Tuesday, April 25, 2017

That First Ride

Recently, someone posted in Modern Vespa that she had purchased a Vespa GT, then crashed on her first ride.  I wrote a comment that included, "that first ride is the most dangerous"

I know of three incidents of first time riders wrecking during that ride.

One was close to me when I put a first timer on Vanessa, before I owned her, and poor Vanessa got ridden out of the driveway into a parked Land Rover.  I ended up paying over $800. to repair the Land Rover, then bought Vanessa (a purchase that has proved to be a good one).

My friend Ken told me of a time he let someone ride one of his scooters.  They left the driveway, rode straight across the street and crashed into a pile of leaves.

The another, my friend Rob, let another friend ride his GTS.  The scooter lurched when he improperly applied the throttle.  He panicked, jumped off and they both watched the scooter crash to the ground.

All three bad decisions by the owners of the scooters as well as the riders.

That first time is sometimes simply too much for a new rider.

I was reminded of that last week when I let a friend ride Rocket to lunch.  He had been wanting to buy Vanessa when she was around.  I said no but he still wanted to ride one.

We headed down Herschel Street to eat a mile away.  He made it fine.  On the way back I kept thinking that I have ridden down that road at least a thousand times.  I am aware of the potential danger from cars crossing.  I kept thinking, wouldn't it be a shame if someone didn't stop and rode into Rocket and Carlos.  As I was contemplating the possibilities, a car didn't notice Carlos and crossed very closely in front of him.  Closer than one has been to me in all of those rides.  But it missed him and we made it back to the office.  He could ride well but didn't have the experience to be watching for the possible dangers involved in riding.

Vanessa's damage

No fender


  1. Great post Bill.

    Funny, but a few days ago I was talking with the owner of our local Vespa dealership about this very thing and he was relating how many times a new owner dropped their scooter or motorcycle before leaving the parking lot. The first time my wife "tried out" my LX150 she dropped it.

    The GTS is deceptive. It has more throttle than people expect. The dealer told me that he recently sold a GTS to a couple who both ride Harleys. The scooter was for her. Dealer warned her that it wouldn't be like the Harley and would jump fast with the throttle. She dismissed his concerned and promptly rode it into the back of a parked, brand new BMW R 1200GS. Didn't hurt the scooter but bent the kickstand on the BMW.

    When I was riding and reviewing motorcycles for that dealer I treated each machine as a whole new experience and spent time exploring the throttle, clutch, brakes and weight before really starting to ride. Perhaps just dumb luck but I didn't ride into anything, drop or crash.

    Brings us to the loaning of scooters. I have let others ride my Vespa but they were experienced riders. Even then, you never know. Last year at our Boalsburg Moto Hang a guy showed up with a new BMW R 1200 GS Adventure. He let a fellow take it for a spin. The fellow had been riding for 40 years, trials, races, on just about every sort of bike. Two miles down the road he dropped it. Wasn't used to the weight and high center of gravity.

    Oh well. Part of the riding experience I suppose.

    Scooter in the Sticks

  2. And there I was riding Ken's GTS down a highway at 50 mph with no hands. And yet Ken wasn't horrified when he found out.

    I remeber chatting with my dealer in Montreal about similar mishaps. Some people never even made it off the lot.

  3. We learn by the mistakes that we help others make. People I know who own and ride a Vespa regularly I just hand the keys to. People who don't ride Vespa's but I deem competent riders I now give a short course to. They set on the scooter on the center stand and play with everything with the motor running. Then I launch them in a straight line down the road and hope for the best. The crash came when the rider had to leave the drive and make a 90 degree turn and got confused with as they had only ridden two wheels with a clutch. Fortunately there was a large pile of leaves to catch rider and scooter. They now have a Vespa of their own, so I feel as though I accomplished my mission.

  4. As long as no one is hurt then were ok.
    It is sometimes hard to explain and get through to big bike riders how a GTS300 responds to a accidental blip of the throttle....it can so easily catch even the most seasoned rider out!
    Like Kens comment.....they now have a Vespa of there own!
    That's good stuff right there.
    Kind regards