY Adjustable Lower Rear Shocks which lowered the seat height by an additional inch or so. Being able to comfortably rest both feet at a full stop is a luxury fun-size riders really have to work for, not only for safety reasons but to increase overall confidence. However, one of the downfall of the lower shocks is that I can no longer sustain enough leverage to use the center stand which is a bit of a bummer. The other downfall is that I didn’t do enough research and made a costly mistake. I’ve now learned that when one installs the lower rear shocks, one has to remove the rear fender. Otherwise the rear fender will consistently knock against the fuel tank and eventually crack it right where the petcock connects causing the need for the entire fuel tank to be replaced. VERY expensive mistake. I also opted for a new set of Prima white wall tires which I felt not only improved ride quality and control on turns, but it completed the retro look.

The third item I added was a wind screen which I initially did not want. Being a petite rider (under 4′ and flirting near 100 lbs) I needed a wind screen to help stabilize the scooter at higher speeds and winds. Otherwise, the front wheel at higher speeds felt like it was floating on the road and a good stiff breeze would be able to blow the scooter right out from under me – which is not a fun feeling for a new rider. I did have to change the wind screen to a shorter, sportier model so that I am not looking through two layers (face shield & wind screen).

Perhaps one of the most functional additions was the rear rack. With a few bungie cords I have carried dinners, brownies, tripod, and many other things which cannot fit under the seat storage. And I think the chrome is just more snazzy looking. The other fun & fairly inexpensive ways to get a new look are seat covers. Suzy from Cheeky Seats is wonderful to work with and has an amazing assortment of fabrics. I have two vinyl ones and will be purchasing a third in carbon fiber. It will be awesome.

And if all that wasn’t enough customization, I even customized my helmet! After years of nagging from the Hubs, I finally retired my first helmet, the AFX-76 3/4 with a Biltwell bubble face shield in smoke. It protected me well enough but every once in awhile a small pebble sneaks up and projectiles onto my chin which at 45+ mph doesn’t feel all that great. Since I have such an obscenely round head, my choices for a full helmet was quite limited. I ended up with an Arai Quantum-X with the Aria Vas V-Pro face shield in dark smoke. Again, with both helmets I used a variety of car-grade decal stripes, reflective tape, and car decals to make it my own. I am most happy with how nicely the Hello Kitty turned out.

I am considering in replacing the front performance forks to further enhance the ride but that will be an investment for another day.

Scooter Girl 411: Be Like the Hooker

Original Content

Safety. It’s highly advisable to take reasonable safety measures while riding. After all, when we ride, we essentially traded the protective barrier a car offers for whatever we decide to wear or not to wear over our skin, flesh, & bones. Now I am not going to preach because my assumption is that everyone reading this is an adult who can make their own decisions. What I will do is share my own reasons why, like Vivian Ward, I too, am very much a “safety girl” but I did consider straying.

When I first decided to get a scooter with the goal of commuting on it, I was very gung ho about CE rating everything. I was very committed to be All-The-Gear, All-The-Time kind of scooterist (ATGATT). But two factors dulled this enthusiasm – costs of all this protective gear and how much to invest in what gear. Protective gear have a wide variance in price and the sheer amount of options is daunting. Should I invest in a good $400+ leather jacket with no protective armor? Or should I go textile with CE at the shoulders and elbows only? The number of choices made me to a 180 and I said to myself, “Self, you’re riding a freaking scooter! What’s the worst that can happen … it’s only a scooter!”

However, as I continued my due diligence and came across this 2013 post by Richard Pytlak something he shared changed my perspective rather quickly. So like him, two events / experiences motivated me to not discount protective gear because I’m riding a scooter.

The first was one of Pytlak’s experience.

The first occurred while I was riding my bicycle in the neighborhood (yes, my bicycle). I always wear a helmet while on two wheels of any kind, and I feel pretty safe with a lid on. Even the lightweight helmets bicyclists wear are uncomfortable and block the cooling breeze from my head, but I still wear one because it’s important to me to protect my head. I also wear eye protection. I stick mostly to sunglasses, but I have clear lenses for after-dark wear as well. Getting bugs, pebbles or dirt in my eyes makes it tough to stay on course. During this incident, I was also wearing my usual tight-fitting cycle shirt and shorts, and my cycling shoes were securely clipped into my pedals.

What happened was this: I pulled up to a stop light and slowed to a near stop. At the last second I decided to turn left onto a sidewalk. As soon as I turned the handlebars, I fell. Did not pass go. Did not collect $200. I fell instantaeously. I haven’t fallen from two wheels since I was a tyke, and man did that hurt! No broken bones, but I scraped up my arm, elbow and my knee and jarred my head and bruised my hip. I was bleeding. Not only did it hurt — a lot — but I was banged up for more than two weeks. How fast was I going? Exactly 0 mph. All I did was fall onto the concrete, and it banged me up good. Most people think injury danger is directly related to speed, but I learned the hard way (literally) that it’s very easy to hurt myself coming off a bike at any speed — even no speed.

The last three words “even no speed” really resonated with me. He literally fell over, going ZERO mph and sustained scrapes on his arm, elbow, knee, bruised his hip, was bleeding and was “banged up for more than two weeks.”

I don’t know why it never dawned on me how much falling hurts! And the reality of how much the potential damage can be exponentially increased in severity when we add in speed! EUREKA!

The second was the Hubs:

The Hubs has been riding a motorized 2-wheel since he was 12. He is a careful rider and is religious about wearing a helmet, protective jacket, and gloves. No matter if it is 97 degrees outside with 100% humidity making it feel like 103. If he is on his 650 cc, he is in his protective gear. He was meeting me at a picturesque spot for me to take his photo on his bike when I got a phone call from him saying that he was fine but that he just laid his bike down. My heart was pounding and I must have asked him 10 times if he was okay. When I met him back home I saw the state of his bike and then his jacket. He walked away with some minor scrapes on his hips and was a little sore for a few days. His CE elbow & shoulder jacket did it’s job and protected him on all the high impact areas. Otherwise, all the places where the ripped mesh is, would have been his skin, flesh, and possibly bone. How fast was he going? About 15 mph.

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YES – THAT happened from just 15 mph! So when I see celebrities wearing a bikini riding around on a 50 cc (top speed of about 35 mph) looking great for photo ops, the reality is, if they went down, the road beneath them would shred their skin like cheese on a cheese grater!

With these two experiences logged in the back of my mind I had decided that at a minimum I would wear a leather jacket of at least 1.1 mm thick for the abrasion resistance during the chiller months or my mesh jacket with CE level 1 shoulders, elbows, and spine protector during the warmer months, gloves with premium grade goatskin palm for maximum abrasion resistance, and a minimum of a DOT rated helmet.

The state of Ohio has a no-helmet law. Which means that even a helmet is optional for motorized two-wheeled vehicles. And as the riding season begin, I see plenty of this:

A-photograph-showing-a-couple-riding-a-BMW-motorcycle-while-only-wearing-shorts-and-a-t-shirt-and-not-wearing-a-helmet-or-even-motorcycle-boots

Yes, this may feel awesome with the breeze stroking her hair on a hot summer day and they may even look “cool” but in a matter of milliseconds THAT can turn into THIS (WARNING: Disturbing Images – MAY NOT BE SUITABLE FOR SENSITIVE VIEWERS).

So yes, I will look like the super dork armored-up in my protective gear on my scooter puttering about, because this scooterist is rather fond of her skin to be right where it is … ON!

Until next time – zoom zoom 🛵 👧🏻

Scooter Girl 411: Motorcycles vs. Scooters

Original Content

I have to admit, when I first saw Seth from Metro Scooter unboxed the new 2018 Kymco 150 Spade on Instagram, I was quite taken by the mini-bike. Blasphemy, I know but just look at it – it’s darling!

2018 Kymco 150 Spade

It’s not the 150cc engine. It’s not that it has Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI). It’s not even that it is retro inspired claiming 12.5hp @ 8500rpm. Nope. It’s because the seat height is 28-inches and is MSF compliant for motorcycle training schools.

The thought of riding a motorcycle without worry about my feet being able to reach the ground was oh-so-very-enticing. However, the reality is that there are a lot of scooter specific features that I simply prefer over a motorcycle – no matter how adorbs they may be. So here’s my run down:

Motorcycles
vs.
Scooters
Engine Size Modern singles range in capacity from 50 cc to 660 cc 50 cc – 250 cc
Transmission Manual Automatic
Seat Height 23.8″ – 37″
*Seat width also may impact feet touching the ground*
25.8″ – 31.9 “
Weight 200 lbs – 700 lbs 180 lbs – 550 lbs
Storage None Under Seat
License Endorsement M1 Endorsement Only *Ohio Specific*
100 cc & Below = M4 (Scooter Specific) Endorsement
Over 100 cc = M1 (Motrocycle) Endorsement

Engine Size: The bigger the engine, typically means the faster a rider can go and the smoother the ride. However, the bigger the engine also means the heavier the two-wheeled vehicle. So keep that in mind.

Transmission: The fact that all motorcycles, as far as I am aware of, are manual transmission and most scooters are automatic has always been the singular fact that always beckons me back to a scooter. There are enough things I need to be aware of on a motorized two wheels, the last thing I want to add to that is shifting gears.

Seat Height: I am a “Fun-Size” rider – standing at 4’10”, 100 lbs, with a 27 1/2″ inseam. The Genuine Buddy 125 with a low profile seat and an inch thick sole boots is just about the right combo for me to comfortably stop. The Buddy Kick seat height is actually a little lower than the Buddy 125 but WAY out of my price range new and nearly impossible to find used.

Weight: The heavier the bike or scooter the more laborious at stops & gos. Think of inching up in a turning lane. The Buddy 125 is about 220 lbs and it’s no joke pushing it up an inclined driveway.

Storage: Love the under seat storage compartment of the scooter.

License Endorsement: For the longest time, Ohio did not make any distinction between a motorcycle and a scooter. Therefore I was under the impression that even if I never have intentions of riding a motorcycle I would have to perform the skills test on a motorcycle. Little beknownst to me, many riders would take the motorcycle written test (written practice test HERE) and skill test on their scooter or three-wheel. A few years ago, so many scooterists were showing up for their skills test in a scooter that Ohio decided to create another type of endorsement – the M4 .

When I took my written test in Sep 2017, anything under 150 cc fell under the M4. But it recently changed and the M4 now only covers anything under 100 cc. The written test is the same for either the M1 or M4 endorsement. The only real difference is the skills test is slightly different. See below:

M1 vs. M4

Motorcycles vs. Scooters in geek terms, is a lot like Batman vs Deadpool.

Batman
VS.
Deadpool
Bad Ass Bad Ass
Intense Carefree
Brooding Fun

Until next time – zoom zoom 🛵 👧🏻