Thursday, October 31, 2013

Rider profile: David Masse

Name: David Masse
Find me on Earth: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Find me Online:,, Motorcycle Men Podcast interview, Life on two wheels YouTube channel
Interview Date: July 29, 2013
Interview Location: Beaconsfield, Quebec, Canada

Scootcommute: When did you start riding, how old were you?

David: It had to be 1974. I was 22.

Scootcommute: How many motorbikes have you owned?

David: Just three. A black 1974 49cc Solex moped, a 2006 dragon red Vespa LX 150, and a 2010 black on black Vespa GTS 300 Super i.e. (Ed. - 2015: add to that a 2003 Honda Shadow VT750 ACE)

Scootcommute: What is your current bike, and is the current bike your favorite?

David: I still have the Vespa LX 150 but it's for sale (ed.: now sold), which means the GTS is really my current bike, and it's far and away my favorite.

Scootcommute: Talk to me about the most challenging riding skill you learned.

David: Without a doubt, that would be counter-steering.  There's a single paragraph about it in the Quebec guide for those applying for a motorcycle license.  It just seemed nuts to me.  That to turn right, you steer left? Come on, it must be a test to weed out the feeble-minded.

And yet it's amazingly and counter-intuitively true.  And the faster you ride, the truer it is.  On the highway on the GTS, cruising at 110 kilometers an hour, changing lanes is all counter-steering.  Press right to go right, press left to go left.  It's amazing.  I owe learning to counter-steer to David Hough's excellent Proficient Motorcycling.

Scootcommute: Are you a moto-commuter, a tourer, or a fair weather rider?

David:  That's easy.  I'm definitely a commuter.  Commuting and touring place the most significant demands on the rider.  In both cases you have to be committed to the ride.  You can wait out really foul weather, but generally you need to be prepared to ride in wet weather, cold weather, and my personal favourite, wet and cold weather.  It takes preparation, good gear, and a well-equipped bike.

Scootcommute: Are you a solitary rider? How about riding in a group?

David:  I am generally a solitary rider, and I really enjoy riding alone.  Roughly half of my 2013 Blogger to Blogger Tour was solo riding, the other half was in the company of two much more accomplished riders.  I learned a lot about riding in a small group on the Tour, and that means I learned from mistakes that no doubt strained my companions' patience at times.

I also did a large group ride with the local scooter club the first year I returned to riding.  That was an interesting experience.  It was a motley crew, everything from a few kids on mopeds through a couple of maxi-scoots, and everything in between.  Riding rules resembled more those of a flock than a squadron. There were a lot of two-stroke scoots along.  As much fun as it was, and it was definitely fun, at the end of the day I felt like I had mowed lawns from dawn to dusk, and my clothes reeked of two-stroke exhaust fumes.

Scootcommute: I dare you to share an awkward or embarassing riding moment.

David:  It was a tiny incident, that took a few micro-seconds, but grew to embarrassing proportions.

Following the example of many motor bike owners before me, and inspired by what I had learned on the Modern Vespa forum, I replaced the stock horn on my Vespa LX with a Stebel air horn.  I was my first ambitious modification.  I had read some isolated reports of Stebel horn failures, and my wiring was initially a little wrong.  I loved the horn, but kind of expected that it could fail for some reason.

I pulled up to the garage at the office after a lunch time jaunt, and the door was closed.  In an effort to get the attendant's attention, I honked.  All I got was a pathetic whirring sound.  Damn! The Stebel's quit, I thought.  I imagined that the whirring sound I heard was the horn compressor barely spinning and managing only a faint hiss.

Certain I had a horn failure on my hands, I promptly sought help from the Modern Vespa forum.  Yikes!  In no time I was accused of being a troll (what the heck??) and of irresponsibly denigrating Stebel horns that were obviously akin to the holy grail of the MV inner circle.  I might as well have kicked a Harley at a biker bar.  The tempest eventually abated and I escaped relatively unscathed.

Initially I felt somewhat wronged.  The deep embarrassment descended upon me in private when it slowly dawned on me, weeks later, after a similar incident, that I had hit the starter button, not the horn button.   There never was a Stebel horn failure, and that horn is now in its second Vespa, and has still never failed.

Scootcommute: What is the best place your bike has taken you?

David:  That's a tough one.  Almost every ride is filled with pleasure, and some rides are truly blissful.  In that sense, the best place my bike takes me is to a state of mind.  In terms of physical places, the best places have been the places I rode in Bob's company to meet up with Dave Dixon and Sonja and Roland Mager (Coquitlam BC) and Steve Williams (Bellefonte, PA, and State College, PA).   Steve and Dave, more than any others, inspired me to take up riding a Vespa.  I am sure neither of them realizes the important role they played.

Scootcommute: Tell me why you ride.

David: I always wanted to own and ride a Vespa motor scooter.  The desire was born in high school where I spent many a lunch break admiring the motor scooters that some of the college kids rode to school.  The closest I came back then was when I was in college and got a Solex moped for my birthday.  My mother was not prepared to let me ride anything more motorcycle-like than that.  I managed to wring a lot of happiness out of that little bike.

I only graduated to an actual Vespa in 2010, very recently.  I'm in my fourth season.  All I can say is that if I had even suspected the pleasure I have had riding my Vespas, I would have begun this adventure years and years earlier.

Scootcommute: If I could grant you one riding wish, what would it be?

David: Never to become complacent, always to be aware and vigilant when I ride.  That, and one day to coax my darling wife onto the passenger saddle for modest little rides along the lake shore for coffee or ice cream.



SonjaM said...

Hello, handsome. Apologies, David... but I had to laugh out loud when you found out at the end that you mixed up the starter button with the horn button. Hilarious.

Roland and I are very glad to have met you, and I hope that we will see each other again, either on this side or the other side of the ocean.

Unknown said...


I just had to smile when I noticed you have mastered the fine art of being able to Talk to Yourself. My first bike was an Italian Moped, name unknown. I think it may have been an NSU 2-speed around 1961/62. I bought it for about $20. and rode it around the neighbourhood, without a license

I too cherish the people I meet and go out of my way to make it happen, like our trip to State College, PA and Portland, ME this year. It's all about friends, those met and those yet to meet.

So I agree with you that the best memories are those shared with others while "on the road" , where ever that may be

Riding the Wet Coast

PS: I don't think Mrs "Scoot Commute" can ever be tamed enough to ride on the back.

len@RE-GLAZE-IT said...

Superb interview on David .... David !

I must have a look to see what a solex looks like.

Great read

David Masse said...

Thanks for the very kind words Sonja. I'm happy to have made you laugh.

I truly hope to ride with you guys again, preferably somewhere in Europe.

David Masse said...

Bob you are so right on so many levels. Worst of all, I believe you are right about Susan riding pillion.

Oh well, you can't have everything. The friends I have made have enriched my life beyond measure.

And you know, this whole interview process kind of created a third party interviewer 'Scootcommute'. With each new interview, Scootcommute became less and less me, and more and more removed. To the point that it isn't really me, not anymore.

You should take the Scootcommute interview. There's a place of honor reserved for you (and Karen too) on the rider profiles page. Scootcommute is patient, which is not like me at all.

David Masse said...

Len, Solexes are as iconic as Vespas. The most famous Solex rider was Brigitte Bardot in a film I remember seeing in the theatre many, many, many years ago. Solexes are to France, as Vespas are to Italy.

Dave (MV fledermaus) said...

Nice interview, David. I like the Stebel story. The horn is the holy grail for many MVers. Reminds me when I first tried to start my scooter and didn't squeeze the brake lever. I was convinced something awful was amiss. Fortunately I didn't have to embarrass myself on MV ;o)

David Masse said...

Dave, riding eventually leads to embarrassment. Hell, you start off with a vehicle as stable as a sheet of paper standing on edge.

But nothing really worth doing is going to be really easy.

Starting the bike can make us all look a little foolish at times. Even after hundreds and hundreds of starts, kill switch off, brake applied... Oh right, ignition off... Doh.

Thanks for dropping by Dave.

RichardM said...

I was very confused when I first read this. I wasn't expecting anyone to talk to themselves (except possibly Bobskoot) and do it online. Were there any disagreements between the interviewer and interviewee?

David Masse said...

Talking to oneself is tricky. The risks can be similar to the anticipated risks of time travel. If you meet yourself, do you dare speak?

Unsure of the risks, I just answered the questions as best I could.

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