New Tail Light

My new Euro Tail Light arrived!  I bought it from ScooterWest.com, along with some other items that I’d been thinking of but waiting to combine on shipping.  (Being Canadian has a few downsides, at least online shopping-wise.)

Why replace the regular tail light you may ask?  Well, a coworker told me she had been behind me on the highway for most of my journey home and that I was hard to see unless I braked.  Given that I brake sparsely as the scoot slows down much faster than a car when you ease off the throttle, this was not good safety news.  My scoot has a suped-up after market headlight already that the previous owner installed already so improving an anemic tail light situation seemed logical.  Though if it were something I ever got to look at it would likely have happened 2 years ago…

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My first thought was that I might replace all the bulbs with LEDs.  The next move was to find the Euro tail light part online.  It has 9 bulbs in all compared to the 3 in the original light.

Check it out:

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The Euro tail light works sort of opposite to the regular one.  The regular tail light has two tiny bulbs that are the running lights and one larger bulb that is the brake light; the Euro tail light has one large bulb as the running light and 8 tiny bulbs that add to the blaze as the brake light.  Basically, the running light brightness on the Euro is equal to the brightness of the brake light on the regular tail light.

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(I didn’t at all take photos of this comparison in the dark in my shed by using my iPhone’s reverse camera and artfully pulling the brake lever with my foot while stretching out my arm as far back as possible toward the back of the scoot.  Nope.)

It was VERY easy.  The body piece with the red reflector on it has two small screws on the underside that you undo.  That frees up that piece to come off and reveal the two bigger screws for the tail light.  The reflector piece is wired in due to the little white light that should be above the license plate holder (ahem!).  I let this dangle for a bit then just unclipped it.

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Unclip the old tail light with its little white electrical socket which is conveniently designed so you cannot put it in wrong, then you clip in the same piece in the new light.  There is a holder clip for the rectangular white socket to keep your wires in the tail light and not hanging all over the place.  Then the screws go back in, followed by the little reflector body part.  I took the opportunity to unscrew and straighten a partially crushed body piece from my little morning accident earlier this year.

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Gorgeous, yes?  I was worried I wouldn’t like the white around the red centre but I do.  A shame I don’t get to look at it more often since I’m on top of the thing.

Breakin’ Stuff in the Morning

I am not much for mornings.  A few weeks ago I backed out of the shed in a too-vigorous arc and made contact with the neighbours’ rock retaining wall.  I heard the snapping sound and got off the scoot to see this:
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That license plate…  I sort of needed that attached.  I managed to zap strap the plate under the luggage rack so I was street legal and could commute still.  I collected up the pieces of the mudguard/license plate holder and put them somewhere with the thought that I might have to glue them back together again in some fashion.

I began a search for a new part, which has not been all that successful.  It would help if there was some sort of standardized terminology being used.  Rear mudguard, rear mud flap, rear fender, license plate something something…

There were two exact parts on eBay, but in white or grey.  Grey would be OK maybe, but only if gluing didn’t work.  They don’t seem to have the part in stock for my GT200, which is getting on in years for parts I suppose (as it is from 2007 or 2008).  Off to Modern Vespa to ask as I didn’t find anything about it there in the forums already.

I have a sneaking suspicion that I am required by law to have an illuminated license plate on my vehicle.

Making Old Gear New Again -Update on Luggage Roll

I showed you how my otherwise awesome Prima large luggage roll needed a bit of work to stay on the road and out of the landfill here some time ago and never let you know how it turned out.  I didn’t manage to pick the bag up for three weeks with my busy weekend schedule and was very glad to have it back.  Wearing a backpack full of glass-lock containers for my lunch got a bit tiresome.  My posture was definitely not as good with the bag on, though I did jump off the bike and run into work faster in the mornings.

IMG_3029The repairs came to $30, which was $5 under the quote.  Of course one of the zipper pulls broke in half 2 days after I got it back but I can work with that and haven’t bothered to put in a piece of ribbon or anything to make the pull easier.

The two long straps over the roll were replaced with leather, and the missing buckle was replaced.  I opted to replace only one of the broken fasteners on the underside to keep costs down.  I found this lovely leather waterproofer at the local outdoors store, Alberni Outpost.

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The Granger’s Paste Wax is doing well so far.  I totally ignored the instructions to apply sparingly as I had no issues with potential discolouration and was going for max waterproofing.  I slathered it on twice, making sure to get all into the crevices and the vulnerable underside of the leather.  Two coats at this point, should apply a third.

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It has been fairly damp lately and I get condensation all over the scoot when I leave it parked at work.  I’ve been checking the leather and the water beads off perfectly.  It has definitely stretched a bit, which is to be expected given the tension on it combined with damp conditions and generous amounts of wax.  I’ll take some stretching over cracking for sure.

Monsoon Season and the Failure of the High Viz Jacket

Was looking a bit dorky and walked to the local coffee shop a half block away from work to procure some hot chocolate for our handbell choir event this week in my brighter-than-the-sun high viz rain jacket.  Two cars almost ran me over.  I could still see my work building and two whole vehicles didn’t see me and could have flattened me.  As a pedestrian.

My high viz jacket makes me feel fairly invincible as a pedestrian.  I’m not stupid.  I look at the cars to make sure they’re stopping and that they appear to see me.  How could they not see this?:

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I thought the first guy in the truck saw me -I even waved- and I didn’t realize until my heels were in jeopardy that there was problem.  He looked apologetic at least.  Within 6 feet another truck turning out of the same spot (with a stop sign) nearly took out my toes.   Another apologetic wave.

I actually wasn’t mad.  It’s easy to forget to look out for pedestrians.  I drive a car, too.  But riding and walking in hostile environments has made me aware of the underlying issues in such interactions.  Also, I like to read books like Straphanger by Taras Grescoe and watch films like Urbananized by Gary Hustwit that challenge the often unquestioned supremacy of the automobile.  Good thing doing yoga has made me a more compassionate person, too.

I hope that nearly running over a person in a cross walk wearing high viz yellow when they were supposed to have stopped was the little jolt each needed to pay better attention while driving.

“Invigorating” or soggy?

It seems like wet coast winters are getting colder the last few years.  That crisp, clear, and dry kind of day with brilliant sunshine.  Not the October to April uninterrupted drudgery of rain and soggy everything that has people in a mood where the only thing they can manage is to complain that IT HASN’T STOPPED RAINING.

I spent two winters in Edmonton, AB while I was going to the U of A for my Master’s in Library and Information Studies.  Unused to the brightness, I sometimes wore sunglasses inside my apartment.  Still, I liked how the snow was dry and roads generally were not slippery (except for that one year that there was a frozen ice sheet and all of the snow landed on top of it all winter with no chance of melting until April or May, of course).  Invigorating!

This relatively new properly cold weather gets me excited about snowshoeing and sunny days and not being sopping wet whenever I try go anywhere.  Dog people walk no matter how horrific the rain.

We are into our second stretch of cold and clear.  Your clothing strategy for getting to work warm is certainly different.  I got quite used to the cold, dry weather and started scheming about hand muffs and ninja turtle gloves to combat the tips of my fingers going numb.  I also schemed about adding more fake fur into the inside of my Tucano Urbano Termoscud around where it meets my lap and the sides of my legs.  (I am seldom too warm in the winter.)

Crunchy leaves are a big thing to me:

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Something in glorious full bloom in early November with a perfect blue sky:

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When the rain started it was all about being florescent in the mist, rain pants and rain jackets meeting seamlessly, and hydrophobic coatings on my windshield and face shield.

A change is as good as a rest, but if i had to choose I would choose the cold, clear weather.

I had sole custody of the car last week (a rainy one), and only managed to psych myself up to ride by Wednesday.  On Wednesday I promptly dropped my helmet on the ground and broke my poor face shield, which destroyed the rest of my riding week as driving rain in the eyes is a safety concern.  Face shield is now replaced and has a better hinge so no annoying semi-flapping now.

Are you a wet or cold weather commuter?

Probably not so fixable

Thud, snap!  Helmet falling from eye height shelf in my office to the ground, the visor that I never really cared for much broken on the one side.  Not gonna work.  Oh crapsicles.  I am not so delusional that I will try to glue this back together.  Having it give way on the road seems like a terrible idea.  (Epoxying my rubber boots last month DID teach me something -epoxy cannot fix everything.)

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Not a quick trip to the store after work, this one.  Will have to make replacing a priority this weekend.  Made it home fairly uncomfortably.  The rain was driving in around my glasses.  I hunkered behind my tall windshield, my back and shoulders complaining.  The rain, the different visibility through the windshield, and the 5pm darkness were a bit scary.  I realized that hunching threw my centre of balance way off -we are supposed to be tall in the seat to be well balanced as my parking lot cone test taught me!  I will be taking advantage of the car tomorrow.

An aspiring all-season scooter commuter

I moved to Nanaimo almost 2 years ago.  While I loved many things about growing up in North Vancouver, I am definitely appreciating some of the features of (Vancouver) Island Life.  Like the ability to use roadways without people trying to kill you.

Every time I talk to my parents they talk about something craptastic that happened to them on the way home from work in Metro Van or (my dad) how much the traffic has increased in volume. Though this gets tiring to listen to and genuinely stresses me out, I believe that the traffic has worsened in the last 2 years since I’ve moved.  I don’t know that I would have survived learning to ride over there.

My commute is a fairly pleasant 20-25 minute affair, entirely composed of Old Island Highway traffic lights with some faster travel of up to 80-90 km/hr (wheeeee…!).  It was relatively unintimidating to build my skills on and is predictable and steady.  In 4 months I’ve only sounded my very loud after-market horn once and boy, did it work!  (Wolo, installed by previous owner.)

Since I’m not as worried about being mowed down I have been focusing my energies on getting warm and dry gear.  I am generally a cold person and cling to the Persian saying of “cold hands, warm heart” to feel less reptilian.  My wife wears a polar fleece with the underarm vents open, and I wear a merino wool shirt under a polar fleece with a down jacket on top to not freeze my butt off.New Termoscud

Items purchased this Fall:

  • Highlighter yellow rain jacket that fits over my armoured jacket, Scott’s, 3 way stretch from Tuff City Powersports here in town (about $95)
  • Black rain pants that fit over my armoured pants, same as jacket (about $85)
  • Tucano Urbano Termoscud lap blanket/”pensioner blanket” from SIP Scootershop online (97 Euros + shipping and duty)
  • Prima Windscreen (Tall, Clear) for Vespa LX/GT from ScooterworksUSA online ($114 + shipping and duty)

Service and install done this Fall:

  • Oil and filter
  • Installed windscreen
  • Installed heated grips (from Tuff City, a Christmas gift from the year before that never quite got installed)
  • Tire pressure adjustment

It felt awesome to have the cash to actually get some good gear.  I was previously precariously employed for 4.5 years (on-call casual hours, contracts with no benefits -don’t get me started…).  Now I can invest in my comfort and safety to have a lighter environmental footprint and save a bunch of money by not having another car in our family.