Sunday, March 22, 2009
The Story of My Honda Elite 50.
Like many people who are so deep in something that they forget just where it started, I have to remind myself exactly how I first started riding scooters. After working in the summer of 2002 at my dad's warehouse, I became the first kid in my college town to have a scooter. I bought a 50cc Honda Elite from Christman's Honda in Palantine Bridge, New York. It cost me $460 out the door, and I also bought a white 3/4 helmet.
I rode it home pretty scared of it, being my first time on the road. I didn't tell my mom I was buying a scooter, but my dad brought me there to pick it up. It was so light to ride - much lighter and smaller than the Vespa that replaced it. It accelerated quickly and was really nice to ride, especially through the rural areas where I lived.
It was a 1987 model, which was kind of a one-year-only type of deal for Elites. It had electric start, a broken odometer, and a plastic top case trunk. I think I had one new tire on the back, but I think both were that old-fashioned type of tread, not the nice style ones that we have now that offer a really smooth ride. Like all Hondas, the suspension was really soft, but since I had nothing to compare it to, it was great. It always started and never broke down. I didn't do any maintenance on it ever.
I brought it with me to Geneseo in the fall and locked it to a tree outside with a big cable lock. The first night I was there some drunk girls were sitting on it, and in the morning it was all knocked over. Its cover was strewn about 10 feet away. I was really upset about it, and got up early to take it to Dunkin Donuts. I added a few stickers to the trunk - Lookout Records, and one that said "R2 is my Co-Pilot."
The campus people gave me tons of trouble for having it on campus and not paying for a parking permit, so in a few weeks I had to move it to a bike storage that Mahoney told me about over by his apartments. Luckily, no one ever bothered it there, except for one day I came back and it had its trunk filled with leaves. I was really upset about this until a few months later when my roommate Greg eventually confessed to it.
In the summer of 2003, I stayed in Geneseo, living off campus. I kept it in a weird closet under the steps to the above apartment at our cheapest-in-town duplex. I found out about mail-order performance parts and got a Proma brand expansion chamber and some Malossi variator weights from a site called VT Cycles in Hawaii. I brought the bike to a Moto Guzzi shop in Avon for them to fix it. They called me halfway through the operation and said "Hey we found this weird part - do you want this back in?" I said "No! That's the restrictor! Leave that out!" Riding it back from that shop, I was scared because it was going so fast! It now did 45 MPH in the flats!
Different people had different nicknames for the scooter, my favorites being "T-REX" and "The Red Menace." I rode all over on that thing, including numerous 50+ mile sojourns from Geneseo to Rochester and back. The first one of such trips was a wednesday night when I met up with the Negative Image Scooter Club and rode with them. That was also the first time I ever passed a car on a scooter, even though I was at the back of their pack. We rode in a pack to Mendon Ponds State Park, where it started to rain and we broke up. I overshot and missed a few turns on the way home and I think I ended up in Hemlock at one point.
After that I rode to Conesus Lake a bunch of times. I rode in the cold but did put it in storage in my uncle's basement for the winters. I rode with people on the back even though it was never designed for that. Pretty much all my friends rode on the back of it at some point or other. Geneseo never really had any place to go, so mostly I just went to Dunkin Donuts or Wegmans, or just rode around in the countryside outside of town. I never rode the scooter to go to class or anything. Geneseo was just too small for that.
The scooter had its only break toward superstardom when it was featured in my friend Dhaval's short film "Catharsis." The film also featured my band, The Castawaves. The film really combined those two major forces in my life. I had brought back a drum kit in the fall of 2002 and started the band. I had the idea to make a music video for a Castawaves song involving me riding around on the Honda randomly giving out flowers to girls, but we never filmed it.
I can't remember exactly when I sold it, but I think it might have been just right when I came back from England; probably January 2004. I sold it to a friend of a friend in Rochester, who never registered it, and who had it stolen and impounded. Dan took me to get it out of impound, but by the time I heard of this the cost to get it out was $330 and it reportedly had a lot of damage to the front end, so we had to walk away.
I took the money from the sale of the scooter and put it toward my white Vespa. The Honda was one of the best purchases I ever made.