Sunday, April 18, 2010

A final modification

The weather has been dreadful. Wet, cold, windy.

I therefore tackled the final modification that I had planned for my Vespa LX150: installing a beeper to provide an audible clue that the turn signal is on.

The reason I made this change to the scooter is that I find that too often I forget to cancel the turn signal after a turn. It's a combination of things really. First off, turns are tricky, and it's in the turns, particularly in city traffic, when you really need to concentrate: make sure that you're aware of what the traffic around you is doing, keep an eye on the road surface, get the geometry of your line through the curve right, including the arc, the lean, speed going in, and acceleration through the apex.

Particularly for a beginner like me, there's a lot going on. So each time that I think that I'm being diligent about cancelling the turn signal, I finally glance down at the speedometer to check my speed and find I've left the blinker on again.

The problem is that on the Vespa LX150 the turn signals are silent. Even if there was a clicking relay sound like in a car, with engine noise, traffic noise and my full face helmet, I'd never hear it anyway.

The problem is compounded by the rider's seating position. You sit straight up and in that position the dashboard is just way out of your field of vision. You really have to take your attention totally off the road to check the dash. So you only do it when there is nothing else that needs your immediate attention. Those "free" moments don't happen very often, particularly in city traffic. So you tend to leave the indicators on too often.

In spite of the terrible weather, I made a quick run to the local hardware store and practiced with the turn indicators.

Wow! what a difference. I don't need to check the dash to see if I've successfully activated the turn indicator, I can hear it beeping. That's a big plus that I wasn't really thinking of. I was only focused on the cancel problem, and hadn't focused on the activation problem. It's a real confidence booster, and a big safety plus. No more taking my attention off the traffic when I'm getting set for a turn.

That set up benefit turns out to be just as important as the cancellation reminder function of the beeper.

Now I just have to wait for the weather to improve so I can get back to the scoot commute.

If you think that the beeper's a good idea and want add a similar modification to your bike, Modern Vespa has all the information you need, and Radio Shack (The Source now in Canada) has all the parts you need.

Ride safe.

PS: for those who are following this blog, this is kind of funny, kind of not. When I was reassembling the head set, I had that one last screw to install, the one that's just below the headlight. You may have guessed it. I fumbled it and the screw dropped into the leg shield and rattled its way gleefully down under the floorboard. Like a token in a Vegas slot machine. GRRRRR!!! So at some point in the coming weeks, I'll have to take the whole thing apart to retrieve that screw. In the meantime I rummaged through my jars of misfit screws and found a suitable if temporary replacement.

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The copyright in all text and photographs, except as noted, belongs to David Masse.