Sunday, April 04, 2010

Pics of the new scoot

As promised here are some photos of my new (to me) 2005 Piaggio BV200. Not a lot of modifications to this beauty yet. Lucked out, and we had OEM side-cases, a wind-screen, and a top-box in stock.
The windscreen can be adjusted to two different heights, and has two parts to the shield, so that buffeting is reduced. The screen was pulled off a crashed bike, and required some sanding to remove scratches on the clear portion.
The BV didn't have any mirrors, so I ended up using some stock Moto Guzzi mirrors (currently found on Brevas and Norges) along with some SW-Motech mirror wideners.

The side-cases we had in stock were Royal Blue, while the scoot itself is Imperial Blue. The two shades are pretty close... good enough for now. The top case was Platinum, but we actually had some Royal Blue touch up paint in stock, so I painted it. I used three tiny one ounce bottles, and didn't quite get the full tone match. It is still a little lighter than any of the other pieces. Oh, well it fits the ten-foot rule, and is a good excuse for a custom paint job at some point in the future. I dipped into the collection of stickers I have been building for several years to personalize the top case a bit.
One more serious mod I did do was adding LED running / brake / indicator lights to the side cases. The lights turned out really well, and really increase the visibility of the scoot.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

New Scooter!

Here's to my new-to-me scooter, a full dress 2005 Piaggio BV200 I picked up for next to a song and some sweat equity. It's deep blue with sidecases, a topcase, and windscreen. 16" wheels, front and back disc brakes, and a liquid-cooled, carbed, 200cc single cylinder four-stroke engine. Power outlet and light in the underseat compartment.

Straight Eurotrash pimpin, y'all!

While I was troubleshooting and reassembling the BV, I made a few minor upgrades. As you probably assumed from the previous paragraph, I painted the topcase. I added Add-More lighting LED running lights-brake lights-turn signals to the sidecases. After losing two scooters to being rearended, I prefer to take some extra precautions.

Though I have owned more powerful motorcycles, I think this is the most badass scooter I have ever owned. I had the P200, but what it may have had an edge in power, the BV makes up for in advanced engine design, brakes, wheel size, and suspension.

I'm currently trying to come up with a name for the it.

A scooter with a history like this one, deserves a name.

It had basically been given up on and left to be a donorcycle at the shop I work at. Turns out all it needed was a new radiator fan... well and few parts which had been gleaned off of it, like a fuel pump.
Luckily we also had near-color matched sidecases, a top case ( in another color), three bottles of touch up paint, and a take off adjustable windscreen. From my studying of piaggio color codes, I have three different parts in two different paint codes. But in certain light, it looks to me like three different shades of blue, not two. Ultimately, this will be my excuse for airbrushing the bike. I'm already making sketches for potential themes, even though I know that wouldn't happen until late next winter.
Still, a name might give the paint theme focus.
But knowing me, I won't come up with a name until I've painted it.

The themes I'm currently most seriously considering are either a Doctor Strange theme, or a blue fox theme. Though I am still open to inspiration. Any custom paint wouldn't begin until next winter, in any case, so I have plenty of time to brainstorm.

Regardless, with the new Italian scooter, I'm going to make a concerted effort to be more active in local scootering. So stay tuned here or the Branchville Motors blog for info on scooter rides and meetups in the Fairfield and Westchester County area.

Oh yeah, and photos of the new scoot are coming soon.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Mike Meyer RIP

I worked with Micheal Meyer for several years at Art Outfitters in Little Rock Arkansas.
Mike and I were instant, and irrefutable friends. He was an old school punk guy, I was an old school punk guy, we work together,, we had many friends and acquaintences together, we went to the same art openings, we shared an easy an instanteous friendship, which I for one took too much for granted.
And now he is gone, on his 40th birthday.
I just don't have words for my grief and loss.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Muppets Bohemian Rhapsody

Best thing I have ever seen on Youtube.

Friday, November 06, 2009

More Proof that Vespas have Class

A couple weeks ago, the New York Times ran a story about Tom Boissonnault, a technology teacher at Eastchester Middle School in Eastchester, N.Y.
Mr. Boissonault, it seems struck upon the brilliant idea of teaching kids about design and engineering through the hands-on project of restoring a 1966 Vespa Allstate. Not just any barn find, this classic Vespa had been dredged from the bottom of a lake!

The article is a worthwhile read.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

New Blogging Duties

So I rarely have the time to devote to this blog these days, and it looks like that is only going to be increasingly true over the next few months.

HOWEVER, I will be blogging all sorts of Power Sports goodness at the new Branchville Motors & Vespa Ridgefield blog.

Check it out!

This way I can blog about cool scooter and motorcycle stuff during the down times at work, without violating my old-school work ethic.

See you over there!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Devil is Real

I was watching "Walk the Line" with Zoe the other day... and the scene where Johnny is talking about playing Folsom, and the record execs are telling him his church going audience won't approve... And the man in black says, "Well then they ain't real Christians." I've been thinking about that, and about how my Mama has always claimed religion would be alright if more Christians were religious the way the Man in Black was...

Mulling all that over, and then I find this awesome song, by probably the country's most under appreciated songwriter, Kevin Kerby... vocalizing thoughts that passed through my stoned teenage mind loitering in this exact same church parking lot twenty years ago...

Damn, Kevin, we don't deserve ya...

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Take the Skinheads Bowling and discuss Mod History

I guess parenthood has made me tragically unhip... I had no idea that Camper Van Beethoven had gotten back together, but here they are, performing that late 80s college radio classic "Take the Skinheads Bowling"

and along a similar vein, I recently found this info graphic, which illustrates the history of Mod culture in the US. While it doesn't specifically mention scooters, or SHARPS, it does a good job of illustrating that Nazi skins are merely an extremely vocal and attention seeking sub-genre of the subculture. I was also proud to realize that this chart is on the servers of Evergreen, my Alma Mater.

And just so's you know where I stand, here's a little message to Aryan Skins, courtesy of Jello Biafra:

"socialism for life's needs, and capitalism for life's wants"

I know I haven't been blogging lately, but I ran across this on Reddit tonight, and thought that it was meme worth spreading.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Rules for the Cult of Capitalism

Recently, my buddy Klint renamed his Technoccult blog, Renegade Futurist, and his focus for the blog seems to shifted some.
No worries, though, he's posting some awesome stuff like this "Rules for the Cult of Capitalism":

3. When the government charges for its services (taxes), this is theft. When private enterprises charge for food and rent, this is just.

4. Theft is the worst crime known to man. It is a far worse that rich people are forced to pay taxes (if their accountants can’t get them out of it) than that poor children are allowed to go hungry.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Triggering Traffic Lights on a Scooter.

Every scooterist has faced this at one time or another, those damned traffic light sensors that your scooter can't trigger.
I've seen discussion of this on several scooter forums, but really never expected to see it addressed in the mainstream media. But apparently, the Columbus Dispatch has tackled a story that other papers have been afraid to touch... perhaps out of fear of losing the advertising dollars of those traffic-light-triggering magnet vendors. ( I kid, of course, I kid.)

The long and the short of it is, those sensors detect metal, not magnets. You are best off positioning your scoot on a corner of the rectangle. You will have better luck with a classic metal-body scoot than one with plastic panels. And finally if nothing else works, and you want to modify your scooter to trigger the sensors, mounting a metal plate with as large a surface area as possible will be more effective than some snake-oil magnet.

American Scooterist: Issue # 54/55 Scooting to the Beat

Somehow, I got the latest issue of American Scooterist today. My dues for Vespa Club of America must have expired two years ago, and I never changed my address with them when you changed coasts.
Not that I'm complaining.
If like me, you are interested in the history of American counter-culture, the Beats, and scooters, you owe it to yourself to get a copy of this issue.
Proving there is nothing new under the sun, this issue gets deep into the history of scooters as a gentle rebellion against the prevalence of American car-culture. Just check out this paragraph:

For the Beats, the automobile and automobile culture - that great destroyer of urban life - had become the most potent symbol of American consumerism and alienation. As Kerouac expressed it: "Whither goest thou, America, in thy shiny car in the night?" For many young bohemians, the natural progression from this line of reasoning often led to the purchase of a scooter and investing it with larger political overtones. Like beards, European scooters had eccentric and mildly subversive connotations that often signified that one was already well-advanced on the pathway to an alternative conception of reality.

Heady stuff.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Dave Arneson has Left the Prime Material Plane

As is my wont of late, I am late in this post in observation of the late Dave Arneson, who failed his last saving throw versus Cancer earlier this week.
This means that the two main minds behind the origins of Fantasy Role Playing Games, have left us.
I know there were some issues about Dave not feeling he got his due credit for his role in the creation of Dungeons & Dragons, though for me personally, I always remember his name being right there on the front of my rule books.
Fare the well, Dave.

Now here's hoping Ken St. Andre will still be with us for awhile.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Scooting Again!

And Hello again!

Well, I have to plead fatherhood for the umpteenth time on my lack of posting recently.

But it is Spring, and I have a new (to me) scooter.

It's a 1992 Honda Elite 80. This little beauty came into the shop as a trade-in on a new Vespa, and I just couldn't bear to see him go to the wholesaler. So, I sold my Honda Magna 500, and bought this little guy. Probably the best downgrade of my life.

The Elite was a very faded Honda red when I got it. So the first thing I did was paint it white, with just little black along the bottom edge. Originally, I was planning airbrushing a 70s / 80s starfighter theme, you know along the lines of an X-Wing or Colonial Viper. But once I realized how much time such a project would likely consume, I decided to just emulate that vibe loosely with some hand-cut reflective vinyl. Not the showiest custom scooter, but I'm pretty happy with it.

I think this scooter lived most of its former life at a marina or making trips to the beach. The red paint was extremely faded, as was all the original black plastic and rubber. I decided that I liked the "patina" of dark grey plastic, rubber and vinyl, so I've left those parts alone.
Oh yeah, that cup-holder? It came with the scooter, and probably one of the things that endeared me to it.

Besides the painting and reflective vinyl, which the flash photo above illustrates the effectiveness of, most of my other customizations to date are also pragmatically centered on increasing visibility. After loosing my second scooter to being rear-ended, I have decided that I'd take as much control over being seen as possible. So I added a Givi topcase with an integrated brake-light, and a "Stopper" license plate brake-light. All-in-all I'd say it makes a big difference.

My last electrical upgrade was a volt-meter with integrated clock, thermometer, and black-ice warning. I thought this was almost a silly add-on at first... just a way to make it more retro-sci-fi, but I am finding that it is really nice to have all that info on the dash.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Elite 80, Honda made them for 22 years, from 1985-2007, so there are a lot of them out there and lot of replacement parts. There's not much in the way of performance upgrades, though Battlescooter has a few. Their exhaust is much nicer looking than the stock pipe, but I'm really not interested in making the bike louder, and the general consensus is that these bikes are best left alone, providing years of trouble-free reliable use as long as one does basic maintenance and accepts them for what they are.

For me, right now, what this bike is, is perfect. So far I've gotten an indicated 49mph on a long straight-away (and tucked, of course), but really I'm rarely on roads where I need to do 45. Most of my territory is 25 -35 mph zones, and the Elite can usually hold at least 30 even on the worst hills I face. I'm getting 100mpg, so it's great for commuting. Plus it is very light and maneuverable.

So for a new dad, who does most of his scooting between work and home, with the occasional run for small errands, the Elite is perfect. I hope to post some resources for near-vintage Japanese scooters, and a meditation on the safety differences between scooters and motorcycles, soon.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Jello Biafra's Advice to Obama

If you are up for some in depth reading, I suggest you check out this open letter to Barack Obama from Punk-Rock-Patriarch Jello Biafra. It's the sanest thing I've read in some time.


The closest thing to a solution I have heard was offered clear back in April 2004 by the Organization of the Islamic Conference ( The OIC is comprised of 57 Islamic countries ranging from West Africa clear over to Southeast Asia. At their annual meeting they found six member nations (Indonesia, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Yemen and Morocco) willing to pony up enough of their own troops (approx. 150,000) that our troops could have gone home! Who slammed the door on that one? Colin Powell, on the grounds that having the Islamic soldiers under UN command instead of Americans was out of the question.

WHY??!? Wouldn't a neutral force of Muslim peacekeepers make a lot more headway than the disaster we've made? Wouldn't they at least command a lot more respect, resulting in a huge drop in violence? Surely the non-stop carnage and Iracketeering we have spawned is Exhibit A that we need to get over this colonialist illusion that other countries' problems can only be solved by Americans. The OIC's proposal for US withdrawal and peace in Iraq must be revisited immediately, and also considered for Afghanistan

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Life Imitates the Illuminatus Trilology

I just have no idea what to make of this story.
In the months prior to 9/11, Israeli Art Students with loose links to Israeli Ecstasy traffickers attempted to infiltrate DEA offices; visited DEA agents at their homes; and lived near the 9/11 hi-jackers.
If you think this sounds like the ravings of that guy on the bus who smells like stale milk and wears mismatched shoes, I don't blame you. But I didn't dig this up on some paranoid site, it came from You owe it to your sense of geo-political absurdity to read the whole article.

Slate's informant says in the article:

"There was an embryonic understanding that there was something here, something was happening. People kept running across it. And agents being who they are, gut feelings being what they are, they would catch a thread. They'd start to pull a thread, and next thing, they'd end up with the arm of the jacket and the back was coming off, and then you'd end up with reports like you saw. The information, in its scattered form, is one thing. The information compiled, documented, timelined, indexed, is a horrific event for some of these people. Because it is indisputable."

"Agents started to realize that people were coming to their homes," he continued. "If you are part of an organization like this, you tend to be careful about your security. When something disturbs that sense of security, it's unnerving. One thing that was understood fairly early on was that the students would go to some areas that didn't have street signs, and in fact they would already have directions to these areas. That indicated that someone had been there prior to them or had electronically figured where the agents were located -- using credit card records, things of that nature. This sat in the back of people's minds as to the resources necessary to do that."

"I will tell you that there is still great debate over what [the art students] specific purposes were and are," Stability went on. "When you take an individual who picks up a group of individuals from an airport, individuals who supposedly have no idea what they're doing in-country, who fly on over from a foreign land, whose airline tickets could in some instances total a value greater than $15,000 -- and who get picked up at the airport and drive specifically to one individual's home, which they know the exact directions to: Yeah, you could say there's a problem here. You don't need to be a rocket scientist to understand that. The overarching item is that a lot of work went into going to people's houses to sell them junk from China in plastic frames."

But to what end? What was the value? What was to be gained? "Unknown, unknown," Stability said. "You could be anywhere from D.C. to daylight on that one. Even on our side, you have to take all the stuff and draw it all out and clean out all the chaff. I will tell you that from those who are working ground zero [of this case], it is a difficult puzzle to put together, and it is not complete by any means." Even the spooks are baffled; they have no answers.

Somewhere the spirit of Robert Anton Wilson is laughing his ass.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Retro-Futurist Bikes

For your Gernsbackian delight, Well Medicated blog has a post up with 45 covers of classic pulp science magazines. Check out the title link for all kinds of groovy domed houses, jet-packs, and flying cars. I have of course selected all the cycle related covers, for your immediate edification.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Solving Motorcycle Parking Problems

A Kent County man who got fed up with the run-around his requests for two-wheeler specific parking received from the local council, took matters into his own hands and painted the lines for a cycle parking spot himself. This story just made my morning.

He painted a space for one motorcycle and carefully added the letters ‘MC’, only to realise there was no way he could park his bike in it. “It would be a bit obvious who did it,” he explained.

Full story and a photo on MCN

Monday, November 24, 2008

Marcus Dairy Prints

Since moving to Fairfield County, I've heard a lot about Marcus Dairy, a local diner which is something of a biker Mecca. "Will you be at the Dairy Sunday?" is the local motorcyclists' version of "See ya later." I hadn't really gotten a chance to go, until Oct. 12, which just happened to be the last "Bike Show" there. No scooters in attendance, but there was plenty of target practice for shooting with my new camera.

Something about the heavily customized Bonneville above, just begged for the Sepia treatment.
I don't know that I'd ever really want a Harley, (though the Nightster is a very attractive bike) but man all that chrome really photographs nicely.

Though there were some other brands presents, Harley Davidsons dominated the landscape.

I am really loving my new camera. It has really opened up a whole new of photography for me. Having studied photography and digital imaging in college, I know my way around an SLR and Photoshop. But having all the control of an SLR without having the hassle and expense of developing film is very liberating. And even though I have a decent amount of experience in a color darkroom, I've always preferred making prints digitally. Using RAW files, as well as some of the tools which have been added to Photoshop in the few years since I graduated, makes the whole experience much more rewarding. Though it still lacks the tactile sensuality, working on these images gave me much of the joy of manipulating values which I get from drawing, and the intoxicating play of color I find in painting.
I may eventually use some of these images as the basis for paintings, but many of them, like this bagger above, feel like solid works on their own. Strangely, I don't have much inclination to drawing and painting images of motorcycles or scooters. If I pick up a pencil or brush, I usually want to paint people. It just feels natural to me. But using a camera and computer feels natural for this subject matter. By the time I was in the final stages of editing these images, I almost felt like I was painting.

Prints in a variety of sizes are available of all these images in my Imagekind Gallery.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

3D CT Animation of Unhelmeted Rider's Head

Check the title link for the most compelling argument for wearing a helmet you'll see this week.