Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Scooting Again!

And Hello again!

Well, I have to plead fatherhood for the umpteenth time on my lack of posting recently.

But it is Spring, and I have a new (to me) scooter.

It's a 1992 Honda Elite 80. This little beauty came into the shop as a trade-in on a new Vespa, and I just couldn't bear to see him go to the wholesaler. So, I sold my Honda Magna 500, and bought this little guy. Probably the best downgrade of my life.

The Elite was a very faded Honda red when I got it. So the first thing I did was paint it white, with just little black along the bottom edge. Originally, I was planning airbrushing a 70s / 80s starfighter theme, you know along the lines of an X-Wing or Colonial Viper. But once I realized how much time such a project would likely consume, I decided to just emulate that vibe loosely with some hand-cut reflective vinyl. Not the showiest custom scooter, but I'm pretty happy with it.

I think this scooter lived most of its former life at a marina or making trips to the beach. The red paint was extremely faded, as was all the original black plastic and rubber. I decided that I liked the "patina" of dark grey plastic, rubber and vinyl, so I've left those parts alone.
Oh yeah, that cup-holder? It came with the scooter, and probably one of the things that endeared me to it.

Besides the painting and reflective vinyl, which the flash photo above illustrates the effectiveness of, most of my other customizations to date are also pragmatically centered on increasing visibility. After loosing my second scooter to being rear-ended, I have decided that I'd take as much control over being seen as possible. So I added a Givi topcase with an integrated brake-light, and a "Stopper" license plate brake-light. All-in-all I'd say it makes a big difference.

My last electrical upgrade was a volt-meter with integrated clock, thermometer, and black-ice warning. I thought this was almost a silly add-on at first... just a way to make it more retro-sci-fi, but I am finding that it is really nice to have all that info on the dash.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Elite 80, Honda made them for 22 years, from 1985-2007, so there are a lot of them out there and lot of replacement parts. There's not much in the way of performance upgrades, though Battlescooter has a few. Their exhaust is much nicer looking than the stock pipe, but I'm really not interested in making the bike louder, and the general consensus is that these bikes are best left alone, providing years of trouble-free reliable use as long as one does basic maintenance and accepts them for what they are.

For me, right now, what this bike is, is perfect. So far I've gotten an indicated 49mph on a long straight-away (and tucked, of course), but really I'm rarely on roads where I need to do 45. Most of my territory is 25 -35 mph zones, and the Elite can usually hold at least 30 even on the worst hills I face. I'm getting 100mpg, so it's great for commuting. Plus it is very light and maneuverable.

So for a new dad, who does most of his scooting between work and home, with the occasional run for small errands, the Elite is perfect. I hope to post some resources for near-vintage Japanese scooters, and a meditation on the safety differences between scooters and motorcycles, soon.


valoise said...

Actually like the way you've kept the lines clean with the vinyl trim - it fits the style of the scoot nicely.

And speaking as your mother - I REALLY appreciate the upgraded lights on the back. Although stylistically it leaves the back looking a bit too rounded to fit the sharp angular look of the bike from the front and the sides. But safety is definitely a plus.

woodenhead said...

Good to have you back amongst the scooter fraternity.

Thought we'd lost you. cheers