Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Winter storage and reawakening

One unfortunate scootering disadvantage we have up here in New England (or "the Union" as some others refer) is that we have bitter winters. Bitter may actually not be the correct description. Perhaps miserable-cold-dark-damp-gloomy-oppressing-rain-sleet-snow-snow-snow-more-snow-freeze-your-butt-off-never-ending-tormenting winters is a better term. As a consequence you will not find many scooterists on the road during the winter months. Although there will be a few crazy fanatics that wholeheartedly embrace the Unite States Postal Service "neither rain, nor sleet, nor gloom of night" oath and dare to venture out all year around. I am not one of those. I don't enjoy navigating through black ice and snow, enduring bone-chilling temperatures, and freezing winds that burn any exposed skin (so wear thick gloves, goggles, masks, baby seal blubber suits, etc).

My scooter goes through winter hibernation inside a warm and sheltered garage, courtesy of my friends' apartment and at a cost of a case of beer. Sure I get sad and often miss my scooter, especially during the long chilly walks to the T station, but I endure through the winter knowing that my trusty scooter (or Scoot Scoot as I fondly call it) is in a safe place, and will be ready and energized for an early spring riding season chock-full of sunny days and pleasant rainbows.

For those considering to get a scooter and planning on not using it for a long period of time, it is important to know how to properly prepare and store a scooter. I was unlucky enough to not have been taught this critical information, and thus after a long first winter of storage, my scooter did not work after several disheartening days of dismantling, tweaking, replacing, and swearing at random parts until I fixed what had been undone. The wasted time was mostly due to because I had no idea why it wouldn't start. Often I just stared at the scooter, ignorantly hoping to identify an obvious disconnected cable or newly formed gaping hole that could be easily repaired with superglue and duct tape which would fix the problem, and also a lot of unscrewing and re-screwing random parts (don't ask me why, it's just a guy thing). Anyway, the most important lesson in storing a scooter is to remove the battery. Fact: a scooter battery (think car battery, but much much smaller) will discharge continuously and die within a few weeks of non-use. If you do not remove the battery before winter storage, you will of course, be angered in the spring when you have to buy a brand new scooter battery ($40 or more depending on brand & quality). Garaged scooters can just be turned on and used for a couple minutes each week to keep the battery charged. However, if you are lazy and/or storing a scooter in a place that does not allow a scooter to start (e.g. in the dining room of your second story apartment), the battery must be removed and hooked up to a battery charger every few weeks. You should also clean the scooter thoroughly before storing, to prevent rusting of critical components.

Also when reawakening the beast, gas is certainly a critical factor. The few liters of gasoline in a scooter quickly evaporates over the winter as I learned this after my second winter of storage. Megs had faithfully dropped me off at the friends' house, trustingly hoped that I knew what I was doing, and drove off to run errands. After a couple failed attempts to restart the scooter, and having watchful friends laugh at my situation, I walked the scooter to a nearby gas station a couple blocks away. With determination and patience I was finally able, in that gas station late one chilly spring night, to start the scooter with a tank of fresh gas, a fully charged battery, and faced a brand new scootering season full of adventure and hope.

[Reawakening ceremony tools: gas can, battery charger]

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Scooter pic: the po po

Here's a sweet picture my girlfriend snagged of a cool police scooter outside Yankee Stadium a couple weeks ago.

I really have no idea what kind it is, but I would guess some modified version of an old Honda Elite. I'm also doubtful they were able to store a shotgun and tactical gear under the seat.

Side note: upon further inspection of this picture, she was also able to capture the dude to the left in the white sweat band and sporting a "got rings?" t-shirt. My question is, who is he, and how can I be friends with him?

Parking 101

One of the great benefits of owning a scooter is that you can park it where ever you want. Similar to bicycles, all you need to do is find a suitable space, park it, and for extra precaution find something to chain it up to. Some of you may ask, why put a lock on a scooter? Well the average 50cc scooter weights approximately 200 lbs, so crafty criminals with pickup trucks can with relative ease steal scooters not anchored to heavier objects (those jerks). I personally use a heavy duty kryptonite chain lock. I usually park between cars or next to parking meters. In addition stop signs and parking signs are sturdy and good place to anchor your scooter. Fire hydrants and trees are less ideal as they are generally too wide or short to be of use (unless you have a 10 foot chain). For reference here a few pictures of things you can chain your scooter up to:

Also try not to piss off any authoritative figures while parking your scooter, such locking your scooter next to a do-not-enter sign in front of a government mental instution with a state trooper on guard. Luckily I didn't get a ticket, but definitely got a good scolding.

Sorry folks about the lack of recent updates, I've been incapacitated for a few weeks by a mutant Ebola/SARS supervirus (or a bad cold/flu).