Last year I could easily ride the scooter along a stretch of gravel road like this at 35 to 45 mph without much trouble. Now at 25mph I’m backing off the throttle. Have I changed? After some more focused investigation this past weekend I’ve come to the conclusion the tires I now have on the Vespa aren’t much good when you leave the pavement. And they may explain why I unexpectedly dropped the scooter recently on some steep, loose shale.
So I headed out into the Rothrock State Forest just a few miles from my front door; nearly a quarter million acres of forests spread across the mountains of three counties — perfect for testing a theory: Heidenau K61 Racer scooter tires don’t perform well with the Vespa off pavement.
By the time I arrived at the overlook on Thickhead Mountain I was hot, sweaty and ready for a monkey grip — that’s a banana for those of you not from Altoona. After only a dozen miles on dirt and gravel at a variety of speeds I’ve concluded the tires are exceedingly not well suited off the pavement. They wander in the loose stuff which is to be expected, but they do the same on well packed gravel and dirt. So much so that I had to reduce my speed by at least 20 percent to feel safe.
Like a smart dog I seek shade and water on hot days. But I do so with the knowledge that my tires deman an extra amount of attention when riding off the pavement. Maybe next time around I’ll finally spring for the Kenda K761 dual sport tires I’ve been talking about for ten years. Back in 2006 I was talking about them back in 2006 on Gary Charpentier’s Rush Hour Rambling blog — the source of my winter riding disease.
Now that I’m older and wiser I hide from the sun. This winter we’ll see if I hide from the snow.