Thursday, March 31, 2011

Auxiliary Modulating Brake Light

What a mouthful that is.

But that's what Canada Post delivered right on time this morning. That, and much more.

This post will be all about installing the AdmoreLighting Mini LED Light Bar on my Vespa.

On the weekend I moved this project along by going to Canadian Tire and picking up a trailer wiring harness. Specifically, a Reese 5-pin flat male and female plug set. The reason I need the harness is to allow the Admore to be unplugged. It will be mounted to the bottom of the topcase and unless I include a means of unplugging it, I won't be able to remove the topcase without digging into the scooter to undo wiring, or cutting the wires.

Once I had the Reese wiring harness, I needed to plan out the connections. So here's my plan:
I know, you're intrigued but the plan is so small, you can't make anything out.  If you click on it  you'll get a much better view.

It's now Tuesday, April 12, 2011, and I  finally had a little time to devote to this project.  The first thing I wanted to do was to test the unit to make sure it works, before I launch into the permanent installation.

I began my preliminary test by removing the Vespa's tail light and turn indicator light housings.  Nothing could be easier or quicker.  One screw each for the turn indicators, and two screws for the tail light.  The first thing that became obvious is that my wiring diagram above is correct, but the Vespa wire colors are not quite.  I'll update the diagram with the correct colors before this post is final.

The Admore folks provide really idiot proof wire taps that make tapping into the tail light and turn indicator lights a real breeze.  So that's what I did.  And it worked so flawlessly that I couldn't resist sharing a video of the test with you.  So here it is:
 Here's a photo to show where the Admore unit will be mounted to the Vespa OEM topcase.
I got this modification finished last night, Thursday, April 14, 2011.

I first taped the unit to the topcase then parked the scooter in the street with my car a few car lengths back and sat in the driver's seat to make sure that I was able to see both the original tail light and the new Admore unit.  Once I was satisfied that mounting the unit under the topcase was the right way to go, I set to work dismantling, cutting, stripping, soldering, fishing, connecting, drilling, screwing and re-mantling the whole shooting match.  And there you have it, a really nice safety addition to my Vespa LX150.

What I'm going to do now is write up a project report for the Modern Vespa website and I'll use that to put up a new post here on the blog, with all the kinks worked out.

So you no longer have to continue watching this post, all you need to do is keep a watchful eye out for the final project post.  With a little luck, I'll have that done by Sunday evening. [Ed.: did that by Saturday :) click here to go there]

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

First commute of 2011

Rather than trying to force the march of time to get to April 1st, which is, after all, a fool's errand, I launched the scoot commute this morning.

Was it cold? Minus three Celsius or 27F is hardly the kind of weather that drives scooter sales.

As you can see, there is no shortage of ice on the lakeshore.
On a positive note, the Cuppini windscreen and Corazzo winter gauntlets did a decent job in preventing my hands from being thoroughly chilled. The fact that the gauntlets are too snug doesn't help ward off the cold though.

The Tourmaster Caliber pants did a wonderful job. Absolutely no chill on my legs whatsoever. They are very comfortable to wear on the bike. They do add a good deal of bulk, but overall, I am very pleased and I am confident that they will become second nature before long. The fact that they are both suitably protective and waterproof is a really big plus. The pockets are a really nice touch.  The only thing that remains to be done is to finish adjusting the position of the knee armor. I have nothing but good things to say as far as the pants are concerned.

The Corazzo underhoody also did its job very well.  I didn't wear the hood on my head as a helmet liner, rather I used it more like a turtleneck to keep the wind from my neck.  I could not feel any gap between my full face helmet and the collar of the Corazzo 5.0 jacket, so I am really very pleased on that score also.  No doubt the windscreen was effective there as well.  There was a little coolness, particularly on my back, which I didn't experience in the past.  I think the windscreen creates a backdraft (pardon the pun).  Not unpleasant, and not enough to cause any upper body chill.

I guess I'll sign off this post with another shot of the waterfront in Lachine near the entrance to the Lachine Canal at the eastern end of Lake St-Louis.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Happy First-Post Day!

Today is the one year anniversary of my first post on Life on two wheels, the scoot commute.

If you've never blogged, you might want to give it a try.  The only requirement is to have something you believe to be worth sharing with the world.  The more you believe in it, the easier it is.

It helps if you enjoy writing, if you know a little about computers, a tiny bit about editing html, if you are comfortable with digital photography and video, moving JPGs around, and perhaps posting to YouTube; but none of those things should stop you if you don't think you have the skills.  There's nothing like trial and error.

Now let's talk about the cost.  It's free!

So, if there's something you want to contribute to the rest of humanity, step into the blogosphere, there's nothing to fear, trust me.

Of course the best advice I can give is never, never, ever, post something to the cloud (the new, and certainly not the last buzzword for the 'Net) that you aren't prepared to live with publicly for the rest of your natural life, and burden your relatives with probably well after you're gone.

So be kind, and if you have nothing nice to say, by all means say nothing.

Pick a topic that has as little as possible to do with your job.  I mean the one that involves someone else paying you good money so you can buy groceries and afford a roof over your head.

Oh, and be patient.  Depending on the topic you choose, you may write for weeks and months with no one reading.  But, trust me, readers like you will eventually stumble on your posts, and if your thoughts strike a chord in other similarly-minded people, you'll have an audience.

If I haven't managed to convince you to stay away from here by now, then pull up a mouse and a keyboard, snuggle up to your tablet, computer or smart phone, and settle in.  If you throw in your e-mail address to the subscription window on the right, my musings will go straight to your e-mail account whenever I have something new to share.

Not to worry though, the Google folks who own Blogger have sworn not to be evil, so they don't let me see who is subscribed, so I'll be none the wiser whether you follow me or you don't, or if you start, then stop, then start again.

So be free, express your life, and stay tuned, there's more of this blog to come!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Caged commutes & scoots

 I'm more than ready, but the weather has me caged for the commute, peering out at unwelcome snow doing its best not to rain on the morning parade.
My trusty scoot is waiting patiently in the garage, caged, but ready to roll.
So where in the name of all that's worthy on this good earth is our blessed Spring?

Life on two wheels is clearly eager to get it on.  Witness the truckload of BIXI stands on the cusp of deployment this morning.
OK, no more whining.

April 1, ready or not, here I come.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Launch - 7

Mother nature throws a spanner in the scooter works. Launch of the scoot commute still another week away.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

First ride of the season

I headed over to the Beaconsfield mall yesterday morning for a sorely needed haircut.

Minus three celsius at 7:50 a.m. 27F.

Brisk? Actually, it was more like decent skiing weather, if you ask me.

Backing out of the garage for the first time this year, the initial riding task was crossing fresh snow that had fallen during the night and drifted off the garage roof in a two-foot band right across the driveway. The pavement beyond that band of snow was mercifully bare and dry.

Standing water from the previous day's snow melt lay in shallow puddles that were frozen solid.  The ice on the road was in isolated patches that were fairly easy to avoid.

I was running a little late for my eight o'clock appointment.  Gearing up for the first time had been less efficient than it could have been.  I was anxious to see how my new gear would perform in the cold.  I had my new Corazzo Underhoody beneath my 5.0 armored jacket with the balaclava style hood pulled over my head so that it lined my helmet and effectively sealed my neck from drafts.

The Corazzo winter gauntlets on my hands prevented any possible drafts from entering at the cuffs.

I started out towards the back streets rather than the main road on my way to the Beaconsfield mall. After a winter hiatus from riding, the scooter felt unfamiliar, and with icy patches to deal with, I was all the more apprehensive.

My first riding impression came courtesy of the Cuppini windscreen. What a nice luxury.  I had expected that I would find it too tall, and thus awkward and confining.

Not one bit! Surprisingly, there was a good amount of air circulating behind the windscreen and it was not at all as claustrophobia-inducing as I had thought it would be.  So much so that the idea of cutting the screen down to mid-height receded rapidly from my plans.

The Corazzo Underhoody, though lightweight, performed well, keeping me warm and blocking the wind effectively. The only part of me that really felt the cold were my legs. I wasn't wearing my new Tourmaster Caliber pants. You'll have to wait for my impression on that item of new gear.

The only disappointment for me, as I expected, were the winter gauntlets. While I sized the gloves based on the Corazzo sizing chart, the medium glove was just too snug on my hand. The result was a little clumsiness on the controls due to the stiffness, and, with insufficient air left to circulate, cold hands. Not a good recipe.

I parked on the sidewalk outside the mall so that I could admire my scoot from my perch on the salon chair.
After my hair appointment was done, at 9:00 a.m., I headed west.  I stopped on City Lane to snap these pictures.

Continuing west, I passed my house and then rode along old Lakeshore road to the Beaconsfield city limit.

The sun was higher but the temperature hadn't budged. The road had a lot of ice on it and I had to limit my speed to 15 miles an hour.

On the way, I rode down a boat ramp and put the Vespa up on the centre stand to take the photo you'll see below.

Lake Saint-Louis is still cloaked in a thick sheet of ice, as far as the eye can see. Three foot tall snow banks stand along the retaining wall.
This is really much more winter weather than spring weather.

As I headed back up to the road I thought of Steve Williams. Steve is used to riding in these conditions.  Never did I think that I would have a similar experience.

It's a great feeling, I must admit.  If you're dressed for it, it seems to enhance something about the joy of riding my Vespa.   It was a really good experience because it helped me to understand more about the riding experience.

It's essentially the same experience I had last summer when I rode for the first time in heavy rain.

The common denominator for those very different experiences is the challenge they present.  There is something about the challenge of riding that makes it pleasurable.

For many people, myself included, driving a car is second nature.

Most of the interesting driving lessons were learned a lifetime ago. It's been a long time since driving was truly enjoyable as an experience.

It's just not that special. Most of the time it's just too tame. There is very little about it that's challenging.   And that's here in Montreal where winter conditions make you learn one heck of a lot more about limited traction and forces acting on the vehicle that are unrelated to the purely linear motion of the wheels on dry pavement.

The only adrenaline rush I've had recently behind the wheel was when I got a little frisky on the expressway on the way to pick up some take-out ribs after spending my Saturday doing chores. The rush came when the blue and red LEDs flooded my rear view mirror on the exit ramp.  Yup, apparently 140 km/h was a tad too frisky for the QPP cruiser to pass up.

What I take away from yesterday's ride that is really worth sharing here, is that the deep pleasure that often comes from riding a powered two-wheeler stems, at least in some measure, from the challenge the rider faces.

That's certainly not all that goes into the recipe, but it's certainly one of the more important ingredients.  At least so it goes for me.

Follow me as I explore a second season of life on two wheels.

PS: just a side note to mention that all the photos for this post were made with my Iphone 4, including the first rather arty one taken near the boat ramp by the lake, the result of some kind of freaky malfunction that turned out to be really interesting in conveying the snowy, dreamy theme.  If you look closely you can see my image reflected in the Vespa's cowl.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


The internet changed everything.

That's so cliché now. But it's so, so true.

I keep bumping up against digital revelations that slowly dawn on me.

Blogs and podcasts for instance. They are the magazines, radio and television shows of the internet age. They can be up-to-the-second, fleeting feeds of life, and that's certainly the feeling they convey as they are consumed. In that sense they seem to be ephemeral, contemporaneous reflections of the present, just like their analog predecessors. Here today, gone tomorrow!

The truth is that they are time capsules.

Like most digital things they are completely different from their old-world equivalents.

Hardly ephemeral, they persist. Often, by the time you read a blog or experience a podcast, the blogger has moved on to other things and the blog or podcast, still vital and speaking in the present tense of life, is really a moment in the past, and perhaps the relatively distant past.

For instance, to break the spell for a brief moment, as I write this, it's intended to be published in the coming week or so.

I guess I am being a little philosophical since the one-year anniversary of this blog is looming, in thirteen days from this, my present moment. In addition to that "present" moment, there is the future "present" moment of whenever I choose to publish this post, and the still more future "present" moment as you read this.

When I look at the traffic statistics for the Scoot Commute, I can see that in the beginning I was writing in the ether, with no one reading. Eventually a small audience emerged from that ether, including you. Thank you for reading. I mean that very sincerely. You are reading perhaps because I am writing about something meaningful to you. Perhaps you are considering commuting on a scooter, or perhaps you are a psychologist wondering about my state of mind. Or then again, it's possible you got here because you mistyped a Google search. Yet you’re still reading. It’s all good.

One thing is certain however. You, dear reader, are in my unknowable future. You might be 10 minutes into the future when I click on the button to publish this post, or six months, or perhaps six years into the future. Do you feel like a time traveler? From my perspective in this moment you most certainly are.

If you’d like a scooter treat from the more distant past, and if you own an Ipod or Iphone, go over to Itunes and find the Sctrcst (“Scootercast”, no vowels) podcast and let Dave Mangano into your life. About 90-odd shows that will allow you to learn a whole lot about scooters, scooter culture, and, more importantly, about Dave Mangano, than I could ever begin to convey. If you're not into all things Apple, you should also be able to access the podcasts at

Right now, in my present moment, Dave Mangano has moved on to other pursuits and is doing something else, hopefully riding his Vespa P200 sidecar rig on a sunny day somewhere in Virginia.

As you read this I’m also in another dimension of time, your present, doing something else. Maybe riding my scooter on a sunny day in May. Dave Mangano may have taken up the podcasting gear again and might be producing more scooter shows. Check it out! Only you can tell.

So what’s my point?

The second season of commuting on my Vespa LX150 begins in a few weeks and so does the second year of this blog.

Whichever way I look at it, it won’t be quite like the first season. So I don’t want this blog to be quite like last year’s blog.

Besides, if you liked last season’s posts, you time-traveler you, step into the time machine on the right side of the page and off you go now.

If you’re still here, consider this: there’s only so much you can write about “firsts” on a scooter. Or is there? If you’ve read this much, you can see that there’s more art than math, and more romance than science in me.

The bottom line is, I’m hoping that this season I’ll have the skill to convey more about the reasons I enjoy riding my scooter so very much, and less about the mechanics and gear of it all.

Stay tuned, there’s more to come in the future (or is it in the past already?).

Sunday, March 13, 2011

It's almost time

Finished my winter mods (new 12 gauge negative line from the battery for the Stebel and 12V outlet, GT style parcel hook, large Cuppini windscreen), put the bike back together, re-installed the battery, turned on the ignition, held my breath, hit the starter, and yes it started up (stalled three times until the gas started flowing) and purred!!

All I need now is for the snow to melt, a couple of good days of rain to wash all the crud to the side of the road, and the scoot commute is back on.
The copyright in all text and photographs, except as noted, belongs to David Masse.