Wednesday, November 17, 2010

More lessons learned...

33. Never hang the helmet on the parcel hook

I learned this one the hard, or rather the expensive way.  This tidbit only applies if you ride a Vespa LX, or maybe a Vespa S as well.  On these models the parcel hook slides out from the front of the saddle.  It holds things really well and quite securely.  That is until you lift the saddle to access the gas tank or the pet carrier.  When you raise the saddle whatever is on the parcel hook gets ejected.  If you eject the helmet in this way, it's not good for the helmet.  After doing this 5-6 times (I'm a slow learner), eventually the helmet will roll down a grassy slope, stop against a rock and split your visor in two!  It's only about sixty bucks to replace the visor. Ouch! Lesson (finally) learned.

34. Securing a full face helmet

So if the parcel hook is not a good place for the helmet, and like me, your full face helmet won't fit in the pet carrier or top case, what do you do to secure your helmet if you plan to leave it with your bike while you're shopping? If your chin strap has a D-ring, you can use the secure helmet hook that comes with the Vespa. It's right on the lip of the pet carrier on the right, towards the front. But if, like me, your helmet has a ratchet lock (much more convenient than a D-ring in every meaningful way) you can't use the helmet hook. Soooo, here's the scoop. For about $15 you can buy a helmet cable lock. Thread the lock through the visor and lock it to the passenger grab rail. The cable is just long enough to let the helmet sit on the passenger seat. If it rains while you're away, the helmet won't become a water bucket. That's a big plus.

35. Always have a camera handy

One of the great things, maybe the best things really, about commuting on a scooter, is that the routes you choose are typically more scenic than the typical route you'd take in your car. So chances are, you're going to come across scenes that you'll want to take pictures of. That's a good thing because it's really easy to stop anywhere and snap really great pictures even without getting off the bike. So carry a camera in your pocket or your topcase or glovebox. You won't regret it.

36. Always have a spyglass

For years now I've always made sure to have binoculars in each of our cars. You never know when they'll come in handy. Now on a Vespa, binoculars aren't that much of an option. So I carry a really good monocular. A spyglass if you prefer. Makes you feel like Horatio Hornblower when you use it. All right, this one may not be for everyone, but it works for me.

37. Corazzo cup holder

Eventually you will want to pick up some coffee on the way to work. Since the average place you'll be likely to get your coffee may not be the place you'll want to drink it, you'll want to tote it to a nice park bench along your route, maybe a few miles from the coffee joint, and savour your coffee while you take in whatever picturesque view the bench was meant to allow you to enjoy. Trust me, those places exist, you'll find them on your scooter. So what's the best, most effective, and reasonably priced way to get your coffee safely from A to B? Check out the Corazzo cup holder at Corazzo.

38. Group rides with 2 cycles

I've only done this once. There's a post on this back in June. I'm more of a solitary ride type of rider. But the group ride is a lot of fun, and a great experience. Among the hazards you'll face, particularly if you choose to ride behind folks riding two-stroke machines (the Vespa LX is a nice four-stroke clean machine), is riding in an invisible cloud of noxious exhaust. After a few hours of this, you'll feel like you've mowed all the lawns in your neighborhood in one crazy, demented fit of lawn mowing. You'll want to wash your clothes too.


When I started out, I had no clue what ATGATT was. In fact, right from the start I've been an ATGATT kind of guy. You should also be an ATGATT person. ATGATT has nothing to do with AT&T, or Gatwick Airport, or an international import tariff treaty. It means "All The Gear, All The Time". No matter the heat of the summer day. No one plans to high side, low side, drop the bike, lay it down, get thrown after a tank slapper, or otherwise grace the pavement with their presence. Some knowledgeable medical types on Modern Vespa have pointed out that skin actually stands up to pavement abrasion better than denim. So get a full face helmet, a good armored jacket and pants, armored boots, armored gloves. Stack the odds in your favour, and maybe you won't have to be Googling ways to cure road rash.

40. Vespa one, squirrel zero

It had to happen. God can't be quite as perfect as some would have you believe. George Burns played God in "Oh! God" and there's this great scene when he's going over his mistakes (giraffe: neck's too long; avocado: pit's too big...). I'd like to add squirrels to the list. Perhaps it's not God's fault. For the longest time squirrels were probably not quite so vulnerable before roads and cars. But then you'd think that God would have had that covered. Don't tell me she didn't see it coming. Anyway there was this really talented squirrel. There was a car coming in the opposite direction, and me on my Vespa, closing at 40 km/h each, or eliminating the intervening space at roughly 80 km/h. This talented squirrel goes to cross. Comes up to the car. Thinks twice darts back towards the curb. I'm braking hard. The talented squirrel thinks thrice, darts back out, comes up to my front wheel. Still braking. Thinks again (fourice?), and here's where the talent comes in, darts back towards the curb, and, wait for it, changes its little mind one last time, and, incredibly, manages to dive under my back wheel. Quite a feat of squirrelyness, if you ask me. Unfortunately, that squirrel won't be passing those genes along, unless you believe in re-incarnation and it gets to return, as a squirrel. What do you think the odds are?

Can you take any more? Good, there's still more to come. Hang in there, and watch this space.

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