Saturday, 12 November 2011

Big Guy, GTS Scooter?

It was a cloudy day - not too cool, and I thought it would be an auspicious sign for my quest for a new (to me) Vespa. After checking through Craiglist, I had found one in Kelowna - a 2007 250 GTS with around 12,000 miles for the incredible price of $2800.

After consulting friends, family and knowledgeable commenters on this blog, I decided to take a look. We drove up to the Okanagan yesterday and spend the day with my wife's family. Last night, my sleep was interrupted with several brief dream sequences involving Vespas.

Today, we drove out to Kelowna to see the scoot. The guy selling it has made a practice of going to the states, primarily California and Arizona, fixing up vehicles, and then bringing them back into Canada, selling them for a small profit.

The one I was looking at was bought at an auction in California. There were some problems with it including an ignition system that no longer worked, fried brakes, and some other damage. It looked like it had been dropped at some point in its life but the direction of the scratches led me to think it was not in an accident. There are some scratches and bent trim on one side but really just cosmetic stuff. The guy was up front about this and he had lots of documentation of repairs and other information.

I then took it for a test drive. It started easily and I frankly amazed at the acceleration as I took it up the steep driveway. It wasn't licensed so I just drove it around the neighborhood which was an excellent test as there were plenty of hills and lots of bumpy roads. It drove beautifully and the engine made a pleasing buzz.

Compared to the LX50, it seems a lot more refined. The GTS 250 doesn't struggle to get to speed and the feel of the scoot is more solid, less toy like. I think it also gave me a bit more room for sitting.

My wife said that when I rode back to the house, she could tell by the grin on my face that I was going to buy it. Luckily, the seller didn't see my grin and when I offered $2500 ("that's it") he came around to accepting it.

I was - I mean, I am the new owner of a scooter that has had some rough adventures as well as a bit of a makeover.

Whenever you buy something, there's always risk - maybe it's a lemon or maybe the previous owner drove it into the ground and all you've bought is trouble on two wheels. I think this will be OK, though. It ran well and I got a good sense off of the seller.

After registering it at an insurance agent, a process that took at least an hour (I love bureaucracy so much) due to the international complications of buying a scoot from the US, we went back to the seller's house and he gave me all the extra pieces he had including a new Vespa tire! I then left for my brother-in-law's house, just a few minutes up the road.

Or was it?

I went the wrong way! After 10 minutes I pulled over, checked my Map app on my iPhone, and realized my error. By this time it was raining hard. After I turned around, the wind picked up tremendously and I carefully headed back the way I had come.

The road was wet and a bit slushy in parts as it started to snow as well. I pulled over, checked my GPS, and headed out on the highway again.

I'm not sure if the speedometer works properly - I'm terrible with miles now (as it is a US scoot, kilometers are in teeny tiny numbers) and I have the feeling that the miles are off anyways. If not, I was trying to keep up with traffic in a 80 km zone going about 60 mph. That's a bit faster than 80 kms!

The precipitation relented for a while as I closed onto 90 kmh. I finally arrived at the turnoff for my destination, and the skies opened up with snow. Up the hills I went, motoring along nicely, feeling more confident in the Vespa's ability.

I arrived and parked it in the garage (where I took today's photos) as the snow outside turned to torrential rain. I worriedly looked it over as a terrible rattle had started in the last 10 minutes of my drive. Had I really bought a lemon? Was there serious engine problems? No, just the license plate screws were a bit loose!

Now the task is the get it back to Maple Ridge. No way am I going to take the Vespa on the highway down to the lower mainland this time of year. There's too much snow in the mountains and no other way around it. I'll either have to come back with a motorcycle trailer and a friends vehicle that can pull a trailer or I might get it shipped down by a vehicle transport company.  I'll explore my options over the next few days.

In the meantime, it's time to put the LX50 up for sale. We've had some fun, my small scooter and me, but now it's time to step aside for one that's not so small....


Matt Maxwell said...

Congrats on your new GTS purchase!
Can't wait to hear about all your new adventures.

Dar said...

Awesome! Glad you got your new scoot! I bet it will be perfect, little minor dings add character. You won't be disappointed and will love the extra cc's. Happy road trips to you & your new scoot!

David Masse said...

Way to go Dave!

It's funny, my bike is also a US bike. Began its life in Boston, and was imported for sale by a dealer in Toronto. I kind of like the speedometer in miles instead of kilometers. You'll probably enjoy getting a GPS though so you can see what you're doing in KMs and see how fast you're really going.

Since you're going to trailer the bike, here's my experience: get a bar harness and some motorcycle tie downs from Canadian Tire. Don't put the scoot on the center stand in the trailer since it will hammer the trailer bed over bumps, and will prevent the scooter's suspension from doing its job. Once you have tie downs at the 4 corners, the bike will be rock solid. You can use a piece of 4X4 to chock the front wheel.

Oh! And when you're at Canadian Tire, get the Stebel Nautilus horn. They sell it as the Ultimate Blast Horn, Product #20-2076-0, about $70.

All the best!

SonjaM said...

Congrats! I know the exact feeling and can picture you grinning from one ear to the other. Happened to me when I bought my GT200. It was full of scratches due to a fall, and only randomly fixed. I loved the scarface at first sight anyway.

I keep my fingers crossed that your scoot is not a lemon but a vehicle that will serve you well and provide you with lots of miles and smiles. Meet you on the road on day!

Dave Dixon said...

Matt: Looking forward to those adventures as well!

Dar: You are definitely right - those extra ccs are intoxicating!

David: I hate the miles - I've been teaching and driving kms too long now! This horn - is this a replacement for my current Vespa horn?

Sonja: It was love at first sight for me, too. Hoping for an improvement in weather so I can put in a road trip!

David Masse said...

Dave, yes the Stebel Nautilus replaces the stock Vespa horn.  If you Google "Vespa Stebel Nautilus" you'll find lots of YouTube videos and scooter forum installation instructions. 

len said...

Hi....big guy ....big scooter,
it sounds like your enjoying the gts already .
good luck....the first thing you will notice is how much ground you can cover on your scootering adventures this vespa flows with traffic wonderfully..have fun len.

Matt Maxwell said...

Any updates?
Have you gotten it home yet?
Any problems?

Matt Maxwell said...

Any updates?
Were you able to get the scoot home yet?

Dave Dixon said...

David - I'm going to definitely look into that - the horn on the Vespa is pretty pathetic!

Ian - I, too, am excited about the potential for travel with the GTS.

Matt - Got it! Yes!