Friday, December 21, 2007

Have a Merry Vespa Christmas

To all of our two wheel friends from HeinznFrenchie.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Frenchie is Now Purring like a Cat Instead of Squeaking Like a Mouse

After more than two months of dealing with this awful squeaking, we finally found a solution. We went on the Internet to research the problem and discovered a wonderful message board for Vespa owners, . We also found out that there are lots of squeaking LX 150 Vespas out there and lots of people looking for solutions. So we posted to the message board and got an email from a Vespa dealer in San Jose, CA that told us how he fixed the problem. He did not want to put the instructions on the message board because the fix that he created was not sanctioned by Vespa.

Our Vespa dealer went directly to the USA tech representative out in California and discussed the problem with them. Replacing the swing arm will resolve the problem if you get a swing arm that was manufactured recently. If you are receiving swing arms that were manufactured prior to them discovering the problem, then you are replacing a bad swing arm with another bad swing arm. That is what was happening with us. However there is a way to fix the old swing arms without having to replace them. That is what the dealer in San Jose did, “some creative mechanics”. Let us know if you need some help with that. Joe, our service rep will be happy to help you too.

We are looking forward to hitting the road this weekend and enjoying a smoother quieter ride.

For fun here is a photo of an iguana sunning by the canal. He is really not too big; there are some big mamas here in SoFla. And they are soooooooo fast.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

More than 30,000 Santas on bikes take part in annual Christmas Toys in the Sun Run

This is the 20th annual Motorcycle Ride for Toys here in Fort Lauderdale. I 95 is closed to auto traffic for several miles on a Sunday in December. This article appeared in the South Florida Sun Sentinel and was written by Sallie James.


When Mark Hull rumbled down Interstate 595 on his Harley- Davidson during Sunday's Christmas Toys in the Sun Run, it wasn't his bike that drew stares. It was his goofy black-and-white cow suit, complete with a rubber udder, combined with bright red Christmas stockings pulled over his biker boots. "I did it for the kids," said Hull, a plumber from Coconut Creek. "I'm a Christmas cow."

More than 30,000 toy-bearing motorcyclists riding on everything from wildly stretched choppers to traditional touring bikes took to the road, where they were greeted by waving spectators who had pulled up lawn chairs to watch the parade. The traffic-stopping procession from Pompano Harness Track to Markham Park started shortly after 10 a.m. and lasted about three hours.

The toys are distributed to needy families across Broward County. Most of the money raised through the run benefits Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital, a Hollywood facility known for successfully treating pediatric cancer patients.

Hailey Plunkett, 3, of Hollywood, is one of the bikers' inspirations. Diagnosed with leukemia in October 2006, Hailey is enduring chemotherapy through February 2009. She is thriving, and her hair recently grew back. "It's extremely scary, and it's very difficult," said her father, Brian Plunkett, 47. "We worry all the time." Plunkett was immensely impressed with Sunday's gigantic fundraiser. "It's unbelievable. I can't say enough about the bikers," Plunkett said as he cuddled his sandy-haired daughter.

Since its inception 20 years ago, the run has collected more than 20 million toys and $6 million in donations. The event draws riders from as far away as New York, Detroit and California.

Paul Azore, 40, of Davie, said money raised from the run has meant life for his son Randy, 4, who was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia in November 2006. Randy, whose hair fell out twice, just completed a year's chemotherapy. His future is filled with hope, his father said.
"How can you explain a child's suffering?" Paul Azore said, surrounded by bikers in black leather as he stood behind the main concert stage at Markham Park. "This is awesome. I want to take my son around to meet the bikers so they can see why they are doing this."

Organized by the South Florida President's Council, an umbrella organization for motorcycle clubs and associations, the event attracted about 60,000 people, including celebrities such as singer Vince Neil of Motley Crue.

Neil's daughter died of cancer when she was 4, so the fundraiser spoke to his heart.
"Anytime I can do something for the charities, I do it," said Neil, who rode in the motorcycle procession on a tricked-out, custom chopper. The "Girls, Girls, Girls" bike, as he calls it, will eventually be displayed in his new Dr. Feelgood's Rock Bar in West Palm Beach.

"It all comes down to one thing, the children," said Dave Amchir, director of the South Florida President's Council and one of the event's coordinators.

Amchir's father, Robert, was the driving force behind the toy run until he died unexpectedly only days before last year's event. He was 67.

At Pompano Harness Track, Lynette Marconi, 50, of Hollywood, a member of the Alternative Motorcycle Club, passed out "In memory of Bob Amchir" stickers that bikers affixed to their headlights.

"I think people want to keep his memory alive because he was such a huge part of this," Marconi said. "This event is just going to keep getting bigger and bigger each year."

Friday, December 7, 2007

Frenchie is Still a Chirping Yellow Vespa

We just picked up Frenchie from Varsity Cycles for the weekend, he's been there all week and they changed out parts and tested him and after 5 days and 40+ miles of road test, he still chirps and squeaks. We live just a few miles from the Vespa shop and by the time we got home he was chirping loudly again.

Frenchie has had a new swing arm, a new motor mount, & a variety of replaced pieces. Can this yellow Vespa be a "lemon"? The motor runs good and the ride is good, just very noisy with a high pitched squeak.

Does anyone out there have any idea what is going on with the new yellow LX150 Vespas? Heinz, our red LX150, runs like a Swiss clock and almost as quiet. But you hear Frenchie coming down the road before he arrives. He is beautiful but Bad!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Lauderdale Yacht Club

The Lauderdale Yacht Club dates as far back at 1938 and is on the Intracoastal in Rio Vista, another beautiful neighborhood in our city. They were having the 2007 First Annual LYC Murcury Invitational Regatta and we watched the younger sailors from banks of the Intracoastal.

You can see how small the sailboats are and also how small the kids are. You can also see the 17th Street Causeway bridge open for boats. A lovely sunny afternoon with just enough of a breeze to make sailing enjoyable.

If you are into bridges that open, check out the website about the building of the 17th St Causeway Bridge. They have some nice photos there as well as stats about the bridge. It is the newest and largest bridge that we have in Fort Lauderdale.

This week both Heinz and Frenchie were in the shop. The piece that we have been waiting for, (a swing arm) came in for Frenchie, and Heinz had to have the starter replaced. One day Heinz was running great and the next he would not start, so Varsity Cycle had to come and get him. They called back a little later and told us he needed a new starter. Now they are both home and looking forward to some fun on the roads again.

We have to say that the service department at Varsity Cycles is really top notch! They are so nice and accommodating. We are also lucky in that we have a 3 year warranty.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Intracoastal Waterway at Idyllwild

Thanksgiving weekend was great weather so we decided to ride close to home again as there are so many beautiful areas. Idyllwild is just one of those special elite neighborhoods of Fort Lauderdale that borders the Intracoastal Waterway just off Las Olas Blvd. The million dollar homes face the waterway and have their own private docks just across a small street from their homes.

We could not resist taking photos along some of their unique docks. The private docks are beautifully landscaped and decorated so we thought it would be a great place to showcase our Vespas. And the lovely pavers on this one along with the planters of bougainvilleas and the benches created just the right atmosphere.

Of course the yachts in the background didn't hurt the scenery either.

We especially liked this white gate with lavender flowers growing across the top. I don't think they plan to open these gates.

Since our city is known as the "Venice of America", we still have plenty of waterways to visit. We hope you enjoy our rides as we sure do enjoy sharing them with all of you.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Image created by Graphic Designer David Hopengarten

This is a Must See, Charlie the Coyote

Shreve Stockton of the blog Vespa-Vagabond has the most wonderful heart warming story about a coyote named Charlie that she adopted at 10 days old. This is a must read, few things have touched us like this story. We had to share this with you.

Her other blog is also a great adventure of her ride from San Franciso to New York and how she ended up in Wyoming.

Aren't blogs wonderful?

Despite life-altering crashes, motorcyclists won't give up

This is a copy of an article that appeared in the South Florida Sun Sentinel Nov. 21, 2007. I had a link here but it expired so I purchased a copy of the article.


James Wolosz nearly died in an October 1994 motorcycle crash that fractured his skull and back, collapsed both lungs, ruptured his bladder and nearly severed his right leg.
It wasn't enough to keep him off his bike.

More than 30 surgeries later, Wolosz, 54, owns and rides a 1996 Harley Davidson Road King and a 1987 Harley Davidson Low Rider, each with more than 100,000 miles on the odometer.
For riders like Wolosz, biking is such a passion that near-death experiences aren't enough to persuade them to give it up.

"Every time I heard the sound, I would get goosebumps," said Wolosz, a firefighter/paramedic for the city of Miami. "I knew I had to get back on. It's like my firefighting job: If your buddy got killed in a fire, and the next day you had another bad fire, you would go right in. Anybody who is passionate about it, they are going to keep doing it, no matter what."

Motorcycle accidents claimed the lives of 76 bikers in the past two years in Broward County, according to the medical examiner's office. Statewide, injuries jumped from 5,101 in 2001 to 7,934 in 2006.

Those numbers are daunting, but severe injuries don't always stop dedicated riders.
Scott "Tank" Rohrbach, had to re-learn how to walk, eat and function independently after he flew over the handlebars of his 1988 Harley Davidson FXR in May 1999. His speech is permanently impaired and he has difficulty with numbers and reading, said his wife Theresa, 47. Rohrbach, 39, of Sunrise, can't work a regular job and relies heavily on family to assist him with communication.

He speaks haltingly, but his message about riding is clear:
"I have to. That's me," Rohrbach said, grinning shyly.
And ride he does. Every week. With his wife's blessing.

His motorcycle is the equalizer that helps him revisit the whole person he once was.
"It's his only connection to his past life, before this accident," said Theresa Rohrbach. "That's why he can't stop riding that bike. He feels that's the only normal thing he has left. Everything else normal was basically taken away."

On his bike, she said, his disabilities disappear.

"It doesn't scare me. I actually do believe now it doesn't matter if you are on a bike or in a car. I figure, whatever is going to happen is going to happen," she said.

Gina Currid, of Cooper City, is another wife who wasn't afraid to let her husband back behind the handlebars. Her husband, Brian, was left with a prosthetic leg after a 2004 crash. Nine months later, he was back on the road on a custom-made trike she built for him when he got into another accident. This time it was fatal.

Currid, a motorcycle mechanic, kept her own 1996 Harley Davidson Heritage Softail parked for two months after the tragedy. Then she hopped on and took a 19-day, 3,800-mile road trip.
She never second-guessed her husband's decision to keep riding.

"It was really a passion for him. To take something like that away, you may as well have stuck him behind prison bars," said Currid, 46, who will mark the third anniversary of her husband's death on Nov. 28.

Such devotion is about personal identity, not thrill-seeking, said Julio Licinio, chairman of the psychiatry department at the University of Miami's School of Medicine. It's about people who love what they do so much they define themselves by it.

"They have to go back. If they don't, they are not Joe Smith anymore, they are not a person," Licinio said. "I think in this case, the hobby is not so much a hobby - it's the core of who they are as people."

The president of the southeast chapter of the motorcycle rights group ABATE sees it all the time.

"It's because they do what they love to do," said James Lesniak, a rider for more than 20 years. "People who get hurt doing something and continue to do it, it's their passion in life. There's something about it, they would risk life and limb to do it."

Lake Worth resident John Wright, 48, wasn't expected to live after he was ejected through the windshield and 50 feet over the handlebars of his 1991 FXRT Harley Davidson Superglide in July 2001, but he did. Wright awoke after a 38-day coma, unable to read, write or walk. Rehabilitation was arduous.

"I pushed him and pushed him and pushed him," said his wife, Heidi, who spent 30 days with Wright in an intensive care unit. "That's why he's a walking miracle today."

Today, the father of three grown sons still rides, but only if he has someone else with him. He takes anti-seizure medication twice a day, experiences memory loss and tires easily. His wife, Heidi, who also rides, has become his caretaker. She doesn't let him go if he shows any signs of fatigue.

Wright, known by his fellow bikers as "Thirsty," knows he got lucky. He also knows he can't give up riding, even if it kills him.

"My mother asked me, soon after I got out of the hospital, 'Are you going to quit riding?'" said Wright, who is president of a motorcycle club.

His answer was a firm "no." "I'm not a biker up here,'" Wright said, as he touched his head. Then he laid his hand on his heart. "I'm a biker here," he said.
"It's his only connection to his past life, before this accident," said Theresa Rohrbach. "That's why he can't stop riding that bike. He feels that's the only normal thing he has left. Everything else normal was basically taken away."

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Cooley's Landing

We decided to ride close to home and enjoy some of our neighborhoods. Sailboat Bend is the only neighborhood designated as a historic district in Fort Lauderdale. It has charming old homes that have been restored and a lovely little port called Cooley’s Landing. We'll write and show more of Sailboat Bend in another post.

Part of Ft. Lauderdale city marinas, Cooley's Landing is a Historic site named for one of Fort Lauderdale's founding fathers and located on the New River with boat ramps and docks. It’s beautiful lush park-like setting attracts people who want to enjoy being outdoors and benefit from a beautiful day as well as the live-aboard boat community and visiting boaters. Many of the boat owners were just lounging on their boats with a book or the paper enjoying the sun.

There is a Memorial in remembrance of Cooley’s Massacre. This monument marks the site of the William Cooley plantation. Cooley arrived here in 1824 and soon became the leader of the small settlement that grew along the New River.

On January 6, 1836, local Indians attacked Cooley’s homestead, killing his family and children’s tutor. This marked the beginning of the Second Seminole War in South Florida and led to the founding of the military post, Fort Lauderdale, in 1838.

Here are some interesting links.
The architect of Cooley’s Landing has a page here, (didn’t know it was a million dollar project)
The boat Calypso docks in Cooley’s Landing and writes about it:
A boating couple write in their blog:

Near the picnic pavilion is a palm tree with the largest trunk that we have seen anywhere. This tree has to be many years old. It would take two people to reach around it. We thought about asking a couple of people to do it, but we didn't want to take them away from their peaceful time.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Peacock Sighting

Today we discovered a lovely quaint area, just a few blocks in size and in shouting distance of downtown Fort Lauderdale. This must be what Fort Lauderdale was like years ago, before the development craze hit. There is a family of Peacocks living wild there, 30 or so we were told, so we decided to see if we could get close enough to take a few photos. They were not really in the mood to pose but seemed to tolerate our presence as long as we did not disturb their tranquility. We had hoped to see them spread their tail feathers, but guess the warm afternoon sun left them rather blasé. Couldn’t resist taking a shot of the wild flowers either.

Just so you can understand the oddity of the Peacock’s environment, look at what is just a few blocks away. The New River runs right thru downtown Fort Lauderdale and is surrounded by luxury high rise condos.

We had lunch at a local favorite restaurant right on the river called “The Downtowner”. The tables are right there at the river so one can watch everything from the smallest little inflatable, to yachts to big Cats. The Water Bus, also called the Water Taxi, is a popular mode of transportation here with both tourists and locals. I think they will take your bicycle on board but not your scooter. So Heinz and Frenchie were landlocked.

We made a stop at Borders Books and found a magazine called Scoot Magazine. If you don’t know about it, they have a website: This is their 10th anniversary, guess we are a little late finding it. There was a brief review of a book that sounded like it would be fun to read, “How to Live Well Without Owning a Car”. Not sure we could do it, but it might be a fantastic challenge to try.

Hope you all had a safe and fun weekend and spent some time on 2 wheels.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Home for the Weekend

Well Frenchie is home for the weekend so we can ride, but still not repaired.

We are waiting for parts. Joe at Varsity Cycle said they need to replace the clutch drum and also the motor mount. And now the dash has to be replaced as one of the repairmen sent a screw almost thru it. So Frenchie has a little bump on his face. Not too noticeable, but he is getting a new dash plate. It's on order too!

Evidently there is a message board on the Piaggio dealer's site where they can communicate between Piaggio and other dealers. There is something on the message boards regarding the chirping sounds and the vibration. We thought it was only on the new yellow and green Vespas, but they took a motor mount off of a blue one and tried it and it had the same problems.

A friend of mine was joking and said the chirping sounds were just that Frenchie was happy to be taken out. We are sure happy to take him out this weekend. The weather is supposed to be superb, sunny and between 62 and 79. Can't wait for tomorrow!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Poor Frenchie, He is back at Varsity Cycle

For the 2nd time, we had to take Frenchie back to the shop. There is still a lot of vibration in idle and also on low speeds under 30 mph. At 20 mph, and along with the vibration, is a chirping sound that comes from the front. Someone mentioned that on the Internet or on the Piaggio website there was something about the vibration and the squeaking. Has anyone seen that anywhere? Would love to read up on it but have not found out where it was. Also heard the issues were only on the new yellow and green colored Vespas. Now that sounds strange to me.

Found this while searching for info on Frenchie’s problems. It’s a good idea!

Help us get parking for everyone by signing the Vespatition to help convert some automobile spaces to two-wheel scooter parking spaces! By signing the Vespatition, you are helping to promote the conversion of some automobile parking spaces to two-wheel spaces. The results will be publicized and sent to your local mayor. The space of parking for compact automobiles and the handicapped parking the stables have increased to the efficiency and the convenience in the city and suburban Communities, officially indicated facility of parking of the two-small wheel can make the same one.

Please click the link below to sign the Vespatition now!!

Modern Vespa Scooter Blog just wrote about an attempt to steal his LX150 from a parking garage in Sunnyvale, very interesting and also he added some tips for all of us. Check it out

We want to thank all of the 2 wheel blogging community for their warm and wonderful welcome messages.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Up the Coast on A1A

Well Hurricane Noel has finally crawled up the coast and the high winds and rain are gone to New England today. Unfortunately lots of our beaches went with it. Erosion is pretty bad here. But today was sunny, dry and 80 degrees. It was a tough call, hit the beach or hit the road. We sort of did both. We started up A1A and our first beach stop was Lauderdale By The Sea. The water was a beautiful turquoise blue 79 degrees against the white surf.

Continuing North along A1A we cruised thru Pompano Beach to the Hillsboro Inlet and the Hillsboro Lighthouse. The Inlet is where boats access the Atlantic Ocean from the Intracoastal Waterway. The Lighthouse has quite a history and a Preservation Society. Here are a couple of nice sites if you are interested. and

Decided to take a lunch break in Deerfield Beach. Had a really good Lobster Salad at a place on the water called Oceans 234. Lots of beach activity, as you can see, people enjoying volleyball and surfers trying to catch a wave. There a nice path along the beach that is free and a long pier that you can walk to the end for $1. A great place to people watch and bike watch. We saw so many different kinds of cycles and scooters. Wish we had taken some pictures of them. But next time. We almost got a parking ticket, but got there just as the attendant was about to write it. He was nice and let us off the hook.

Breathing a sigh of relief we took off again going North on A1A to Boca Raton. We know a good French Bakery near Mizner Park and decided on dessert there. While we are munching on our pastries we notice a guy standing behind our scooters with his cell phone open taking the phone number of Varsity Cycles. He hung around until we came out and asked us about the Vespas. We found out that he too was from France so we had a fun chat.

Leaving Boca we took some parting shots of the Intracoastal Waterway.

Then I had to get a shot of the beach erosion in Lauderdale By The Sea on the way back. Notice how the water is coming up over the beach toward the building.

Well all good things come to an end and so did our journey. We were two tired and happy riders when we finally reached home.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Introduction to Heinz & Frenchie

We are newbies in the scooter world and just bought two Vespa LX150, a red one and a yellow one. Larry, the sales guy at Varsity Cycles was joking and said they were like Catsup and Mustard, Heinz & Frenchie. That stuck, hence Heinz and Frenchie were christened in South Florida.

Before we made the big purchase, we enrolled and attended Scooter School, a must if you want to ride safely. Go to MTII. The Scooter School is only 4 hours on a Saturday afternoon and you learn on a Vespa LX150, how cool is that? You are actually riding for most of the 4 hours. Here in South Florida, if you are buying anything more than a 50cc, you need a motorcycle endorsement on your driver’s license. You have the option to take a written test right after the riding course. We highly recommend that, as the teacher is there to help, and your score is entered into the DMV database, making it a cinch to get your Motorcycle Endorsement. The next week after our Scooter course we made an appointment online at this link and were in the DMV all of about 15 minutes from start to finish. It was a breeze.

You should study for the written test. You can find the online manual here It is a PDF so you need Acrobat Reader to download and read it. But that is free. Get it here if you don’t already have it. We printed the handbook and studied it. There is also a cool site that coaches you for the test. It is not free, but cheap and so much fun. They make learning a blast.

This is my first attempt at a blog, been on the Internet for years but never felt like creating a blog. We hope to help other people, new to scooters, get started the right way. Let us know if we helped you.