Showing posts with label Modern Vespa. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Modern Vespa. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Another sunny but thoroughly chilly morning. Barely 3 degrees, just above freezing, a light frost on the cars in the driveway at 7:00 a.m. as I fired up the Vespa. I am wearing a fleece under the Corazzo 5.0 jacket and ski gloves on my hands. The visor on my Nolan N-102 is snapped firmly shut.

I stopped to snap this picture of one of the points that reach into Lake St-Louis along the route.
Scenes like that are a big part of the pleasure that the scoot commute affords.

When I pulled up a wheelchair ramp and onto the sidewalk to park for that shot, I heard a scrape and clunk. Checking the scoot revealed that the kick stand had grazed the curb. The impact shaved the cupped foot off the right leg of the stand.

I've noticed on Modern Vespa that many people name their scooters.

The smartest people I know always bestow names on their cars. I have never personally felt compelled to name my rides.

I was once tempted to name my bicycle ( I thought I would call it "Bernie" for reasons I won't explain, nothing to do with heat or fire). Oddly, I still think of it as Bernie, but frankly, I think that I never actually uttered the name, and this is definitely the first time I am sharing that. It's just not that relevant or important to me.

It occurred to me though, as I rode on and thought about the consequences of the missing foot (can't park on soft ground safely? What, if anything, to do about it?), that a fitting name for the Vespa would be "Peg Leg". I've now posted that on one of the Modern Vespa threads about scooter names. Now that I've thought that, this Vespa will always be "Peg Leg", even if I never actually utter its name.

When I got to the Lachine Canal today, I chose to continue along the river instead of taking the usual route along the canal.

Intuitively I figured that the alternative route would be substantially longer and tack an extra 30 minutes on the ride.

Assumptions are frequently wrong. It turns out that the time penalty for the longer route is only about ten minutes.

Continuing to follow the road along the water brings fresh pleasures. New sweeping views of the lake and the broad St-Lawrence rendered in shimmering silver by the morning light, and new interesting landmarks to admire like the Fleming Mill in Lasalle.The Fleming Mill was built in 1827 and operated until 1891. It now belongs to the City of Lasalle and is a classified cultural monument.The view of the lake across the road from the mill is truly beautiful and restful.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Why I ride

I posted a reply to a fascinating thread of discussion on the Modern Vespa forum yesterday.
The original poster, Wangta, had asked members of the forum back in 2008 when they thought riding a scooter would no longer be age-appropriate, when the risks would be inappropriate in view of one's social and personal obligations, and whether riders should be concerned with how they are perceived by their supervisors and others who have an influence on their jobs and careers. The thread is well worth reading. It says a lot about the demographics of scootering, the role that risk plays in our lives, and ultimately the human condition. The thread recently revived, and was new to me. It seems to be generating as much input now, as it did then. The topic and the reactions it gets are, after all, timeless, and cross the boundaries of all human experience. You get there by clicking here.

Posting the reply helped me to express why I ride. It's very relevant to this blog, so I'm posting it here as well, enhanced with some helpful links, and some [needed? - ed.] editorial comment.

Here is what I wrote:

I'm 57. I started riding a scooter 2 weeks ago. Until then my two wheel experience was limited to bikes.

I'm not the most accomplished rider, but I'm comfortable and happy on two wheels.

It took me nine months to convince my wife to accept my decision to commute this way.

Wangta, I respect your concern for the risk, and its potential impact on loved ones and others who depend on us.

The reason I rode 600+ kms on BIXI bikes last year, and the reason I'm riding the Vespa, is the feeling I get from the experience. It's the way gravity and G forces flow through you on two wheels. The sense of freedom it brings, the concentration it takes, the lessons and skills I am learning daily, the beauty of the scenes that open to me on my bike that I don't experience the same way in my car or on the train.

I was inspired to take this challenge by people like Steve Wiiliams, Dave Dixon, [Orin O'neill, - ed.] and you. Your blog on your cross-country trip inspired me to embark on the much more mundane adventure of riding 30kms to work each day. And 30kms back.

I contribute to this forum, and I now write a blog, because I am grateful to you, and all MV members for sharing your experience, and inspiring me to assume these risks from which I am getting so much pleasure.

Life well lived is all about the rewards we reap from the risks we take. Marriage and the risk of divorce. Children and the risk of birth defects, illness, and accidents that they entail. Applying to law school and the risk of failure and rejection. Changing jobs. Swimming and the risk of drowning. Flying and the risk of crashing.

Two years ago when I was commuting by train, I was very stressed in the wake of the bombings in Madrid [Wow, that was in 04 not 08, I was so far off - ed.] and the threats uttered against Canadians because of our troops fighting in Afghanistan.

How do we make sense of our decisions? Should we always take the safest route from A to B? Should we foresake activities that inspire us in order to avoid attendant risks?

The best that we have to offer to our community, to those who are closest to us, and to those that depend on us, is the inspiration to live life to the best of our potential, and in doing so, to inspire those same folks to do the same in turn.

Riding a Vespa to work pales compared to the recent achievements in the Vancouver Olympics, which in turn pale compared to the achievements in the Special Olympics that followed.

We are all better off for that risk taking.

I am better off for the risks you took on that trip and the risk you took in blogging about it [and the risk you took starting this thread on the forum - ed.]. Because even blogging and contributing to this forum exposes us to the risk of public disapproval and sometimes bitter criticism.

Thanks again.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Finding a scooter to buy

The easy decision was to buy a Vespa LX150. The next challenge was to find one for the best price.

After a little research, the online classified sites seemed the best way to find a suitable scooter. After spending a little time comparing listings, I found that had a lot more listings of potentially interesting scooters than Craigslist. So last fall I began to monitor Kijiji almost daily. I found that the most convenient way to keep tabs on listings was to save the Kijiji search to my Ipod Touch's home screen.

Since the Montreal market had few offerings I broadened the search radius to 600km to take in the greater Toronto market as well.

After watching asking prices for many weeks I got a good feel for the market for used Vespas.

By early February I was ready to make an offer. I missed out on a few candidates but finally got lucky. I purchased my scooter from Ocean Drive Motors (, a dealer specializing in used Italian sports cars and Vespas located in Toronto.

Purchasing from a licensed used car dealer made many aspects of the purchase easier. For one thing I knew that I wouldn't have to worry about title. I still did a personal property security search on the Ontario government's web site though, just to be sure.

The price for the scooter was a little higher than comparable private sellers, but there were some desirable accessories included in the sale, including a Vespa OEM top case, that clinched the deal. I was also able to negotiate free storage until I could figure out how to get the scooter to make the 500km trip to Montreal.

The fall-back plan was to ride it home.

Ultimately with a favour from my brother in law who was comimg to Ottawa with an empty trailer to get some tools, I was able to pick up the scooter in Ottawa with a rented U-Haul trailer and drive the final 180km back home.

Trailering the scooter in the open U-Haul was a breeze. The 10'X12' trailer's tail gate lowered to act as a ramp so loading the scooter was easy. I got all the information I needed from the Modern Vespa forum about transporting a Vespa scooter safely. I purchased a motorcycle handlebar harness from a local motorsports dealer and some motorcycle and ATV tie downs from Canadian Tire. I tied down the scooter fore and aft to the sturdy D rings on either side of the trailer bed and I chocked the front tire with a section of 4X4. With the tie downs tightened the scooter was rock solid in the trailer, even though it was not on the centre stand. Trailering a scooter on its stand can damage both the scooter and the trailer as bumps and vibration cause the stand to hammer the trailer bed. It also prevents the scooter's suspensiom from doing its job absorbing the bumps.

The drive to Montreal was uneventful. My son drove the Ford Escape SUV and I kept an eye on the trailer. There was really no need to be concerned though. The scooter never budged an inch.

The next Monday I drove the scooter from my home to the local CAA inspection facility for its government inspection (which it passed with flying colours) and then on to the motor vehicle department to get it registered.

I had carefully researched the registration requirements beforehand so the process went as smooth as silk. I had all I needed:

1) The contract of sale;
2) The dealer's registration slip endorsed for transfer to me;
3) My driver's license with the motorcycle Class 6A endorsement; and finally,
4) The official inspection report.

That night I installed the license plate when I got home from work.

The only problem I encountered with the sale was that the dealer had not secured the scooter's master key when the scooter was purchased from the original owner. I found out the significance of the missing master key only when I got the scooter home and I was reading the owner's manual. I could have anticipated the problem better if I had done a little more homework on the Modern Vespa forum.

Not having the master key meant that if I ever lost the one ignition key I have, it would be necessary to replace the scooter's computer plus purchase new keys, adding up to a very substantial expense, likely well in excess of a thousand dollars.

Luckily that glitch will have a happy ending thanks to Jim Hamilton from I sent Jim my only ignition key and the top case lock and he emailed me earlier this week that he successfully made me a new master key and reset the top case lock so that the one ignition key will now operate all the locks on the bike.

The major inconvenience is losing at least two weeks use of the scooter while my keys were in transit. That, plus a hefty price in express parcel post charges in addition to the very reasonable price for Jim Hamilton's services and new master keys. .

So the lessons learned are as easy as 1-2-3:

1) If you shop carefully, and
2) do your homework online, particularly on Modern Vespa (,
3) you can purchase an excellent pre-owned Vespa confidently and start your own scoot commute.
The copyright in all text and photographs, except as noted, belongs to David Masse.