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Dr. Frazier's Vespa Adventure Ride Photo Gallery
On the hunt for a Vespa, I spotted a scooter friendly gas station in Thailand and asked where I could find a Vespa to rent.
Dr. Frazier takes on a 300-mile loop in Thailand aboard a Vespa. See photos in Dr. Frazier's Vespa Adventure Ride photo gallery. Read the full account in
Dr. Frazier's Vespa Adventure Ride
Vespa has long been a popular commuter bike in Thailand.
This sidecar outfit looked a little too good for my planned jungle ride.
At first I thought this Vespa was art deco, but was politely told it was a daily runner.
A large Vespa dealer was found in Chiang Mai, Thailand with a well-stocked showroom.
The GB sticker, lights and chrome captured my jungle riding imagination until I was told it was not for rent, only for sale, at $5000 USD, a figure not in my adventure riding budget.
A Vespa dealer had new and used Vespas for sale, starting at $3000 USD, again outside my adventure riding budget.
Another Vespa dealer in Chiang Mai, Thailand was well stocked but only wanted to sell his inventory, not rent to a foreigner for some daft adventure in the jungles.
I saw this 1964 Vespa parked in front of a small Vespa repair and restoration shop and thought it was be great fun to ride, all 150cc and an estimated 6 bhp, with a maximum speed of just under 50 mph, when new.
A peek inside the Vespa repair and restoration shop found numerous projects under construction, including a sidecar project.
Looking at the speedometer and odometer on the 1964 Vespa, I wondered if the speedometer worked, realizing that a 50 year-old bike with 3 clicks on the odometer was ominous.
The Vespa repair and restoration shop was attached to the owner’s Oldies Cafe & Restaurant, where I found an avid Vespa and old motorcycle aficionado.
Khun Aon, the Vespa shop and restaurant owner, became interested in my proposed Vespa adventure ride, more so after I gave him a sticker and we traded stories and photographs of Indian motorcycles.
The back way route from Chiang Mai to Pai was known to be a challenge for some big displacement motorcycle adventurers.
Ready for adventure, the 1964 Vespa from Rome, Italy left the start point in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
For our Vespa expedition shoot-out Jeffrey McCollum used a 2013 150cc Vespa, made in Vietnam, purchase price new about $5000 USD.
McCollum pointed out the 50 year-old front brake while three motorcycle guffawers made fun of my choice for the adventure ride.
The first 60 miles were easy two-lane paved roads. Note the space between the rear mud flap and the pavement, which later in the day disappeared.
Deep into the jungle and the dirt road had become damp hardpan, sometimes slippery, so best driven at 20-25 mph with some prayers.
12 Kilometers from Pai and the Vespa and rider is fading. The rear mud flap was nearly dragging on the pavement.
Can a rider be daft for having too much fun? I’m daft enough and ready for another Vespa adventure ride.
Pavement was followed by a rough stone road.
The Vespa handled the first dirt road section well, cruising at 30-35 mph.
The next challenge was sand, sometimes wanting to dictate the direction of the small fat front tire.
This is where the expedition became a challenge as the Vespa wanted to wallow in and out of the ruts unless the perfect line was chosen.
A rest stop was made after a dusty section to try to access why the muffler and engine was scraping if former lean angles were used, a symptom later determined to be a broken rear shock.
Still having fun, but tiring as the day faded.
Poor engine performance by the time we reached Pai was determined to be a dust clogged air filter, easily gotten to and cleaned.
Daft adventure rider Jeffrey McCollum pilots the Vespa the last miles back to our start point. We logged 300 miles in two days, some of it over some very tough ground. The 50 year-old Vespa was still ticking, but licking a broken rear shock wound.
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