The Bumblebee and the Vespa 2014

I think it's time for me to redefine what this new blog is about. In the past I've posted individual blogs for motorcycle/motor scooter rides to places like Alaska, Nova Scotia, Key West, Mexico, Canada, New York, etc. That's all well and good but it seems nowadays I'm dividing my rides into shorter ones comprised of two or more weeks each on different bikes. The total time and mileage is about the same, it's just split into multiple rides with a break somewhere in the middle.

The summer of 2014 serves as a good example of that wherein I rode south to Tombstone, AZ on my '92 BMW R100GS Bumblebee/Ural sidecar rig, (phew!) then returned home for a few days and set out again on my '07 Vespa 250ie motor scooter to visit Canada. That summer has gone and the seasons have changed as will the reports, some will be about shorter rides, some will be about maintenance, and maybe on occasion I'll post a photo or two just for interest. I may even introduce other bikes, a few of which are lurking under cover in the barn...

Navigating this blog is easy, just scroll down the list of posts by date to whatever interests you, click on it and you're in. Photos can be viewed in larger format by clicking on them.

Finally, if you'd care to post comments please do so, I'd love to hear from you. CLICK ON "NO COMMENTS" TO ENTER YOUR REMARKS. That seems really silly but that's how it works. The entry window is located at the bottom of each screen. Thanks for visiting, I hope you enjoy your stay.


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Oct 21 - Vespa 250 - Sequel to The Fall Sunshine Ride

Remember when I passed through the mystery burg a few days back? Today I decided I'd have another run through the area to see if I could find out its name.

The day began with a photo shoot of my newly installed KAOKO cruise control plus Jerry needed pics of a new jacket he's reviewing for a bikers publication. We met for lunch at our usual haunt, the Coquille Broiler, then headed to the nearby local county park.

Jerry's cool new riding jacket

Shooting a closeup of the new KAOKO cruise control for Vespas

After the photo shoot was over Jerry headed home to do the work thing while I rode out towards the small mystery burg I'd passed through the other day. This time I took a slightly different approach from the west side, bypassing the ten miles of gravel road. The recent rain had no doubt made it into a slimy mess and I'd as soon not fall on my butt.

Sumner - the only sign I could find

Arriving at the small community of Sumner - no longer a mystery, I rode all the way through it, did a U-turn and rode back to the intersection I'd paused at before.

Looking back on Sumner...What the heck is that large building?

Now that the name of the community has been resolved a new mystery has risen; namely that large white building perched above the settlement. Too big to be a school for such a small town, maybe it's a secret government lab or maybe a commune for Zombies... I see another ride will be required soon.

My most favorite stunt is to see how far I can ride with my keys stuck in the trunk lock...duh

Last time through I'd taken the Old Wagon Road to Coos Bay; today I'd follow the Catching Slough Road along the waterway north.

The salmon are running and I saw several fishermen working the slough

Rain water has caused high water nearly everywhere

A nice convenient rest stop awaits the occasional traveler

Cool habitat for the local feathered denizens 

Bovines...I love 'em

It's beginning to look nasty up there....rain's probably on its way soon

Almost at the end of the road, the bridge to Coos Bay looms ahead

One more mystery for my next trip - what is that thing anyway, a dry dock perhaps?

Once over the bridge I ride through East Side into the south end of Coos Bay where I gas up for the ride home. It's quiet out, not much traffic and the remainder of the ride without rain is pleasant. I'll return soon, really need to solve the two new mysteries.

Take care, keep the rubber side down.


Oct 21 - Vespa 250 - KAOKO Cruise Control

Recently I've been working with the KAOKO firm in South Africa who make some of the best cruise controls for bikes you can buy. I'd contacted them to see if they'd consider building one for my Vespa and it turned out they've been doing a bit of research into scooters as far back as August, maybe even further.
You've got to like a firm that uses an elephant in its logo

Working with Product Designer Roy Mentis I responded to his request for pics and dimensions of my Vespa's throttle control. This was easy enough to do and gave me an opportunity to try out my digital micrometer.

Bare stock bar end

Taking measurements

Bar end weight removed

Riley knows where everything goes....

My photography skills are very limited but I sent off the pics and hoped they'd suffice. A few weeks went by, more emails flew back and forth and my unit was finally ready to ship. Then the SAPO - South Africa Post Office went out on strike adding an unwelcome delay. Bugger all!

Eventually everything must have gotten sorted and the package arrived at our post office in Bandon. I opened the long awaited prize and marveled at how small it was.
My mom always said good things come in small packages

So this must surely be a good thing, eh?

The unit arrived without instructions of any sort so I figured the guys at KAOKO must think I'm good at solving riddles. OK then I thought, let's see what happens when a complete novice has a go at installing something he's never laid eyes on before.

It took me around ten minutes from start to finish, probably longer then needed since I figured out a non-working alternate way to assemble it and had to retrace my steps from the beginning. In the end it was dead simple so maybe instructions aren't really necessary.

Here's what it looks like on the scooter:

There's much to be said for clean engineering. Keep it simple and it works.

To operate you simply slide your hand over the KAOKO knob and twist the throttle to whatever speed you want. The cruise control holds it until you turn the throttle down, it's very simple and self-intuitive to use. 
Jerry Smith takes a photo of it at the county park in Coquille
Jerry researches products for various motorcycle publications. I think his Bonneville could use one so who knows, maybe a KAOKO cruise control is in his future.

After our photo shoot session was over I decided to take another run up the road to see how it worked and also find out the name of the small mystery burg I'd passed through the other day. I'll save that for the next session.

In the mean time I can tell you this about the KAOKO cruise control for Vespas: It works great and should prove to be a welcome asset for anyone who rides, especially on open roads like I do.

Til next time keep the rubber down...


Nov 1, 2014 - Update: The verdict's in, I've ridden enough miles with the KAOKO cruise control and can now say I'm truly comfortable with it. At first I thought I might only engage it on longer rides but as time passes I find myself using it more and more each ride regardless of distance.

I'm not sure how soon it will be available here in the states but I expect it won't be long and in the mean time those who are interested might wish to contact *KAOKO directly.

*Thanks to all the stupid spammers I can't provide an active link directly to KAOKO so you'll have to copy their address and paste it into your URL field, then it will work. Thankfully it only takes a moment to do that. Here 'tis:


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Oct 12 - Vespa 250 - Fall Sunshine Ride

Today I met up with Jerry Smith for lunch at one of our favorite haunts, The Coquille Broiler [ original name, eh? ] located in Coquille, OR. We like it because it's about half way between our homes and also right at the beginning of some great back roads riding. The food's not bad either.

Talk about diversity!
Leaving the Broiler we set out towards Fairview, located north of Coquille on some of the best twisties in the area. The sun continued to shine, the temperature was balmy, and I rode with my face shield open loving every mile. When we arrived at Fairview I decided to turn left and head west towards Coos Bay while Jerry turned his Bonneville right onto the track that would lead him to Myrtle Point.

I'd been trailing behind and Jerry was just pulling his black Bonneville away from the stop sign onto his route to Myrtle Point when I arrived. I beeped the Vespa's silly little horn and waved at him as I turned west thinking he'd seen me. Not so as it turned out.

Later in the day he sent the following email:

"When I noticed you weren't behind me I went back to the store at Four Corners and asked the two riders if a Red Vespa had gone the other way. They said yes. I wasn't sure if you were just going up for a look around so I went that way for about a mile. When I didn't find you I came back and talked to the two guys. One was riding a Honda NC700 (like Honda World Gary's). He said he thought he'd met and talked to you at the Bandon coffee shop."

Jerry and I ride together frequently and it's not unusual to become separated so he continued back towards Myrtle Point while I meandered on towards Coos Bay.

A couple of miles out of Four Corners the pavement stops and a ten-mile stretch of gravel road begins, one that I'd only experienced by car so this would be interesting to say the least. Two-wheel beasties all seem to exhibit different handling characteristics and I was curious how the Vespa would behave.

Gravel...mud...slime...what's not to like?
I have to admit I took my time running the next ten miles but it turned out I was the sole traveler on this day so my slow pace didn't matter. The scooter behaved admirably and I never once worried about falling on my head. Washboards were common and as expected they can jar your fillings out but that was the worst of it.

Helloooo......No one home?
Once out of the woodsy area I stopped to watch a small group* of mules doing their thing. Whatever the heck that is...

*Pack? herd? gaggle? Not sure how mules are accounted for.
Fuzzy buggers, eh? 
Eventually I arrived at a little burg without a name, at least one that I could see. Later I asked Jerry if he knew what it was and although he'd passed through it on a daily basis for years he didn't know either. Being non-incorporated means you're not on the map I guess.

Mystery burg...
I'd ridden by this intersection but turned back when I realized I might be missing a chance to explore new territory.

I took the road to Coos River. The GPS wasn't registering anything. Hmm...
Facing the direction I'd just came from I turned left. Later on I tried to enlarge this photo in an attempt to read the name of the volunteer fire dept but it's just too fuzzy. The mystery burg remains a mystery till my next ride through. 
Shortly after turning onto the new route I came upon another intersection, this time the choice was for the Old Wagon Road. How could anyone resist?

Hey lookit that...!

My kind of mooring....sort of sneak up on the bank and hop off the boat.
I continued following the water ways and admired the homes along the way. This area would be great to live in.
This says it all, just park your boat in your back yard.
Very private digs. I'd love to know the history of this place.
If you've never lived on or near water you really can't appreciate the term "flood zone".

The red Vespa, wot a sweetie! So easy to ride.
Coos Bay lies just around the bend up ahead; lumber mills are still a big deal in our part of the country. Timber is truly a sustainable commodity. Lucky for us.

Tidewater affects life along the river

You can see the bridge crossing over into Coos Bay on the far right...squint a little, eh?
Arriving in Coos Bay I noticed the fuel light was protesting so I gassed up and hit US 101 for the rest of the 30-mile ride home. It was a perfect day and the ride was as good as it gets. I'd guesstimate the mileage around 100, give or take.

Ride safe...LL