Monday, 5 September 2011

It's Been A While

It's been awhile. Sorry.

No, I didn't die, blow up my scooter or become a spy with CSIS or some other spy organization (CSIS, by the way, is the Canadian spy service).

And I have been riding my scoot, fairly regularly, in the year and a half since I stopped blogging. And why did I stop?

I was seduced.

By a Smart Car.

Just after Christmas, 2009, I bumped into an acquaintance at a hockey game who owns his own retail company. I knew he had a Smart car and I had always been interested in it because it is a very eco-friendly vehicle and kinda funky too. It turned out he was selling it and a couple weeks later, I was the proud owner of a 2005 Smart Car. It was reddish orange and was a cabriolet with a  powered convertible roof. It was diesel and got crazy gas mileage - around 70 or 80 mpg - and it drove like a big go cart.

I did still ride my LX50 but most sunny days - previously good scooting days - I would roll out the Smart Car, open up the roof, and cruise. The Vespa became a utilitarian vehicle while the Smart was, well, the new girl in town.

Sure, I fel guilty as I walked by the Vepsa, gathering dust in the garage, as I took the bumpy, smelly but très chic two weather for a spin. Occasionally, I would take the Vespa, and still get that rush of good feelings but only for a ride to the grocery store or somewhere around town.

Then things happened to the Smart - it began to have problems. The real pain was that, here in Canada, Smart is serviced by Mercedes - and no one else has a clue how to service them - or, for that matter, knows where stuff is on them. The battery? under the passenger floor mat. The washer fluid? under the windshield. The engine? under the trunk. The glove box? under the driver seat. The spare tire? there isn't one, just a pump and some sealant.

Over the course of the last year and a half I got to know Mercedes very well. They have very nice waiting rooms with free coffee, wifi and charge a whole whack o' dough for everything.

Here's a partial list of repairs I had to have done:
- intercooler - $1500
- rear shocks $400
- computer - $1000
- roof repair - $100, $250
- water pump - $500
- sensor - $400
I could go on... oil changes were $250 - $400 because they're called "services" and most other garages can't do it.

After too many repairs, we ditched the Smart, got a new Golf, and I went back to riding my Vespa.


I found that I was tiring of going too slow much of the time. Whenever I went for a nice ride, say, to White Rock, there were always times when I was a fair bit below the speed limit and some people got impatient, even when I was careful to pull off the road. Also, to go any farther then I have on my past trips (Seattle, Powell River) I need to be able to keep up with traffic. I just don't feel safe anymore.


It's expensive to buy a Vespa that's a 150 or above.  It's a big jump - say I sell my 2006 Vespa LX for $2000 (if I'm lucky - it does have 15, 000 km on it) and I buy an LX 150, it will cost $5000 + $600 fees and $800 taxes - that's a whopping $6400 - still $4400 if I sell my scoot for 2 grand...


The Stella has now arrived. It is very retro, has a manual transmission (like my two cars), seems to have a good record, and is now available in a 4 stroke engine. And the list is $3900 - so basically a savings of more than $1000 - which I think I could swing....


Now I've started motorcycle school. I'm taking a course at 2Wheel2Itiion which is run by a guy who taught motorcycle cops from the Vancouver Police Department to ride. The bikes are Suzuki 250s and I'm having to learn how to use a clutch and gears.

I've done the first part of the course which is the basic skills and only had one mishap - I was trying to do a U-turn at slow speed, looked down at the ground instead of at where I was heading, and fell off the bike. I broke the mirror off the bike and bashed my knee but still managed, an hour later, to pass the first hoop, my motorcycle skills test.  Now I can ride a bike without a supervisor.


Yeah, I know this was too long but I had a lot to say. I will try to keep everyone updated on what is going on in my quest for a Class 6 motorcycle license.

Hey, feels good to be blogging again!


Conchscooter said...

Stella = Smart for reliability. Stella = Vespa 50 for speed. For that kind of money check a motorcycle 250 for reliability and performance and economy.
Advice is given to be ignored.

Dave Dixon said...

I haven't actually test-driven a Stella so I would have to do that first. I do like the lines on it, though. I will leave all of my options open as I am just at phase one - getting my full motorcycle license - at this point.
Advice is always welcome!

bobskoot said...

Hey Big Guy:

please listen to the sage Conchscooter. You won't be happy with a Stella . . . I agree with the 250 m/c route.

welcome back, I had to rub my eyes twice when I saw your blog updated

Riding the Wet Coast

David Masse said...

Good to see you back Dave! Check out Vespa LX150s on Kijiji or Craigslist. I got mine for way less than $5K+. Sorry about the Smart. I love quirky cars too. One day I'd love to own a Land Rover 110.

Dave Dixon said...

Thanks for the warm welcomes!

Bob - Maybe a 250 Vespa?

David - or a 150 LX - although I am tempted by the manual transmission of the Stella....

Matt Maxwell said...


Please take any comments from me with a grain of salt.
I have never ridden a motorcycle and only a scooter for about 5 minutes but I'm hooked! I want to ride. I want to hit the open road and explore the forgotten roads of this great country (usa).
I am now on a quest to do just this and Im blogging about it but I am always confronted with the same problem... a small motorcycle or a scooter.
I love the 300 Vespas but they are dang expensive. Love the Triumph Bonnevilles but they are dang expensive... I keep coming back to a classic vespa or new Stella.
I think the Stellas look fantastic and I can't wait to actually test ride one. I would love to hit the open road going only 45mpg on a stella and enjoy the surroundings... no need to hit 80mph... or the new 85mph limit in TX (home)... i just want to explore and take it all in on the back roads.

Anyways... Money is a big deal right now in my life and I have to always figure out how to get the most out of a little... maybe the stella is the answer... maybe not.

How are you liking your Motorcycle classes? I will be taking my first next month hopefully.

Love your blog... as a fellow big guy (6'3" -260lbs) I can relate to your love for a small and efficient ride.


Dave Dixon said...

Hi Matt,

Money is always an issue for most of us. And I certainly like the looks of it. I do need to actually sit on one and take it for a spin - maybe this weekend?

Motorcycle classes are good - next one is Sunday - and I'm learning lots!

Thanks for reading my blog...