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Old 07-07-2010, 08:37 AM   #1
RunLongVT OP
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Scooters in the twisties - what's the technique?

Hi folks,
I'm a motorcycle rider, but my mother is a scooterist, and recently bought herself a gorgeous Vespa GTS 300. She lives in Rochester, NY, and I live in Burlington, VT, and we're meeting up in a couple of weeks in the middle of the 'Dacks for a ride back to VT on some local twisties. I'm wondering about brake and throttle inputs on such roads.

What's the technique for setting up for corners on an automatic? Brake heavily and early to enable getting (and staying) on the throttle for the turn? Anyone trail brake into the turn to stabilize against small throttle adjustments? Do you eat through brake pads like no one's business?

-Paul
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Old 07-07-2010, 08:53 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RunLongVT
Hi folks,
I'm a motorcycle rider, but my mother is a scooterist, and recently bought herself a gorgeous Vespa GTS 300. She lives in Rochester, NY, and I live in Burlington, VT, and we're meeting up in a couple of weeks in the middle of the 'Dacks for a ride back to VT on some local twisties. I'm wondering about brake and throttle inputs on such roads.

What's the technique for setting up for corners on an automatic? Brake heavily and early to enable getting (and staying) on the throttle for the turn? Anyone trail brake into the turn to stabilize against small throttle adjustments? Do you eat through brake pads like no one's business?

-Paul
My advice is ride at a pace that the scooter pilot is comfortable with.

Also, technique will be the same as on a bike. They both have two wheels and react to control inputs the same. The only difference is control locations.

Scooters tend to be a lot more sensitive to steering input given the smaller radius tires.

I borrowed my father's Honda SilverWing a few years ago to ride the twisties with my brother-in-law. He was on his BMW R1100R and had trouble keeping up. He'd only been riding a couple of years though.

One thing I will mention about the handling....
The SilverWing's frame was flexy. Riding hard through the twisties made me realize this. I was able to keep a decent line but it sort of "wallowed" through the turns when I was on the gas.

Y'all have fun and be safe!
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Old 07-07-2010, 09:22 AM   #3
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Thanks, Blur. Although I will surely snag the Vespa to try it out on the twisties, my mom will be its primary pilot. Although she has a few years riding under her belt, she is adjusting to the 300 from a Bajaj manual, and also doesnt feel very confident at higher lean angles, tending to wobble a but through turns, I gather. Any wisdom I could pass on to her would be appreciated.
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Old 07-07-2010, 09:28 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RunLongVT
Thanks, Blur. Although I will surely snag the Vespa to try it out on the twisties, my mom will be its primary pilot. Although she has a few years riding under her belt, she is adjusting to the 300 from a Bajaj manual, and also doesnt feel very confident at higher lean angles, tending to wobble a but through turns, I gather. Any wisdom I could pass on to her would be appreciated.

I think that's a good first move. The thing I had to get used to was when the CVT would actually catch up after slowing for the entry so that I could pull through the corner. Once you've tried a few things you may be in a better position to offer pointers based on your experience with that particular bike.

As for the wobble...I'd suggest she keep her head and eyes up and focus on the exit of the corve. Taking her eye off that...looking down...looking off to the side...all tends to cause a wobble. But most importantly, she should be slowing so that she can maintain or increase throttle during the turn. The slowing part prior to the turn (as needed...sometimes it's braking, sometimes it's just backing off throttle, sometime nothing is needed) to make sure she's at the right entry speed means that she can just focus on the curve itself (countersteering) and the exit, versus trying to adjust speed in the turn.

That's just my 2 cents anyway. I'm an MSF instructor and see the wobblies all the time.

Good luck and I hope y'all have a great time!
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Old 07-07-2010, 04:32 PM   #5
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I can only talk about older Vespas since that's what I rode on twisty roads for many years. Make sure you have good sticky tires with the correct pressure. Lean forward, feet flat on the floorboards. Line, braking, acceleration, is the same for any bike. Lean off the seat as necessary to keep the edges of the floorboards from scraping.

A good Vespa rider will be able to leave riders of big bikes in the dust on tight twisting roads. Light weight, short wheelbase, and super low center of gravity are a real advantage.
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Old 07-07-2010, 05:50 PM   #6
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I've found the low CG and quick steering response a big help. On my Big Ruckus the limit is the centre and sidestand, both of which dragged before the edge of the tire was reached. A new shock with a stiffer spring helped to prevent a lot of the wallow and early drag of the underparts. Many scooters also suffer from underpoweredness (new word) and as a result it is tough to accelerate out. The best thing to remember is if, nothing is dragging you can go faster.
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Old 07-07-2010, 09:06 PM   #7
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My Rattler responds very well to body weight shifts, & it corners better by literally leading with your chin & inside knee to get some weight over the front end.

Riding a small-wheel scooter is kinda like flying an ultralight plane; the slightest input makes it change course, and you don't need to correct for every little movement while underway.
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Old 07-07-2010, 09:16 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by B02S4
My Rattler responds very well to body weight shifts, & it corners better by literally leading with your chin & inside knee to get some weight over the front end.

Riding a small-wheel scooter is kinda like flying an ultralight plane; the slightest input makes it change course, and you don't need to correct for every little movement while underway.
^^ good

I tried shifting weight back and then in front, changing seating position slightly all play a huge part.
finding the magic is all part of why these things are so fun!
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Old 07-08-2010, 12:42 AM   #9
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I just rekn scoots are the coolest! They react to inputs like lightning, REALLY hard to get into serious trouble, bucketloads of fun. It's what bikes are all about!

Scoots do have some un-bike like qualities though, or just they prefer slightly adjusted inputs for the best response.

The weight is at the back, so trail-braking just the rear just a little all the way through the corners with constant throttle at the same time makes them more stable than my loungeroom. The rear has a LOT more effect on handlinmg than a bike coz of weight distribution, so more focus applied there will benefit all round.

Vespa GTS is the best thing I've ridden for under 100kph (60mph) handling, including my 640 SM. You can trailbrake all the way down to the apex and past at stooopid speeds, with easy stability, all the while dangling your foot over the front edge of the running boards. When your toes touch, just hold it there on the rear brake and throttle combined all the way round (that way you don't scrape that beautiful black paint).

Lastly, ALWAYS look where you want to be, NEVER at the ground, but that's the same whether you're on a bicycle or a blown hotrod.

I wonder if the Vespa dealer will trade my SM or the Vmax?
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Old 07-08-2010, 09:27 AM   #10
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On my Stella (little skinny 10" wheels) it's practically mind-control. I learned not to overcontrol the hard way, after zigzagging and wobbling around the first day or two. I tried a swerve maneuver just for fun, overdid the input, and darn near twisted myself into a pretzel when it darted in the initial direction so fast my spleen hurt. Nowadays it seems normal to practically "think it" in a direction, and then play a bit with a little body position as needed at higher speeds. I love how effortless they can be.

The cool part is that I was much smoother on my bigger bikes after that initial week on scoots--just enough control input, no more. Scooterzen.

Scoots are so darned fun....
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Old 07-08-2010, 01:04 PM   #11
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This thread reminds me when I had my Razz, and I would hang off of the seat when going arund city corners at its max speed (30 MPH) great fun.

I will agree, riding a scooter agressively will finetune your big-bike handling for reasons stated.
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Old 07-08-2010, 01:17 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Photog
Scoots are so darned fun....
Agreed!

My father's owned many a big bike over the years. His last big bike was an Ultra Classic. He's had three scooters since then, his current one being a Burgman Executive 650 with ABS and a sissy bar for my mom. He loves 'em!
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Old 07-08-2010, 02:56 PM   #13
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Tire Pressure will have a lot to do with wobbles. They mainly occur in the 35-45 MPH range, while decelerating without power.

Scoot are different than bikes in some areas and the same as bigger bikes in many ways. You need to learn the bike and build your confidence.
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Old 07-09-2010, 09:08 AM   #14
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If your mom took the Keith Code Superbike School the first three times out on the track would be no brakes, 3-4 gear. It's all to learn how to use the throttle. A GTS has no gears to shift, even better.

All this talk about trail-braking, blah. Only a small group of top seed racers need or have the skill to really use it.

The GTS is a 73-75 mph machine. Throttle control and counter steer are the only skills needed to smoke most M/C riders in tight twisties. Well, that's with practice and training.
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Old 07-10-2010, 09:52 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blur
Agreed!

My father's owned many a big bike over the years. His last big bike was an Ultra Classic. He's had three scooters since then, his current one being a Burgman Executive 650 with ABS and a sissy bar for my mom. He loves 'em!
I'm a huge fan of the big scooters, though I dont own one. I see me touring and commuting on one. Maybe someday I'll make the switch cause for now I cant afford both. But, will it be a maxi or mid size retro?
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