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It depends on your definition of old-skool

September 14, 2008

Orin O'Neill photo

October 7 marks two years of Scootin’ Old Skool, and I’d like to thank all who’ve stopped by over that time. You’ll notice a new look. And a new bike.

The PX now has a sibling, a 2007 Vespa GTS that was too good of a Craigslist deal to pass up.

There are some who, in light of this development, might question just how old-skool this journal now is. In fact, in the early days I’d receive occasional e-mails from people who’d say old-skool means a Lambretta or vintage Vespa. Well, there’s a raging debate going on right now about how “country” artists like Toby Keith, Faith Hill and even Garth Brooks are. “Country music is a feeling,” someone said during my radio career. So my reply was, old-skool referred to the PX’s 2-stroke engine, manual transmission and all-steel construction.

When Vespas first went on sale, they were not precious fashion accessories. The people who bought them couldn’t afford the equivalent of 195 bucks for a Fiat 500 Topolino, but needed personal transportation. These folks needed an E-Z payment plan for an item that cost $40.

Economics motivated my first scooter purchase in 2003. It’s still the major factor in scooter ownership for me. I very much like the fact that owning a scooter, in a very small way, takes money away from people and nations that don’t much like us. That we continue to give money to them has never made much sense to me, but that’s the way it is. I simply choose to limit my participation in that unhealthy relationship.

The GTS addresses another concern: environmental impact. Two-stroke engines are not particularly green; their main advantage is simplicity and way fewer parts than an equivalent 4-stroke engine, making them much cheaper to produce.

Unlike the PX, the GTS meets California emissions standards. It’s got a catalytic converter and an evaporative emissions control system (captures gasoline vapor from the tank and sends it to the engine to be burned). 

It meets my personal requirements for a car: tachometer and coolant temperature gauge in the instrument cluster, and disc brakes on all wheels. It even has a “check engine” light! Just like a new car.

Most of all, it’s comfortable. “You bought a couch,” said Joe at Big People. I tend to think of BMW motorcycles as couches, so let’s call the GTS a loveseat.

I admit, I have missed certain aspects of modern Vespa ownership. The GTS is an even more refined experience—squeeze the brake lever and press the starter button (with one hand, if you like), the starter cranks the engine almost silently, bringing to life that lawnmower idle. In this case, it’s smoothest, quietest lawnmower you’ll ever hear. And let’s not forget the underseat storage bin, complete with “No Pets” labels! The claim of room for two helmets is dubious, but lots of other stuff fits just fine.

That trip to Oregon was pretty grueling. Having to constantly monitor your mirrors and be on the lookout for places to dive off the highway because you can’t do the speed limit is tiring. The PX is happiest at 35-40 mph. Trouble is, lots of roads that lead to places I want to go have much higher speed limits.

The nice thing about scooters is, they’re relatively cheap and they take up very little space. You can have more than one. So the PX, which may well be the highest-mileage 2005 model PX 150 in North America (18,900+ as this is written), can ease into a life of weekend cruising and running local errands. The PX has given its all for two years, and never failed to start right up and run flat-out for as long as I asked. It has been a loyal companion on so many wonderful adventures. I dare say, a more loyal companion than many people I’ve known. I’m not going to be selling it, in case you’re wondering.

I recently had a conversation with a GTS owner who trailered his bike to Anacortes in order to ride it around town. Trailered it? When the route up would put a GTS exactly in its element?!

Unless it is reduced to a smoldering heap of wreckage (or I finally make it to the NYC Scooter Block Party), I solemnly swear my GTS will never see a trailer. I’m going to ride it, because that’s what it was designed for.

That’s what I mean by old-skool. Favicon

  1. Scooterguy67 permalink
    September 15, 2008 10:08 am

    Congrats on the new Ride! It’s beautiful! I’m jeals.

  2. September 15, 2008 12:26 pm

    Nice bike. Mine saw the back of my trailer so damned often it had to go. Just a lemon I guess, but it put me off electronic everything on a motorcycle…And in 18,000 miles of riding be prepared to change the drive belt three times which is a pain. My 16,000 mile chain is as new.

  3. September 15, 2008 12:56 pm

    Thanks! conchscooter, maybe you and Kat(t) did get lemons… the previous owner told me (and Big People backed him up) that the only issue this bike had was a bad instrument cluster, which was replaced under warranty. Otherwise, it always fired right up and ran like a champ for the 3,400 miles he had it, and has done likewise for me. It’s got over 4,000 miles on it now, and after an uneventful trip to Bellingham and back I anticipate an uneventful trip to Tri-Cities, weekend after next…

  4. September 15, 2008 2:20 pm


    congrats on your new ride. I somehow just knew you were on the lookout for one. You just couldn’t get it out of your mind. now you’ll have to re-do that Oregon trip just to check your gas mileage.


  5. September 15, 2008 2:24 pm

    bob, don’t think the thought hasn’t crossed my mind! 😉

    Maybe next year. If I don’t go to Amerivespa in San Jose…

  6. September 16, 2008 8:22 am

    Very nice looking GTS. I have thought long and hard about the top cases and have not been able to move off the plain of indecision.

    I think it’s still old skool…

    And about the belt changes. The GTS service manual now has the interval set at 15000 kilometers —9300 miles. So you will only have to change the belt twice in 18K miles instead of 3 times.

    Good luck!

    Scooter in the Sticks

  7. September 16, 2008 2:48 pm

    Damn! 9300 miles is a big difference, especially as the factory has a history of being conservative. I am glad in a way that Orin felt the need for a GTS on ex-urban roads. I always felt a twinge of disappointment I hadn’t made the Stella work for me, but it was just too slow for Highway One. His decision validates mine in a way to get the Vespa. God I miss the GTS. I wish mine had worked. And black is really beautiful.

  8. September 21, 2008 7:57 pm

    Wow, I barely survived Hurricane Ike and now the whole scootin’ world has been turned upside-down…

    Congrats, Orin on the new scoot! Maybe I will meet up with ya in San Jose…and I do know the way to… : )


  9. September 22, 2008 6:39 am

    “…let’s call the GTS a loveseat.”


    Beautiful scoot. Congratulations. Excellent post, too.

  10. November 6, 2008 10:58 am

    Beautiful, Classy, What more can we say. Great Buy! Wishing you many years on the road with that gorgeous machine. Love the black.

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