review: greater boston motorsports (arlington, ma)
i’ve had generally positive experiences here. greater boston motorsports (gbm) has 4 other sister dealerships in the new england area, and they all seem to operate the same way. Here’s what gbm seems to do better than other places:
service of motorcycles, scooters, mopeds, snowmobiles, gas powered power tools. It seems like they’re willing to work on every kind of scooter, including no-name chinese scooters. I’ve had them do a minor repair (replace petcock valve) on my 1978 puch moped, and do an annual tune-up on my wife’s honda metropolitan. they ordered parts for my puch from 1977mopeds.com, so at least they’re ordering parts from good folks. i’d rather give business to a smaller operation, but it seems like small shops that are willing to work on mopeds are fly-by-night operations. i’m just worried that a shop out of someone’s basement will close for business while my moped is sitting there. i’d be more than happy to put information here about moped servicers that have been around for more than 2 years. please let me know!
free pick-up and drop-off for service calls. this is super amazing. not only does it mean you might be able to have them service your scoot without having to take off of work, but if you’re bike isn’t running, this becomes especially valuable. i’m not sure any other place in the area does this.
big selection of riding wear. gbm mostly focuses on motorcycles, so if you want leather or armored gloves or full face helmets, this place probably has more selection than most other places.
unfortunately, they don’t do everything well:
high prices for service. while the prices for new and used scooters are probably pretty in-line with other scooter dealers, the prices they charge for service seem a little high. if any place can get away with high prices, it’s a shop that’s willing to work on anything that also throws in free pick-up and delivery of your scoot.
a little intimidating. since this places seems to be 97% focused on motorcycles, I feel a little out of place shopping for or pulling up in a scooter. maybe that’s just me, though. If they’d have a little dedicated scooter area, or do something to make scooterists feel like they belong, i’d feel a little more comfy there. it’s possible they prefer working on higher margin motorcycles, though, and that this feel is intentional. it’s also a little hard to feel like you’re building a relationship or actually getting to know anyone when you go there. i did happen to meet one of the owners last time I went there, and he was friendly enough and happy to chat. so maybe it just depends on who you interact with.
they seem to have a pretty small inventory of scooters. for new scoots, they seemed to have two or three metropolitans, a kymco agility or two, and maybe a bigger engine touring scooter (suzuki burgman?). i’m sure they’d be happy to order other scooters for you, but the on-the-floor selection is kinda low. at the same time, it’s kinda low everywhere—most scooter dealers are hesitant to carry a lot of inventory. it seems like after an amazing 2009, they all got burned with too much inventory in 2010. one place (that I haven’t been to yet) but that seems to have a giant scooter inventory is scooters go green in south boston.
have you had positive or negative experiences with gbm? tell me about it, or better yet, submit your own review!
review: 2008 tomos lx
this little red job was a fun ride. with a 2-stroke, 2-speed engine, my first foray into the world of mopeds was pretty quick off the line for a 49cc moped. top speed is around 30mph; that’s normal for a stock moped, but it really does limit where you can safely ride it. let me just say that while the moped looks neat with the top tank, the front looks weird. for a 30mph vehicle, i don’t really need or want an ugly front fairing/windshield. plus, who actually prefers square headlights to round ones?
it’s not quite true that this was my first foray into the world of mopeds. back in 1986, when i was 13, my imagination was captured by two things: back to the future, and the new tomos moped of 16 year old neighbor.by then i had already heard the joke about how mopeds were like fat chicks, but that barely registered when i saw how much fun the moped looked. his little brother let me sit on the moped in their garage, but that’s about as far as i got. still, the impression was made. by the way, the pic to the right wasn’t my neighbor’s moped; i was just amazed that i could find a pic of a tomos moped next to a back to the future delorean!
tomos is using a new engine; all tomos mopeds from 2007 and beyond sport the a55 engine. the a55 helped tomos meet US EPA emissions standards, but from what i’ve read, the a55 performs significantly better than all its predecessor tomos engines. i’ve never ridden any tomos other than this one, so it’s difficult for me to compare.
i bought this completely stock, used moped in 2010 with 1000 miles on it from tomos scooter, a moped and scooter dealer up in salem. the guy that runs the shop also runs a meineke car care center, but he was pretty nice, seemed trustworthy, and didn’t put a lot of pressure on me to buy (always a big plus for me). i paid around $900 or $950 for it, delivered. in hindsight, i might have overpaid, but buying from a trustworthy dealer lowers the buyers’ risk significantly, and is probably worth a few hundred dollars to me. my lx came with foot pegs, and no moped pedals, so purists might classify mine as a no-ped.
on a level surface, the lx accelerates well. at traffic lights, i felt like i kept up okay with traffic. however, the stock lx is governed to top out around 30mph, and i had trouble pushing the speedometer past about 35mph, even on a downhill. thus, while i was okay for the first 5 seconds after the light turned green, i was often relegated to the shoulder after the first 5 seconds. many folks modify their ‘peds to reach high top speeds, and the a55 engine supposedly makes the lx a good candidate for some aggressive performance mods. i can report that the stock lx is no speed demon, though. on the plus side, the limited top speed leaves no confusion for the rmv classifies it; it’s a moped, and you don’t need a motorcycle license to drive it.
starting up the lx was generally easy, but if you’re new to mopeds, it’s nice to have someone show you. make sure the fuel valve is on, flip the choke, turn on the kill switch, and step on the kick start lever. annoyingly, there’s an electric start button on the handlebars, even though no lx’s come with electric start. on cold days, i sometimes had to kick it two or three times, but never more than that. then, after letting it warm up for a few minutes, flip off the choke, and then it’s twist and go from there.
since it’s a two stroke, you have to refill the oil tank (which sits under the seat) periodically. i definitely prefer having the bike inject the oil from its separate tank vs. premixing with the gas. i never know exactly how much gas i have in my gas can, and mixing by hand just seems silly. i guess some purists rip out the oil tank and go back to pre-mixing, though. for me, i’d rather let the bike pick the right ratio. it’s pretty easy to buy 2-stroke oil at any auto parts store or even target or walmart. the dealer i bought it from suggested using tc-w3 oil… it looks like it’s the standard used for marine 2-stroke engines. not sure why it’s better (or even if its better) but i figured he knew way more than me and his advice was worth taking.
some folks love the two stroke engine. it’s less complex and easier to maintain on your own (i wouldn’t know), and it lasts forever. me? just a bit too noisy and too smoky. even though i got pretty okay mileage (probably around 70mpg or so), the smoke that comes out of a two-stroke exhaust represents quite a bit of unburned hydrocarbons. two strokes too loud and buzzy, too. the lx sounds kind of like an angry wasp, amplified 10,000 times. i don’t like that people can hear me coming from a half mile away. in the end, the excessive air and noise pollution is what drove me away from the lx. i sold it on CL for $750, so i lost a few hundred dollars on this one.
review: 1978 puch maxi sport mkii (2hp)
yup, i know this isn’t a scooter. but i’m kinda into mopeds, too, and i figure that someone just getting into scooters might be interested to read about ‘peds, too.
i had this puch for just a few weeks during the spring of 2011. at the time, i was pretty happy with my 2008 tomos, but when this little puppy came around on craiglist for $600, i jumped on it. i was sold on all i read about the puch indestructibility, and the styling was definitely better than my tomos. the pedals would make me an actual moped owner instead of just a no-ped poseur.
the maxi sport was more interesting than my tomos. the left handlebar actually had two levers sticking out of it: one was the rear brake, and one was the clutch. to start it, you had to hold the clutch in and step on the pedal. while mine usually started okay after two or three kicks, i had a curious problem where it often wouldn’t restart for 20 minutes after i shut it down.
perhaps i had been spoiled by my late model tomos, but i was disappointed by performance of the puch. granted, it was completely stock (except for new michelins) but i took sooooooooo long on a flat surface to get up to top speed (around 28mph). going up slight hills was terrible; unless you went into the hill moving at a high speed, the bike would slow to a point where pedaling was a necessity. pedaling a moped is definitely less fun than pedaling a bicycle.
to be fair, i’m a big guy (250 lbs) and it’s hard to ask a stock 1978 moped to haul me around. fortunately, skinny hipsters abound in boston (as they do in many cities), and when i put this up for sale on CL for $650, i was able to sell it immediately. makes me think i should have asked for $700 or more.
veteran moped riders probably think it’s no big deal, but several times, i had the pedals in the wrong position going around a corner, and the pedal would start scraping the ground as i leaned into a turn. fortunately, i never wiped out as a result (i believe this accident is common with ‘peds) but it’s just another thing to think about, and it doesn’t really improve the riding experience for me.
as with nearly all vintage 2-strokes, you have to premix the gas and 2 stroke oil yourself. again, another thing to think about (and another gas can i had to keep around the garage) that was just sort of a hassle.
do i regret buying the moped in the first place? nah. buying a working, vintage moped is a pretty low risk proposition. you can generally sell it for around the same price you bought it for, as long as you take okay care of it. but i am glad i sold it; it was a fussy bike (as most vintage vehicles seem to be) and it couldn’t compare at all with the late model tomos i once had. and to be honest, the extra coolness i felt from having the neat vintage bike evaporated when i was puttering at 4mph up the hill near my house. if i were a smaller guy, i’m sure the hill would’ve been easier. but since 50cc engines are capable of so much more now than in 1978, it’s hard to go back.
i’d say that unless you really love the vintage bikes and are ready to sacrifice a little reliability and performance for it, stay away from the vintage mopeds. they’ll definitely end up costing you more in the long run, unless you’re good at spinning wrenches yourself.