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This didn’t take long

October 9, 2006

Vespas are made in Italy, after all. But still, I was not expecting any kind of mechanical issue at 115 miles.

Coming back from coffee, I was southbound on Stone Way. The light at 40th had turned red, so I slowed down, working smoothly through the gears to second. About to come to a stop, I twisted the left handgrip in anticipation of getting neutral.

What I got was a left handgrip that popped and turned almost completely around. It went back the other way, too! Did I get neutral? Nope, the stalled engine indicated second gear. I discovered the left handgrip would move without squeezing the clutch lever. Something is seriously wrong here…

Fortunately, I was going downhill, and the clutch still seemed to work, so I pulled the bike onto a sidewalk and tried to assess the situation. The bike will roll if I squeeze the clutch lever, but I’m pretty much stuck with second gear. Yes, it will start, but I’m too far from home to think about trying to make it at 20 mph. Time to call roadside assistance.

My one previous experience with Vespa’s roadside assistance line took place shortly after I got my ET4. It just quit running, for no apparent reason. I called the 800 number and spoke with someone who kept referring to a “Ducati motorcycle,” and who told me they could send a truck for it the following Tuesday (I called on a Thursday).

Happliy, things have improved considerably. I spoke with the same guy (his voice is distinctive, to say the least), but this time he took my information, and not once did he utter the word “Ducati.” This being a Monday, Vespa Seattle and Big People Scooters were closed, but since I was close, a tow home would be fine.

Casey, the roadside assistance guy, then said he needed to contact the towing company; once he did that, he’d be back in touch to let me know when to expect the tow truck. Gee, cell phones are nice, aren’t they? What did we do without them?

Because the towing company had only one truck available today (because it’s a holiday?), it would be about an hour and a half before it arrived. Not much to be done about that, unfortunately, and no place nearby to go sit down with a coffee, so I walked over to the bus shelter and sat down on the bench.

The towing company called, just as Casey said they would, saying the guy would be there in half an hour. I was wondering just what sort of a vehicle to expect, when up comes this gigantic tilt-bed device. The driver tilted the bed and had me run the bike about halfway up before leveling it off. That felt weird.

We lashed the bike up, just like you would if you were carrying it in the back of a pickup. Except the straps were beefy enough to hold a pickup. I cursed myself for not having a camera, because the sight of a little tiny Vespa on the back of this ginormous truck was just too funny.

As we got ready to leave, the driver asked if trucks were still prohibited on the Fremont Bridge. Oh, yeah, they are. I guess we could cross the Aurora Bridge, but would this big truck be able to make the sharp right turn to Queen Anne Hill?

No problem, the driver says with a gleam in his eye. “Wait ’til you see what I can make this truck do,” he said. Okay. He negotiates the narrow passages that are Queen Anne Hill’s back streets with an aplomb that is nothing short of amazing. Before I know it, the bike and I are home.

I am able to start it and wheel it into the garage. The Vespa Club meeting is tomorrow night. I hope I’ll be able ride there. Favicon

One Comment
  1. Bob Brown permalink
    October 9, 2006 11:24 pm

    Hi Orin!

    Sorry to hear about your shifter trouble. I like your blog and your writing style, though. Very much like Peter Moore (“Vroom with a View”)

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