Saturday, February 10, 2007

Scooter fever

We finished up yesterday afternoon at All Coach and Truck Repair. They did a pretty good job of bending our pretzeled exhaust back into shape, and making a new heat shield for under the bumper, to replace the one we folded in half. They also used their Pro-Link to re-enable our VSS signal. Total bill was $500, and they were very professional and accommodating.

We did not want to overstay our welcome in their parking lot, but it was also late in the day, so we just boogied over to Casino Arizona (map) a dozen miles to the east, where we had spent several days a couple years ago. We had a nice dinner in the buffet, which was as good as we remembered. And, on the way over, our speed readout was working perfectly, so my fix in Tucson was dead on. Now if only I can figure out why the mileage display is not working...

Today we stopped by "our" restaurant downtown, which is still under construction at the corner of First Avenue and Van Buren Street. We're looking forward to the opening, and hopefully more success than the Tempe location, which closed its doors last year. With luck, the new store should be open by the beginning of April.

Tonight we are parked in a dirt lot next to a Honda motorcycle dealership (map). After much reflection, we've decided to add a 50cc step-through as a "replacement" for Louise's motorcycle, which is still in Houston. I put that word in quotes, because this is something of an experiment: if it doesn't work, the step-through will get sold, but, if it does, we'll get Penelope running again when next we are in Houston, and put her up for sale.

The idea here is that we don't use the motorcycles as much as we'd like, in part because of how much effort it takes to unload them from the bay, and store them again when we are ready to leave. In fact, we have a three-day minimum rule: unless it's an emergency, the bikes don't come out unless we are staying someplace for at least three days. So we are hoping that a 165-lb step-through with a low center of gravity will be enough easier to unload and load, compared to the 365-lb Suzukis, that we will take it out and use it more frequently. Also, it takes both of us to load the Suzis, whereas either one of us should be able to single-hand a scooter. And the final kicker, and the reason we are looking only at less-than-50cc models, is that we were told by Mexico's Banjercito that we can bring in a 50cc scooter in addition to both the bus and the full-size motorcycle, which would have averted the situation that left us one bike short in the first place.

We've been doing a bit of research, and one of the brands we had been leaning towards was Kymco, a Taiwanese manufacturer who sells scooters and some quads here under their own brand, and who has been OEMing small quads for all the major powersports labels as well. Kymco is one of the few step-throughs with both large-diameter wheels (a safety issue) and deliberate saddle space and footpegs for a passenger. So after our restaurant visit, we hauled up here to north Phoenix to visit the one and only Kymco dealer in town, and the largest in the state: AZ Desert Sports.

We test-drove and fell in love with their Agility 50 model, which has a driver backrest that flips down to become a passenger seat, really a perfect setup for how we would use the bike. Alas, it turned out to be two inches too tall to fit in the bay. We even spent a good hour with Gary, the shop's owner, and the other Gary, the mechanic, noodling through ways to lower the bike, or cut down the bodywork, etc.. None of the solutions was particularly easy or appealing. It was really very hard for us to walk away, especially after all the work the two Gary's had done to try to accommodate us.

Which brings us here, just a half mile away, to Northern Valley Motorsports, the Honda Dealer. Honda has two scooters that would work for us, the Ruckus and the Metropolitan. The Metro is lighter, and has that classic Vespa-esque styling, and we are leaning toward that model. Plus, they have a leftover '05 on deep discount. We arrived here just before closing, though, with no time to give it a test-fit into the bay. So they are graciously allowing us to spend the night here in their overflow lot, and we'll give it a try in the morning.

It remains to be seen whether we drive away from here with a scooter on board. In part, it will depend on whether it fits in the bay. It will also depend on how well the dealer will sharpen his pencil on the price.

Whatever the outcome, from here we will head northwest on US93 to Kingman, and on to Hoover Dam and Las Vegas. We will stop just north of Kingman to visit with a fellow bus conversion enthusiast, who happens to have a Pro-Link and is willing to help troubleshoot the remaining data issues with our DDEC ECM.

1 comment:

  1. Hi you guys, just tried to post a comment, I don't think it took, but if it did, excuse this second one. Interesting situation with the scooter. I carry a Goldwing GL1800 along with me, cured the haul along problem by towing a big trailer. Works for me, not for everybody. The trailer handles the SUV, the boat, the bike, roll around tool box, freezer, segways, scooters, etc, etc, etc. LOL


Share your comments on this post! We currently allow anyone to comment without registering. If you choose to use the "anonymous" option, please add your name or nickname to the bottom of your comment, within the main comment box. Getting feedback signed simply "anonymous" is kind of like having strangers shout things at us on the street: a bit disconcerting. Thanks!