I’m a big believer in the online scooter forums and I find them an essential source of information, inspiration, entertainment and drama. Each forum offers these key elements in varying amounts. StellaSpeed (note: now retired) is packed with useful tips, and the users will immediately jump in to help you troubleshoot – if you can weather the abuse.
It’s not a forum for the faint-of-heart and the testosterone can run a little high. But using the search function will turn up just about any issue you could ever have with your two-stroke, followed by a dozen possible fixes.
Users post photographs of their scooters, and because Stellas are super-customizable, they’re easy to spot on the road. For the past year, I would pass a deep shiny black Stella with a sidecar, marked with a skull and crossbones. It belonged to Miggidy on StellaSpeed, who posted frequently and often had useful suggestions.
He also knew a bit about the Life and Times of Frankenstella before I got her; perhaps more information than I wanted to know. In any case, last week Miggidy messaged a bunch of us Seattleites for a ride he was organizing on Sunday from Volunteer Park.
I was planning on doing the ride Sunday, especially since it was leaving just blocks from my apartment, but my chores ran longer than expected and it wasn’t looking like I’d make it in time. So I decided to mop my floors instead of playing in the sunshine with my scooter friends, a decision which promptly lost its luster when I heard a Stella pass beneath my open window at 5:00.
In a related story, Vu called moments later and said she had just stopped outside my building, so I dropped the mop and went down to see her. Vu had gone to Volunteer Park to meet up for the ride, but there was nobody there. She looped the park three times and then gave in. I felt better about my Responsible Decision to clean since the ride apparently wasn’t happening.
Stella_3 had lost a front wheel bolt on Saturday, and Vu was uneasy riding around without it. I offered the Frankenstella as a donor for a replacement bolt. She attempted a transplant, but strangely the threads didn’t match.
While we were standing in my driveway, frowning into Stella_3’s hub with our hands on our hips, I heard a modded two-stroke on the horizon. I peered down the block to see Miggidy’s shiny black Stella and sidecar with the skull and crossbones bombing down the street.
I waved wildly to Miggidy, which probably wasn’t necessary as Vu and I stood there with Stella_3, my GTS, the Frankenstella and an open garage door. We were hanging out in scooter central on the busiest strip in Capitol Hill.
He pulled into my driveway and there were introductions all around – funny because we’d all been chatting on the forum for a year. He was en route to the ride that he organized, late because he’d fallen asleep. Since Vu’s report revealed no potential scooterists awaiting his tardy arrival, we hung out in the driveway and talked shop.
Miggidy’s Stella is absolutely stunning and he’s done a lot of work on it, both mechanically and cosmetically. It’s a low-profile bike, slinking close to the ground, sinister and devilishly handsome.
While explaining how he had put a stabilizing shim in his throttle handgrip, he and Vu decided to perform impromptu surgery on Stella_3 to do the same. In a couple of quick flicks of the wrist, Miggidy exposed Stella_3’s brains, and I stood staring, transfixed by the swirl of colored wires.
I’d exposed the electrical of my Stella once before, removing the horncast to gain access to the wiring. Now, most normal people with a new Stella dig in there to tear out that infuriating turn signal dinger. It sounds an awful lot like an alarm clock I used to have. I can always tell on group rides when there’s a Stella nearby because the shrill alarm bleats incessantly at intersections.
The Frankenstella’s ralph/louie dinger (the technical term) had been surgically removed before I got her. As a result, I found myself repeatedly leaving my signal on. I tried desperately, but the short-term memory – she’s anotsogood. My synapses fire more slowly in my advanced age.
I would quickly become distracted by a bright shiny thing and my blinker would be a distant memory. I’d only realize it was blinking when oncoming drivers would gesture the “go ahead” to turn in front of them, while I stared at them in confusion.
I believe it’s important to respect one’s limitations, and knowing that I simply couldn’t remember to cancel my turn signal 100% of the time, I thought it best to reinstate the Bleating Dinger of Torment.
Well, Radio Shack has a wide assortment of dingers, and my new one was considerably less obtrusive. In fact, when I upgraded to a Sito+ exhaust, I could barely hear the tone anymore. It was just loud enough to jostle my subconscious and keep me present.
The electrical wiring in the Stella headset is a thing of beauty. To be honest, I find the innards of any scooter captivating. I’d like to photograph a series of close-ups. A framed set of macro shots would make a great gift for a scooterist – intimate portraits of their bike. I’ll have to add that to my project list.
Anyways, Miggidy and Vu went to town on Stella_3 and I took lots of photos and mental notes. It’s loads of fun to be in a community of people who literally do drive-by repairs. We pool our resources, help one another out and learn new tricks every day. I can’t stress how important this has been for my own sanity when troubleshooting my remarkably temperamental scooters.
Sometimes all I have to offer is my garage and my tools, but if you’ve got endless knowledge and nowhere to apply it, we’d make a good pair. We’ll be having more ScooterLust Garage Clinics in the near future, as soon as I get my cowls back from Custom Classic Paintworks. I believe chrome kit installation is next on my list.
My friend and fellow club member Stubbie, whom I met on StellaSpeed before making his real world acquaintance, rigged a handy set-up for his cowl protectors by installing two wing nuts on the rear bumper for easy removal. The crash bars make the cowls notoriously difficult to remove, hampering your access to the spare tire and engine. And based on my past experience, I’ll be removing those cowls with startling frequency.
When they were done tinkering with Stella_3, Miggidy took Vu for a ride in the sidecar. She took this photo – you can just hear the Wheeeeeeeee!!!! echoing through the skies…