30 November 2010

Winter Riding Gear

The car's on board computer flashed up with a warning as soon as I turned the ignition that cold Sunday morning. Risk of Ice, it read.
No shit, Sherlock.

Yes, there was ice alright as well as over an inch of snow which magically appeared overnight. Nothing too severe even by UK and Ireland standards but, this is Dublin. A bit of ice and snow and the place plunges into absolute chaos. Schools get closed, people fall flat on their faces on icy footpaths, car drivers pretend that their on the set of Tokyo Drift  and worst of all, I get to go on the bus, once again. Shock. Horror. [Cue music to the Psycho Shower Scene].

You see, as much as I do love riding on my Vespa, I do realise that I have responsibilities, and commitments but most importantly, I do realise that I can't afford Evel Knievel-level insurance cover. So, like most sane people, I opt for other alternative forms of transport.

But, what if there is no snow? How do I manage to continue riding my Vespa in almost freezing winter conditions.

Well, different people have different ways of coping. I know of this one old dude who refuses to wear anything more than his leather jacket and an open face helmet even in the coldest of days. No goggles and certainly no visor. Every time I come across him on his classic Jap bike, I could swear that his face looks bluer by the day.

I, on the other hand, prefer to keep myself warmer as it gets colder. Most of my gear can be classified as “all-weather”. My helmet is of the flip-up variety so it’s a full face when it needs to be and an open face when I prefer the wind in my face. All I need to do with my trusty old jacket is to insert the quilted lining when it gets colder while the Vespa’s leg shields appear to be adequate enough cover from the elements, saving me the hassle of fiddling around with my motorcycle pants’ lining.

That therefore, leaves me with my gloves. As much as I try to find an all-weather glove, I just can’t seem to find a decent one. So, I am resigned to the fact that I have to own at least two gloves. The ones I use in the colder months are Dainese’s RS WD D-Dry B (that’s mouthful of alphabets) gloves. They were classified as winter gloves on Motocard’s online store but I have the feeling that the classification is slightly off the mark as it’s probably based on the Spanish winter rather than temperatures further up north.

Having said that, I have now used the gloves for almost three winters and the almost daily usage has taken its toll on it. So, the search is now on for replacement gloves. Moving away from Dainese, I came across FC Moto Shop that has the Alpinestars Arctic Drystar gloves for sale at a reasonable enough price while from farther afield, I found these deerskin gloves from Lee Parks Designs. Other than the good design, I also like the plain, non-Power Ranger look of them.

But, as usual, all that will have to wait (damn this recession). For the meantime, I’ll make do with bright red, freezing and throbbing hands. Nothing that a hot cup of coffee couldn't cure...

28 November 2010

Heart Break Lane

It's strange being a Liverpool supporter these days. Win, and I smile for days with that warm, fuzzy feeling engulfing me, at least until the next match. Lose, and instead of being as depressed as a smoke addict who has been without a cigarette for a whole day, I actually don't feel that bad. I hate to admit it but the feeling some days verges on apathy towards Liverpool Football Club especially when the team loses a match. Maybe it's got to do with the fact that my expectations are so low, I'm actually never expecting a good result, no matter who Liverpool play.

Take for instance this afternoon's visit to White Hart Lane.

Anyone that knows a small bit about football would come to the conclusion that there's no point in defending against Spurs this season. With about half a dozen central defenders out injured, the only way to play Spurs is to attack, attack and attack.

So, I was pleased to see Hodgson's team set out to do the obvious with two up front in a standard 4-4-2 formation which, was mirrored in Spurs' own line-up. Unsurprising really considering that the fixture was a meeting of two very old school English managers.

The first 15 minutes looked positive and the team looked to control proceedings with some very neat passing around the pitch. A nice change from the hoofball tactics applied for most of the season. But, as the game progressed, it was becoming evident that Liverpool lacked a good amount of creativity either on the pitch or on the bench (could have done with an Aquilani or Pacheco around, eh?). Spurs on the other hand, were growing in confidence but by mid-way into the first-half, Spurs' slight creative edge in the form of Luka Modric, almost led to a goal which was only avoided because of Jamie Carragher's timely intervention as well as Jermaine Defoe's rustiness.

The game was really open and the two teams went back and forth until Skrtel's goal came along a couple of minutes before the break. It all looked good after that for Liverpool but although chances did come along, the lack of creativity became even more evident when Modric's magic led to Skrtel slotting in an own goal past Reina. The already nervy situation was further compounded when on 86 minutes, Jamie Carragher walked off the pitch with a dislocated shoulder.

With Carragher's absence, Liverpool's back four became quite disorganised and Redknapp pounced on the opportunity. Diagonal long balls began to be pumped from Spurs' left for Aaron Lennon to latch on. Konchesky was no match for Lennon's pace and within a few minutes, Liverpool were two goals down.

As bad as that result was, it doesn't look like it'll get better anytime soon. Carragher's injury looks like a long-term one whereas Daniel Agger is still recovering from his own injury. Besides Skrtel and Kyrgiakos (Daniel Ayala is out on loan and Kelly could do a job), that leaves the club with only young Danny Wilson as cover at the centre of defence.

We're definitely in for a rough ride for the next few...

26 November 2010

Where’s Dani? Can You Find Dani?

It was the summer of 2009 and Liverpool had just finished a close second in the Premier League. Things could only get better (hindsight is a great thing isn’t it?) and I wanted a piece of the action, grabbing at everything that had anything to do with Liverpool that summer.

Unfortunately, things weren’t as great from a financial perspective so, rather than make plans for a trip to Anfield (a European night against Fiorentina or Lyon would have been good), I had to settle for whatever I could find within Ireland.

That opportunity came along soon enough when it was announced that a Liverpool XI would be playing a friendly against Bohemians at Dalymount Park on the 17th of August. It was a great chance to watch a pre-season friendly that would have included at least some members of the first team. Then, I realised that the match was scheduled after the Premiership’s first game. So, instead of being able to watch the likes of Carragher, Gerrard and Torres play, I was treated to a mix of Liverpool Reserve and Youth players.

There was the recently acquired Victor Palsson in midfield while Chris Mavinga was the club’s latest coup from PSG. Obviously, the squad had local Liverpool lads like Stephen Darby and Steven Irwin along with a couple of other promising English talents in the form of David Amoo and Nathan Eccleston. But, the two names that the fans were keen on watching that evening were Argentinean Gerrado Bruna and Liverpool’s current Number 12, Dani Pacheco.

While Bruna looked off the pace and slightly uninterested, Pacheco was extremely impressive as he pulled the strings from his free role just behind Eccleston. A friend of mine, having watched a very young Robbie Fowler play in the Reserves mentioned that it was glaringly obvious that Fowler was a class above the rest of his team mates. Well, I’m not a qualified football scout but it was as clear as day that Pacheco (on the evidence of this one match) was a special talent. So, it comes as no surprise to me why Liverpool fans (especially the ones that follow Pacheco regularly) are so excited about giving Pacheco an extended run in the First XI these days.

Here's a video compilation (by MilanKakaBaros) of Pacheco at the European Under-19 Championship last summer...

And, of a more recent goal against Everton in the Reserves.

Not surprisingly, it confuses and frustrates fans around the world as to why the Spaniard hasn’t even made the substitutes’ bench since September 2010. This of course, coincides with Pacheco’s last first team appearance in Liverpool’s humiliating exit from the Carling Cup after having been defeated by a “formidable” Northampton Town side. Whether it’s true or not, it does appear that Hodgson was disappointed with Pacheco’s display against Northampton and has sent him packing back to the reserves.

Maybe he does need to be re-trained in a different role or bulk-up to survive the physical aspects of the English game but in the meantime, here’s hoping that the coaching staff at Liverpool really know what they’re doing with Pacheco. We just can’t afford to let such a talented player go to waste or worst still, get sold to some La Liga outfit on the cheap in exchange for an aging, average at best player.

24 November 2010

Being Ewan McGregor

Like Ewan McGregor and more accurately, Jean-Yves Pignant, I want to jump on my Vespa and go on an adventure to the ends of the world. It doesn't matter where or when, just as long as it's somewhere far away and the weather is half-decent. But, unlike Ewan McGregor, my 15 minutes of fame was more like 15 seconds. My life as a child-model/actor/singer was cut short by the time puberty creeped in. Naturally, I don't have vast amount of resources to call upon to raise funds for a journey of McGregor-Boorman proportions. I can barely afford spare parts for my own Vespa.

So, rather than travel to places in Central Asia or Africa, I sit at home, content that at least, I do get to clock-up some miles on my Vespa through my daily commute.

Unfortunately, I feel that life has different plans for me. While nosily looking around my other half's Facebook account, I noticed a link to this article in Malaysia's New Straits Times and found out about Syed Hadi's epic journey. In short, Hadi got on his kapcai (that's Malaysian for small bike - likely derived from the legendary Honda Cub) and decided to ride all the way from Malaysia to the UK, with minimal sponsorship and a vague of idea of vehicle laws in the places enroute.

Yes, I do realise that something like what Hadi did had been done before but this fella appears to be like any other man on the street AND more importantly is Malaysian. The way I see it, if he can do it, surely the thousands out there like me stand a chance of at least heading out of the countries we live in.


Image by Khaosaming

22 November 2010

Of Rain, Snow and Rainbows

Monday morning. Wet, cold and foggy with a touch of frost. Perfect. Although we were officially into the winter months since the start of the month, when the clocks moved back an hour, this morning seemed like the real changeover date. All that was missing was some snow. I need not worry about that though. If latest news reports are to be believed, that should come along pretty soon too.

As long as it doesn't ruin my travel plans in December, I'd be happy.

Anyway, I eventually made it to work, safe and sound. After drying mysef and a couple of hours worth of work, I remembered that I had left my gloves in my Vespa's toolbox. It wasn't a good idea to leave it there, all damp and cold so, I popped down to grab it.

As I stepped out the front door of my office, I noticed something peculiar in the sky...

...a rainbow! OK, I'm not 6 anymore and don't go chasing after pots of gold but, if there was one of thing that would put a smile on people's faces on such a dreary day, it would be something like this. More of the same, please...

20 November 2010

A Return to Anfield

I used to visit Liverpool a lot during my first few years in Dublin. It helped that the city is quite close (just under 250 km across the Irish Sea) and was either a few hours ferry trip away (the ferry I took used to dock right by The Royal Liver Building) or under an hour's flight away to what was then just plain old, Liverpool Airport (John Lennon's name was only added in 2002). Oh, and the fact that my sister used to live in Liverpool also helped, free accommodation and all. 

For some reason, my visits to Liverpool were never uneventful. On my first visit there, I had my first encounter with snow. A couple of friends and I were outside at around 3 o'clock in the morning, making snowmen and having snowball fights. We were like a bunch of kids locked-in a toy store overnight. These days, having gone through a few horrible winters, I think it's safe to say that I'm not as keen on snow anymore.

On another visit, my flight back to Dublin was cancelled because of bad weather and a bunch of 20-30 people were stuck at the airport as there was no way for us to get back to civilisation. I eventually made it home when a bunch of us decided that hypothermia wasn't an option and broke-in to a parked bus, hot-wired it and drove it all the way to Lime Street where we returned it back to the public transportation system. I still had an uphill walk on icy footpaths to my sister's place on Princes Street but that was the least of my worries. I didn't get arrested the following day for stealing a Merseytravel Bus so I suppose, I need't have worried too much the night before.

Obviously, the most memorable of visits to Liverpool was my first match day visit to Anfield. It was the summer following Liverpool's treble-winning season and the place was absolutely buzzing with optimism. The visitors on the day were John Gregory's Aston Villa who ended up beating Liverpool 3-1 on the day. Not a great result but standing there amongst the crowd on the Anfield Road stand that day was definitely an unforgettable experience on its own. Thanks for the free ticket that day Abe!

A couple more visits followed since but then, life just took over and unfortunately, I've yet to watch a match at Anfield in over five years now. 

Well, I certainly hope that the wait would end in the next few weeks where I hope to travel to Anfield once again. This time, to watch Liverpool play host to Fulham. Hopefully, today's win against West Ham starts to become a trend and I'll have some happy memories to bring back home.

18 November 2010

Capturing the Action

Catalogues lying idle around the house can be a dangerous thing. They're bad enough for adults (e.g. the SIP catalgoue) never mind the kids especially when the catalogue has lots and lots of toys in it. OK, they're not bad for the kids, just bad for the kids' Dad who has to fork out the money to buy the latest and greatest toys. My kids however, will learn that all they're ever going to get off me are Lego bricks (to stimulate the brain and to cause Daddy a world of pain when he steps on one when he rolls out of bed) and maybe, just maybe, a Chicco Vespa. Not the Peg-Pérego one that runs on batteries and is designed for fat kids who are prone to asthma attacks the minute they realise that they have to push themselves to move forward.

Yes, I secretly want a Peg-Pérego for myself but given the price, I just couldn't justify it to myself (or more importantly, my wife).

The same goes for another boy-toy I've been eyeing for a while, the GoPro video camera. The USD price listed on its site was already expensive to start off with but given that the Euro is (theoretically) stronger than the Dollar, I was sort of half-hoping that it would be slightly cheaper over here. Well, my hopes were completely dashed when I found out that it retails at just a cent shy of €350 in Dublin. Looks like I won't be getting that one anytime soon.

But, what I might realistically be getting is the GroPro's cheap and cheerful alternative. Yes, having catalogues around the house has its positives - I wouldn't have found this alternative if the latest Argos catalogue wasn't a permanent feature in my household, lurking around the dining table, ready to pounce on its unsuspecting victims.

OK, the so-called Action Camera might not have many of the qualities of the GoPro (HD video, sophisticated attachment options and bombproof build quality, to name a few)  but at €60, I'd say its worth a punt. Plus, its not like I'll be going down dirt tracks or be doing any acrobatic stunts on my Vespa anyime soon. All I need is a video camera to capture and then share the scenery (and hopefully some of the feel as well) when I go out on rides, be it alone or with others.

Will be post an update as soon as I have €60 to spare in the near-future...

16 November 2010

A Day for Sacrifice

I was going to write/rant about Liverpool's current misfortunes and call for you-know-who's head. If some simple mathematics were applied on the way things are going (a mere 16 points after 13 games played), it looks like the best we can hope for this season is mid-table mediocrity. Yes, John Henry and the Fenway Sports Group  (that's what NESV call themselves nowadays) might have a vision of an Arsenal-esque Liverpool but if things stay the way they are, Liverpool could well end up in the mould of a different London club. A club that's more familiar with our dear old manager. 

But, in the spirit of Eid al-Adha, I'd make my one sacrifice (of sorts) i.e. to cease to write about the issue at hand and save my words for another time. In the meantime though, I'll leave you with a video of one of Liverpool's best players, who for some very odd reason, just happens to be playing for Juventus this season...

He'd certainly come in handy these days, wouldn't he? To rub salt into the open wound, there seem to be rumours around that say Juventus have a GBP12m buy-out option as part of his loan deal plus, they actually got to offload a player they didn't want (Poulsen-who else?) for GBP5m. The management at Juventus deserves a pat in the back and big, fat bonus for pulling this whole deal off. It would have actually been funny if the joke wasn't on Liverpool.

Anyway, Eid Mubarak to one and all. Hope you have a good one.

14 November 2010

Why Riding in Gale Force Winds Should Be Avoided

Right, I'm out of here. The Luas is out and I need to somehow make it all the way to Stillorgan in an hour.

The silence of the workplace was suddenly broken by my colleague's announcement that afternoon. I knew the weather that Thursday wasn't that great but I hadn't noticed how bad it got. Until I heard the news about the Luas that is. Seemingly the wind that evening was so bad, there were fears that the Luas' electrical cables could be effected.

Not being able to gauge the weather from my desk at work, I decided to pop out and have a look for myself. It didn't seem that bad but I was still advised to ditch my Vespa and find some other way home. I had two alternatives none of which appealed to me. I popped out again and the gale force wind that was threatening to cripple Dublin's streets appeared to have disappeared. The decision was made for me then.

The journey home seemed fine until I left the safety of taller buildings in the city centre and got to the quays when the gusts of wind suddenly got stronger. My guess is that it was some sort of funnel effect but it was still within my control. Well, it almost got out of control when I was going through Phoenix Park that evening.

Noticing a strong wind hitting me on the left, I consciously stayed closer to the kerb  instead of staying right in the middle of the lane. I honestly don't know whether this was the most suitable solution to my predicament but there must have been some good to what I was doing as one particularly strong gust almost blew me off course. That extra space that I allowed must've helped as I recall being pushed to about an inch from the white line but, before I got the Vespa under control, a car on the other side of the road swerved in anticipation of a head-on collision with me.

Scary stuff.

It didn't end there though. Being in a park full of old oak trees didn't help either. The wind snapped branches and twigs of the trees and hurled them across the road that evening. I had one or two near-misses but that was one too many. It was like playing a game of Russian Roulette and I was the only player, every single turn being mine.

I definitely won't be doing that again anytime soon as I now realise that what I did could only be defined in one word: Stupid.

Ride safely people.

12 November 2010

The Green Vespa: In Storage

A few weeks ago, I was quite unfortunate to have some problems with my Vespa and in the scooter's absence, I was forced to rely on the kindness of others as well as the much dreaded public transportaion system. Yes, public transport and in this particular case, Dublin Bus.

I hadn't been on the bus since last winter when the snowfall was so bad that to even think of pushing my Vespa out of the shed would have been dangerous. Almost a year on and there I was faced with another cold, wet and dark November morning waiting to be reacquainted with Dublin Bus. After making sure that I had change for the bus fare into town, I dug out my old iPod Shuffle, plugged in the earphones and mentally prepared myself for a long, long wait.

It must've been less than 5 minutes when the number 38A popped up at the end of the road. I wasn't filled with joy but nevertheless, I was grateful that I didn't have to wait any longer at the bus stop. As the bus pulled in to the stop, I noticed that the sign at the front of the bus said Baggot Street. Strange, as the 38A's last stop in the city centre was normally Hawkins Street which just barely got one across the Liffey. Baggot Street on the other hand, was deeper in the south of the city centre and was only a 2-minute walk away from my workplace. Great, if this was true and not some awful mistake by the driver. Business as usual if it wasn't, which basically meant that I needed to add another half an hour to my journey.

The new, all-improved 38/38A route

Towards the end of the journey, I was pleased that the bus didn't turn into Hawkins Street and continued to head south. Brilliant. It was headed towards Baggot Street. When I got to the office, I double-checked Dublin Bus' site and confirmed that this was the 38 and 38A's new route extension as part of a larger programme of improvement.  It was then I thought to myself that this whole bus thing wasn't too bad. I could certainly put up with this type of service. I even got to a stage where I toyed with the idea of using the bus service by choice, on a more regular basis. Yes, the temperature outside was close to freezing but I was finding myself warming to Dublin Bus that morning.

However, the weird bus fantasy came to an abrupt end just the next morning. Aiming to arrive at the bus stop at the same time as the previous morning, I haplessly looked on as a 38 followed quickly by a 38A passed me by while I was only a few feet away from the stop. Classic Dublin Bus maneuvour. That morning, I waited until my Shuffle repeated itself before the next 38 made an appearance.

I won't even think of leaving my Vespa at home from then on. Not for the bus anyway...

10 November 2010

Everybody Loves Roy (Except for Liverpool Fans?)

Monday morning at the office was definitely a strange one for me. Normally, after such a good result, the Liverpool fans at the office would be all-smiles and then during the coffee/tea/smoke breaks, bunch together and discuss the various aspects of the victory. But, these are definitely strange times to be a Liverpool fan and on the Monday morning just past, it got even stranger.

The Liverpool fans (yours truly included) were relatively subdued in their joy. More relieved than delighted with the way things went on the weekend. I even found myself half hiding in my cubicle at work as if Liverpool had been thrashed 4-0 by Chelsea that Sunday, wanting to avoid any human contact and discuss anything remotely connected to football.

So, what do you think about Hodgson now? Eh?

I pulled my head away from my laptop and looked to where the question was coming from. There was Tony the Manchester United fan (not his real name, of course) standing behind me with a beaming smile, looking ready to burst out with a rendition of You’re Not Singing Anymore at any stage. Thankfully we were in the office and so, Tony limited himself to his annoying question and a smile.

Well, he’s bought himself some time.

Not in a mood to have a conversation on the topic, I answered Tony’s question and quickly turned back to my laptop, pretending to be ultra-busy. Unfortunately, having worked with Tony for almost a decade, the man realised that I was just avoiding him and that it was all an act. So, not content with the reply he received, he continued to hover around my cubicle for a proper answer.

Has he not done enough already?

What? You mean getting us out of the relegation zone? Yeah, great job.

You Liverpool fans are never realistic. I suppose you’d even be complaining if Hodgson gets you to fourth place.

Personally, I think Liverpool fans are the most realistic ones around. We’re realistic but at the same time, we do expect our managers to exceed normal expectations. A bit of an oxymoron of a statement but that is the reality of the whole thing...

There was a brief silence. Could have been just a tad bit too much for Tony to process so early in the morning but he finally came out with a reply.

So, Hodgson’s just beaten the defending champions and current league leaders and you’re still not happy?

Nope. Not really. To me, he’s just come from well below the bar to barely clinging on to it. Barely.

Tony looked appalled at how easily I appeared to brush off such a well-regarded, senior member of the League Managers Association in a few short sentences.

Look, let me put it into perspective for you: Why are you so keen on Hodgson anyway?

Well, to start off with, he’d just brought a fairly poor Fulham side to the UEFA Cup Final and got Fulham to 13th spot in the League...

I agreed with Tony. It was fairly impressive but I decided to cut him short right there.

Only a few years ago, Steve McLaren took a so-so Middlesbrough side to the UEFA Cup Final and finished 14th in the League. Would you have wanted McLaren to get anywhere close to managing United?


So, why should Liverpool settle for anything less?

I left it at that and headed for the gents (no, this wasn’t an act) wondering whether Tony fully understood where I was coming from but more importantly, I was still wondering why in the world non-Liverpool fans (Tony just being one of many that I’ve met) seem convinced that Roy Hodgson is the right man for Liverpool. Answers on a postcard, please...

Image of Roy Hodgson by nicksarebi

08 November 2010

The Not-So Perfect Storm

Weather warning in effect. Gale warning in effect. Small craft warning in effect.

The above lines from Met Éireann reflected what the organisation had forecasted the weather was going to be in Dublin (and most of Ireland) over the weekend. In short, it was meant to be horrible. Absolutely horrible. 

Across the Irish Sea and the same prediction could have easily applied as defending champions and current league leaders, Chelsea were thundering over to Anfield looking to blow Roy Hodgson's red men out of their way. Thankfully, the Liverpool manager has had 35 years of experience clamping down his teams to weather the storm and once in a while take a stab back at the obvious favourites.

The team sheet didn't actually fill the ground with confidence. It seemed bold and even a bit naive by modern standards, especially against the likes of Chelsea. A couple of minutes into the game and the formation itself looked even more worrying. It was as if Hodgson had selected his best XI from the squad and threw them into an old 4-4-2 formation (with Meireles installed on the right and Kuyt, returning from injury to partner Torres up front).

Fortunately, whatever worries I had about Hodgson's apparently simplistic approach was quickly dispelled. Although half the team seemed to be under instructions to sit back and comfortably positioned themselves behind the ball, the other half were all too eager to press and harry the opposing players. The team had a good balance about it. 

Although the obvious absence was Didier Drogba (later introduced in the second half), it soon became clear that Chelsea was sorely missing the services of Frank Lampard and Michael Essien in midfield. The patched-up Chelsea midfield gave some breathing space to the Liverpool midfield especially Lucas who grew in confidence as the match progressed. Yes, all the plaudits would probably go to Fernando Torres in this morning's press but some credit has to be given to all of Lucas' defensive work in midfield. And, if there are any criticisms out there of his attacking abilities, Lucas looked like he was definitely out to prove his doubters wrong with a few deft touches, back flicks and a nutmeg or two. Looks like Liverpool's young Brazilian might yet turn out to be errr...Brazilian after all.

By the end of the day, the Met's prediction on the weather looked like it was finally coming true but, the same didn't look like it applied on Merseyside. Chelsea tried to fight back but it was too late for them by the time Liverpool's own force of nature, El Nino struck, not once but twice.

06 November 2010

SIP Tubeless Rims: A Week On

After getting the Vespa back about a week ago, I went back to Modern and Classic Scooters to the get the front wheel sorted. Now, a week on from that, I can say that I have a better idea of how it feels to roll on tubeless rims.

Before and After

OK, to the untrained eye, the pic above might not mean much but to the scooter enthusiast, the tubeless rim is gigantic leap forward for scooter safety. I don't plan to have a blow-out any time soon but as I'm on my scooter on a daily basis, it's good to know that should I ever be unfortunate enough to have a six-inch rusty nail in my Vespa's tyre at 50 mph, the results won't be too dramatic.

Safety aspects aside, one thing I did notice when switching over from standard split rims to the tubeless rims was the handling of the Vespa. It was nothing too severe but on corners, the feeling could only be described as shifty. At first, I was going to lay the blame on the new Heidenau tires that still needed to be run-in but then again, I've had the same tires before and even out of the box, they didn't  have this strange effect on my Vespa's handling.

Look no splits: The lack of exposed nuts and bolts (on the other side) indicate that these rims are of a one piece construction

The only logical explanation for this would be the wider profile of the tubeless rims -  2.50x10 on the SIP ones against 2.10x10 of the standard Vespa split rims (and 2.15x10 on ScootRS' tubeless rims). The wider design makes it easier to fit tires on to the rims but I wonder whether handling would've been sacrificed for this convenience. Curious, I raised the matter with other scooterists that I know. The general feeling was that like any modification, I needed to learn to get used to the slight changes first. In a way, I needed to find my Vespa's sweet spot once again...

04 November 2010

New Vespa PX out in 2011

Scootering magazine have recently confirmed that Piaggio have unveiled the new Vespa PX at EICMA 2010 in Milan.

Unfortunately, other than a few minor tweaks (the seat is the most obvious in Hell for Leather's photos above and below), there doesn't seem to be any visible improvements to the PX's decades old design. So, until we get the full details of the so-called new PX, this does look like Piaggio's attempt to squeeze as much money out of their old design and re-gain a slice of the geared scooter market that's been monopolised by LML of late. A PX designed by the accountants rather than engineers and designers. Pffftttt...

Anyway, I'd still be interested in having a look at the thing so, if Scootering's view on the matter is correct, the UK will see its first batch of not-so-new PXs in April 2011 while the norm is that some dealers in Ireland might pick-up on the PX a few months later. There's always the option to go up North and get one there.

As for the whether the PX will ever make it to the Malaysian market, it remains to be seen whether Malaysian distributors, Naza Motors would be keen or can actually sell the PX considering a ban on 2-stroke engines in the country...

02 November 2010

Give Roy a Chance?

Let me get this straight, right at the start. I have not changed my views of Roy Hodgson as Liverpool manager. The only thing that’s changed is Hodgson’s approach and tactics which have in turn, changed my views. Rather than sit back and wait for the opposition to attack us, the previous two fixtures showed that the team was under instruction to press and harry the opponent right from the start. All of a sudden, Liverpool looked more like a team rather than 11 men roaming the pitch like the walking dead.

That solved the club’s problem from a defensive aspect but to win games, we’d need to score goals. Cue Steven Gerrard’s switch from central midfield pretender to his more effective position, just behind Torres. Fortunately, the changes didn’t stop there. Meireles was restored to his best position in the centre of midfield while Lucas was preferred to Poulsen as his partner. A genius masterstroke by the manager?

Not really. As much as Hodgson would like to think that the recent successes were as a result of his previously employed methods, I'd beg to differ. Everyone that’s properly followed Liverpool’s games (as opposed to merely watching highlights on MoTD and reading headlines) since Hodgson took over would’ve been able to recommend those changes with or without said methods. Still, in fairness to Hodgson, at least he either listened or realised those areas of weakness and made the necessary changes before it’s too late.

Anyway, with all due respect to Blackburn and Bolton, the real test for Hodgson and Liverpool will come this weekend, against Chelsea. We can forget the mid-week date with Napoli as it's becoming clear now that the Europa League is only fit for Liverpool's so-called B Team, whatever that is...
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