Red Dog and Me

This is an on-going dialog between me and a certain motor scooter, namely a 2009 Piaggio MP3 500 that came to live with me in October of 2009. I've named the scooter Red Dog and as yet have not determined its gender. In the past when I've named boats, bikes, and other like characters I've thought of them as feminine due to their behavior characteristics. Red Dog I'm not so sure about...we'll see. Update: OK, Red Dog's a girl...with an attitude

Sunday, March 13, 2011

March 12, 2011 What the devil’s a Laminar Lip? And is it contagious?

Constant wind buffeting on a motorcycle or  scooter can quickly lead to fatigue which can greatly reduce the enjoyment of riding. I’m not referring to short distance rides or those lasting less than a couple of hours; I’m talking about day-long rides covering 200-300 miles or greater as you'd encounter on a tour across country.

Red Dog with her new GIVI windshield
When I first got Red Dog she came without a windshield having only a small airfoil type of device to help stave off the wind. You can see what that looked like in the main picture in the blog title. That worked ok but nowhere near well enough to deflect an ample amount of wind and when it came along, rain pelted me mercilessly. 

To improve things I installed a GIVI windscreen and that helped a lot; suddenly Red Dog was transformed from a hooligan into a much more sophisticated lady. 

But even with that I could still feel a fair amount of buffeting as the main wind stream collided with my face about midway up. Wearing a full-faced helmet helped but my noggin was still wanting to act like one of those bobble dolls you see in the back windows of cars. I had to find a cure and decided to look into a well-known product, the Laminar Lip.

Several members of the Modern Vespa Forum website had already installed the “Lip” on their scooters and were kind enough to post reports as to how well they worked and stating that they liked them. The only downside was Laminar isn't making a version specifically designed for the MP3's GIVI windscreen but the one that fits the CanAm Spyder is close enough and seems to work ok.

One day not long ago I was having coffee with Jerry Smith, a rider friend who also happens to be in the business of writing for a number of publications and is often called upon to evaluate motorcyle products. When I mentioned I was going to have a look at the Laminar Lip he said he had one he wasn’t using and if I wanted it he’d bring it by next time we had coffee. Neither of us was sure if it would fit Red Dog’s GIVI windscreen as his was for a Suzuki V-Strom but I was open to trying it.

3M Dual Locks
The only thing I'd need to do would be obtain new mounting tabs and I'd be set. I contacted the Laminar Lip factory to see if I could order the 3M Dual Locks that are used for mounting and it turned out they are available in small quantities for $6.00 per package. The guy who answered their phone was friendly and super helpful saying he’d mail them out the same day which he did.
When they arrived I followed the installation instructions that I downloaded from their website and after a 24-hour waiting period for the glue to dry I pressed the Lip in place.

Laminar Lip installed
So far I’ve only ridden a few hundred miles with the Lip but I can definitely tell the difference in the way wind buffeting occurs.

The Lip redirects the wind stream upwards over the top of my helmet which greatly reduces the buffeting and also the wind noise, a very welcome benefit. Overall I'm happy with the results; this is one farkle that's going to be great to have.

To sum up I think most riders would realize the same benefits using one of these novel accessories and the price of $84 is much less than that of a taller windscreen.
Here’s a link to the Laminar Lip website where you can learn more about them:  

Plus you may want to read an article published on, another of my favorite information resources:

Hey, lest I forget…THANKS JERRY!

Mar 05, 2011 The RotoPax Fuel container – worth the bucks?

One of the items that’s been discussed to no end on the Modern Vespa Forum is who makes the best fuel container for hauling spare gas. Piaggio’s MP3-500 scooter's fuel tank holds a miserly 3.1 gallons so figuring you’ll get around 50-55mpg your trip range is limited to around 150 miles. That’s not very far if you’re planning on touring as there are a lot of places with gas stops well beyond that distance; therefore the MP3-500 rider needs to carry at least one gallon of spare fuel; two or more if he can find room.

The scooter forum members have taken all sorts of approaches to solving this problem; solutions ranging from cheapie 1-gallon plastic cans small enough to store under the seat to some fairly sophisticated custom setups involving special brackets holding modified fuel cells. Locations for these items range from under the saddle to inside top boxes to special bracket mounts on each side of the scoot.

Prices have ranged all over the map and scooter guys being somewhat on the frugal side have done their best to get by with the least outlay of their hard earned cash.

My own first venture into this issue resulted in a small 1.1-gallon plastic jug that fits snugly underneath the seat as if it were custom made for it. The price at our local True Value Hardware was a mere $5.00 at the time I bought it but since then has gone up a bit to nearly $7.00.

It was (and still is) a nice little jug but recently when I lifted the seat up I smelled gas fumes even though the day was cool and it had been raining recently. This bothered me quite a lot as the places I like toride when I’m touring are often very  hot and I feared the little jug might decide to go boom should a spark  occur within the confines of the seat.

Carrying that thought a bit further I had a brief visual of myself flying through the air with most of my fanny a lovely charcoal color trailing an odd looking cloud of smoke behind.

With that in mind I decided to bite the bullet and spend some serious money for what I believed to be the best quality fuel container that would fit under the saddle, one of RotoPax’s 1 gallon units. Their company makes a variety of very tough fuel containers for the outdoor sports market most of which are designed to be mounted on quads and motorcycles.  

Like most things that are top-of-the-line they aren’t cheap. Their 1-gallon model to replace my $5.00 hardware store cheapie came in at a whopping $50.00 plus another $10.00 for shipping making it more than 10 times as costly. At first that might seem highly extravagant but they’re guaranteed not to leak and they’re designed to mount in any position. That plus their agreeable size makes a perfect fit for the under-the-seat location I had in mind.

I ordered one directly from the RotoPax web site and it arrived in less than a week. I knew as soon as I opened the box it was worth what they charge; it’s made from a very heavy thick plastic type of material that I’m sure would support my weight.

The fuel filler apparatus is well thought out and is easy to work with Red Dog’s short fuel tank opening without spilling a drop.

To operate it you simply turn a small green plastic ring to the lock position, then insert the snout into the fuel tank’s filler neck with the small hook catching the opening.

This action makes an audible click and fuel begins to flow into the tank. Lifting up on the RotoPax automatically shuts the fuel off so nothing gets spilled.
Of course the first time I used it I unintentionally lifted up and the fuel shut off...sometimes older guys get a little shakey, and I was pleasantly surprised how easy it was to turn the green ring without having to remove the nozzel from the tank.

I mentioned earlier that even with the RotoPax in place there's still plenty of storage space left under Red Dog’s saddle, both above the RotoPax and underneath. Most of what I keep there are emergency items; a small tool kit, tire repair kit, and so on.
I have to say I’m a happy camper with this product and I may order another one if I can find a place to store it. The really good thing about it is I’m no longer worried about having fuel or fumes lurking about waiting to explode and that alone makes it worth the $60 bucks.

So there you go, another adventurous outting with Red Dog Scooter. If you’d like to see what the folks at Roto Pax are up to just follow this link:

Hey I should be getting paid for this shouldn’t I?