Browsing Tag Nicky Bubbles

A Beginners Guide to pre-winter scooter maintenance

This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series Scooter Scene

If, like me, you’re someone who ‘lives to ride’ in an Easy Rider way (minus the shotgun incident or tassled jacket), then it might be fair to say that the aesthetic and need for pleasurable experience may outweigh the knowledge base required to keep your beloved mid-century lawnmower on the road.

First things first – if your scooter is going to be in the garage for a few months over the winter you may want to turn the engine over to keep internal components lubricated and free moving every couple of weeks. But before you pack it all away over the winter it pays to do some basic checks and make sure it’s in the right condition to be stored.

Wheels & Tyres

Check your tyres. Do they look flat? If so check the pressures using a gauge and pump them up to the manufacturer’s suggested pressure (for solo riding, this is usually around 20psi on the front and 30psi on the back) with a hand/foot pump or compressor. Flat tyres left unattended can split over the winter and are unsafe if left in that condition for any length of time then re-inflated in the spring.

Remember that low tyre pressure doesn’t necessarily mean a puncture. Top ‘em up and take the scoot for a spin around the block (after you perform the rest of the checks of course!). If tyres remain inflated, then all is good.

Also, check the nuts while you’re down there (Mrs! – Ed). If you can move the wheel from side-to-side then it’s time to check the nuts are all tight, followed by tightening up the hub if necessary. This varies for both Vespa and Lambretta but here are a couple of handy links explaining removal/tightening of the entire rear wheel (obviously don’t go that far unless you’re comfortable to do so… in which case you shouldn’t need to read this article).

vespamaintenance.com/body/rbrake/
scooterhelp.com/lam.rear.brakes

Oil

Check gearbox oil levels. A dead easy way to see whether you may have a leak is to look for a big puddle underneath your scooter in the spring. Better to check now. A leak usually means a loose or worn threaded ‘sump’ bolt or rubber washer that provides the seal. What you don’t want is a seized gearbox when you turn it over the day before your first run of 2014. Follow the steps via the relevant link below to top up/replace your engine oil. You will note that it is easier to check the levels on a Lambretta (but easier to get anywhere on a Vespa – Ed).

scooterhelp.com/vespa.oil.change
scooterhelp.com/lam.oil.change

If you have an oil leak that you can’t trace, and you’re not about to change out of your white jeans and driving shoes, then perhaps at this stage you book it into your mechanic.

Battery

Batteries do have a purpose! Not relevant on all scooters, but most British market Lambrettas and some Vespas including and especially the GS/SS models were produced with batteries to conform to government regulations at the time. They usually power the horn and rear light/brake light, with the main light and spark provided by the flywheel. Unless of course you have the pleasure of the aforementioned Vespa Sports models, which, much to the credit of Piaggio engineers at the day, require a battery to power the entire electrical supply, including the spark for ignition. Dead battery = a long walk home at 3am.

Over the winter remove the battery and store safely out of reach of children. Unclamp your battery from the tray and look at the unit. Motorcycle batteries are usually translucent and you can see the levels in the ‘cells’. There should also be a black or etched mark on the unit indicating the full point. If any of the cells are low, wearing proper eye-protection, not your Gucci specs, grab some distilled water and pour gently via a funnel into each cell to top up to the full point. Remember to wipe up any excess on the battery or funnel using a cloth that you’re happy to discard immediately.

Health and Safety Executive advice: hse.gov.uk

Cables

Arguably the most annoying component of any scooter. My advice to avoid regular replacement of snapped cables is invest in a set of nylon outers for your bike. Especially throttle and clutch cables. Of course this may be moot if you’re reading this while standing in your garage next to your scooter that suddenly can’t change gear.

Check how easily you can change gear, engage clutch and use the throttle, rear brake and front brake. These are all cable based functions. If any of these are loose/not working, here are a couple of How To links:

scooterhelp.com/vespa.clutch.cable
scooterhelp.com/vespa.gear.cable
scooterhelp.com/lam.throttle.cable
.scooterhelp.com/lam.choke.cable.

Fuel

This one sounds bloody obvious but even the most experienced scooter rider can forget with the passage of time. Check that you have enough petrol and two stroke to make it around the block a few times as fuel evaporates, even in a tank. Some oils can settle at the bottom of the tank and clog up the carb so give you machine a wiggle at the same time as you turn it over as above. I’ve found that straddling the scooter gripping the handlebars, placing your feet on the ground (stand up), and rocking the scooter from left to right a few times helps to mix the petrol with the two-stroke.

In the spring, when the cover comes off and before you disappear into the country lanes to reacquaint yourself with your metal mistress, remember to tighten up any bolts/nuts/washes on your rear carriers/flyscreens/accessories. The last thing you need is to lose that chromed Ulma under an 18 wheeler. (That’s from experience, by the way). See you in the spring, and if you’re an all-weather rider, wrap up well and watch that black ice!


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Nicky Bubbles

Nicky Bubbles was bitten by the bug as a young lad in Australia. With the sounds of Otis, Diana and Marvin in the background of his youth, it was a deep seeded passion for Tamla that helped propel him towards the Mod scene in his mid twenties. The love of scooters was also apparent from a relative obsessed with Vespas. This led to Nicky joining and subsequently taking over the reigns at Central London’s only dedicated geared scooter club as ‘El Presidente’- Bar Italia SC. Based in Soho, the spiritual home of the Mod/ern/ist, the club meet on sundays at the iconic all night coffee bar, drink some of London’s best ground blend, and plan/ride through Central London throughout the year, as well as collaborate with fellow clubs in the South East region. The club, now approaching it’s tenth year anniversary as an official club, has a heavy influence by the scene and represents the more sussed part of the scootering fraternity. All other clubs are welcome, as well as any solo riders, Mod or otherwise.

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September 20, 2013 By : Category : Articles Cars and Scooters Front Page Style Tags:, ,
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Buckingham Palace Ride out – 25 May 2013



Classic scooter ride outs through London bring together a cross section of people to enjoy the sights of the capital as well as meet up with like-minded folk and discuss the common ground of our beloved 50-year-old lawn mowers.

This year, the decision was made to hold the Timebox Weekender on the second bank holiday weekend in May. Given the disaster that was the Kickstart ride in March (heavy snow meant cancelling the vintage stalls and food with a few hardy riders following me in the car to Greenwich for the scooter comp), it was agreed that the later in the year, the better the chance of some good weather… and maybe good karma.

Time for a well placed grumble. While the Police events team and Westminster City Council acknowledged the event, not one person informed me about major road closures until a week before the run despite me chasing information from all parties concerned (The TfL website, it turns out, is not as accurate as you or they might think).

At 10.30am on the day itself, I’m on the Lambretta racing through Central London. Pall Mall=closed=BOO! Piccadilly+Regent St=full of football fans=no go zone= BOO! Constitution Hill=OPEN=RESULT! A quick mental calculation and decision meant I had a new route so I could relax. On arrival at Bar Italia I’m straight away on the blower messaging/posting updates of the route.Various people arrive on their scooters and a big thanks is owed here to everyone who helped out with the run; Tony Schokman and team who offered their services, Bob Morris, Rob Bailey, Pete Bojangles and Mrs El Presidente herself (Karine), who had the arduous task of being the last person in the pack to collect the strays and other marshals. Carnaby St. for 1.30pm and it’s packed.

The decision to barrier off the central section for ‘essential maintenance’ ensures the flow of human traffic is disrupted as much as possible during the bank holiday weekend. This didn’t deter the scooterists in attendance though and it isn’t long before every nook and cranny in the surrounding area is littered with chrome and custom paint jobs. Time for a quick meet and great, enlisting of additional marshals and suddenly it’s 2pm; time to off! A slow cruise along Great Marlborough Street and across Regent Street this year, down to New Bond Street. I thought it only appropriate that we stop outside the Palace for a change, while I snap away with the camera for that all important social media update. On to Westminster square where we encounter our first football chanting from the masses. Odd to hear a mix of English and German fans chanting in a language I can only nominate as ‘Ger-lish’. Past Big Ben/Houses of Parliament and onto the river. Off at Blackfriars with Rob Bailey plotting up on the median strip to stop anyone from straying from the pack. Then up to Clerkenwell Road, onto Old Street and into Curtain Road where New Untouchables photographer, Lord Savage, was on hand to capture the ‘arrival’ of the pack at The Strongroom Bar.

Cue live music from Shake 101 and BBQ! After a difficult judging process this year, Rob and I awarded the trophies for best scooters to the following:
Best Vespa – Dave: Blue Vespa Sportique
Best Lambretta – Paul: Yellow TV175 series 2
Best Mod Scooter – Guy: Gold/chrome GS150

Thanks as always to all of the 500 who came from around the country, a massive thanks to the marshals who kept everyone together, Rob and the New Untouchables team for another great collaboration, the Strongroom Bar for having us, well as the Man Upstairs for the weather (and well done to Nicky once again for pulling this awesome event together, great achievement – Ed).


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Nicky Bubbles

Nicky Bubbles was bitten by the bug as a young lad in Australia. With the sounds of Otis, Diana and Marvin in the background of his youth, it was a deep seeded passion for Tamla that helped propel him towards the Mod scene in his mid twenties. The love of scooters was also apparent from a relative obsessed with Vespas. This led to Nicky joining and subsequently taking over the reigns at Central London’s only dedicated geared scooter club as ‘El Presidente’- Bar Italia SC. Based in Soho, the spiritual home of the Mod/ern/ist, the club meet on sundays at the iconic all night coffee bar, drink some of London’s best ground blend, and plan/ride through Central London throughout the year, as well as collaborate with fellow clubs in the South East region. The club, now approaching it’s tenth year anniversary as an official club, has a heavy influence by the scene and represents the more sussed part of the scootering fraternity. All other clubs are welcome, as well as any solo riders, Mod or otherwise.

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June 5, 2013 By : Category : Cars and Scooters Events Front Page Picks Scene UK Tags:, , , ,
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Brighton August 2012 Review by Nicky Bubbles

As usual, the August bank holiday is upon us all too quickly after the short spell of sunshine and clear skies that constitutes a British summer. It has to be said that, despite the topsy turvy weather (always a struggle for the sartorially inclined) 2012 has been a largely successful one in terms of scooter events and rides for the Bar Italia Scooter Club.

From Greenwich in March to the Palace in May and even the Le Mans in June to display our scooters, we’ve been pretty busy. But the icing on the metaphorical cake, is the Brighton August Bank holiday weekend rideout.

So, with a hotel booked and our friends Catford Chris and Joeli kindly agreeing to take the suit carrier in their car (just enough room with all of Chris’s records), the French one and I planned the journey to the coast from our dwellings in sarf-east London. The scenic route via B-roads is an absolute must for anyone wanting to take in the idyllic Kent/Sussex countryside and a pleasure to deal with on a 50-year-old shopping trolley.

Sunday arrives all too soon after a cracking Saturday night. A worthwhile mention to the chap from Perth (Australia) who I chatted to at the bar. Dare I say it made me reminisce about my mis-spent youth?

A new scooter and some forward planning helped things along. This time everyone was facing in the right direction on Madeira Drive–what a sight! A few hundred scooters and riders greeted us as we turned onto the promenade. Every style, with numbers growing by the second (I think I said multiplying like single-celled amoebas).

A check in with Rob at the Volks meant pushing through heaving crowds. It was then time to start the judging for the scooter competition. For this, the keen eyes of Gary Milan and Paul Boddy were employed. Judging was tough this year. A lot of people had put effort into restoring or accessorising, but we were forced get a move on as we ran out of time and the rideout was due to start.

At 3pm exactly, 400 scooters were idling waiting for instructions. A kick of the starter and I made my way through the pack to lead the charge. Thanks to everyone who understood instructions. Then we were off!

Up the ramp on Madeira Drive, right onto the coastal road and sit tight against the fresh August wind buffeting me all over the road…or was that the DT’s? Through Saltdean and after five miles along it’s time to pull into the end point of the Smugglers Rest pub. Various groups of scooter riders didn’t hear about the end point and made it clear they were off to Beachy Head. Fair play–the rest of us plotted up on a bench and had a well earned hair-of-the-dog and rest. Then it was back on the bikes, rounding up the troops and back to the Volks to announce the competition winners:

Best Lambretta–green series 2 LI–reg X75 XUB belonging to Shaun

Best Vespa–blue and silver GS150 reg–HFO 815 belonging to Richard

Best Mod Scooter–orange and cream series 1–regXJJ 813 belonging to Andrew

Honorable mentions should also be given to Marco from Rimini Lambretta Centre and his blue/chrome series 1, as well as Daniele from Italy and his gold/green Series 3. If there were awards for furthest travelled…

Thanks as always to the NUTs team for a great weekend and everyone who took part. Keep ‘em peeled for more Bar Italia S.C. adventures in the usual places.

Photography by: © Ramees Farooqi 2012


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Nicky Bubbles

Nicky Bubbles was bitten by the bug as a young lad in Australia. With the sounds of Otis, Diana and Marvin in the background of his youth, it was a deep seeded passion for Tamla that helped propel him towards the Mod scene in his mid twenties. The love of scooters was also apparent from a relative obsessed with Vespas. This led to Nicky joining and subsequently taking over the reigns at Central London’s only dedicated geared scooter club as ‘El Presidente’- Bar Italia SC. Based in Soho, the spiritual home of the Mod/ern/ist, the club meet on sundays at the iconic all night coffee bar, drink some of London’s best ground blend, and plan/ride through Central London throughout the year, as well as collaborate with fellow clubs in the South East region. The club, now approaching it’s tenth year anniversary as an official club, has a heavy influence by the scene and represents the more sussed part of the scootering fraternity. All other clubs are welcome, as well as any solo riders, Mod or otherwise.

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September 28, 2012 By : Category : Articles Events Front Page Music Reviews Scene UK Tags:, , , ,
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Buckingham Palace Rideout 5th May 2012

This year, the New Untouchables team had decided to move the date of the Timebox weekender to the first bank holiday in May. This meant that the Buckingham Palace Rideout was now on the 5th as opposed to later in the month. This, in hindsight, was nothing but a good thing as any other date over the two bank holidays would have meant massive road closures throughout the route. Can you imagine 200 scooters attempting to cross Central London during the Jubilee weekend? Or during a London wide marathon? In a torrential downpour???

After 6 years of running the Bar Italia Scooter Club, it’s fair to say i’ve cut my teeth on organising these sort of things. Armed with a spring in my step after the amazingly successful Kickstart Ride in March and my little black book of contacts, it was easy peasy to notify ‘Babylon’ of our intentions this time around.

I was also fully prepared with my cagoule and waterproof shoes on the day. This was pretty handy as, en route from our cheeky coffee at the ‘clubhouse’ (Bar Italia to the un-initiated) to Carnaby Street, the Big Man upstairs decided he would let us have a sprinkling just to remind us of who’s boss.

So, after a rather soggy arrival it was time for the meet and greet with the usual faces (and some new ones) and the polite reminder enforced that it’s a 2pm SHARP departure. Of course 2pm arrives…and as usual, im gassbagging about the latest accessories/clobber/tunes. Oops! After a prompt from the missus, it’s on the other faithful to lead the charge of 200 odd scooters and we’re off on another jolly boys (and girls) outing through Central London. Along to Piccadilly for some tourist snaps, then down to Trafalgar square where we successfully navigated some rather large lorries unloading Olympic regalia, and on through to the Mall. Here it’s the pause and regroup for the obligatory photo opportunity (I am still waiting to see the one of me saluting the Palace), then off to Westminster Square and over to Embankment to cruise along the Thames river with stunning vistas of South London. A quick zig into Clerkenwell, and zag over Old Street into Curtain Road for the finish line at the Strongroom Bar to partake in some authentic tunes, BBQ munchies from the kitchen (always impressed with the food) and sample some brews from the ever expanding beer menu. Rather easy all told! I will, however, admit that somewhere near Clerkenwell, the LI decided it was too hot to handle and decided to pack in on me. Running rich was the diagnosis. Thanks to the gang who helped me at the side of the road as I grumbled incessantly at my ‘infernal contraption’.

Scooter competition time quickly arrvived and it seemed that, as some clubs had decided to leave after a short tenure on site, it was a tad difficult to judge in good time and then collar the potential winner to convince them to hang around to claim their prize! A thanks here goes to Andrea from the Smart Drivers Scooter Club for assisting with the chin stroking and decision making. Between us and fellow Bar Italia SC members, we finally narrowed it down to:

Best Vespa- GS160- V00 600

Best Lambretta- LI150 S1- 738 HUA

Best Mod Scooter- Lambretta TV175 s2- Reg number lost! Sorry! Great two tone blue with hints of lilac

Massive thanks to co-organisers Rob Bailey and the New Untouchables, all clubs and individuals who attended and of course the marshals we had who managed to keep the ride together.

For some more great photos click HERE


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Nicky Bubbles

Nicky Bubbles was bitten by the bug as a young lad in Australia. With the sounds of Otis, Diana and Marvin in the background of his youth, it was a deep seeded passion for Tamla that helped propel him towards the Mod scene in his mid twenties. The love of scooters was also apparent from a relative obsessed with Vespas. This led to Nicky joining and subsequently taking over the reigns at Central London’s only dedicated geared scooter club as ‘El Presidente’- Bar Italia SC. Based in Soho, the spiritual home of the Mod/ern/ist, the club meet on sundays at the iconic all night coffee bar, drink some of London’s best ground blend, and plan/ride through Central London throughout the year, as well as collaborate with fellow clubs in the South East region. The club, now approaching it’s tenth year anniversary as an official club, has a heavy influence by the scene and represents the more sussed part of the scootering fraternity. All other clubs are welcome, as well as any solo riders, Mod or otherwise.

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August 8, 2012 By : Category : Articles Cars and Scooters Events Front Page Reviews Scene Style UK Tags:, , ,
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Kickstart 2012

It falls on my shoulders as ‘El Presidente’ of the Bar Italia Scooter Club to write about the 2012 Kickstart Rideout. To tell the truth it’s that this year I can’t help but feel a little smug about.

This ride marks the ‘start’ of the scootering season and is usually slightly earlier in the year. However, due to the previous two years’ miserable weather, I decided to push it back to the end of March. Also, the decision was made to move it from a Sunday to a Saturday thanks to various charity sporting events taking place in the capital (this means even more roadworks and diversions) as well as the Ace Cafe running their Scooter Day on Sunday. Controversial as a few people pointed out, but nonetheless, it had the desired effect.

As this is the tenth year that the Bar Italia Scooter Club has ‘officially’ been running (although Mods and like-minded types have used it as a hang out since the 50’s), I thought it might be an opportunity to celebrate this and up the ante a little. After the last couple of years riding to Epping Forest, perhaps a change of venue might help?  The issue with organising a rideout, in case you hadn’t guessed already, is logistics. Where can you have hundreds of scooters and riders park and catch up with mates comfortably after a safe run and acceptable length of time on the road? Particularly when you start from a Central London location?  Thanks to a fantastic stroke of luck, I happen to know someone at the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich. As they showed an interest, after some gentle ‘persuasion’ final terms were agreed to use this iconic London heritage site as the final destination. The first time classic scooters have ever used the space. You’re very welcome.

So, with a route and final destination in place, various councils and Police notified, trophies sorted and permission granted from the London Eye security, I thought perhaps a chance to spread the word further afield than the usual social networking sites and Scooter based publications might help. Queue articles appearing in the London/National press (in the Timeout ‘Top 5 Weekend events’) and a very unexpected radio interview with Robert Elms on BBC Radio London. Apparently it was even mentioned on the radio in Venice, Italy!

The end result? 400+ scooters met at the London Eye on a very warm and sunny 24th of March at 11am. Police kindly closed the roads for us to leave at high noon and off we went. Marshals at the front in their yellow vests (thanks to all of those in Bar Italia SC and Mark from the Wasps SC), me of course refusing such a fashion faux pas and opting instead for a canary yellow sailing smock.  Off we went in a haze of two stroke, and in no time, despite some heavy traffic, were entering the larger than life gates of the Old Royal Naval College to be greeted with an eager and excited crowd all taking photos and cheering as we parked in the designated area.  Thanks here to staff at the venue who were somewhat in awe of double the anticipated turnout, but still managed to find parking for everyone. After parking the trusty ol’ Lambretta, it was time to start judging the scooter competition. Needless to say, with a seemingly endless stream of scooters arriving, this was a long and drawn out task for myself and fellow judges. In the end, however, we found our bikes and announced the winners. A thanks here to Tim at the Raihna Santa Roast Hog company who not only provided some of the nicest pig in a bun I’ve ever had, but also sponsored the trophies. Winners this year were twice as lucky as we had photographer and all round top fella Darren Russell on hand as the official snapper for the day, who was providing each winner with a print of their winning pose.

So, a major coup for a location, great weather and quite an easy ride. I have to chalk that up as a success in my book.  No time to rest on my laurels though! The next rideout to organise- Buckingham Palace Ride on the 5th of May. See you at Carnaby Street (Marlborough Street end) for 1.30pm. We’re leaving at 2pm sharp! You have been warned!

Trophy Winners

Best Vespa - Vespa GS160- Graham- V00 600

Best Lambretta – Lambretta S1 LI- Clive-

Best Mod Scooter – Lambretta S3 TV175- Ray –

 

Nicky Bubbles – El Presidente – Bar Italia SC


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Nicky Bubbles

Nicky Bubbles was bitten by the bug as a young lad in Australia. With the sounds of Otis, Diana and Marvin in the background of his youth, it was a deep seeded passion for Tamla that helped propel him towards the Mod scene in his mid twenties. The love of scooters was also apparent from a relative obsessed with Vespas. This led to Nicky joining and subsequently taking over the reigns at Central London’s only dedicated geared scooter club as ‘El Presidente’- Bar Italia SC. Based in Soho, the spiritual home of the Mod/ern/ist, the club meet on sundays at the iconic all night coffee bar, drink some of London’s best ground blend, and plan/ride through Central London throughout the year, as well as collaborate with fellow clubs in the South East region. The club, now approaching it’s tenth year anniversary as an official club, has a heavy influence by the scene and represents the more sussed part of the scootering fraternity. All other clubs are welcome, as well as any solo riders, Mod or otherwise.

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May 21, 2012 By : Category : Articles Cars and Scooters Events Front Page Reviews Scene Style UK Tags:, , ,
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Vespa Licence Story

‘Something has hit me, I’m outta my mind…’ To paraphrase Reggie King.  I was definitely out of my mind in retrospect. A worrying account of how things can change.

All was going well on that sunny June morning. Riding from South East London into the West End for work on the burgundy 1964 Vespa with the PX 150 engine that had been my pride and joy for a year or so at that point. Two up with the lady in pillion, us both sporting our open face helmets and period goggles.The middle of summer with the sun shining. It was a lovely ride indeed.  Embankment along the river, then up to Trafalgar Square. Smiles on our faces and not a care in the world. It wasn’t until we turned into The Mall in the direction of the Palace that the heart stopping moment occurred. Out of nowhere, a rozzer stepped into our trajectory and waved me vigorously into the layby area used once for the carriages of her majesty. This did not look good. The conversation went something like this:

Rozzer: Morning son. Please turn your engine off for me.

Me: Good morning Occifer how can I help?

Rozzer: (To soften us up). Enjoying the ride?…. Are your helmets both legal?

US: Yes of course *gulp* (both helmets were illegal however one of us at least had a kite mark/BS Mark showing it was at some stage legally approved for use in the UK)

Rozzer: Uh huh. And are those goggles you’re wearing road legal?

Me: Of course (I think the wording on the packaging was ‘for show and display use only’)

Rozzer: I see. What size engine is in your scooter?

Me: (the panic started to set in at this point) 150cc (could he check?)

Rozzer: Right and what motorcycle licence do you have at the moment?

Me: (feeling nails dig deep into my sides from my pillion passenger) err (time to come clean and face the music. ) C.B.T.

For those not aware, the law currently states that to ride on two wheels you have to you complete a day of ‘Compulsory Basic Training’ with a riding school both in a safe environment and on the roads. This will provide you with a certificate enabling you to ride anything on two wheels up to 125cc. It is valid for two years and used as a ‘provisional licence’ until you take your full test (this currently includes a theory, followed by a ‘track section displaying manoeuvres, then an on road competency section). Until you pass the full test you must display ‘L’ plates on the front and rear of your vehicle and you cannot take passengers. Also it’s worth noting that helmets pre 1985 are not actually road legal even if they display the British Standard mark aka kite mark.

Rozzer: I see. *walks around to the rear of the scooter and completes a full circle of the bike* (Then, after the worlds longest pause….) Nice scooter. Very nice mate. Ride on and enjoy your day.

About half a mile down the road I started to breathe again at around the same time I had realised that I had managed to blag my way out of a fine/impounded vehicle or potentially arrest and suspension of my provisional licence. My pillion passenger summed up the experience rather succinctly as is her way: ‘If ever there was a sign for you to take your bike licence that was it’.

 


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Nicky Bubbles

Nicky Bubbles was bitten by the bug as a young lad in Australia. With the sounds of Otis, Diana and Marvin in the background of his youth, it was a deep seeded passion for Tamla that helped propel him towards the Mod scene in his mid twenties. The love of scooters was also apparent from a relative obsessed with Vespas. This led to Nicky joining and subsequently taking over the reigns at Central London’s only dedicated geared scooter club as ‘El Presidente’- Bar Italia SC. Based in Soho, the spiritual home of the Mod/ern/ist, the club meet on sundays at the iconic all night coffee bar, drink some of London’s best ground blend, and plan/ride through Central London throughout the year, as well as collaborate with fellow clubs in the South East region. The club, now approaching it’s tenth year anniversary as an official club, has a heavy influence by the scene and represents the more sussed part of the scootering fraternity. All other clubs are welcome, as well as any solo riders, Mod or otherwise.

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February 6, 2012 By : Category : Cars and Scooters Essays Front Page Tags:, , ,
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Scooter Choice – Nicky Bubbles

Being a lover of classic scooters for such a long period of my life, I had always aspired to one day own what I perceived to be the best scooter of all. The Vespa GS160. Having worked my way along the Vespa chain for a good few years to end up with a fantastic professionally restored burgundy VBB with 10 inch wheel conversion (thanks to a certain reputable North London dealership), I decided that, with my 30’s fast approaching, it was perhaps time to bite the bullet and trade up to that dream scooter. As luck would have it, I managed to tick the box in a short period of time. However, as it was effectively found propped up in a mate’s garage, it raised a question in my mind that I know is pondered by so many fellow/potential scooter riders on the scene: what sort of condition should/would you opt for when owning a classic scooter?

Let’s look at the options here. The first one, and to be fair the most popular through the years, is to fully restore the scooter to it’s ‘original glory’. This means (hopefully) finding someone, if not yourself, skilled enough to strip and rebuild an engine, as well as someone to paint the bike. Now, here’s where us peacocks will tend to deviate from the standard and opt for ‘off spec’ colours which can look fantastic and will certainly gain the attention it deserves as it parades, rider in charge, along the promenade. This is great and is wonderful to see people’s imaginations dictate the final aesthetic. Queue the Brighton Rideout trophy judges….

The next option, and perhaps not sitting so well with a few I’m sure, is the ‘original condition’ scooter. This is where my aforementioned comes into the picture. Finding something that is either a ‘barn find’ or ‘daily rider never touched’ is becoming more and more of a rarity these days. Especially when you bring into the equation the provenance (original log book and number plate). Yes, I will admit the above paragraph fits neatly into reason but there are also people realising that these hairdryers we adore are in fact worth more with the scratches, paint flaking and hand painted names/numbers on the panels from the 60’s. A condition that, once restored, will never be present on the scooter again.

I found that the ‘patina’ on my scooter immediately set it apart from other GS’s and, while not perhaps the most eye-catching in a parade, did certainly gain a few nods or comments of recognition along the way. Most citing a certain book published by Richard Barnes…

Still, using the machine on a daily basis with an original engine (10000 miles in total) meant not being too precious about the overall condition as, after all, they were designed to be ridden!

Another option that is again increasing in popularity is the ‘Rusteration’. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, it does what it says on the tin. Find a scooter, no matter the condition (usually fairly well preserved original condition scooters). Then degenerately restore it, if that makes sense. Add your own patina to it. Rub the paint off and leave to oxidise until some rust appears. Hand paint the panels with a brush really badly… effectively knacker the scooter. Usually most decide to then add a racing type engine which in my mind only adds to the comedy value when you decide to ‘race for pink slips’ with that chap on one at the lights…

As you can see, I am slightly biased with my comments here. Having owned scooters from the first two categories, I can say that I have immensely enjoyed them regardless of the condition.  However, with prices quite high against the current climate, it is perhaps a question more people will ponder when it comes to the winter scooter purchase. Concours restoration is time and wonga in a big way but ultimately your personalised scooter to cherish for many years. Ride the original find and you can, if you’re not careful, end up spending a lot of money just keeping it on the road but the benefit of having an unmolested machine straight out of a time warp can have its advantages.  Rusteration: Spending money to make it look like an original condition scooter? Hmmm..


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Nicky Bubbles

Nicky Bubbles was bitten by the bug as a young lad in Australia. With the sounds of Otis, Diana and Marvin in the background of his youth, it was a deep seeded passion for Tamla that helped propel him towards the Mod scene in his mid twenties. The love of scooters was also apparent from a relative obsessed with Vespas. This led to Nicky joining and subsequently taking over the reigns at Central London’s only dedicated geared scooter club as ‘El Presidente’- Bar Italia SC. Based in Soho, the spiritual home of the Mod/ern/ist, the club meet on sundays at the iconic all night coffee bar, drink some of London’s best ground blend, and plan/ride through Central London throughout the year, as well as collaborate with fellow clubs in the South East region. The club, now approaching it’s tenth year anniversary as an official club, has a heavy influence by the scene and represents the more sussed part of the scootering fraternity. All other clubs are welcome, as well as any solo riders, Mod or otherwise.

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January 27, 2012 By : Category : Articles Essays Front Page Objects Style Tags:, , ,
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