All City Scooter Community Day was a smashing success, despite being run completely by volunteers and tossed together in less than two months. Susan Richardson of Scoot About did a bang-up job organizing the shindig, which brought together everyone in the scooter community: riders, dealers, vendors, gear peddlers, clubs and even politicians.
Seattle City Councilmember Jan Drago was there representing City Council’s transportation committee. She and Councilmember Sally Clark have been working with us to improve Seattle’s scootability and introduce laws protecting our bikes when they are parked in the war zone known as the city street.
Councilmember Sally Clark’s office is seeking input from scooterists about where to establish scooter parking in the city. It’s rare to have an opportunity like this to provide feedback, so if you ride a cycle in Seattle, get on it! They have requested specific locations and even photographs if you have them.
The weather was looking iffy at 10:00 AM when about dozen of us gathered to begin setting up. Dawn Brightwell, V.P. of the Vespa Club of Seattle and a Westenders SC member, was the volunteer coordinator. That woman is a born organizer. Well, when dealing with us, her efforts were more akin to Circus Ringmaster – but she always pulls it off with style and a smile. Luckily, the sun muscled its way through the clouds and made a grand entrance at noon when the event began, simulating a beautiful summer day and leaving our Northwest Gothic attendees with vicious sunburns. Being able to play in the sun was worth all the aloe vera in the world.
The turnout was unbelievable for a first run. Lots of clubs joined in the fun: the >Westenders with our fearless leader Roger Tango holding the fort, VCOS, SQREAM, Seattle Scooter Meet-up Group, and the Northwest Ruckus Alliance was represented in full force.
Soundspeed Scooters was there with two electric scooters (they are also doing electric conversions of vintage Vespas… the Future is Now!).
Vespa Seattle brought one of the new Vespa S series to tease us with. What a gorgeous scooter. The model on display was a robust clementine sorbet color with a blocky square headlight, super corsa seat and snazzy styling. If I wasn’t so spoiled by having 250cc’s under me, I’d be lusting after one of those in white.
Ducati brought a new Stella, which simply served as contrast to the highly-customized Stella_3 Mary Vu debuted. Her bike looks absolutely stunning and makes the stock avocado Stella naked and boring by comparison. But scooters are a perfect clean slate, just begging for self-expression, hence their appeal. At times we vent mercilessly upon their blank canvas.
We set aside the parking lot of Scoot About for scooters only, and there must have been hundreds of scooters at any given point throughout the day, constantly coming and going. Every bike imaginable was represented – there was even a Honda Elite 80! The Northwest Ruckus Alliance arrived en masse in a cinematic moment, a dozen low-riding rebels on growling scooters. They were an enthusiastic and agreeable bunch.
The best part of the day was bringing all types of scooters and scooterists together. I don’t experience it as much as I thought I would, but there can be an element of Hipper Than Thou from some riders who are certain their brand of scooter is the only way to go and the rest of you can go to hell.
I think the fact that Vespa makes new automatic scooters narrowed that chasm a bit; traditionally the community was divided sharply down the vintage vs. modern line. While some people do subscribe to that mentality, Vespa and Lambretta adding new models every year has encouraged us all to just get along.
There’s nothing to be gained by towing the party line so hard you alienate people. When it comes down to it, we all love scooters, and there are a million reasons to ride one. I love vintage Vespas as much as anyone, but I also have a place in my heart for embracing technology. Especially if that technology – like a liquid-cooled, fuel-injected, four-stroke, automatic 250cc engine – means I can spend more time riding and less time wrenching.
I’ve got the perfect set-up: my invincible daily rider Aphrodite, and my temperamental two-stroke rainy day tinker-vixen the Frankenstella. There’s room for everyone – twist-and-go, vintage bikes, maxi-scoots or whatever ilk. As you know by now, my philosophy is “two wheels, one love”.
A couple of Honda Big Ruckus scooters showed up, which I was disturbingly drawn to. They are giant, beefy bikes that make me want to go off-roading just looking at them. With enormous amounts of storage, they would be indispensable camping companions. Strap all your gear on them and you’re off!
I spoke to one of the proud Big Ruckus owners, CJ, who had been riding it for a year and loved it. You can’t buy them new in the U.S. anymore but if you keep an eye out, you come across them on the used market. The scooter classifieds are rife with impulse buys being unloaded in near-new condition for significant discounts.
Kurt from Cafe Racer was doling out hot dogs in his usual entertaining fashion, and other sponsors of the event made generous donations of gift cards which were raffled off. I actually won a Tutta Bella gift card, which I’m tres excited about because their Mediterranean pizza is to die for.
At the end of the event, a few organized group rides departed, and I jumped in on the crew en route to Alki. The ride was led by Doc on his stunning restored Vespa VBB, twin flags billowing out behind him. Doc is a superb ride leader and an incredible source of information and encouragement for me. He’s been building, riding and working on scooters for many decades and can fix anything. He’s also really good at leading rides, setting a comfortable pace for everyone, keeping us together through intersections and lights, and choosing beautiful routes.
A loop of West Seattle on a sunny day is hard to beat as a crowd-pleaser, and the crowd was indeed pleased. I rode alongside Guy on his new Dragon Red GTS, Aphrodite’s twin. We were joined by a Yamaha Morphous, which when parked at the event, drew a crowd of dropped-jaw spectators. There was even a tape measure involved so we could compare the wheel base (64″ !!!) with our mere mortal scooters. That bike is a two-wheeled limousine. Kind of reminds me of the Honda Helix, which you don’t see many of.
What a fabulous day. I hope we can do it again next year. At least now we’ve got twelve months to plan. Maybe by next summer the Frankenstella will be ready for her unveiling and I can park her next to Vu’s work of art, in the long, colorful row of shiny customized Stellas.
One can dream.