Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Out of the barn: a trifecta of creature comforts

It felt good, yet unfamiliar.

I think it's the Tucano Urbano Termoscud lap apron.  I hauled it out of its storage bag and installed it before venturing out on Sunday.  The thermometer was finally edging up into positive territory, and the snow cover with southern exposure was thinning or gone.

I had first seen lap aprons on scooters in Paris when Susan and I were there in the fall of 2008.  Scooters dominate the field for two-wheeled commuters in Paris, Barcelona, Rome, Naples and Sorrento, or so it seems to me based on my casual observations.  In Paris, lap aprons are a frequent accessory, and the Termoscud is the nec plus ultra of lap aprons.

The legshield is the distinctive feature of most scooters, and the generous legshield that the Vespa GTS offers is second to none.  When you add a Termoscud, things get downright cosy.  The Termoscud seals off the mid section of the Vespa and covers your lower body.  It is very well designed using balistic nylon and has a stiffness to it that both eliminates the airflow to your lower body and traps the air that flows past the Vespa's twin radiators, raising the termperature in the enclosure to the point where you can ride in comfort in a regular unlined pair of jeans even when it's very cold out.  Not even a need for long-johns.

It just takes some getting used to, is all.

You have to fit yourself onto the bike, sliding onto the saddle and under the apron.  There is a kind of flap that tucks up under your riding jacket that keeps the apron aligned and in position.  It's a little fussy, but no overly so.  It just takes some getting used to, is all.

There is no problem putting your feet down when you stop, and then, as soon as you're underway, your feet tuck back in like landing gear.

On the expressway the Termoscud is as stable as can be.  There is absolutely no rippling from the air flow.  It comes standard with a couple of inflatable bladders that act as lateral battens.  I didn't bother inflating them and frankly I don't think I will.  People swear by their Termoscuds, and now I see why.  Cold, what cold?

The Tucano Urbano Termoscud is the first winner of the 2014 trifecta spring classic scooter commuter season.
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Next up: a tall shield.

My Vespa o.e.m. tall windscreen looks after my upper body very nicely.  For the bulk of my commuting the weather is balmy.  The Vespa flyscreen does a fine job of eliminating the wind blast to my torso.  I couldn't ride expressways much without it because the force of the wind is quite tiring.

For the cold bookend portions of the riding season, more protection is needed to keep things comfy.  In addition to reducing the wind assault to my chest and head, the tall OEM windscreen does two really handy things.  The screen extends out far enough to deflect the wind from my hands.  It isn't enough to avoid all the wind chill, but with winter gauntlets, it makes things tolerable, hand-wise, and that's handy indeed.

A tall shield is a must-have for cold weather commuting.

In the interest of full disclosure, few things are so truly perfect that they can't stand to be tweaked.  The ideal height for a tall windscreen is about level with your nose.  I took mine to a local glass shop and had it cut down.  In addition to improving the look, there's also a practical reason.  It's important to be able to look over, rather than through, a motorcycle windscreen.  This is especially true if it's raining, or the screen is littered with bugs.  Cutting the screen down to that level doesn't interfere with the protection it affords since the airflow still sails over the top of your helmet.
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I said it was a trifecta, and it certainly is.

Heated grips.

Given a fighting chance by the windscreen, my Oxford Heaterz do a superb job looking after my hands.  As I rode off along the lakeshore I had them on the highest setting.  I use a Heattroller electronic heat control rather than the stock Oxford control.  Click on the link below to find out more about the heated grip set up on my bike.

Four blocks into my ride and I had to dial them back to medium heat.  My hands were cooking!!

On the expressway, with the Vespa cranking out maximum amperage, even the medium setting was too hot for comfort.

If you have a Vespa and want the luxury of heated grips, by all means don't deny yourself.  Click here if your bike is a Vespa LX150, or click here if you have a Vespa GTS.  Everything you need to know to purchase and install heated grips yourself is right there.
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And there they are folks, your 2014 trifecta spring classic scooter commuter winners.

And that's why the interminable winter has been such a pain, because I know, for a fact, that I have the very best cold weather commuting two-wheeler in existence.  It was icy roads, not the cold that was keeping my bike in the barn.

That's a challenge then.  Who thinks they have a better cold weather two-wheeled solution, warmth and comfort-wise?  Sure the Big Beemers have heated saddles, but so does the Vespa because that's where the motor is.  Cold bum is not a problem in search of a solution.

Ride safely everyone, I declare the 2014 season open!

16 comments:

  1. Nice write up! I got a Tucano Urbano Termoscud this year and loving it so far :)

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    1. Thanks Sergei.

      I have to tell you I love your blog. You are one talented photographer. I never get tired of looking at your work. Just superb.

      If I ever find myself in Calgary on two wheels, I want some portraits. I just hope that when that day comes I'll be able to afford you.

      Keep up the great work.

      Delete
  2. Woot you're on the road again! I declare winter officially over! It does sound like the perfect trifecta! I saw a vespian today with a scooter skirt, but it didn't look as nice as yours from the description you gave, it had lots of gaps around the legs. Windshields definitely make a huge difference and I prefer riding with mine even in summer, I hate being buffeted by wind, it makes me extremely fatigued. Glad you are on 2 again! Happy Days!

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    1. Thanks Dar. The force of the wind as soon as you get up to highway speeds is amazing. I can't remember why, but last summer I had the windscreen off and by the time I got off the highway after thirty minutes I had definitely had enough.

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  3. Nice to hear someone is back on the road. Our road is still ice covered but now soft, so mostly 6-inch slushy ruts. Another couple of weeks to wait I expect.

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    1. Dave if this warmer weather holds you might find the ruts gone even sooner.

      I was thinking the other day how cool it would be to take a timelapse series from the full-on winter we had two weeks ago until the snow is all gone. It would be about 3-4 weeks of photography, but so worth it. I don't have the timing equipment or the right camera for that kind of project.

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  4. Geez, warm hands, warm legs, warm body, I bet you wanted a nap after.

    The Termoscud seems like a really neat idea, although I think I'd feel a little claustrophobic.

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    1. Brandy it is claustrophobia inducing but only getting on, then getting off. In between during the ride it's just really comfortable. I saw a post on one of the forums where the temperature inside the apron was measured and it was 82F.

      Tucano Urbano make the Termoscud to fit a large number of bikes, including most popular motorcycles.

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  5. David, the scooter aprons are very popular in Germany with all season riders, although we call them "pensioner blankets". I don't know anybody with a Vespa who has heated grips installed. It just doesn't get that cold over here...
    Glad you're back on the road. Ride safe!

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    1. Sonja, I wish I was a pensioner. Then I'd get to ride a whole lot more.

      I'd also get to ride a whole lot more if I lived in the Black Forest. Who knew winters could be so mild on the north side of the Alps.

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  6. May is sneaking up awfully fast…

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    1. Richard I know. And I still have a ways to go. I've been slipping. I want to make that target. I have to get serious again. Thanks for the much needed encouragement. I want to be at the target no later than May 13th.

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    2. David:

      I just noticed you are UP 2 lbs. It was 187 a few days ago.

      I think the heat is doing it. Turn off your grips and ditch the apron for a while and go for a ride. That should do it

      You can thank me later

      bob
      A weekend photographer or Riding the Wet Coast

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    3. Bob, Richard was 187. He has much more discipline than I do. 189 was my low. I"m more than that now. I've only got a little more than a month to go. I have to get serious.

      Delete
  7. Handlebar muffs. waterproof, cheap, easy to remove and require no electricity.

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    1. Michael I thought of that. There are some really good ones. Tucano Urbano make a few types that get excellent reviews. The ones that are consistently highly rated by riders in England who ride year-round in often miserable weather are the Bagster muffs.

      I know a few veteran year round riders who combine the Bagsters with heated grips.

      I confess to being a little bit of a slave to fashion and I hate the look of the muffs.

      So far I think I've got a solution that really does the trick rather well.

      Having really cold hands ruins the ride.

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