Friday, August 7, 2015

Now Closed for Business

We recently heard the news that the property we lease for our shop has been sold. Upon extensive research and soul searching, we have decided that it is time for us to CLOSE Moto Strada. The powersport industry has seen many changes and we have weathered them all. But, we know when it's time to move on.

In the ever-growing world of e-tailers like Amazon and Ebay, it has become too difficult for us to run a self-sustaining business despite all our best efforts to cut costs and streamline our day-to-day operations. This, combined with new scooter laws and lower gas prices, has led to a consistent decline in sales over the past few years. It is hard to run a small business, so to every customer who has looked beyond our retail price tags and understood the value of honest, in person service, we sincerely thank you.

We have enjoyed providing sales and service to our valued customers for over 25 years and we are saddened that it will come to an end. We have appreciated your dedication to our shop and are grateful for your past business and support. 

Please keep an eye on the site in the months to come. We will continue to provide helpful links, video's and items for sale.  No brick and mortar location - but right at your finger tips.

Take good care and keep the rubber side down!

Your dedicated friends at Moto Strada,
Mark, Tim & Taylor

Need service? 
The shops below are ones we would suggest.

Modern Classics 
955 V St., NE
Washington, DC 20018
(Genuine, Vespa, Kymco other name brand scooters)

Deer Park Cycle
105 Competitive Goals Dr # A
Sykesville, MD 21784
(410) 795-7800
(Genuine, Kymco, Vespa - Call Jack will tell you what he will and won't work on. If you get him the parts he can help)

Carlisle Cycles and Scooters
45 Army Heritage Drive
Carlisle PA 17013
(Genuine, other name brand scooters)

Chesapeake Cycles 
104 Defense HWY
Annapolis MD 21401
(Vespa Only) 

For other dealerships near you, check the following links–

Below you can see a few photos of the shop through the years–

December 2013

March 2015

August 2015

Monday, January 27, 2014

Liquid Performance Ethanol Equalizer Test

Help feed your equipment the ethanol equalizer it deserving.

Also great for landscape equipment, generator, snow blowers......... stabilizes fuel for up to 36 months.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Baltimore Scooter Club on Facebook!

Keep up with local scooterists on Facebook! You can join the "1st Wednesday Baltimore Area Scooterist Meet up" group to find out about scooter meet-ups and events in the neighborhood.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

GS 150 Wiring Converstion VBB stator DC to AC

With our last post with the VS4 for sale.  I have heard from some amazing people. My Good buddy Mike Hanyi I credit for helping me start my scooter shop over 16 years ago. He taught me all the basics about turning wrenches. 

When the time came I convinced him to buy a scooter. Ofcourse with my Large collection of SS 180's / GS 150's / GS 160's he wanted only the best. I was not going to budge. He said to me - "Find me a Vespa SS 180 that runs for $100 bucks". I DID see below! It was down hill ever since. Mike now lives in Findand where he has found the joy of wooden boat building. Lately he has been sailing around from on one large cruise ship to another fixing sprinkler systems. What a life on the sea. Work during the day- kick back on the cruise at night. One country to the next. Ofcourse no time for scooters. He told me it had been 5 years since he last scooted. Sounds like he should just donate his Vespa GS VS5 150cc to the shop. I'll put some miles on it for him.. Just don't let him know he might want me to pay him back with Open Pit Sandwich's from Chacoal Deli.

$100 Vespa Super Sport SS180 Running 1997

After with his GS VS5 150 in back round. He had sold the SS 180 back in 2000

How To Do -  A/C Conversion On Your Vespa GS 150,
Writen by Mike Hayni 1998

I’ve always wanted a GS150 and finally one popped up. It was in sad shape but restoration is my specialty. If you’ve ever restored an older scooter (50’s) you will see your phone bills skyrocket and your hair turn grey looking for those missing or damaged bits. If the shops I purchased from had caller-ID they would stop picking up the phone! One impossible bit to find is a GS150 battery. My suppliers told stories from unavailable to maybe next spring. I did happen to find one NOS for $200 and a dead one for $75.
Since my bike was destined to be a piece of furniture and not a driver, it seems stupid to purchase a battery just to go dead sitting. So I decided to do whatever necessary to modify the electrical system to work without a battery. It seems easy, the 60’s bikes work great using A/C systems, all I have to do is install a 60’s stator plate in my bike and I’m done! No, not quite. Yes you need a 60’s or 70’s stator plate but you will also have to modify your loom. A five wire stator plate like from models 150, 125, GL, or others. You will also need an A/C horn that works, a brake switch for a GS160 or SS180 without a battery, or a Rally 180 (it’s normally in the closed position). The six volt bulbs you’ll need are as listed:
-10w brake
-10w tail
-.6w speedometer
-25/25w headlight
(pilot bulb removed)

I advise to change the headlight socket to the newer style because bulbs are more readily available, and I believe cheaper. You will also need a soldering gun, solder, wire of various colours, heat shrink tubing, and wire terminals.
Start with removing the stator plate form the bike, mark the position so that timing will remain close to the same. Now move up to the work bench and turn on some tunes, this will take awhile. It is best to draw out what you are about to do before making a mistake.
First unsolder the coils from the junction board, and remove all three. You won’t need them anymore, so store them away for the parts jumble, but keep the screws! Next, remove the ignition coil and the lighting coil (yellow/blue). Before installing them this is a good time to install a new set of points and a condenser. Try to find new points with the screw instead of the nut & bolt arrangement, they’re the easiest to change on the side of the road. Now things get interesting.
The lighting coil wires (yellow/blue) get cut to proper length and are attached to the black leads. Before soldering, make sure to completely clean the copper wire of the epoxy coating otherwise the solder won’t flow. Mark the ends of the black leads B&Y so you will know later. Now before connecting up the ignition coil inspect your red lead. If it’s cracked or damaged you should replace it with a new strand. The red wire now goes to hi-tension coil terminal #2 and then route the existing red wire onward. The white wire stays the same but you must make another white wire from the hi-tension coil terminal #1 to the stator plate. Now install the headlight/horn coil, connect the green wire to the yellow lead and you’re done!
You can paint the dots the new colour if you’re a perfectionist. Install the newly wired stator plate in the bike and make sure all your wires are long enough and you have adjustment in the plate. Next you have to partially disassemble your scooter, the more parts you take off for access the easier it will be. Remove the saddle and fuel tank, both side cowls, brake switch, headlight, horn, tail light, speedo and ignition switch. Take off the cover of the voltage regulator and disconnect all the wires and remove the regulator. Remove the heat sink part and discard it. When re-installing, the stud gets turned around so that the nut will now tighten the Bakelite housing to the body. Remove the headset bolt and pull the headset up some so that you have room to pull the loom through. I removed the headset, but it works like this also.
You’re going to remove the loom from the bike by pulling it out the hole where it joins the engine loom. Before doing so attach a control cable to the wire to act as a mouse for reassembly. Push the brake switch lead into the body first, then grab the loom inside the body where it goes into the fuel tap area and carefully pull it out, making sure it doesn’t get snagged somewhere. If it does, pull on the cable to reposition it. Then pull out the remaining wires and pull it out the engine loom hole. Turn on some good tunes and move to the workbench. Lunch sounds good about now.
First clean the loom of all grease and accumulated dirt. Start by soldering on a meter of blue wire to the brake light end, then locate the regulator end. There should be two blacks and a green, where the branches out. Carefully cut open the cover and locate the blue wire (brake light). Pull it out pulling the new blue in. Cut the blue wires the same length as the black wire and install a wire terminal, not forgetting to use heatshrink over the solder. The green will connect with a black, the other black will attach to the blues, the black wires at the engine terminal can now be labeled B for blue brake and Y for the green (this will be connected to the yellow coil wire). Now locate the horn wires, should be a pink and two reds. Separate the two red wires, the one that comes from the brake switch solder on a new white wire and lead it into the loom to the ignition switch. I chose to change the speedo bulb lead to green for simplicity sake, I also removed the light blue wire to the head light because the yellow reaches the headlight. Now its time to reassemble the loom into the bike, If you know where I can get the loom grommet give me a call.
Install the new brake switch and the A/C horn, if you want to retain the ‘clamshell’ horn look you can. First grind off the rivets from the back of the horn and carefully remove the chrome face, next grind or file the edge off the A/C horn so the face fits over, you can paint the A/C horn black to deter negative comments. At the regulator box connect the wires as previously described using the old screws as the junction blocks. You could run the battery wires into the box from a new or emptied battery if the bike is for show. Next take the ignition switch and open it, you need to remove the contact points by bending them off, all but terminals #2,#4,#7,and the ‘bridge’. Connect the white leads,(3) to terminal #2, connect the red, the one from the ignition, to terminal #4, and the green, black and the speedo lead to #7. Connect the two pinks and now use any terminal as a junction terminal. The red from the horn connects to yellow and they both connect to the common H/L terminal, the one that used to be white. The pilot bulb is no longer used . Your loom and connections should be now be complete, now install the different bulbs now described. Before starting this is how it will work, with the switch in the middle position ign is grounded (off), switch to left speedo and tail are grounded (for day time driving), switch to the right the speedo and tail function (night time). The headlight works all the time and since the horn is connected parallel to it ,it can not be turned off, but having it on all the time is the law in U.S.A. and not a bad idea. Fire it up, if the tail and brake don’t work the blacks need to be switched. I found my H/L bright as the sun, maybe I need a 35/35. My tail and brake seemed unbelievable! The horn even sounded good!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Chinese Scooters: Good Buy or Say Goodbye?

Scooters are becoming more and more common on the road these days.  People are drawn to the low price tag, great gas mileage and convenience as a source of transportation.  But when it comes to buying, not all scooters are made equal.  In the past several years the market has been flooded with Chinese scooters. 

These Chinese scooters come in all different styles, sizes, brands and colors.  At first glance it can sometimes be hard to tell them apart from a name brand scooter.  They often have a price tag that seems too good to pass up– usually a couple hundred bucks on the low end, still less than one thousand on the high end.  But, as many consumers find out, the drawbacks to a Chinese scooter almost always outweigh the initial benefits.

Here’s an example of a typical Chinese scooter we might see someone bring to the shop:

From across the street, it looks like a pretty decent scooter, possibly a Honda Metropolitan or a Kymco Sento.  But when you look closer, a few things are amiss:

You’ll notice the front turn signals are falling off.  The seat is broken off from the bike. 

Some metal parts are rusting and the rear turn signals are also falling off.

Most importantly, you’ll notice the brand: JINCHENG.  One of the most important things you can research when buying a scooter is brand.  Is it a reliable and trusted brand?  Have you heard of it or seen it before?  Are there dealerships in your area that not only sell, but also service that brand?  The owner of this scooter found out these answers the hard way– JINCHENG is not reliable, we had never heard of it here at the shop and we could not get any parts needed to service it.  Unfortunately, since the scooter would not run and could not be fixed it was abandoned. 

So when you go to buy a scooter, don't be tempted by a "great bargain" before you ask the dealership questions such as these:  
  • What can you tell me about this brand?
  • Do you service all of the scooters you sell?
  • How easily can you get parts for the scooter?
  • Does the scooter have a warranty?
  • Can you do warranty work if there are any problems?
Answers to these questions often differentiate between an unreliable, cheap Chinese scooter and a reliable, long-lasting name-brand scooter.  You can also ask yourself, "If I found a great deal on a car, would I buy it if I had never heard of the brand?"

One last thing to think about: 

This scooter had a little under 3,000 miles on it before it was abandoned because no one could get the parts needed to fix it.

Jason Howell has Genuine Buddy which is one of our best-sellers here at Moto Strada.  He created a blog about his trip across the country– on his scooter!  He rode the Buddy for over 4,000 miles from New Jersey to California with only minor problems which were fixed with ease at dealerships across the country. Check out  his trip here!

Moral of this blog: Like the old saying goes. 
"You get what you paid for!"

No we don't fix them! From time to time we will change tires. Nothing else. 

Friday, September 2, 2011

Buying a Motor Scooter

What You Need to Know About Motor Scooters
Updated 2/22/14

Buying your first motor scooter?
When you're buying your first scooter, there are several items to think about. Because there are so many brand choices on the market, the key is to know what your needs are. If you don't know where to start, this simple check list will help to guide you in making an intelligent decision.

Let’s start with you! 
What would you like to use the scooter for?
Recreation? Will it be a scooter used for weekend riding? For riding the back roads or just short rides around the city? 

Commuting? A commuter will want to consider a scooter which might offer a nice selection of on board  storage such as under the seat storage or racks where you can put all your groceries. A side-car, is always a great solution for tasks like these.

Do you have a motorcycle license? 
Some states may not require a motorcycle license for a 50cc scooter where scooters are in fact deemed as mopeds (i.e. Maryland is this way). Some see this as a benefit to owning a 50cc. However, having your MC license will make you a smarter/safer operator, and you may even get a discount on your vehicle  insurance. I highly recommend it. If you can’t get registered for a safety class, don’t let that stop you from reading the book and taking the test. Often you can find a scooter club in your area. Finding a local club is great. This gives you a chance to learn from others who have been doing it for some time or will simply be there to assist you with any questions, or just to follow you around while master your scooter.

Maryland law as of 2012 requires all 50cc scooters to wear a helmet, have a sticker-(for a tag) and insurance.

What speeds would you like to reach?
50cc scooters reach speeds of 30-40 mph. Note: 2 stroke scoters will always be fastern then a 4 stroke.
125cc scooters travel around 45-55 mph.
150/170/200cc scooters travel 55-65 mph.
250/300cc (and up) scooters travel above 70/80 + mph.

What speeds do cars travel on the roads that you’ll be traveling on? 
Test drive the roads you plan to travel.  Though the speed limit may be posted at 30mph, you may find that frequently cars are moving at higher speeds.  Can the scooter you chose, keep up?  Once you become comfortable with a two wheel machine you will find yourself driving everywhere. You will also find for those longer trips having something that can really move out can be a plus if you are riding with a group or commuting longer distances. You will not be limited as to what streets you can travel. So, if you’re looking at a 50cc scooter make sure it fits your long term needs.

Would you like to carry a passenger? 
If so, some scooters offer back boxes/top-cases and passenger foot pegs. Be sure to have your passenger
sit on the back of the scooter in the show room once you narrow down your choices.

Will you be riding with other scooterists?
Club rides or events you’ll find a larger displacement scooter will offer you more comfort and flexibility. 

Riding with a Motorcycle(s)? 
You need a machine that can keep up. Ie at least 250cc or larger.

What kind of styling do you like?
Modern? I consider modern more with their styling. Examples would be the Genuine Roughhouse 50 or Hooligan 170ie

Retro? Retro scooters tend to be more classic. Examples would be the Genuine Buddy 
50 / 170ie or the Genuine Stella 125 Automatic

What’s your budget?
If the scooter you really want is out of your price range, perhaps you could consider buying used.  Buying a used bike is also a great way to get started in scootering…you can always resell and buy newer.  Most shops also offer financing. 

Get to know your local scooter shop. A good scooter  shop will be able to really lead you into the right direction. Look for someone who’s going to understand your needs. I like to educate my customers believing I have helped to make them an educated consumer now they can make a smart choice with my recommendations for their needs.  Make sure the person selling you a scooter is asking YOU questions.  They should be suggesting the scooters that meet your needs.  

You want to feel comfortable with the shop. If you don’t you may want to find another product that fits your needs or another shop. You’ll need to build a relationship with this company you should feel good about that relationship.

If you’re looking to purchase a specific brand and there is no shop in the traveling area to service the machine. You really should choose another brand. Just  because you have to have brand X doesn’t mean you want to travel 100 miles for every service. Unless a local shop is willing to service it for you or you can service it yourself. But, be careful with self service, it could very well void your warranty.

Don’t always buy on price alone.  Don’t let a couple hundred dollars destroy your
chance to have a good relationship with your local shop. If you ever need any thing and you bought from someone in another state, you very well may find yourself low on the priority list for service and warranty related matters.

Does the shop you’re buying from offer on site service?  If not, don’t buy there.  IF they can’t service what they sell, they should not be selling it.  You’ll also want to stay clear of flea  market vendors, or auto parts stores. Most of these shops will surely sell you a product, but they don’t offer warranties, parts or service.

Motor scooters are not Cars.
If you need service it can take some time to get a scooter in for service or in and out for service. The reason for this is mainly that  if parts are needed they have to be ordered. Not like cars where an automotive dealer can call their local parts supplier and that supplier will show up the same day. Because of the volume of cars needing parts, they are produced in mass quantity.  Same can be said for the cost of the parts along with accessories. Unlike car parts suppliers, scooter parts suppliers are producing smaller quantities; prices are often more than you might pay for a similar item on a car.

Once you do buy your scooter, learn about it. 
If you own a vintage scooter or a new Stella, learn what the fuel tap does and why you should turn it off after you ride.  Scooters are not only fun to ride but fun to learn the basics. Learn how to fix a flat or change a cable.  If you’re interested in a vintage scooter you MUST learn about it. You must also have the cash flow and the time to get involved.

How do you identify a basket case? 
If you’re buying a classic scooter such as a Vespa beware if the scooter looks great. I see so many 1960-70 Vespas on the internet being sold with nice paint jobs and lots of chrome. Dead give away these are most likely from Vietnam. Most dealers will not even look at Vietnam bikes if you bring them to their shops. Consult your local shop before making such a purchase. A true American restored scooter should start at $4000 and up. Vespas from Italy can be identified typically with high mile speedometers in kilometers not miles per hour. The bodies are rough. If you purchase a true vintage  Vespa, be sure to budget for a new engine. American Vespas or Lambrettas are easy to spot, they have miles per hour speedometers and paint looks shot or good and should have a title. If they don’t, don’t worry, most likely they’re still American. As long as the engine is not locked up, you can plan on spending about $1,000-1,500 to get one of these types of machines back on the road again. If you’re dying for a classic; buy it, but be ready to pay to play. If you want an everyday drive, buy new, because it’s nice having a warranty and being able to get parts.

Artical's about asian scooters -


There are so many to choose from. Reading through the latest Scoot Quarterly Magazine can help guide you with many of the brands in the USA. Products are produced in a global community these days. Italian/Japanese scooters are not always produced in their country of origin.  Taiwan, and India are really becoming forces to be reckoned with. Some examples of these products would be: Tawain?  Kymco, Genuine Scooters = PGO...  India? Genuine Stella = LML.  

Once you’ve purchased your scooter, there are still a few more things that you should be aware of.

Riding gear- whether you are on a 50cc moped or a larger scooter/motorcycle, wearing a helmet, riding glove and a riding jacket are key to safty.  Our general rule about choosing what gear to wear is that you should prepare for the worst but hope for the best.

Most accidents happen not because the scooterist made an error but because the driver of the car didn’t see them. For the best protection in the event of an accident (most new riders have one within their first 6 months) you should also consider gloves to protect your hands; a jacket to protect against “roadrash” and boots to protect your feet and provide stability when you are stopped at traffic lights, etc. Open toed shoes are STRONGLY discouraged.

There are countless choices with respect to gear so there’s something out there to fit everyone’s comfort level and protection concerns. At the end of the day, the choice of what protection you decide to wear is your decision; we hope that you choose wisely.

Two wheeled motorized vehicles handle differently than bicycles. Don’t assume that because you’ve mastered bike riding that you’ll be able to hop on your new scooter and be a pro within minutes. This is especially true of manual shift scooters but also applicable to automatics as well. We recommend that your first riding experiences be in a controlled environment like an empty parking lot, a quite side street etc. This will give you time to get used to starting, stopping, turning, weaving, etc., skills you need to be comfortable with before moving out into traffic.

When you do go out into traffic, it’s a good idea to ride along with other people or have someone in a car follow you to give you a buffer from traffic until you get the hang of it. With every mile you put on your scooter, you’ll find your confidence, comfort and enjoyment level improve.

If you have an Internet connection, you should sign up for some scooter discussion boards or join a local club. This is the best way to get your “newbie” questions answered by people who are experienced. Joining a club will also give you opportunities to ride with other scooterists, keep you informed about local and regional scooter events, and above all be a great resource for you while you get acquainted with your new hobby. You’ll probably have a ton of questions and having a network of people that you can go to will make the hobby that much more enjoyable.

Now that you’ve made the investment, protect it by making sure that you lock you bike securely every time you leave it. We recommend the Kryptonite Fagheddaboutit chain and lock.  Whatever you decide to use, make sure that you are chaining you scooter carefully and only to an anchor point that cannot be easily removed (street signs can sometimes be pulled out of the ground, etc). Scooter theft is a problem nationwide so make sure you’re keeping you scooter safe and securely locked whenever you leave it unattended.

I hope this article has given you some food for thought in buying your first scooter and I hope that you take these recommendations to heart and make the best choices.

I wish you many years of safe riding and enjoyment.

Mark J.
Owner Moto Strada 

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Video - Ga$ Price$ UP & UP.

With gas going up every day, one needs to think about how we get around. Alternative transportation is just one of the answers.  Most of us have a 10 mile or less commute to work. A motorscooter can be a great choice.

See us in the news. Baltimore's TV channel 11 WBAL stopped out last week to talk to us about smart ways to get around. Check out the Video Clip

Find us on Facebook & Twitter

Have you had a great experience at Moto Strada? We'd love to hear about it!
Write us a review on Google or Yelp

Moto Strada

Founded in 1993 as Baltimore Vespa & Lambretta, Moto Strada is the Washington and Baltimore area’s largest scooter sales and service dealer.

Moto Strada is a full-service scooter repair shop servicing the greater Washington-Baltimore metropolitan area as well as Delaware, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. We specialize in service, sales, mail order, and restoration.

Tel: 410-666-8377
9918 C York Rd. (across from Target)
Cockeysville, MD 21030
©2014 Moto Strada. (trade marked) All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy.