Sunday, May 30, 2010

Scoot2TX - Wrap up

It has been seven days since our group of riders taking part in the KYMCO Scoot2TX trip left Spartanburg, S.C. to travel through six states to a final destination of San Antonio and the Amerivespa scooter rally.

Seven days of riding on scooters. Seven days of talking about scooters. Seven days of scooters.

We ultimately covered more than 1,500 miles, riding roughly halfway across the country, during the journey that took the group off the beaten path of the national interstate system and offered us a glimpse at a portion of the “real” America.

Stops included Columbus, GA, Mobile, AL, Baton Rouge, LA, and Houston, Austin and San Antonio, TX. Sights included the red earth and green rolling hills of South Carolina; the peach groves and pine stands of Georgia; the thick forests of southern Alabama; the rural blight and beautiful coastal region of Mississippi; the marshlands and mangrove swamps of Louisiana; and the ranchlands and hill country of Texas.

Participants included KYMCO USA President Eric Bondy; "Kymco" Lee, VP; Frank Yang of KYMCO’s new product development team; Bruce Ramsey, VP of operations; Joe Wafford, VP of technical services; Steve Lazoff, Director of Sales; Rick Pawelka, Director of Marketing; photographer Robert Pandya; journalist Justin Dawes of Moto USA; blogger Guido Ebert; and KYMCO customers Judi McLane and David George, Gregory Dykes and Neil Sangalang.

Now at Amerivespa, much of the group has dispersed, with some joining in on the festivities, some working the event, and others returning home to spend time with their families during this Memorial Day weekend.
Bruce Ramsey and Joe Wofford are spending the weekend displaying the KYMCO product, fielding questions and offering test rides. Bruce took a moment to talk about the trip and his experience at Amerivespa.

“This trip was one of the best times I’ve ever had riding scooters, and I’ve attended rallies and functions with KYMCO for the last decade,” Bruce said. “I had a blast. It was awesome. I don’t care about the rain. I don’t care about the hail. It was a fantastic experience. Nothing tragic happened to the riders, and mechanically everything was as good as I would expect from KYMCO."

How’d the product display go today? “We had a lot of people stop by the display and show an interest in the product and give us kudos for attending, and we did a few test rides despite the heat that seemed to have people hesitant to want to go outdoors.”

But this wasn’t the first Amerivespa rally KYMCO has attended. “No, we’ve been coming to Amerivespa since 2001,” Bruce said, “and we always get good recognition from the organizers for coming out and helping sponsor their events.

“Being an event primarily attended by the vintage Vespa crowd, I was amazed to see so many twist-and-go scooters this year, and particularly happy to see so many KYMCO riders in attendance.”

Any chance KYMCO USA will plan another ride like Scoot2TX?
“I have no doubt that we’ll do this again,” Bruce said with a smile. “We’re already talking about it.”

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Scoot2TX Ride - Day 6 - The Final Day!

Austin to San Antonio, Texas

The group taking part in the KYMCO Scoot2TX ride left Austin for San Antonio at 8 am this morning, utilizing a maze of county roads that zig-zag along the eastern border of the scenic region known as Texas Hill Country.

Riding at a brisk pace, we passed multiple javelina and deer carcass, swerved away from vultures swooping out of low hanging branches and across the roadway, skirted Canyon Lake, remained wary of falling rock, scooted over the Guadalupe River, avoided a wayward dog strolling lazily down the center of the road, stayed out of the way of the big pick-up trucks that “own” the roads in this part of the country, and finally arrived at our ultimate destination: Amerivespa, held at the El Tropicano hotel.

Organizers say they’ve had 458 people sign up for Amerivespa. It’s an event that crosses all ages, sexes and ethnicities, and hosts scooter enthusiasts regardless of the brand of bike they ride.

See pictures from our fourth day on the trip on Facebook:!/album.php?aid=173886&id=74250042688

Thanks for following us this week! See ya next time!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Scoot2TX Ride - Day 5

Houston to Austin, TX

Rumor spreadin' around, in that Texas town, 'bout that shack outside La Grange … and you know what I'm talkin' about. Just let me know, if you wanna go, to that home out on the range.

The crew taking part in the KYMCO Scoot2TX ride got a relatively late start today, hitting the road around 10:30am, battling traffic and road construction on the way out of Houston, and carving the back roads 200 miles through ranchland to Austin by way of Brenham and La Grange.

Everything was going well until about 35 miles outside of Austin, when it started raining. We pulled over beneath a highway underpass to wait for the weather to pass. A couple of guys voiced an opinion about rain gear, but the rest of us dismissed the notion. Big mistake.

The rain ceased and we hit the road. Five minutes later it again began to downpour. No problem. Keep riding. We’ve been through this before. "Just keep it steady and stay out of the tire paths where the water pools on the roadway," I told myself. Then the lightning started, then the hail. A lot of hail.

Luckily we spied a business selling sheds, swerved off the road and scurried into a 10’x10’ shack that serves as a roadside display model. Fifteen minutes later we were on the road again, riding in bright sunshine and 97 degrees and trying to dry out by standing on the floorboards of our scoots.

In other news, the Scoot2TX crew became bigger today, as we were joined by two more participants: KYMCO USA President Eric Bondy and KYMCO customer and Houston native Neil Sangalang atop his Xciting 500Ri (Alabama native Gregory Dykes is still with us, too).

Eric explained why we are on this ride.

“It’s really a combination of a couple of things,” he said. “I think it’s an opportunity to combine business with pleasure – all of us that are a part of the company really enjoy doing this type of stuff – and the Amerivespa rally presented an opportunity to go on a really nice, long ride and give us a chance to evaluate the products. It also gives us a chance to intro the new Downtown 300i, which obviously, from a business standpoint, makes perfect sense to take it to our core customers.

“But, ultimately, it’s just such a great chance for the group of people that we work with to be able to spend a week together out doing something that we all enjoy doing.”

Certainly Eric rides at home in Spartanburg, S.C., too. “Yeah, but it’s not the same,” he said. “This is an adventure. It’s an opportunity to spend six days out focusing on riding and focusing on the products, and I think that’s what makes all of the preparatory work worthwhile. “

Neil Sangalang found out about the Scoot2TX ride from the KYMCO USA website. Why did he decide to join us? “I bought my bike to go on long-distance rides, and so I thought this would be fun,” he said.

He purchased his 2009 Xciting 500Ri three weeks ago from Apollo Motorsports, a scooter-only shop in Houston. Why the KYMCO? “It was the best scooter for the money, and it was recommended by some websites I looked at,” he said.

Why not buy a motorcycle? “I’ve ridden smaller scooters in the Philippines while visiting relatives, and I heard these maxi scooters were really fun to ride, as well.”

Friday we complete our final leg of the trip, traveling from Austin to San Antonio.

See pictures from our fourth day on the trip on Facebook:!/album.php?aid=173686&id=74250042688

And watch our progress LIVE:

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Scoot2TX Ride - Day 4

Baton Rouge, LA to Houston, TX

While "Easy Riders" Billy the Kid and Wyatt never made it out of Louisiana, those of us taking part in the KYMCO Scoot2TX ride did manage to escape, traveling away from the marshland and mangrove swamps near Baton Rouge to the open landscape of east Texas and our overnight in Houston.

We were joined today by a 10th member, KYMCO customer Gregory Dykes of Mobile, AL. Dykes met us at the hotel in Baton Rouge last night after traveling 210 miles aboard his 2009 Xciting 500Ri.

"I couldn't get any of my scooter friends to come along for the ride to the Amerivespa rally," Dykes said, "and so my dealer, Hall's Motorsports, told me about KYMCO's Scoot2TX ride."

Dykes bought his first scooter, an '85 Yamaha Riva, in June 2009. Four months later, in October, he bought the KYMCO. "The first scoot satisfied my needs for around town, but then I found about the White Sands Mayhem scooter rally in Pensacola, FL. To attend that, I knew I needed something that would get up and go and be dependable, and so I knew I needed something bigger and newer."

His thoughts after seven months of KYMCO ownership?

"My experience with the KYMCO network and product has been exemplary," Dykes said. "I knew by my research what KYMCO was doing and how long they had been business. Their extensive line of scooters, and the fact that they offered a two-year warranty on their product to me spoke volumes about their commitment to their product."

Dykes had a dirtbike as a kid, then moved on to a 750cc streetbike in his 30s. So why a scooter now? "I just always liked the idea of a scooter," he said. "I had a little car that got 26 miles to the gallon. But, when it died, I needed something besides my truck to get me from point A to point B. Low and behold, I then discovered that scooting could get me from Mobile to New Orleans to Birmingham to Ocala to North Carolina, and to all points in between."

Tomorrow we meet up with KYMCO USA President Eric Bondy and head toward Austin, adding another couple hundred miles to the trip.

See pictures from our fourth day on the trip on Facebook:!/album.php?aid=173469&id=74250042688

And watch our progress LIVE:

Scoot2TX Ride - Day 3

Mobile, AL to Baton Rouge, LA

The third day of our Scoot2TX trip was a rain day. It wasn’t a nuisance rain, but a multi-hour downpour that soaked us all and caused flooding in many of the low laying areas here in southern Louisiana.

The inclement weather was Mother Nature’s fault of course, but Robert, Justin and Guido were a bit at fault, too. You see, this morning they caused a delay when they decided to visit Mobile’s Battleship Memorial Park to tour the USS Alabama battleship, USS Drum submarine and dozens of decommissioned airplanes, helicopters and tanks. They brought back some great pictures, though!

The entire group ultimately hit the road at around 10:30 am, followed by two and a half hours riding stoplight to stoplight on the coast road leading from Mobile to where we had lunch beachside in Biloxi. Twenty minutes after lunch, in Gulfport, the rain started … and didn’t let up for four hours (or until we were on the outskirts of Baton Rouge).

Guido Ebert rode the 2011 Downtown 300i today and here's his impression of the new bike: "I rode the bike once before – six months ago during KYMCO USA’s 2010 product introduction at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, N.C. Climbing aboard the Downtown today, I immediately recalled what I liked about this bike on my first jaunt: it’s light and quick, which equates to responsive. In fact, so responsive, I had no problem smoking Justin’s more powerful - but 106-lb. heavier - Xciting 500Ri from stoplights.

"Sure the 500Ri is faster at the top end, trumping the 300’s top speed by about 30 mph, and its weight makes it a bit more stable at highway speeds, but for real-world, legal speed use, the Downtown would be my bike of choice for urban commuting that takes a rider through busy metropolitan areas, on surface streets and freeways." An added bonus: the bike’s a fuel miser, too, delivering approximately 75 mpg during today’s 220-mile trip that saw speeds up to 70 mph.

Sold in Europe for the past six months, the Downtown 300i is expected to become available in the U.S. late this summer. Going to be at Amerivespa? Stop by the KYMCO demo truck and take a look at the bike for yourself.

2011 KYMCO Downtown 300i

Engine: 298.9cc single cylinder liquid-cooled 4-valve SOHC

Bore x Stroke: 72.7mm x 72mm

Compression Ratio: 10.8:1

Output: 28 hp @ 8,500 rpm; 18 ft. lbs. @ 6,500 rpm

Drive: CVT

Brakes: 260mm single-disc front with two-piston caliper; 240mm single disc rear

Suspension: Telescopic fork front; swingarm with preload-adjustable dual shocks rear

Tires/Wheels: 120/80-14 (front); 150/70-13 (rear)

Wheelbase: 60.8 inches

Seat Height: 30.5 inches

Fuel Capacity: 3.3 gallons

Wet Weight: 416 lbs.

See pictures from our third day on the trip on Facebook:!/album.php?aid=173271&id=74250042688

And watch our progress LIVE:

Monday, May 24, 2010

Scoot2TX Ride - Day 2

Columbus GA to Mobile, AL

Here we are – Mobile, AL. Nine of us traveled another 300-some miles today, along a string of two-lane county roads that led past ubiquitous Dollar General stores, loan for title businesses and fireworks stands, Baptist churches, logging trucks, thick new growth forests, long-abandoned, kudzu-engulfed farm houses, and rural blight that served as a sad reminder that many people in this region have seen better economic times.

KYMCO customers Judi McLane and David George, who had joined us for the first leg of the trip, turned around and headed for home this morning. The rest of us left Columbus around 8:30 am and arrived in Mobile around 4 pm, after a couple of fuel stops, a lunch stop, and a stop to satisfy an urging a few people had for an ice cream treat on this 96-degree day.

“Look at this – a moped gang!” a young man exclaimed in a southern drawl as he exited his pick-up truck at the Pantry filling station near the small hamlet of Clio, AL. “Where ya’ll headed?

“Texas,” someone responded.

“Texas?! Well, it looks like [the scooters ride] real good.”

KYMCO’s maxi scoots – the Xciting 250 & 500Ri, as well as the soon-to-be-available 2011 Downtown 300i – covered the stretch with ease. In fact, Robert Pandya proved the point to a couple on a Harley-Davidson who passed us waving, evidently amused by the spectacle of our crew cruising in formation atop our laden scoots. The Harley passed us, and a split-second later Robert passed me, reeling the big Milwaukee iron in with ease.

See pictures from our first day on the trip on Facebook:!/album.php?aid=173094&id=74250042688

And watch our progress LIVE:

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Scoot2TX Ride - Day 1

Spartanburg, SC to Columbus, GA

Eleven of us rolled out of Spartanburg, SC at 8 am today and headed 310 miles southwest along a ribbon of two-lane blacktop stretched out over the red earth and green, rolling hills of South Carolina, past roadside stands selling boiled peanuts, peach groves, large stands of pine trees, historical covered bridges, and quaint towns rich in history, to our first overnight stop in Columbus, GA.

Established in the 1780s as a courthouse village, Spartanburg is thought to have been named after the Spartan regiment of the South Carolina Militia. Incorporated in 1831 and built on the cotton mill boom in the years leading up to the Civil War, Spartanburg today is home to not only KYMCO USA, but also the world headquarters of Extended Stay Hotels, textile giant Milliken & Co., Denny’s restaurants and a BMW automobile manufacturing facility.

Participating in the 1,400-mile journey to San Antonio, Texas, are: KYMCO USA’s Kymco Lee, VP; Frank Yang, new product development team; Bruce Ramsey, VP of operations; Rick Pawelka, director of marketing; Joe Woffford, VP of technical services; Steve Lazoff, director of sales; long-time industry insiders Robert Pandya, Guido Ebert, and Justin Dawes of Moto USA. Also joining us for this first leg of the trip were KYMCO customers Judi McLane and David George of Columbia, SC.

McLane owns a 2008 KYMCO Xciting 500. George owns a 2007 KYMCO Grand Vista 250. What attracted them to the KYMCO Scoot2TX ride? “Because it’s our manufacture, and because I had never been on a scooter trip this far from home, and a group like this offers good support,” McLane said.

McLane has owned her Xciting 500, her first scoot, for almost two years. How did she get into scootering? “It looked fun,” she said, “and they’re easy to ride.”

She now rides several times a week, and is set to put 10,000 miles on the unit tomorrow. “I love my KYMCO – it’s great. It’s been very easy to own, and I haven’t had to do anything aside from standard service in 10,000 miles.”

George uses his scoot to commute to work, as well as in his free time.

“My father’s friend got him interested in scooters,” George explained. “I rode my father’s, became interested myself, and finally bought my own – a Honda Elite 80. It wasn’t powerful enough – couldn’t really keep up with traffic – so I bought the Grand Vista.”

So here we are, 6:30 pm Sunday, in Columbus, GA. Founded in1828 and located 100 miles south of Atlanta, Columbus is situated at the beginning of the navigable portion of the Chattahoochee River, and once connected the plantations of the region with the international cotton market via the port of New Orleans. Today, Ft. Benning serves as a major employer in Columbus, which is also home to the headquarters of Aflac and Carmike Cinemas. In 2009 the city was ranked number four on the 100 Best U.S. Cities to live by Best Life Magazine.

See pictures from our first day on the trip on Facebook:!/album.php?aid=172630&id=74250042688

And watch our progress LIVE: