Still scooterless this holiday weekend (seriously, are they handcrafting the hose in Italy? and shipping it via tartaruga?), I decided to quell some of my restlessness with a trip across the river to another scooter shop. They’re the only Corazzo dealer within a million miles and had some jackets I wanted to look at.
Moto Italia in Edwardsville, IL used to be a Vespa dealer but now sells scooters by Kymco and Sym, in addition to some Italian motorcycle brands. I was kind of hoping to see some Kymco scoots on the floor because I’d heard good things about a few of their models and wanted to see what the fuss was about, but the only new scoots I saw today were the Lance Cali and Havana Classics by Sym.
First thing of note, it’s a scooter called Lance, which makes me very happy because of this movie. If you haven’t seen “Larry Crowne” and you are a “like-minded scooter enthusiast,” put it in your Netflix queue for a rainy day.
I’d never sat on a Cali or Havana before, although both were on my radar when I was scooter shopping because of their retro styling and pretty good price tags. Both models come in varying sizes from 50 to 200cc displacement. I never got around to trying one out because I fell in love with my Vespa and that was basically a done deal, but I was curious to give one a try.
They taught us in my MSF class about the importance of choosing a bike that fits your body and your capabilities so your focus is on the ride and not comfort or handling. One of the women in my class was so petite that had to bring in a smaller bike just for her, because she literally could not reach the clutch lever or the front brake on the other class bikes without lifting her whole hand. My GT200 is a large-frame Vespa, which I like for its weight and sturdiness, but it’s a lot harder to handle at first than the zippy little Yamaha Zuma they had for me in class. I’m 5′ 3″ and 110 lbs and could move the Zuma about just fine. I can’t flat-foot even one side of the Vespa without a lean. I sat on a 2014 Stella once that looked to be a similar size to my scoot and actually had to really lean to get a foot flat, which I didn’t like and was a large reason for ruling it out.
Back to the Lances. The Lance Havana Classic handlebars are set up kind of like a Vespa’s with a solid central instrument cluster and then the grips. The Cali Classic has “naked” handlebars, giving it a really unique look for a scooter. I kind of loved it, and hopped right onto one to check it out. With the scoot on the center stand I was still able to flat-foot both sides! Wow, had someone really made such a sweet-looking scooter for shorter riders? Then I went to give the brakes a squeeze – and I couldn’t reach them.
Now I know I have smallish hands – it’s one of the reasons Biltwell gloves fit me so well, they have shorter finger length than some other brands do – but I was reaching for those levers bare-handed and could just barely get a knuckle over.
“Do these adjust?” I asked the salesman. “They feel quite far out from the handlebars.”
He consulted some papers and a colleague and determined that no, they did not adjust. I sat on another Cali Classic, just to check. Same thing.
“Isn’t that rather odd,” I mused aloud, “that this scooter which is otherwise so perfectly proportioned for a petite rider has put its brake levers out of reach for a person with small hands?”
He looked a bit dumbfounded, but agreed with my assessment. We chatted a bit about the Lance scooters and noted that the levers on the Havana seemed more reasonably placed. Then I pointed to the GT200 he had on the floor and explained that I had one in the shop, so he started in on the accessory sales pitches. Eh, fine. We talked windscreens for a bit. Right next to the GT though, was an amazing piece of machinery – a 2005 Vespa PX150 with a sidecar.
The PX150 is the only modern Vespa made with a manual transmission and what they call a “twist-grip gearchange.” Naturally, I was very curious to check that out. (I’ve never driven a vintage Vespa like the one this was modeled after, by the way.) It’s set up like a hybrid of an automatic scooter and a motorcycle, with a pedal on the right for the rear brake, left lever is the clutch, and the left grip is the shifter. There’s no foot shifter like on a motorcycle. I wanted so badly to turn that thing on and play with it. If there’s anything now motivating me to hurry up and get my motorcycle endorsement on my license, it’s so I can test drive that shifty scooter. It’s adorable.
Nothing purchased today, but all in all it was a worthwhile trip. I didn’t end up with a new jacket (but that’s another post for another day), but I met a cute scooter named Lance and pretended some zoomies with a sidecar, so I got my fix.