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

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?

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