Prepping the Sports City

Today I told my son to take the BV to school since I was taking the Sports City over for belt, rollers, oil change, installing the Euro turn signals, installing the USB power point up on the windshield supports and a general top to bottom going over now that the cannonball is less than two months (gulp) away.  Took a look at the front tire and made a note to ask him when he last checked his tires. Seriously, he has 13,800 miles on the stock front tire. It should have been changed out a couple thousand miles back. Frankly, I thought the scoot had around 10,000 miles on it. So it is well past due for replacement of belts, tires (the rear was replaced a couple thousand miles ago with a Michelin City Grip).

I’m ordering the K66 4 seasons and will order a new Michelin City Grip for the front at the same time. In the meantime I’m having the front tire swapped out with the one that came on the spare rims I purchased. While it isn’t in great shape at least it isn’t bulging and there is still thread above the wear bars.

Replacement top case for the one he lost by failing to check how tight the bolts were came in. Its bigger than I was expecting but otherwise for a knock off case I’m quite pleased with it. Waterproof roll bag also arrived for my trip to Atlanta. Another surprise because it isn’t opaque as I expected so I’ll probably end up putting a regular duffle inside it.

Weather forecast for Atlanta isn’t looking as good as it did a few days ago with rain predicted  Sunday and Monday, what to do? Will it be heavy rain or just annoying? Top it off allergies are really nasty right now.

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Nolan N44

I finally got around to replacing my Nolan N43 helmet that I was wearing when I had my accident last year with the new N44 version.

n44

First thing I noticed about the newer version is that there should be a lot more airflow through the US version of the helmet than there was though the US version of the N43.

The top vent is significantly larger and looks like far more air will flow through it. Plus they added a vent to the face shield though I think the face shield doesn’t have quite the viewable area of the older N43.

The next thing I noticed was that there is a curtain under the removable chinbar that is supposed to help exclude drafts but should also reduce wind noise. I know when I’m riding in the winter and have a neck tube it is quieter.

I’ll be testing it out on my upcoming trip to Atlanta so I’m looking forward to seeing how well it performs compared to the N43 I have been used to using for the last 3-4 years.

Note, my only issue setting up the helmet was installing the pinlock. Not so much the install because that really hasn’t changed (PIA as it is) but getting the sticker off the pinlock visor. Unfortunately, the sticker didn’t come off in one piece and left residue behind. By the time I got the adhesive off it looks like it may have done some damage to the soft pinlock shield. We’ll see if it causes an issue or not when I’m riding.

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Got My Number

2014 Scooter Cannonball number that is, they weren’t assigned until registration closed for anyone who wasn’t keeping their same number from a previous cannonball. I put in for #56 and registered early enough that it looks like I got my first choice. Looks like I could have saved a whole 1 point if I had chosen to ride my 2006 Vespa GTS. Not that it matters I wonder how come my 2008 Sports City is listed as 1 hp more than Old as Dirt’s 2008 Sports City?

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Looking forward to seeing those I know who I have already met competing (amazingly just in the snippet above I have met 7 face to face), putting faces to the names of those I know virtually (Modern Vespa mostly) and those who will be completely new to me.

So now I have to figure out how to use the vinyl cutter I picked up a few months ago to be able to make my own design with the number for the Sports City. Since the scoot is black I have all sorts of options to go with it.

I also ordered a Nolan N44 helmet to replace the N43 that was in the accident last year. Parts are on order or have arrived to replace the belt, factory rollers with Dr. Pulleys, a spare set of rims which will get the K66 4 season tires to be installed a so they can be scrubbed in before departure. I’m also adding the European turn signals but haven’t decided if I’ll have them set up as running lights or replace the DOT stalks.  The current Michelin City Grips with about a thousand miles on them will be kept just in case there is a need to replace a tire and go back on after the K66s are kaput.

I still need to work out support options since while I could change a tire or the oil if I had to I’d rather help fund a support person/vehicle since I’m still recovering from last year’s injuries and will need the rest which is one of the major reasons I’m riding modern and basically stock. My hat is off to those who ride vintage and/or heavily customized for performance scooters but I’d be thrilled to finish with both my scoot and I in good running condition without requiring repairs along the way. 

I’m not the only one who will be chronicling their adventures this year, check out:

# Rider Scooter Year Adjusted Year * Displacement Handicap (%)
36 MrMoi2000 Lambretta S1 1958   176 82
14 Classic Rider Vespa Rally 200 1975   210 99
66 Skwirly Vespa P125x 1981 1981 198 101
98 Ericalm Honda Helix CN250 1987   244 112
41 Wleuthold Vespa GT200 2006   198 114
7 HelixGeoff Honda Helix 2005   249 122
22 Feb31st Vespa GTS 2007   245 122
75 Chucklestx Kymco People 2006   250 123
56 Cdwise Aprilia SportCity 2008   245 123
59 Lostboater Vespa GTS 2009   244 123

* Adjusted year is when the frame and engine were not originally paired together. In each of these cases the engine is newer than the frame so handicap is adjusted based on the average of the two major parts.

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Committed

Well, I’ve gone and done it despite my accident last year and still having some issues with the plate and screws used to put my leg/knee back together I plopped down my money and registered for the 2014 Scooter Cannonball I know some people think I’m crazy to even get back on a scoot again despite how lovely my GTS looks with her new paint color but this has been on my bucket list for several years now.

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With the 2014 Cannonball rules you are limited to a 250cc or less scooter. Which means from the scooters we own I have 3 to choose from. First, is my lovely GTS shown above but even though she is my favorite of the 3 scooters I’ve decided to leave her home in Houston. I also don’t think I’m quite adventurous enough to take our Buddy 125 from Hyder, AK to New Orleans, LA.

buddy

That leaves the 2008 Sports City my son usually rides to University of Houston most days. Fortunately, I found out that his school term ends May 3rd so I won’t even deprive him of his daily rider that is cheap to park. I did over 1,700 miles on it last March so I know what it feels like riding it day after day. In distance that’s just about half of the cannonball. I’ve seen how it handles on less than stellar road surfaces and watched as my husband did a road runner through a sand pit in a box canyon. Not only throwing a huge cloud of sand but staying upright and coming through it with a fully loaded (saddlebags, topcase, backpack) scooter. Its larger 15” wheels which will be reshod with K66 4 Seasons and fuel injection make it the best choice for my upcoming adventure.  After all, its been on adventures before. Smile

utahsc

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4 Days on the Sports City

When my son decided to return to Houston for school he’d left the Sports City at my brother’s house in Fallbrook, California.  It wasn’t doing anyone much good there so I flew out to bring it back to Houston.  Headed out on California 79 following more or less the 2012 Scooter Cannonball route in reverse which reminded me of many of the roads in Colorado and Texas’s Twisted Sisters.

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My biggest shock on the first day was the huge scooter shop in Prescott, AZ

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Who knew you’d find a Genuine, Vespa, Piaggio and Ural dealership in a smallish Arizona mountain town. When the shop owner saw me taking a photo he invited me in for a Coke since he was out of coffee and told me the story of how he came to be a scooter dealers. Seems back in the last recession before the current one he was strictly a used vehicle dealer, primarily selling work trucks. When guys got laid off they couldn’t afford both their truck payments and gas to go job hunting in vehicles with 12mpg. So he picked up a container of Chinese scoots and made a deal, they could have the scoot for their job hunts if they made their truck payments. That turned out to be a good business proposition and from there the scooter bug bit the area. As the economy got better folks started looking at better quality scooters and he branched out. Said he’d carried a few other brands but had more or less settled on the ones he now carries. The other thing that interested me was the number of scoots he had with sidecars. I guess that’s a spinoff from the Urals with sidecars he also sold. While there I was told that I “had” to ride Oak Canyon to Sedona before I left the area.

My original plan when I arrived was to go a bit further before stopping for the night but I spent too much time at the shop which was getting too close to dusk for riding in an area full of deer. Just as well because it wasn’t too long after I left Prescott in the morning that I found myself riding with snow on each side of the road.

snow

And then there was Jerome, AZ with its switchback streets where Lost Boater got his Cannonball ticket in 2012.

jerome

Next stop Sedona

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If you get a chance I can highly recommend stopping for some exploring in Sedona. Coffee on a terrace is where I took the photo above. Not long after leaving Sedona you enter Oak Canyon.

oakcanyon

rt66Yes, it was worth the detour  with the exception of the time spent in a traffic jam at the north end of the canyon. Managed to add a bit more of Route 66 to my ride map.

Since I had lunch with a friend in Flagstaff  before turning east on I-40 and hauling ass to make up the time spent loitering in Sedona enjoying the view. 

Unfortunately, the small town I had picked on the map as my stop for the night turned out not to have any hotel rooms available due to a very large family reunion that was going on. So it turned into a much longer day than I had anticipated with well over 500 miles from my early morning departure to pulling into a motel for the night. Would you believe that the sports bar/beer pub closed at 9pm on a Friday night? I couldn’t believe it when I walked over after checking in and dropping off my stuff in the room. Sure had been looking forward to a juicy burger and beer. Instead I ended up at Dennys since getting back on the scoot to ride someplace else to eat just didn’t seem particularly appealing after a 14 hour day. Besides, there wasn’t any guarantee I’d find anyplace better than Dennys after discovering the Italian place also closed at 9pm.

Back on the road the next morning it was a short hop over to Roswell where I had to stop at the UFO museum and the colorful mural across the street.

ufo mural

From here I was back on the 2012 Cannonball route to Abilene where I spent the night before a leisurely ride home to Houston the next day for a total of 1738 miles in 4 days on a Sports City 250. I had anticipated that I’d find the Sports City uncomfortable to ride for hundreds of miles each day after day but I was pleasantly surprised to find that even on the longest day while tired I was not in bad shape. Okay, it felt very good to walk a few blocks in an abortive attempt to have a craft beer but I could easily walk.

Would I do a long trip on the Sports City again? Yes, while it wouldn’t be my first choice out of all the scoots we’ve owned or I’ve ridden frankly I preferred it to the more touring oriented Burgman in many ways. I’ve known for a long time I prefer the more upright seating position of the traditional Italian scooters to the foot forward cruiser seating position of the maxis like the Burgman, Silverwing and Kymco Xciting but the Sports City has a shorter wheelbase than our other Italians which always made me feel too forward on the scooter. Maybe it was the addition of the windshield or just  a different frame of mind but I didn’t feel like I was leaned as far forward as when I’d ridden the Sports City in the past but for whatever reason it was a much more enjoyable ride than I had anticipated. So I’m glad I decided to be the one to bring the scoot back from California.

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