Last summer I did a long road trip on my 250cc retro-styled motorcycle and if anyone was thinking “that is fine and good but your ride was too powerful” I now have a response for you: A scooters run on the highway through the mountains. This year I participated in the fourth annual Fiddy Run which is an unlikely run for small displacement scooters and bikes. The name is inspired by the 50cc displacement engines but there are some larger (relatively speaking) engines as well. The route is roughly 400kms (250 miles) from David Thompson Resort (campground, not spa type resort) to Jasper and back.
The Google Map time estimate above is very much not accurate for a scooter travel. Top speeds are anywhere from 50-100km/h depending on the model. Generally on the lower side of that.
So I know what you are thinking, “but you don’t own a scooter”. That is correct, in fact I have never even ridden one, but luckily for me my friend Peter (better known as the organizer of the Great Beater Challenge) has a small fleet of them. He completed the event last year with his friend Chris who was unable to make it this year. He put an offer out if anyone wanted to join him and I quickly jumped on it. Who wouldn’t want to ride a scooter on a highway mountain road for hundreds of kilometers?
Peter also has a 1991 Toyota Previa van which he visioned as a scooter/bike hauler. I helped him mounted the wheel chocks inside which involved temporarily dropping the gas tank. A test fit showed promise. As for the bikes themselves the blue is a 1985 Honda Aero and Peter’s ride for the event. I would be on the 1983 Honda Mascot (Mascot in Canada, Aero in the US). They are both 80cc, 2 stroke with a single cylinder engine rated at 6.5hp at 6500 RPM.
While the event was schedule for Saturday we set off on the Friday as it was an almost 600 km drive to get to the starting line. The Previa is a fine road trip vehicle and this would be its longest trip since Peter obtained it (originally for the Great Beater Challenge but now over budget). For those that are not aware the Previa is a mid engine, rwd minivan which has lots of interesting features such a 75 degree tilted 2.4L engine that was never used elsewhere. Additionally the alternator and A/C are driven off an accessory driveshaft and refreshingly it has acres of glass allowing unobstructed views out.
Unfortunately there was a rather lot of smoke from wild fires raging out of control in northern Alberta. We were worried the mountain views would be spoiled as well as being rather unpleasant to breath.
Our trip was interrupted by the Previa’s automatic transmission which would occasionally hiccup by suddenly dropping into neutral then quickly back into gear. We checked the fluid level via a panel under the driver’s side seat, a task made slightly more awkward by the scooters in the back, but the fluid level and color was fine. Peter had recently done a transmission service so we continued on hoping it would somehow cure itself.
As we entered Calgary the smoke thickened. There is actually a river and big hill just in front of us but not visible.
We had a bit of Japanese theme going as Peter had recently returned from a trip to Japan, the Toyota Previa was the trip hauler and we would be riding Honda scooters. So naturally we stopped for lunch at a Japanese restaurant.
There was also an attached store where we were able to buy new to me unique snacks.
The mighty Previa is an evolving project for Peter. He has slightly lower suspension on order.
Continuing the Japanese theme we bought some Japanese beer for later that night and were surprised to receive a Katana sword bottle opener each. Nice!
In the parking lot I was able to see my first ever Lamborghini Urus. It is … distinctive looking.
Before leaving town we had to fuel the scooters up. It seemed like a lot of work to take them out of the van though … so we filled them in place. The attendants were likely baffled but did not give us any grief.
This mid engined minivan also sports a genuine Nardi wheel sourced in Japan on his trip by Peter.
Another bit of fun bit related to the van is this warning sticker under the passenger side visor. I wonder if it is like U-Haul speed warning that no one ever sticks to.
Happily the smoke cleared west of Calgary but soon rain began to fall. Still lacking in any effective rain gear I hoped this would pass as well.
Luckily the rain was short lived as we passed the Banff area.
The transmission continued to act oddly every once and a while. It occurred at seemly random intervals and did not appear load dependent so we suspected it was electrical rather than mechanical. We tossed out several theories and speculated it might be a wire rubbing where we had mounted the the bike chocks. At Lake Louise we pulled in to see if anything was out of ordinary.
Opening the engine cover a single wire to the throttle looked to have been repaired poorly in the past. Peter had brought tools like sockets and screwdrivers but we did not have any electrical ends or tape.
The store attached to the gas station was pretty small and only really had food and drinks with no electrical tape to be found. The bathroom was a different story with this amusing vending machine which apparently had everything one needs for a good time; male Viagra (clone), female arousal pills, sex position book and condoms. We passed on all those as none would improve the van’s performance.
Genius struck Peter as he remembered that he had done numbering with electrical tape on the scooter so we able to rob from there. So 76 became 6 and he was able to make the electrical connection better at least. We decided on a course of optimism and hoped that would fix it.
A Chevrolet Malibu G-body driving by which made for a nice spot.
On the road again and finally getting close to the starting line. The transmission was no better but at least no worse.
When we arrived after unloading our scooters we helped unload this very cool custom Honda Ruckus. It was so low it got hung up on the ramp. Luckily scooters are light.
Our campsite was quickly set up. Peter was sleeping in the van, I was in the tent.
We had neglected to bring any fire making supplies so we joined another group for the night. “Scooter people” are a fun and friendly bunch. We drank our entire weekend’s supply of beer.
Unfortunately the campsite had a very noisy diesel generator running all night long so I did not get a great sleep.
We had heard that there was a Volkswagen group also in the campground. I took a quick walk in the morning before they were awake but never did go back to talk to them.
There was a nice view from the campground. Some of the group had taken their scooters down to the lake bed the previous afternoon. We had planned a practice run but I had still had not ridden it. The run would begin shortly at 10am so stay tuned in for the next installment tomorrow.