Sunday, November 25, 2012

A package from far, far away...

The Modern Vespa Forum is a very special place and there are some very special people there.

One of those people is David Bogner. His forum handle is Treppenwitz.

David has a blog where he writes about life in Israel.  David is also a very frequent poster on the Modern Vespa forum.

Not long ago, David was at his Vespa dealer having his bike serviced when he came across some roll-up stowaway saddlebags.

He mentioned them on the forum.  A number of forum members were interested in them and asked where they could order them online.

I'll let David tell the story of what ensued.
"I frequent a forum of people who share my interest in scootering and Vespas. We don't all agree on anything, but our interests overlap to the extent that we find it rewarding to continue exchanging thoughts, ideas and humor.

I stumbled on a locally made product in an Israeli scooter shop and was so pleased with it that I naturally shared a picture and description of it on the forum.

Several people asked where they could get one so I went and asked the shop if the supplier had a web site. They didn't.

In the meantime even more people commented on the thread that they would love to get a set, and even more PMed me for supplier info.

Once I realized that it was a local product with no international distribution, the next step was obviously to work out the economics (including the pain in the ass factor) of doing a bulk buy and sending them out to whoever wanted them.

In the end it really wasn't that big a PITA. It cluttered up our dining room table for a couple of days and made a few people in the local post office roll their eyes and look at their watches.

But it benefited the local scooter shop, the manufacturer and the MV members who wanted the bags.

And MV as a community benefited because others will (hopefully) step up and do similar good deeds (on an individual or group level) to help one another source local products now that it doesn't seem like such a crazy thing.

Lastly, I benefited.... because it felt really good. I meant what I said earlier in the thread: The nicest thing in the world you can do for anybody is to let them help you."
David is too modest.

He purchased, and shipped no less than 68 sets of saddlebags, to MVers all over the world.

I didn't want to bother David to purchase saddlebags for me because I didn't think I really needed them.

Then a funny thing happened.

Bob called me to suggest that I join him, and a number of other moto bloggers, for a grand tour of the Maritimes next summer.  Wow!  What an invitation!

"OMG!! I need saddlebags!!!!"

I was late to the party.  I sent a sheepish private message to David, knowing that he had already gone way, way, way above and beyond the call of duty.  I was in no rush for them, and that was the consolation.  David could wait as long as he wanted before buying and sending me the saddlebags.  I was just hoping that he could squeeze in one more order.

In no time I got a reply from David.  "You're in luck..." he wrote.  Within minutes I dug up my PayPal account and sent him the money for the cost of the saddlebags and shipping, reminding him that there was no rush.

To make matters worse, for David (if that's possible, because he, like many of his countrymen, was already dodging rockets from the Gaza Strip), he had a bad encounter with a large diesel spill on his commute and sprained his knee in a slow motion crash as he valiantly tried to keep his Vespa upright.  You can read David's unflinching account of his accident here.

I messaged David to encourage him to take it easy and not to ship the saddlebags until he recovered from his injury.  Not surprisingly, David lost no time shipping those bags to me.

I received them on Friday of last week.
David's only request was that the lucky recipients post a picture of the saddlebags on their scooter once they received them.

Naturally I hauled my Vespa out its hibernation deep in the recesses of the garage and put the saddlebags on.
Before I put the bags on the scooter, I rummaged through my dresser and closet and stuffed into them what seemed to me to be enough clothing for a five to six day road trip.
There was room to spare. Oh... and no, the Teddy Bear is not a necessary travel companion.  He'll stay comfy on our bed for the foreseeable future.

I still need to figure a few things out to make the best use of the saddlebags.  The fact is, David has made a huge contribution to what I am sure is set to be the adventure of a lifetime.

Thank you David.

I owe you. Truly I do.


treppenwitz said...

By wy of explanation I'm tempted to offer the wisdom of two of the Internet's early journalers (what would later be called 'bloggers'), Chuck Atkins and Steve Amaya, who when asked about their epic journey together to hang up a pay phone in the middle of the Mojave Desert had said, "at the core of a man lies a thorn of rebellion and we needed a good scoff, a dare, a sneer that says ‘Back off, world. Today there will be no mowing.’"

In short, just as you have the urge to take your adventure next summer... I got the itch to do a nice thing for a bunch of nice people on a forum full of nice people. We scratch our itches in ways nobody else understands... and the world ends up a better, more enjoyable place.

Unknown said...


WHAT ! You're not bringing OUR teddy bear. We need a mascot . . .

It is nice to have storage options. You needed a way to bring clothes and other Stuff. You could also bring a dry bag and strap it onto your rear seat. I always find myself overpacking and bring too much stuff, but I learn with every trip

Riding the Wet Coast
My Flickr // My YouTube

Peter Sanderson said...

I wonder what the wind drag is on the saddlebags and if they will eventually scratch the side of the scooter. I often thought about the additional storage. So far, my wife and I travel with the top box and under seat storage. It really is never enough but is like a challenging puzzle at times (how light can we pack?). We often need to travel at speeds of 55 to 65 mph. Do you think the additional weight and drag may prevent this on a 300 CC Vespa?

Trobairitz said...

Those saddlebags are looking good.

And kudos to blogger and forum friends in other lands that go above and beyond the call of duty for their fellow riders. The internet does truly make the world a smaller place.

Dar said...

Wow those are awesome looking bags! You meet the nicest people on two wheels!

Dave said...

Congrats! I've followed the saga on MV, and I'm envious ;o) As a latecomer, I missed the chance to get in, and not sure I would have an immediate use, but still.... :o)


David Masse said...

Trepp, I hope that knee of yours is recovering nicely, but I know from experience that as we age healing anything takes time and patience. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

Bob, we'll have enough mascots with that teeny tiny bauble girlie thing on your V-Strom handle bar. If you decide to take the Beemer, let me know and I'll find some little gremlin-y thing to decorate that bike too.

Peter,it's odd, but i don't think that wind resistance will play a big role, especially not with a GTS. The LX has earned more and more respect from me for having a surprising amount of grunt relative to its weight and displacement. I cruise home on the expressway on the LX at around 60 mph and sometimes more. Besides, Bob is a gentleman and is not too likely to leave me in the dust (though there was that one time in Vancouver in the dark of night that he swung onto a climbing side street and thundered off into the darkness, leaving me struggling to keep up and praying that some stupid raccoon wouldn't waddle into my path).

Come the spring I'll do a test run and report on how much of my top speed the saddlebags bleed off.

Brandy, I am truly humbled by the friendships this blog has spawned. The world is indeed shrinking very quickly. I sent a Christmas gift as part of the 2012 MV gift exchange to an MVer in Australia. The gift included maple syrup and a kick-ass recipe for bacon that I got in Whistler from... an Australian! Talk about closing the small world loop!

Dar, I think that you're quoting that famous Honda quip that they used to advertise those Honda 50's and 90's back in the day. The most sold production vehicle of all time, now revived as the Symba, of which Keith is a big fan.

Dave, thanks for the comment. MV is truly an incredible resource. The odd thing is that I get all the really important breaking news on MV, usually hours before I hear or see it anywhere else. It's so strange.

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