At this time in 2002 we were only statrting to get busy with the finer details of opening a scooter shop. Details that were requiring a decision included: Which brands should we sell?
Who will supply our parts and accessories? Where should the new shop reside, and what should it look like?
Twelve years ago in January, we had just decided to give it a go with the grand experiment of opening a scooter shop. The fact that we had nearly every detail to iron out makes the reality that we opened for business only four months later a bit stunning in retrospect.
But we were young(er), perhaps, and naive, to be sure. Small details such as incorporating, zoning, neighborhood approval,and tax identification numbers all seemed like minor inconveniences compared to getting a 6000 square foot, raw warehouse space ready for an opening day that was determined to be As Soon As Possible.
In retrospect I can only describe what took place over the span of late January until mid May of 2002 as a miracle. A phone call might reveal that IF we could meet with the neighborhood group that evening, we MIGHT get on the zoning agenda for the meeting the next week, otherwise it would be sixty more days…..
It all came together!? I should add that the government bureaucracies that we have worked with in Minneapolis have been nothing short of outstanding in every step of the journey. It always seemed that people were rooting for our success.
So we enter year thirteen New stuff. New models being launched. Probably some of the biggest news in several years. Stay tuned!
Join us for this year’s Cabin Fever Sale & Celebration on January 31st and February 1st.
We haven’t had a lot in the way of new scooter models to discuss lately, but this week has produced a couple of bright prospects. Coming just a few months after the unquestionably successful re-design of their BV platform, Piaggio/Vespa has worked some long needed magic with the Fly 150. The new Fly sports a 3 valve, single overhead cam, 150cc engine. It also introduces fuel injection to the platform, vastly improves the under-seat storage capacity, and brings it all at a very reasonable $ 2899.00 MSRP.* A very limited supply of the Fly 150 are available at this time.
In their 50th year, Kymco has rolled out another model for the U.S. market. The Compagno 110 is on the floor at Scooterville. Big under-seat storage and a 112cc fuel injected powerplant are just a couple reasons to consider a new Compagno. Call to schedule a test ride. Just bring your valid motorcycle endorsement and your favorite helmet. We can provide a loaner helmet if needed. We do insist on closed toed shoes (no sandals or flip-flops, kids), and all test rides are weather permitting.
Sadly, neither the Compagno 50, nor the Fly 50 meet the Minnesota criteria for a moped license plate. We won’t be stocking those engine sizes but can special order one for you.
*msrp excludes destination & vehicle
It’s year eight of our annual mid-winter celebration. In 2006 we decided to find the half-way-point of the Minnesota scooter riding off-season and throw down a party and our only sale.
Here we go with year eight. The difference recently is that we may have to re-think the timing of the mid-point. Last year we chose the final weekend of January and it turned out we were only 4 or 5 weeks removed from the regular riding that began in early March.
Cabin Fever VIII will again land on the final weekend of January. On Friday, the 25th and Saturday, the 26th, plan on making it down to Scooterville for a visit.
We will have the usual insane deals on select scooter models, plus doorbuster deals on apparel, accessories, and helmets.
If you haven’t had the opportunity, check out our Facebook site and give us a “Like”.
Amerivespa held their 20th rally this year. I had been zero for nineteen in attendance and feeling determined to change that status. For the first time it was in the relative vicinity of Scooterville. Lake Geneva is tucked into the southeastern corner of Wisconsin, just a few miles north of the Illinois border. Previous year’s rallies had been spread around the country, but never this tantalizingly close.
The problem with operating a scooter shop in a seasonal climate and mixing in scooter fun, such as rallies, is that we need to make the most of our summer months generating sales and service for our customers. It’s hard to get away. There’s a shortage of slow-season scooter events (although Coco Beach has moved to the top of the short list).
When Amerivespa announced a midwest destination for the 2012 gathering, plans were put in place for attendance. Transportation of scooters, accomodations, and ample coverage at the shop were all put into place. But life threw a bit of a curve into those plans.
Both my daughter and my son have been involved in a summer theater workshop for the past several years. It’s an intensive two week program that culminates in a weekend of live theater. My daughter has aged out of the program but my son was lined up for a starring role. This year they would be doing an original work by the director entitled “Sanctuary”. One show on Friday night and a matinee on Saturday. Guess which weekend the show would be produced.
So we adapt. The rally would cover four days. I would simply roll out early Thursday morning, do the first two days of events, and return to Minneapolis early on Saturday for the 1PM matinee.
The truck was loaded Wednesday night for a very early Thursday departure. The contents included our 4T Genuine Stella and our 2T Stella and side car combo, plus assorted tool boxes and a small suitcase. Neil assisted me in checking and topping off all fluids and tire pressure in our 1980 step van delivery and rescue vehicle which is often refered to as “Big Red”. My nickname for it is “Lucky”. All was set for an early morning departure.
The trip down to Lake Geneva was uneventful. Lucky purred right along and sipped a mere 9 MPG. I pulled into the rally HQ at 11:00 AM after 6 hours on the road. The first ride of the rally went out at noon. The local scooter club, The Scoot Jockeys, along with the folks at Midwest Action Cycle did a great job of leading about 100-150 early arrivals on a 4 hour meandering ride through the scenery, which included a nice brat and potato salad picinic along the way. Got to meet a bunch of scooter folk from all over the country. The reception that evening provided the opportunity to make more acquaintences and renew some old ones. More familiar faces showed up as the evening progressed.
Friday featured a couple more sizable group rides and the attendance was growing. The afternoon ride had to have been host to close to 300 riders. The return to Flat Iron Park revealed more old scooter pals who had arrived while we were out on the road. The evening was topped off by a reception and party hosted by Genuine Scooters and Scooterworks. The rally was truely in full swing and I had to weigh a 5 AM departure time vs. hanging out with a bunch of friends. Early reveille won out and it was off to bed for an early exit. I thought my rally was over. Guess again.
I rolled out of bed before the roosters and was on the road by 5:00. Lucky kept chewing up the southern Wisconsin scenery and pavement. At 8 AM I was nearly to Tomah when I caught a strong whiff of anti-freeze and looked down to see the temperature needle spiking on the very hot side of the gauge. I rolled off on the shoulder and popped the hood for a closer look.
Coolant everywhere. Boiling noises. I hoped against hope that it was a radiator hose failure, but I already knew from the white plume coming off the tailpipe as I was rolling to the shoulder that it was likely a blown headgasket.
After a half hour cool down and dumping available water into the radiator I limped a couple miles to the next exit. EXIT 48. Oakdale. The nice lad at the truck-stop gave me the phone number for “Gordie”. Gordie said to let it cool down and he’d be over in about 45 minutes. My goal of a 1 PM return for my son’s play was slamming shut. I poured cold water over the valve covers to speed up the cooling process and then refilled the radiator. This required several trips to the truck stop men’s room with the three 16 ounce containers in my posession. By the time Gordie arrived the engine had cooled. It was 9:40 AM and my only transportation alternative to Minneapolis was a 2005 Stella which typically serves as the motorized side of our side car rig.
A few years back, LML, who builds the Stella for Genuine Scooters, discovered they had a small inventory of 200 cc engine cases that could be built for simple integration into a 2 stroke Stella or into most large frame Vespa models. A 12 volt system was the required element to make it go. Scooterworks had the engines available for a short period of time and we were able to procure four of them. Three were sold off and the fourth was saved for our sidecar project.
For truck loading purposes, the 200cc Stella had been seperated from its typical sidecar arrangement. It had become my only option for getting home. After another 4 mile trip into the country to get “Lucky” to the truck garage, I off loaded the Stella for the final 171 mile trip to Minneapolis; That is, if I took the Stella down Interstate 94. No other route could get me to my destination on time.
One more barrier stood in the way. I was low on 2 stroke oil. Nothing would end a scooter ride quicker than running dry on oil. Gordie led me to Tomah and the Auto Zone store to pick up a liter. They were out. I remembered passing an O’Reilly Auto Parts store along the way. Just a mile up the road, but the minutes were working against me. I noticed the speedometer had stopped working. No big deal. I’d only be going one speed the rest of the way. I added a liter of oil, made a call to my wife and to Scooterville, and checked my watch. It was 10:05 AM.
A mile to the entrance ramp and I merged into Interstate 94 traffic at full speed. The Stella was feeling very strong. I wished I had a speedometer to mark my progress. A bit down the road I noticed a mile marker. I wear a wrist watch with a second hand. Speedometer solved.
The first measured mile ticked by at 51 seconds. That’s really close to 70 mph. Not bad if I could keep that pace. Western Wisconsin topography rolls quite a bit. Gentle as they may be, there are a good number of hills to climb. I tried drafting behind a tractor/trailer. If you can get in real close there can be some significant opportunities for speed and fuel savings. The down side is that you have to be ever ready to stop quickly, and you get pretty beat up by the wind when attempting to get into the drafting spot. Also, truck drivers do not appear to be fond of this maneuver. Both successful attempts to draft were eventually met by the truck driver pulling over and letting me by.
About 2/3rds of the way into my tank of gas, I noticed a drop-off in performance. I flipped the fuel tap over to the reserve portion of the tank and started looking for an exit with a gas station. A few miles up the road I pulled off for my first fuel stop. The Stella took about a gallon-and-a-half in a two gallon tank. The results of a full tank of gas were immediate. Performance was back to the brisk clip that I was experiencing an hour earlier. The mile markers were diminishing at a pace that would hit zero at the Wisconsin-Minnesota border, with only twenty miles left to cover at that point.
Ten miles shy of the border I made my final fuel stop. Just under a half hour to cover the distance and 32 miles left to go. I made the exit-fueling-entrance ramp trifecta in three minutes. The Stella roared out of Baldwin, WI with a purpose. The hills that had been posing problems were hardly noticed. I roared up the incline out of the St. Croix River valley at the Minnesota border passing traffic along the way. As I entered the eastern metro suburbs the Stella had not run better. Autos were getting in my way and I was using the passing lanes to get around them. St. Paul disappeared into Minneapolis and I hit the exit to get to Nicollet & Franklin.
I got to the lobby of the theater at two minutes after one PM. The lone person in the lobby told me they’re about to start. I steppedinto the theater, sat down, and 5 seconds later the show began. It was spectacular!
Earlier we touched on the early start to the season and the upward pressure on the gas prices. Things have returned to normal with typically unpredictable temperature swings and gas prices attached to a yo-yo. Scooter demand has remained at nearly record highs. We are coming off of our strongest March in our ten year history. April could shape up to be the best since the scooter breakout of 2008. With a strong finish we could surpass those record demands.
Kymco has found a winner with the Like 200i. Early indications are that the scooter customer is finding the combination of fuel injection combined with front and rear disc brakes at a price of $ 2599.00 to be too irresistable to turn down. Color availability has been limited and supply appears to present some challenges this season.
Another model we are sure to run low on is the People 50. We have always considered this our flagship scooter since it has been a staple of our offerings since we opened in 2002. Kymco announced that it would be discontinued in the fall of 2011 and we would have to pre order our scooters for 2012 by mid October. We thought we were ordering plenty, but demand for the popular big wheel scooter has caused shortages in some colors. We have already run out of the blue/ivory and green/white two tone models and the emerald green. Limited numbers of the other selections are in stock but there will be no more available to order. The companion People 150 is also in its last year of production and will take another model we have sold since our inception out of circulation. These scooters are not only icons of our fleet, but really great bikes that we will greatly miss. No word from Kymco on what will replace them. We do trust that whatever it is, it will be a great addition.
The Downtown 300i and the People GT300i continue to amaze with their solid and reliable performance. If you’re looking for a scooter that will take you anywhere, look no further.
Stay tuned for upcoming news on some exciting new models from Piaggio and Vectrix. Until then, happy trails and safe riding!
This time of year we hear this question frequently. It’s natural. Many new inovations occur during the “off-season”.. Often the new year offers new models, new colors, or perhaps we’ve added some new product.
Let’s start with Genuine Scooters. The Psycho is this year’s “limited edition” model. It’s a 125cc Buddy in wolves’ clothing. Using the suspension and brake package that rocked the Black Jack, Genuine produced 172 of the Psychos. They’re all numbered like previous limited editions. Each dealer was allocated a certain quantity based on annual sales. We were lucky to be a top three dealer for Genuine nationwide so we received five Psychos as our allocation. Here’s the downside. At this time (March 31, 2012) we have one Psycho left. The remaining four have been sold!
That’s the way things have gone this “Spring?” In terms of the equinox, we are 8 or 9 days into the Spring of 2012. However, Mother Nature has thrown us a delicious curve by bringing some Summer-like temperatures early in the month of March. That, combined with previously unmatched fuel prices for this time of year, have lit a big fire under the scooter buying frenzy that has not been seen since the Great Scooter Sell-off of 2008.
Yes, sales are way up and inventory levels will be challenged by the demand level, especially with the early warm weather. We normally bring in our larger scooter shipments in May and June when demand is highest. Since we pre order in the Fall, the distributors plan our shipments according to a monthy order. We have nearly every color of each model on hand right now, but a heavy early demand will create some inventory holes very soon.
Back to what’s new…….
Genuine has added the Italia and Pamploma to their selection of Buddy 170i models.
Get your order for a Buddy 170i in soon! I fear we may have underestimated demand for these.
The other addition from Genuine this year is a two tone Stella 4T. This model is new, and quantities will be very limited!
This chapter is getting a little long. We will follow it up with a listing of new offerings from Kymco, Vectrix, and Vespa.
It looks like at least fourteen folks will be sporting new rides this Spring as a result of some
fantastic deals going down this weekend at our seventh
Cabin Fever Rally and sale. We were pleased and surprised by a last minute visit from Philip and Paul who made the journey from Genuine Scooter Company in Chicago aboard the Scooter Love Bus. They came bearing various gifts and swag for the attendees. Appropriately enough, the first two scooters to sell on Saturday morning were the brand new special edition model, the Psycho.
As promised, the winning numbers in the blind raffle are as follows (numeric order):
238010 238011 238021 238033 238035 238051 238064 238071 238084 238087 238094 238103 238114
If you’re holding a winning ticket contact us next week to collect your prize!
A lot has been happening in the world of scooters in the past year. We have witnessed the demise of many of the Chinese importers, while the stronger OEM distributors have gotten their inventories under control.
The huge boom that occurred in scooter sales in 2008, combined with the economic downturn that hit in the autumn of that year, led to an overload of inventory in some dealer’s showrooms, and all distributor’s warehouses. The high profile bankruptcy of Scooter Superstores, which operated several locations in Florida and Georgia, compounded the oversupply problelms that were plaguing the “big three” of the U.S. scooter market: Genuine Scooters, Kymco, and Piaggio/Vespa.
Speaking of bankruptcy, Vectrix has risen from the ashes of their bankruptcy filing with one new model (the VX-2) and two new battery platforms for their larger bike (VX-1). While the specs for the VX-2 have an indicated top speed of 30 MPH, the controller can be easily set to extend that to 40 MPH. We have done mileage testing of the VX-2 and have established a 45 mile range in city riding.
Check out this review on JustGottaScoot. We really love this bike! Come in and schedule a test ride.
Rumours of the Stella 4t have swirled around the internet almost since the Stella 2t was introduced back in 2003. The Stella was an instant hit when it came to our shores but it was excluded from sale in California due to their stricter vehicle emissions standards.
Naturally, the vast network of scooterists in the Golden State cried, “What about us??!” Granted, they’d had access to the four stroke, metal bodied, four speed, traditionally styled Bajaj Chetak as an alternative. But the Stella was housed in an actual Vespa P-series chassis. The lines of the Italian design trumped the more utilitarian cut of the Indian styled Chetak. Then Genuine painted the Stella in a variety of both traditional colors and lively pastels. The battle between Bajaj and Genuine for the hearts and minds and wallets of the scootering public was over before it began.
Whille the speculation and debate circulated through on-line scooter chat rooms (who knew?), the concept for a four stroke Stella was being discussed between Genuine and the Stella manufacturer, LML. The solution was not a simple one. Significant modifications would have to be made to the P-series chassis to accomodate the 4 stroke, 150cc engine and the neccesary emissions equipment that would make the Stella exceed the strict C.A.R.B. (California Air Resources Board) standards. The process ran into a variety of hurdles along the way. Not least of which were financial and labor/management problems at LML which shut down the factory for over a year in 2006-07.
In the summer of 2009 at least a couple “concept” models of the Stella 4t arrived inthe U.S for extensive E.P.A. testing and scrutiny. She passed with flying colors! LML began retooling for assembly of the new model and Genuine announced that the long awaited arrival of the 4t Stella would hit dealwer showrooms in early summer of 2010.
Dealers began taking deposits from eager customers lining up to get their hands on the first ones available. Barry Gwin, the proprietor of San Francisco Scooter Centre, had received deposits from literally dozens of long suffering Californians. At Scooterville we had sold out our initial order. Great excitement accompanied the news that the first shipment had arrived in Chicago. Then came the next barrier.
The arrival of the 4t Stellas coincided with a recent dragnet by the U.S Customs to catch vast numbers of illegal scooters coming in from mainland China. Many of the Chinese models were coming to the U.S. with improper emissions documents and forged EPA stickers. Public and industry outcry about these scooters resulted in a long overdue inspection process by Customs of newly arriving scooter shipments. Agents in Chicago uncrated the first of the newly arrived Stellas and, during their inspection process, discovered that the factory had installed the wrong type of adjustment screw on the carburetor. The shipment was impounded by Customs while they decide their fate. Finally, after weeks in limbo, it was determined that the scooters would have to be returned to the factory in India to have the required adjustments made.
Fast forward to March of 2011. The first shipment of Stellas went to the long awaiting dealers and customers in California. Our first batch arrived this week. While many of the people who had placed deposits with us in 2010 had tired of waiting, demand has remained high and only a small portion of our first batch remain.