Saturday, March 10, 2007

Splashing Around

This is the time of the year when I've always had the least patience waiting for the roads to become "passable". As a motorcyclist, spring always made me wish the snow would melt in the span of a day or two. A week at the most and then during the work days so you could ride by the time the weekend rolled around.

Was the weather too cold? Too much sand on the roads? You would think either of these things could be dealt with easy enough. No, these weren't the reasons to wait. Its been easy enough to wear proper gear. We knew how to stay warm. And the sand has been taken with extreme caution with our routes planned around areas where heavy traffic meant the plows had spread alot of it.

Do you know what keeps the majority of motorcyclists off the roads this time of year?


Puddles large and small. Pools of water which anyone on two wheels will eventually be unable to avoid riding through. The front tire hits, the water splits and sprays. It goes in directions that seem unnatural. It sprays everywhere. To put it bluntly, it really sucks to get slushy, dirty, sandy water up your pant legs only to run back down and soak your socks. I don't know what the laws of physics are that cause this strange pattern of flying muck to fan itself the way it does once a tire's force splits the puddle, but it'll manage to hit you in the most inexplicable ways.

I've hit puddles and had water shoot up my nose. Inside my full face helmet! With the visor clamped shut no less. You want a good reason to pull over? This is one that definitely makes the Late Night with David Letterman Top Ten list.

But today I thought about one of the great features of scooters. They have these wonderful design functions known as legshields. And they work as advertized.

Today I went for a glorious little roundabout into the countryside a cup of coffee. In the next town. Actually a few towns away but that's not the point. The point is I traversed large puddles of standing water and was not sprayed once.

Ahhhh the joy. The simple pleasure of finding yet another reason to appreciate these little gigglemachines called modern scooters.

Not that I went out of my way to split the waters, but where I more or less needed to, I crossed them cautiously and slowly. Sure, the Vespa shows its been ridden. The bottom is not so much midnight blue anymore as it is a splattered canvas in shades of brown. Like a Pollack using only earthtones.

For the true riding enthusiast the design of the legshield and floorpan ought to elicit praise. Its functionality provides comfort where other designs might force the rider to choose between putting on extra gear, or waiting for the roads to become dry again. I've ridden hundreds of miles with blown out rain pants. Soaked to the point of numbness and unable to stop because there was a storm ahead of me and another creeping up behind. Where I was it was not raining but the roads were beyond capacity to move the water to the side. While we were not being hit by the rain we were definitely being hammered by the spray coming up to greet us from the surface.

To think of having been on my Vespa that day. Yes, I believe I would have been drenched just the same in the end. The difference being water plowing its way up at you from the road, drenching you the way it had versus the new experience of the scooter's solution to the problem. What comes up to you with such force meets the legshield and floorpan. The mist of it will get you in the end if you need to be riding long enough in the stuff. Think of it as getting hit by a Supersoaker full of very cold water versus a seeping mist, a gradual heavy dampness.

Scooters are incredibly well thought out machines. If form follows function they may be the best for the average riding enthusiast.

The Roadbum


Anonymous said...

Roadbum you're on the money about scooters being well designed machines.

Hey, did you know that Road Runner Magazine now has a scooter section? They do an excellent job.

Water up your nose with a full face helmet?! What a hoot! I'll bet that one shocked you!

American Scooterist Blog said...

Thanks Sarch :) No I did not know that. I think you mentioned Roadrunner magazine before on another blog so when I was at a bookstore I tried to find it. So far no luck. From all the good reports on the mag I guess I'll have to subscribe online.

Oh god, shocked and surprised haha. The smell made my eyes water and I had to pull over. My friends were laughing so hard because I was at the front of the group and they kind of saw my reaction to it. I had to clean the inside of the helmet after that too. yich

The Roadbum

Combatscoot said...

I had a 650 Savage that was hell to ride in the rain. No matter what I did, the water went straight up my pants legs. I'm just not a cruiser kind of person. Beo is great in the rain. Heck, if it's over-with quick enough, I might not get wet! My son went through a frog-strangler with me once, and he hardly got wet, though I did that time. Scooters are definitely the way to go for other-than-fair-weather riders.

American Scooterist Blog said...

John, I could not agree more. By the way, the Savage is a nice bike!