Sunday, September 25, 2005

Not All Scooters Are Italian

When I was researching scooters I found all the names and information confusing. Of some importance to me was country of origin. If I was going to add to a trade imbalance I at least wanted to know more informaton.

I'm making no judgements here about build quality from one country to the next. I have a Honda which I am quite please with. Asian countries like India have used scooters as primary transportation for decades so they must know a thing or two about making them. But those Italians have raised the scooter to an art form.

Here are a list of counties and the models sold in the USA from each:


  • TN'G (two new models are assembled in the USA)

  • Derbi (Part of the Piaggio Group)
United States:

  • TN'G (new "Low Boy" 150 and DR150 only, engine source unknown)

  • Schwinn Scooters (Company is based in Madison WI but most likely import from China)
Various Countries:

  • Tomos (has manufacturing facilities in Slovenia, Holland, Mexico and Ecuador)

Schwinn Introduces New Gas Scooters!

Schwinn, known for bicycles, has just introduced a line of motor scooters. The company, founded in the late 19th Century in Chicago, went through a major bankruptcy in the early 80s and the family lost control. Schwinn is now a subsidiary of Pacific-Cycle which ownes other well-known brands such as GT, Mongoose, Murray and Roadmaster.

Currently Schwinn offers three 49cc 4-stroke models; the Campus ($1,399), Collegiate ($1,595), and Graduate ($1,699). They are just now building their dealer network.

Click here to see their very smart website.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

A Detailed Look at 2006 EPA Rules

The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has enacted new emissions regulations for all motorcycles - including scooters - for the 2006 model year. Click here for the 49-page PDF file.

Although most manufacturers make large engine scooters most are either 49cc or 150cc. A few fall in between such as the 80cc Honda Elite and the 125cc Yahama Vino 125. Until now the small 49cc models have not been regulated by the EPA. For the 2006 model year and later the EPA has created a new "Class I-A" which is 0 - 49cc engines. "Class I-B" is made up of the old Class I, 50cc - 169cc.

While 49cc scooters have not had any regulation popular scooters with 150cc engines have faced regulation since the early 80s. It was in the early 80s when classic scooters like the Vespa were removed from the US market.

For 2006 Class I (A&B) and Class II (170cc-279cc) scooters must limit Hydrocarbon emissions to 1.0 gram/kilometer, a substantial reduction from the current limit of 5.0 g/km HC. CO emission limits will remain unchanged at 12.0 g/km.
    Europe has a much greater use of scooters and motorcycles than the US. As a result they are more serious about controlling emissions. The European Union standard for 2006 has a limit of 0.3 g/km of HC and 2.0 g/km for CO.

    What does all this mean to scooter buyers in the US? 2005 and older models are grandfathered and not subject to the new rules. However, new models will be cleaner. The EPA says the average certification level for 2003 Class I models (50-169) was 1.3 g/km HC and 7.2 g/km for CO so manufacturers will have to clean up their act for 2006.

    Four-stroke engines have a much easier time meeting the new regulations than oil burning two-stroke engines.

    What about that old Vespa or Lambretta in the garage? Well, it is a major polluter just like many vintage cars from the pre-emissions days. This is not a reason to scrap a classic scooter. Restore it and enjoy it much the same way owners of classic cars do - sparingly.

    The more people we can get out of their cars and SUVs and onto newer low-emissions scooters the better off our region will be from a pollution perspective. And less pollution means a higher quality of life for everyone.

    Vespa-themed coffee house & restaurant

    Martin Van Der Werf of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch is reporting St. Louis may have a new Vespa-themed coffee house/restaurant on Washington Avenue:
    Tentatively called Vespresso, the shop may open as early as November on the ground floor of the Paristyle Loft building at 1517 Washington. It will be a collaboration of Stephen Zompa, who owns Vespa St. Louis, the area's only scooter dealership on Delmar, and his sister, Melissa Giovanna Cassilly, who is married to City Museum owner Bob Cassilly.
    Sounds like this new venture could be a great new hang out for us scooter enthusiests. We'll just need to get the city to convert a car parking space to multiple scooter spaces!

    Sunday, September 18, 2005

    Low-Emissions Two-Strokes on the Market

    Saving gas is certainly good for the environment but did you know many two-stroke scooters (old and new) emit more hydrocarbons than an average SUV? See Bajaj USA for their comparison on emissions.

    Generally speaking four-stroke engines offer reduced emissions compared to two-stroke engines. More and more scooter manufacturers such as Honda, Vespa, Aprilia and Bajaj are using four-stroke engines to meet new 2006 EPA standards.

    But two-stroke engines are still popular due to great fuel economy, increased power and cooler operation. As a result companies such as Piaggio (parent of Vespa) and Aprilia have turned to direct injection to meet emissions standards while still offering the benefits of a two-stroke.

    The two-stroke 49cc Vespa ET2 can be seen at Vespa St. Louis and the Aprilia Scarabeo 50 Ditech is available through the Extreme Toy Store.

    Friday, September 16, 2005

    Ride For Relief Sunday September 18, 2005

    Vespa St. Louis and City Museum are sponsoring a "Ride for Relief" to raise money, clothing and other needed items for victims of Hurricane Katrina. The scooter community will come together Sunday, September 18, 2005 at the Vespa St. Louis showroom on Delmar at 11am.

    For more information click here.

    Two Yahoo Groups for St. Louis Area Scooterists

    With so much interest in scooters in the St. Louis area we have two different Yahoo Groups to meet demand!

    The older and larger group is St. Louis Scooterist Scene. This group have some lively discussions, sometimes off topic, but always interesting. While open to all scooters most are focused on vintage models and making modifications. Members are a wealth of knowledge on scooter mechanics.

    A newer but growing group is the St. Louis Scooter Riders Club. As the name says this group is about organizing rides, often on Sunday afternoons. If you ride a newer scooter and simply want to ride once a week this is probably the group for you.

    Some are members of both groups while others are members of just one. Check them both out and see which works for you.