Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Rider profile: Dave Blackburn

Name: David Blackburn
Find me on Earth: White Lake, Ontario
Find me Online:
Interview Date: Saturday, July 13, 2013
Interview Location: Kettleman's Bagels, Bank street, Ottawa, Ontario

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

Dave: 1966. I was 17 and my best friend had a Honda Dream, I think it was, that he would let me ride on occasion. I didn't get my own bike until 1971 (I think).

Scootcommute: How many motorbikes have you owned?

Dave: I can remember 16 but I think I'm missing some.

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

Dave: 2007 H-D Dyna Low-Rider. Yes. But then that's usually the case.

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

Dave: Not so much learned as developed - that sixth sense that's saved my skin more than once. Comes from a combination of training and experience - both good and bad experience.

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

Dave: Mostly fair weather rider but not averse to getting caught in the rain on occasion. Hate riding in the cold though.

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

Dave: Prefer solitary or with one or two riders I know well. Exception is when I'm part of a very large group (100 or more) - that's pretty cool.

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

Dave: Perhaps I've blocked them all out as a defense mechanism, but aside from a couple of low-speed drops on sandy parking lots I really can't think of any.

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

Dave: There have been a few. The most awe-inspiring was approaching the Rockies north of Edmonton on the Yellowhead Highway for the first time. The most interesting was riding in the badlands in South Dakota around Sturgis.

Scootcommute: Tell me why you ride.

Dave: The most basic of reasons - I like it. I like the smells of riding, the idea of being out there immersed in the elements (good and bad), the 360-degree panorama. The sense one sometimes gets of flying at ground level. The feeling of getting off and stretching after a long time in the saddle - and then getting back on again. It's all part of the package.

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

Dave: I'd love to ride New Zealand, tip to tip.


Dawn in State College, Pennsylvania

Monday, July 15, 2013

Rider profile: Peter Sanderson

Name: Peter Sanderson
Find me on Earth: Cornwall, Ontario, Canada
Find me Online:
Interview Date: Saturday, July 13, 2013
Interview Location: the Sanderson residence, Cornwall, Ontario

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

Peter: I was seventeen when I got my first motorcycle, a Yamaha 125 street bike in 1975.

Scootcommute: How many motorbikes have you owned?

Peter: Yamaha 125, Honda CB 350, Kawasaki 400 and then I took a thirty year break from riding until now. I now own a Vespa 300 GTV.

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

Peter: Vespa GTV 300, yes it's a pretty cool bike and I would say it is my favorite to date.

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

Peter: I think I had a lot of problems with the theoretical portion of push steering.

It seems like the more I tried to push, the less my body lined up properly, and the more difficult it was. After a winter of not riding, I got on my bike in the spring and didn't even think about push steering. After that steering was never a problem.

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

Peter: Today I am tourer and generally in fair weather. However, I just purchased a complete rain suit and I will never shy away from the rain in the future.

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

Peter: To date I'm a solitary rider but now my wife also has a 300 Vespa and I look forward to touring with her when my wrist heals. I also ride with another friend once in a while. I have never ridden in a large group of bikers.

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

Peter: When I first got my Vespa GTV, I was at a shopping center and it would not start. It was less than two days old. I had accidentally clicked the engine stop button and left it in the off position without noticing. A guy on a Harley came over and looked at the Vespa, turned the engine stop button to on position, held the brake and started the engine.

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

Peter: I think I enjoyed an early morning ride to Lake George the most. I had left early in the morning and rode by many lakes with a mist and fog on top of them. I think I took the most wonderful pictures along the way and when I arrived in Lake George the weather was beautiful.

Scootcommute: Tell me why you ride.

Peter: There is a feeling of freedom, the feeling of becoming one with my environment, a feeling of joy and a feeling of total satisfaction with life when I am riding. Because of my wrist surgery, I cannot ride this year and it is very depressing.

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

Peter: I would love to ride across Alaska.


Sunday, July 14, 2013

2013 Blogger to Blogger Tour - Kickoff and day one

I got off to a late start yesterday.

My initial thought was to meet Peter Sanderson at his home in Cornwall at around 9:00 a.m. and then continue on to Ottawa.

I also really wanted to install a fused lead directly from the battery terminating in an SAE two prong plug.  My portable compressor has an SAE plug so using it requires that kind of connection.  I also have a long 12V extension I could use for charging stuff at night.  I also needed to make a SAE to 12V cigarette lighter type female outlet.

My electrical skills are not first class, so it took longer than I planned.  I didn't get underway until closer to lunch time.

I did a little kickoff video once I got the bike loaded up.
I really enjoyed my visit with Peter.  I'll be posting his rider profile based on ten questions I'm asking all the riders I'm meeting.  I haven't decided exactly how I'll do that.  I think that the rider profiles deserve a separate post.
Even though Peter is convalescing from some very nasty surgery on his hand, he was the perfect host.  He was generous to a fault as well, giving me some Vespa swag, a Vespa cover that he no longer needed, and a chrome luggage rack for my topcase that he purchased, and decided not to use.

I said farewell to Peter and set out for my second destination: Ottawa, our nation's capital.

On the way I was trading text messages and eventually a phone call with Dave Blackburn (you may know him better as Canajun when he comments here from time to time).  The combination of my iPhone and Sena SMH10 bluetooth helmet headset makes staying in touch very easy.  The iPhone lets me know when a text message comes in, Siri reads text messages to me, and sends my reply flawlessly.

Dave happened to be in Ottawa proper (he lives about an hour west of the city).  It turns out his daughter lives just down the street from where my Dad lives and he suggested we meet at a bagel bakery and restaurant (Kettleman's) literally across the street from my Dad's apartment.

I got to my meeting with Dave at about three-thirty.  We spent a very agreeable hour or so chatting.  He offered a demonstration of the ingenious remote controlled GoPro panning mount he invented and built.

I shot a brief video with my iPhone.

Dave shoved off for home, and I rode across the street and parked in front of my Dad's place.

At 5:30 it was high time to hit the road for Toronto.  It was blistering hot.  I needed the quickest route from A to B.  I keyed my sister's address into my Garmin and was  happy to take its cues.  Once I made it through a massive lump of bumper-to-bumper traffic on the 417, it was clear sailing south to the 401 and then west towards Toronto.

I had hoped to be in Toronto before sundown.  That wasn't happening.  To be honest, I had never done the trip from Ottawa to Toronto.  Naively, I figured that if Ottawa was an hour and a half from Montreal, that would at least shorten the Ottawa to Toronto leg.  Apparently a navigator I'm not.  It turns out that Ottawa to Toronto is basically the same as Montreal to Toronto.  Who knew?

So it turned out to be like snakes and ladders.  It was 5:30 and I had a trip in front of me that would take a good five hours in an air conditioned car with cruise control and a 600 km range.  I now know what it's like to stop at very single service centre on the 401 (well maybe not all, I may have gone out on a limb and skipped the odd one).  It didn't matter because my butt and legs needed the pit stop as badly as the Vespa did.

All told, I basically traveled for twelve hours and covered 679 kms, or 422 miles if you prefer.

Today I ran errands with my brother-in-law and basically took it easy. I washed the Vespa, its first ever wash by my hand. The driveway was in the shade by late afternoon and the cool water splashing my bare feet was a welcome respite from the sweltering heat.

Before supper I pitched my tent in the back yard. My niece and nephew tumbled around in the tent, emerging drenched with perspiration.
Their earlier plans to sleep in the tent faded with the setting sun.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Coming down to the wire

Bobskoot has left Vancouver and is on his way to our agreed meeting place.
I still have preparation to do, including a little electrical work on the GTS to add an SAE power lead direct to the battery, I need a memory card for my GoPro, and a few other odds and sods.

Yesterday my Vespa went into the shop and got its oil change, a new rear tire and CVT belt, and a full tune up.
 Everything was looking peachy, and I expected the intermittent hiccups the engine was having to be a thing of the past.

I was hoping that my second-hand bike would be as fresh and functional as a brand new Vespa straight from the factory.  Like this one for instance.
Not so fast optimistic one!

The hiccups are still there. So the bike is back in the shop. The culprit has been found. An intermittent fault in the fuel injection. Oh dear.

I don't think it's going to be a problem. The only issue is getting it fixed. The dealer doesn't have the injector in stock. That's the bad news. The good news is that it doesn't need to come from the plant in Pontedera in Tuscany. Also the offending part is very small and should travel quickly (photo is from the ScooterWest site - if you need this part too, click the photo).
Still, my departure planned for Saturday may get postponed, which will delay my return. Not the end of the world because it is unlikely to put the trip in jeopardy or the rendez-vous with my fellow travelers.  I just want my GTS back in tip-top shape.

So cross your fingers for me and pray to the Piaggio injector gods.



I checked back with my dealer.  They don't have the injector and can't get it for seven to ten days.

That news set me on a search farther afield.  

ScooterWest has the part, but getting it here in time is beyond the realm of possibility.  I then called Vespa Toronto West and was waiting for their service department to call me back.  

My next step was to call Kissell Motorsports in State College Pennsylvania.  Talk about service.  Of course I did drop Steve Williams' name.  But still.  They confirmed that they could get the part by Monday or Tuesday and slot me in to have it installed.  Craig Kissell mentioned that they gets lots of Canadian riders coming through and they reserve shop time for travelers' needs.  How cool is that?

Then Vespa Toronto West called me back.  They have the part, and they can install it on Tuesday when I'll be in Toronto.

Colour me very relieved.  Very relieved.

So the Great 2013 Coast to Coast Moto Blogger Get-together Extravaganza (Eastern Edition) is set to launch on schedule on Saturday, July 13, 2013 at 8:30 a.m. (all other things being equal).

The Great 2013 Coast to Coast Moto Blogger Get-together Extravaganza (Western Edition) launched on schedule yesterday.

Bobskoot is now here, well into Montana:

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Guilty, or not guilty

You be the judge.

It's finally freaking hot. I roll out of the underground garage at the office and onto Mountain street planning to head south.

I am greeted by hordes of teenage girls converging on the Bell Centre across the street from the office. Apparently all the commotion is caused by something called "One Direction".

Unfazed because I ride a Vespa, I filter through to the traffic light at the intersection right next to the Bell Centre. It's bedlam, and a police cruiser is sitting with its lights flashing blocking the northbound lane.

A police officer is doing traffic duty. She has all the traffic stopped, while vehicles are slowly backing out of the street that runs in front of the Bell Centre which is thronged with people.

Traffic is backing up in both directions as far as the eye can see.

I sit one pick up truck back from the intersection as the light cycles green, yellow, red, over, and over.

There is no reason for the southbound lane to be stopped and backing up, other than the police officer who is not allowing that lane, my lane, to proceed down Mountain street.

After 10 minutes of this, I've had it. The police officer is oblivious to the unnecessary mess she's making.

My latin blood gets the better of me, and I honk my Stebel horn. When she looks my way, I give the police officer the universal gesture for "come on, already, give us a break, let us go". You know that gesture, both arms rising like a conductor about to strike up the band. The universal gesture for expressing frustration for incompetence.

This elicits a fierce look from my adversary, and she interrupts the festivities to yell gruffly at me "I decide when you get to go, not you!"

She goes back to her duties messing up my commute and those of the hundreds of motorists victimized by her stunning inefficient performance.

What seems like another ten minutes passes. The pickup truck is lurching periodically in protest. My blood is beyond simmering.

I then do what any imbecile in similar circumstances would do, I deliver two more Stebel blasts. Once I have her attention I give her the universal symbol for "come on, please give us a break". In case you're wondering, that's arms oustretched, palms out, arms held downwards, pleading.

Officer plod is certainly paying attention now because she is coming for me with a vengeance.

"Driver's license!" she commands, her hand outstretched, a scowl on her face.

I ask her what law I've broken. "Driver's license!" she repeats ignoring my question. It isn't going well.

She grabs my license, and tells me to pull over and wait for her.

She ignores me for a while, but finally lets the traffic proceed. When she eventually marches over, she demands my registration. I tell her that I did nothing wrong. She says that I was showing disrespect for her authority. This I deny, suggesting to her that I was encouraging her to open the lane because she had a serious traffic snarl to uncork.

She storms off to her cruiser. I call Susan to explain my predicament. She's not surprised. She knows she married a shit disturbing lawyer.

When my friendly neighbourhood cop returns she has her partner in tow. I'm guessing as backup because of the surly dude on the menacing black Vespa. She has a gift for me. A $161 ticket as a reward for my public service. She snarls "You have thirty days to pay or contest". I tell her the traffic ticket is unnecessary. We aren't seeing eye to eye.

When I get home, I check out the offence I've been charged with committing: "Using the horn of a road vehicle, unnecessarily" it says.

Did I? I don't think so. I think that it was obviously necessary, since she was clearly abusing her authority, behaving incompetently with utter disregard for the public she was sworn to serve, and failing to do the very thing she was ostensibly there to do, direct traffic. She wasn't directing as much as obstructing.

In addition, I think that my use of the Stebel was protected by my right of freedom of speech under the constitution.

After all I'm on a bike in full armor and a full face helmet, all of which is black, in the sweltering 30C+ heat, and I have a Stebel air horn. What other choice did I have, honestly?

Your honor I rest my case, and place my fate in the hands of the court of public opinion.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Play Misty for me

This morning was a follow-up appointment with my GP to review blood tests results following my annual check up.

Turns out I've been a fairly good boy.

I rewarded myself by taking the slow route to work while listening to Jazz FM. The music playing softly in my helmet matched my mood, and the lake's mood, to a 'T'.
These photos, taken kilometers apart, one in Pointe Claire, one in Lachine show a common theme: it's high season for sailing school.
The sailboats that the yacht clubs use to train fledgling sailors remind me of ducklings. A flotilla all askew, and not going anywhere in an orderly way. Except the drink that is, when the skipper muffs a turn, or tack, or whatever the correct nautical term is for low-siding or high-siding a sailboat.

It's a shame I have to work.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Inflection: explore, explorer; discover, discovers.

A cryptic title to be sure.

What the heck am I trying to get at?

The best times of my life, the most memorable experiences, the most intriguing events, have been when I have set out to explore, looking to discover.

The summers stretched so long when I was ten, eleven, twelve. I loved exploring. We all had shoulder bags or knapsacks we would stuff with sandwiches, cookies and apples, a canteen for some water, and perhaps a pen knife. Then we'd just go. Hop on our beaten up bikes, and go.

We were gone all day. It seemed that there was always some corner of our world we hadn't been, things we hadn't seen. We would go wherever our bikes could take us, following familiar streets to unfamiliar ones, leaving paved roads to take roads under construction. Those would take us to the edge of our world, to farmers' fields where there were farm tractor paths to bump along, and woods to explore.

What was it that made those times so satisfying?

It may be a guy thing, but I hope not. Certainly there were never any girls sharing our rides. It wasn't that we excluded girls. But it was a time before girls. I don't know how girls spent those summers because we were oblivious. We were exploring Mars, they might as well have been on Venus.

One of the magic ingredients was that for the first time in our lives, for whole days at a time, we were self-sufficient. And we could go places. Places our parents knew nothing about. Places our parents would never take us, places our parents wouldn't, practically couldn't, go. We were free, and we had bikes.

It was serious business. Sprawled, perched, or squatting on the lawn or our front steps, or the curb, or the hot pavement of our suburban driveways, stuffing our bags and talking about where we'd been and where we could go. And then we would just go. Four or five of us. Following our suntanned noses, no particular destination, no rush, no hurry, but rolling. Truly content to feel the wind on our bodies, hear the hum of our tires, and the occasional clank of our chains.

Having a Vespa re-kindled that experience. My world has expanded. My riding buddies lived in houses within two blocks in the burbs. Now they're in distant cities. We explored a suburb, we're now set to explore a continent.

Where once we were just looking for new places, now we're looking for new people and places, kind of.

Why kind of?

Because an important part of this voyage of discovery is riding with each other, and meeting you. Well, not all of you, but many of you. I wish it could be all of you, but it will be many of you. Those of you who live in Ottawa, Cornwall, Kingston, Toronto, State College, and Portland. You are in some ways new. In many ways not. You blog and post on I already know quite a bit about you, a slice of your life, your life on two wheels.

If once my friends and I returned from our rides with stuff we'd found, now we will be collecting faces, stories, and memories.

And we will be displaying them here, for all of you to enjoy.

I can't wait.

Back to the beginning. This is about the importance of inflection. A shift. Moving from the idea "explore", to the doing of it. From the imperative "discover", to the pleasure of finding. Riding marked an inflection point in my life, then and now.

To borrow from a friend, I'll find you on the road.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Reporting for duty, Sir!

All the big pieces are ready for the great Blogger to Blogger 2013 coast to coast extravaganza.

New bike so I can run with the big dogs - Check!

Tool roll, compressor, tire plugging kit, flash light, first aid kit, 100' of paracord - Check!

Saddle bags, dry bags, and ROK straps - Check!

Camping gear (tent, sleeping pad, sleeping bag, pillow, camp stove, lounge chair) - Check!

Five liter auxiliary fuel container, and 32 ounce stove fuel container - Check!

Sena bike-to-bike intercom - Check!

GoPro, digital SLR, iPhone, and GPS - Check!

Road test at 130 km/h to make sure nothing rattles or shakes loose - Check!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Kickin' it nu skool

What do you when you've reached the end of the road, you've pitched your tent, inflated your mattress, laid out your sleeping bag, stowed your gear, made a mug of instant joe with your ultralight alcohol stove, and locked up the bike?

You break out your barkalounger, put your feet up, sip your java, share some tall tales, and in the words of Mark Twain, tell a few stretchers.

I can do that now.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Recreational vehicle

I never thought of myself as the RV type.

Today I got my hands on a borrowed three-man tent and mattress pad: basically a large ranch house with master bedroom furniture to go.

It all fits very nicely on a Vespa GTS. Heck, I'm not even going to feel the extra presence back there!
I've been offered the possibility of upgrading to a larger and more comfortable mattress pad.  Naturally I leapt at the chance.  I've barely begun and I'm getting comped!  I love getting comped!

My RV is rapidly headed to King-Size Komfort Land!!!  Well Gaaawwwwwllllllllllllleeeee!  Soon I'll be the envy of the Clampett Clan!

Saturday, June 15, 2013


Lake St-Louis isn't the coast, it's the lakeshore. Yet, when I take the slow route to the office the view is still coastal.

Sharing it means taking a moment to stop, strolling a few feet to the shore and snapping a picture.

This particular view shows the point that's home to the Forest and Stream Club.

If you have eagle-eyes you'll spot a plane making its final approach to Trudeau airport.
My new bike is like a Siren enticing me to take the fast path where it can stretch its legs and zoom along. It's easy to neglect the benefits of coasting.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Distance challenges

As you may know if you've been hanging around here for a while, I began riding a motor scooter as a commuter.

It's been three seasons and three months since I rode my first commute. In that time, I have learned one heck of a lot about what it means to commute daily.

You can fill a thimble with what I know about long distance riding.

What's a long distance?

Well I have one long distance day-trip to my credit: 375 kilometers, or if you prefer, 233 miles. That's definitely a long distance ride, but it's about 70 miles shy of what I think many motorcycle tourists consider a decent day's ride.

I only think that, based on casual reading I've done from the comfort of my easy chair. I haven't researched it or attempted anything approaching semi-serious study.

I have a lot to learn. As is my lifelong habit, I plan to learn mostly by doing. Of course I am planning, you would have to be crazy not to plan.

My right wrist hurts. Right at the base of my thumb. It's some kind of strain injury. Whenever I develop a strain injury, I have to ask myself "what have I been doing since this pain started, that I wasn't doing before?". The answer is "I've ridden 15 thousand miles on a motorbike."

As you also know, things come to me slowly.

"Do you think that working the throttle is causing the strain that's causing the pain in my wrist?"

How will I feel after another 300 mile day, after other 300 mile days? It kind of makes me think.

What do motorcycle tourists do?

I was privileged to be at Bobskoot's place admiring his nu-2-him Beemer. He didn't seem to be too fussed that I sat on it. I didn't drop it, so it worked out allright. I noticed that Bob had some hardware on his throttle that I don't have. As soon as I saw it, I knew what it was. Did I mention that I read?

Today I had twenty minutes or so on my way to the office after a doctor's appointment.

I stopped at Moto Internationale, Montreal's largest BMW and Harley Davidson dealership. I was hoping for some instant gratification, and I wasn't disappointed.
For the uninitiated, the thingy on the left is a universal cruise control. The gizmo on the right relieves wrist strain. Both devices slip in one direction, grip in the opposite direction.

I tried the palm assist on the ride home. Interestingly, I felt relief in my wrist as soon as I started using it. Do you think that the throttle is causing my pain? Hmmmm...

Tomorrow there's rain in the forecast so I won't be testing the cruise control quite yet.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Birthplace of the Scootcommute

Few people know the birthplace of the ScootCommute.

That's because I was, until this very second, the only person to know the birthplace of the ScootCommute.

The ScootCommute was conceived, like so many other conceptions, in a hotel room.

To be more specific, in a very nice room at the Fairmont Palliser hotel in Calgary, on March 28, 2010.

I happened to be there on Monday and it struck me that I had returned to the scene of the crime.

So there you have it.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

High octane question?

Bob (no, not you) sometimes sends me questions.

Sometimes I'm not smart enough to grasp the problem that Bob tosses my way (other Bobs, please refrain from jumping in to provide testimony corroborating my occasional thickness).

A while back, Bob (no, not you) sent me a gem that I didn't immediately grasp the true meaning of.  So Bob (no, still not you) had to explain it to me patiently.

Well, it certainly is a puzzler in the fine tradition of NPR Car Talk, and I'm not nearly knowledgeable enough to shed any light on the matter.

So I turned to the world's most encyclopaedic source of scooter-related intelligence.  Yes, that's right, the Modern Vespa forum.  Here's a link to the post.

Here's Bob's question (I took some small editorial liberties to help the dimmer wits like yours truly in wrapping their brains around the nub of the problem).
Hmm... I see that the image makes Bob's question impossible to actually read.

Here it is clearly this time:
Once again I seek your help.

Perhaps you or one of your readers can answer a question that has long perplexed.

My new scooter requires high octane fuel - at least 91.

Back in the day it was simple - there was a dedicated premium pump somewhere at the station that pushed only the good stuff.

Now all the pumps are dial-a-matic with one hose and three or four grade selections.

Since the single big fat hose and filter hold a considerable volume of gasoline, and I assume that the gasoline in the hose is whatever the last customer selected (likely lower octane), how can I possibly get any of premium fuel into my tiny 6.0 L tank?

I strongly suspect that when I select and pay for premium, in most cases all I'm getting is regular, and treating the next cheapskate to a couple of gallons of my premium fuel for free.

A friend has a clever solution: He bought a 2 gallon can which he fills first, then takes home and empties into his car.

Alas I lack a second vehicle.

The best I've been able to come up with is that I lurk at the entrance of the station and follow immediately behind the person in the Mercedes, BMW or Ferrari.

Surely someone must have a better idea.
To be honest, this never crossed my mind. I guess I always assumed that you got what you paid for.

Is this a misplaced concern?

Is there some kind of check valve re-sucking system that purges the 'wrong' fuel from the hose?

Enquiring minds want to know.

If you, dear reader (that means you, Bob... yes you!) can shed some light, please chime in.

I'll wait for the smart answers to kick in on MV and then re-post the best of the lot here. If you're not the patient type, feel free to follow the link above and follow the action (if any) on Modern Vespa.

- - - - - TIME PASSED - - - - -

If you click the MV link you'll see that not much of any great merit happened, other than people suggesting that Bob shouldn't worry so much, and some folks pointing me in the direction of other threads (click here, and here) where, supposedly, the question had been asked, vigorously debated, and possibly answered.

Well it turns out that this one has the MV crowd pretty much stumped, making wild guesses, and stabbing in the dark. The consensus is "fugetaboutit" and "don't worry, be happy" and I find myself agreeing, yet being totally unsatisfied with the responses.

Otherwise very well-informed people are saying "there's hardly any gas in the hose, half a cup, max!".

Others say essentially the same thing, but estimates vary from half-a-cup (125 ml), to a cup (250 ml), to two cups (500 ml).

So I started Googling.

The smartest answer from the best source was this, from the Wall Street Journal:
Q: I ride a motorcycle with a typical three to four gallon gas tank. I ride where fuel stations are farther apart, so I fill up when the tank is still half full. The bike requires premium fuel, and doesn't run well on lower octanes. If the previous customer was pumping regular fuel, I assume the refueling hose is still full of regular fuel, perhaps a couple of gallons. This would mean I'm initially getting a mix instead of pure premium fuel. Is this a genuine concern, or does the system have a mechanism for evacuating the gas pump hose between uses?
-- Paul Kowacki,
Orange Mass.

A: It is a genuine concern, but one that motorcyclists tend to appreciate more than car drivers. According to the American Petroleum Institute the gas-pump hose typically retains about one third of a gallon of fuel. So when you pump a couple gallons of 93-octane premium after the previous customer pumped 87-octane regular, your fuel load would be diluted (not to mention overpriced).

This is more important to motorcyclists because bikes have smaller fuel tanks and a lower tolerance for low-octane gas compared with most cars. I have found that high-performance motorcycles designed to burn premium fuel run poorly on regular. They generally do not have the complex engine-control systems that allow cars to run on fuels of varying octane ratings.

I don't think diluting your premium fuel with a little regular will harm your motorcycle, especially if you always select the highest octane rating available. However, next time you're filling up you may want to get in line behind the driver with the highest-performance car in the station.
So if the WSJ is to be believed, and they are so far the most credible source, there is not half a cup, not a cup, or even two cups, but five cups (give or take - 1/3 of a gallon is 1.24919 liters, which we can round to 1.25 liters, which is five cups on the nose) of fuel left in the hose.

Just in the interest of trying independently to get to the nub of truth, let's say that the average gas station hose is 12 feet long.  According to Goodyear's web site, gasoline pump hoses are either 3/8" or 3/4" outside diameter hoses.  Let's take the worst case scenario, that's a 3/4" hose.  All 3/4" gasoline hoses have an inside diameter of 19.1mm (don't ask me why Goodyear's specs give the outside diameter in SAE and the inside diameter in metric).  The volume of gasoline in twelve feet of that type of hose is Pi (3.14159) times the square of the radius of the inside diameter of the hose (19.1mm divided by 2  = 9.55mm, squared = 91.2025mm) times the length of the hose (12ft, which in mm is 3657.6mm) equals  1,049,416.44 cubicmillimeters, or 1,049.41644 ml, or, rounded down is 1.05 liters, which is just a tad over four cups.

Based on the credible WSJ source, as somewhat corroborated by our mathematical, semi-scientific, guesstimated calculations, if we average the anecdotal journalistic number (5 cups) with the semi-scientific guesstimate (4 cups), we get 4 1/2 cups of questionable fuel in the hose.

In the case of the Vespa GTS 300 i.e., the tank capacity is 9.2 liters.  But even if you fill up only once the low fuel light comes on, the tank is not empty.  There are still about two liters of fuel in the tank.

Basically I'm buying 7 liters of fuel when I fill up.  That means that I'm getting 1.1 liters of questionable gas, and 5.9 liters of the good 91 octane gas that I need and want.  Assuming that the octane rating just dilutes like any other liquid, I'm not really getting a full tank of 91 octane, I'm really getting 90.37143 octane.

I think that's pretty well within spitting distance of the truth.

Based on everything I've heard and read about octane ratings and internal combustion engines, that's close enough to 91 octane that the Vespa engine won't suffer for the difference.

So I am declaring this one done, solved and one for the history books.  And I am going to join the ranks of the MVers who don't worry about the fudge in the gas that the local gas station is selling me.

Thanks Bob (no, not you, the other Bob), I thoroughly enjoyed digging to the bottom of this week's puzzler.
The copyright in all text and photographs, except as noted, belongs to David Masse.