I traded in the Vespa.
On June 23, Robin and I decided to ride the scooters to Reid State Park, one of our favorite trips (see previous blog post). We passed through downtown Sabattus, Maine and headed east on ME-9, and just past the turnpike on-ramp the scooter died. Again. But this time the engine just quit and would not re-start.
So, another wrecker, another trip ruined and another ride to Trisports for repair. Come to find out it was the drive belt. Again. But this time the thing had somehow gotten itself tied up around the clutch assembly to such a thorough degree that the engine could not even turn over. The guys at Trisports said that they had never seen anything like it.
Their theory is that, when the first drive belt let go last summer in Moncton, because Adriaan did not actually disassemble the clutches there were bits of the old belt still stuck in there. And, over time and miles, those bits seized up the clutches, which tore up the new drive belt and left me on the side of route 9. I, of course, am not mechanic enough to know if they are right; but the bike was getting lousy mileage this summer and I had no idea why.
Anyway, they put still another new drive belt on the bike and it seems to run okay now, but I don’t trust it anymore. The bike now feels differently between 50-60MPH, not bad necessarily, but not the same. Maybe it’s OK, maybe it isn’t, but I’m not willing to risk it anymore — especially when the only dealer in the state is in Brunswick. So I traded it in.
After five years of scootering, I don’t want to learn to shift a motorcycle. So I went looking for options that didn’t involve shifting, and my pal Steve pointed me to the Honda CTX700, a fine motorcycle with an automatic transmission. Seemed like a good idea so I checked one out — and hated it. I hated the seating position, I hated the complete lack of storage on the bike, it just wasn’t for me. And that’s when I realized that what I wanted was a bigger scooter.
Actually, I had been thinking that for some time, especially as I was riding the Vespa to work up US-202 every day this spring. US-202 is a major artery connecting the southern part of the state to Augusta, the state capital, and traffic moves at over 60MPH on that road, even though the speed limit is lower. At that speed, especially when the wind is blowing, the Vespa gets really jittery, to the point where I get really jittery, too. Maybe it’s the 12-inch tires, maybe it’s the tall windscreen, maybe it’s the topbox; I don’t know, but I don’t like it. But if I want to ride to work, I need to ride that road — and the Vespa just isn’t comfortable at that speed, especially on windy days. And forget about riding the interstate — the bike will eventually get to 70MPH but it’s squirrelly as hell and there’s no extra speed left to get you out of trouble if you need it. So, fact is, I need a bigger and a heavier bike. And so I went and got one.
The new bike should be here by next Friday, and when it arrives I’ll show it to you. Before then, for anyone who stumbles onto this blog looking for information about buying a Vespa, I’ll have one more post summarizing my experience with it. Stay tuned!