Scoot Commute

On Vespa, On Trail, and other random things

Posted in Bike Buying, Campus, Daily Commute, Honda CT90 (1967), Parking, Vespa P by sbahn on 2009/08/07

I rode the Vespa every day this week save for Monday, when I had to go to Trader Joe’s. The Buddy simply has outstanding storage capabilities. I park the Vespa in a different spot than the Buddy, and I’ve now been called out twice on it.

Yesterday Jim, one of the physical plant guys who has ridden dirt bikes for 40+ years and gives me major respect, asked why I’m parking it with the cars. And today, when I was walking through the lot and up toward my building, the guard asked if I needed directions, and I yelled over, “I should hope not!”, and he laughed, as he didn’t realize it was me (we’re having in-service for the Providence school teachers this week so there are a lot of people of around). He asked why I’m not parking in my special spot, and I told him what I told Jim: this scoot has to be kick-started and I don’t want you guys watching. Well, that got as big a guffaw as I got from Jim.

The P on Campus

The P on Campus

So this is my new spot. I don’t think I’ll continue to use this space when the kids come back because the guards can’t see it. Not that I think the kids would mess with it, but you never know. I’d be a little annoyed if it was tipped or moved. Oh, and it’s been running great. I think I should replace the broken brake handle (I got a new one, just haven’t done the swap yet) because it’s annoying me. And I think the front brake needs some adjustment; it’s kinda mushy.

I had a cop behind me today so I had to go sorta slow on the only part of my commute that could get fast (down where Dean turns into Pleasant Valley) and I totally forgot I had put the ADV flag hanging off the back rack. I guess it’s not blocking anything because I didn’t get a talking to. My favorite part of the cop is that he eventually moved into the right lane (I always stay in the left) and then proceeded to go straight at the merge…just like all the other jerks who use the right lane as a way to cut off those who plan ahead at the light at the Coca-Cola plant. The new motto should be “To serve, to protect, and to cut you off”.

Sooooo, on to other things. Yet another Trail 90! We wanted two of them, but we really shouldn’t be spending any money right now (gotta paint the house). However, a CT90 popped up on craigslist in Marion, Massachusetts, which is where Erik’s grandmother lives. He called the guy (“what, you haven’t called him yet?”) and we went out last night. He had called his grandmother earlier to let her know we would be stopping by (we wanted to take her out for dinner), but we got the answering machine (so cute that she has a machine now!).

We go by her house and see her car, but we don’t stop as we have an appointment with the Trail guy. We get to his house (it’s really pretty where he lives, all these lovely tall pine trees…I don’t know this part of Marion at all) and the Trail is sitting right there in the driveway. The guy is called Steve and he’s really nice. He had the bike up at his house in Maine to ride around with his daughter, who, at 16, is now more interested in boys. But he did say that she’s still a gearhead, so that’s good for womankind!

The bike: well, let’s see. He had done some weird stuff to it. The left handle was an actual clutch. It’s a one down, three up. Finding neutral is a bit of a bear and there’s no neutral light. The right handle was front brake; back brake was right foot. There’s no key. He turns it off by opening the choke. There’s no battery. The headlamp works by toggle switch. The engine has been replaced with the Lifan (not a bad thing).

The idea was that I would get a yellow CT90 and Erik would take the red one we got on Sunday. I like yellow. I love yellow. I would only ride/drive yellow things if I could. I wish Honda had offered the Fit in yellow. You cannot be angry or sad or non-committed when you see yellow.

This bike is just too messed up for me. Don’t get me wrong…it’s a great bike. The engine is new. But the cool thing about the Trail is the ridiculous clutchless gearing. So we talked. I said, look, for the price, this thing is a great deal. But I want to keep the red one for me. I think that made him happy, because when he took the red one out, he had a difficult time with the clutchless stuff (in other words, he grabbed the left handle to shift and did a herky-herky swervy stoppie thing). Me, on the other, got on the red one and *bam!* I’m off, in fourth, flying over the speed bumps on my street. I looooove that thing. I think because I switch between the shifties and the twisties, it was easier for me to immediately adapt to both handles being brakes. As Mr. Shift-Snoot, I think he likes that he can continue to use the left handle as a clutch. A win-win!

The bad news: no paperwork. And because states are squeezing money from every source they can, the title service is now $145 for a bike of this vintage. Now, neither of us are very good negotiators. You’d think, him growing up right outside of New York on Lawn Guyland and me living 10 years on the Lower East Side, we’d have some skillz, but alas, we’re awful. From somewhere I don’t know where, Erik says to the guy, well, we really like it but we’ll want to plate it. I ask if there’s any old paperwork anywhere (all we need is an old registration or insurance card), but he has nothing. (We did find an Iowa registration sticker beneath the seat.) Erik says, “your price is very fair, but would you take…” and the guy meets us in the middle. I couldn’t believe it. Sold, done, here’s your cash, let’s get it into the back of the Fit.

Erik finagles the Trail to fit in the Fit

Erik finagles the Trail to fit in the Fit

Steve didn’t realize that we actually intended on shoving it into the back of the Fit and bringing it home that night. He didn’t believe us when we said it’ll fit. But it did!

Oh, and it included an extra gas tank and the skid plate which is currently not attached.

We stop at Erik’s grandmother’s house, and she had just returned from an evening meal with friends. As I was very hungry, we didn’t stay long, and she didn’t need any odds-and-ends done around the house. We did manage to leave with two mugs (#1 and #2) and the chocolate cake with white frosting that I love so much that she had in the freezer in the event we were to stop by. She was in great spirits. She’s 85 and lives alone, and we’re the closest relatives by location so I like to stop in every now and again. I’m jealous (yes, there is no better word) he still has his grandmother at his age. I lost mine oh so long ago.

We stop at the Gateway Tavern for burgers with native Marion blue cheese (yummmm!). The place was going off at 8pm on Thursday night. We had to wait for a table (not long).

at the Gateway Tavern in Marion, MA

at the Gateway Tavern in Marion, MA

We must have waited less than 5 minutes for a server to come over once we were seated (the place was packed to the gills with large group tables, the bar was bursting as I would have normally sat there, a guy was playing guitar and the Sox were playing the Yankees) when a manager comes over and apologizes for the delay in service and offers us the first drink on the house. I couldn’t believe it. We’re not known there; I’ve only been there a handful of times. We usually go to the Wave when we visit Marion. I couldn’t believe it. The food was great…the burger was nice and crispy black on the outside and warm and pink on the inside with dripping blue cheese. Ahhh! Erik had a side of onion rings, but I opted for the veg of the day because, well, I’m trying to be a little bit better with balancing food.

We finally get back to Providence and turn onto our street. Ron is sitting out on his porch with this blonde chick; we stop and Ron comes down and takes a peek. Erik parks the car at the house and I introduce myself to the woman. Turns out she’s Beth’s colleague. The woman says to me, “Are you the scooter people?! Beth is so cute on her scooter, and she said she lives next to scooter people.” I hang my head in shame and admit that, yes, indeed, we are the scooter people. The woman, Sarah, is moving into one of Ron’s apartments on September 1st so maybe I’ll make a new convert!

First run in Elmwood

First run in Elmwood

Erik and I drag the Trail out of the Fit. He tightens the handlebars and takes it for a ride. Then my turn. Finally, he locks it to the ladder and bbq in the backyard and I toss a cover over it for the night. We’ll have to figure out how to fit it into the garage tomorrow.

Me on the 1967 CT90...if youve never ridden one of these things, you simply do not know what youre missing

Me on the 1967 CT90...if you've never ridden one of these things, you simply do not know what you're missing


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