Riding Safe: Scooters, Wheelies and Broken Teeth.

November 30th, 2006 by William

Series II Lambretta, sketch by David Irving.

As some of you know I have vintage Italian scooter, a 1959/60 Lambretta LI 125 (series II). I bought the little scoot right after I graduated from college. The 1950’s styling and amazing patina spoke to me in ways that shiny new motorcycles never could, so I plopped down $1200, loaded it up in the back of my friends Toyota pickup and headed home. Having never ridden scooters or motorcycles before, I fired up the Lambretta and went about teaching myself to ride. I had one close call that involved too much throttle and a parked car, but soon enough I was competent and comfortable on the scooter.

I bought myself an open face helmet on Craigslist and began riding the scooter to work. Not long after that two of my good friends got Lambrettas as well and we began going to vintage scooter rides in San Francisco. On one of these events while doing some scooter drag racing I accidentally figured out that my little 125cc two-stroke scooter could pull a wheelie under hard acceleration. I was stunned at first but soon my shock turned to confidence and confidence to arrogance and… well it lead to an expensive accident.
This one’s not me, but you get the idea.

While riding our Lambrettas to dinner one night my friend and I pulled up to a stoplight and saw some little kids waving and pointing at the scooters. I got really fired up that they were into our Lambrettas and I decided to try and put on a show. I pulled up to a 15 mph speed bump and goosed the throttle popping a pretty good sized wheelie. But when the antiquated front suspension hit the ground the scooter went completely out of control. I knew I was going down so I tried to lay the scooter on its side but it bucked me off hard. I smacked the ground with my left shoulder first followed by the side of my head, then I rolled forward and my face hit the ground. It felt like all my teeth had been knocked. In a state of shock I hopped up and ran to the nearest car mirror. To my horror I had a massively split lip and had seriously chipped two of my upper front teeth off, amazingly enough the scooter kept idling on its side all the while.

When I got home I tended to the road rash on my elbow, knee and ankle (asphalt will rash you right through a leather jacket). I got checked out for a concussion, and then went in to have my teeth worked on. Months of fitting and refitting, a painful root canal, a self conscious smile and thousands of no-dental-insurance dollars later and my teeth look just fine. I now have a gold front tooth with a porcelain veneer and it looks better than before.
Chunks of my teeth may be missing but I still flash a smile.

As soon as the accident happened I promised myself I would buy a good full face helmet. Don’t get me wrong, I know the big lesson is “don’t stunt on your scooter or ride it recklessly”, furthermore I know that the open face helmet saved my ass by taking the initial impact on the ground, but I also realize that my face could have been much worse than it was after this low speed accident.

That was three years ago, and I still have an open face helmet. I also have dental insurance, but I’ve been feeling really guilty about not coming through on my promise to myself. Yesterday was my birthday and my girlfriend came through big where I could not. She bought me a nice Nolan N100 flip face helmet, the one I told her I was eyeing months ago, but never caught on that she was listening. All I have to do is go pick out a color and size and bring it home. But don’t worry, I won’t tempt fate and ride my scooter to pick it up.
Nolan N100 flip front, full-face helmet.

After my accident I highly recommend full face helmets to anyone riding a motorized two-wheeled machine. While there are other lessons to be learned about safety and arrogance from my story, buying a full face helmet is a no-brainer. It’s like using your seat belt; you may be able to drive safely without one, but if you put it on and have an accident that isn’t your fault it might just save you from serious injury or death.
Keep two wheels down.

-Bill Mertz

, , , , , , , ,

One Response to “Riding Safe: Scooters, Wheelies and Broken Teeth.”

  1. Boo Says:

    wow…what a cool gf

Leave a Reply

About William

I am a twenty something car enthusiast. I spend most of my days working in a small restoration shop in Northern California that specializes in vintage Alfa Romeos. I also manage to do some freelance writing for a handful of automotive publications. When I'm not at the shop I can usually be found working on one of my own project cars, out driving on a good windy road or good jeep trail. Despite what my girlfriend says cars aren't what defines me, they are only what I do. When I have a chance I also love to go camping, play sports or generally do any type of outdoor activity. I don't take myself to seriously, so I hope you don't either.

Automotive Channel Posts

  • Hottest Woman in Motorsports?
    The lovely Danica Patrick In the last couple of years there have been several notable female drivers who have emerged onto the main stage of motor sports. In the male dominated realm of auto [...]
  • Sweet Home Alabama
    Ever wonder what would happen if you painted something controversial on your car and drove it through a rough neighborhood? Don't worry; I've never wondered that either, but the boys at Top Gear [...]
  • Hangin' With Mini Cooper
    This weekend was the best weather we've seen in the Bay Area for quite some time. Fortunately for me the unseasonable shorts and t-shirt temperatures coincided with a stint behind the wheel of an [...]
  • Four Door Sedan That Gets 100 MPG
    I've been on a technology kick lately and my searches for new gadgets and gizmos lead me to the Popular Mechanics website. It is here that I found a great article about high miles per gallon [...]
  • SUV Owners of America at it Again
    Get their side of the story on the SUVOA website I admit I am hugely biased against the Sport Utility Vehicle Owners of America (SUVOA). They put out some incredibly stupid press releases and [...]
  • Senna laps an NSX
    A good friend of mine who is huge Ayrton Senna fan sent me a great Senna video today. Unfortunately I missed out on most of Senna's racing days, I was only 11 years old or so and had yet to [...]
  • Going Racing: Firesuits
    The second running of the 24 Hours of Lemons is coming up quickly and this year I hope to be driving as part of an all Pinto Team. Most of the details about the team are either fuzzy or top [...]
  • Will GM Drop the Curtain on a New Transformers Lineup?
    If you grew up watching Transformers' cartoons and playing with the action figures than you are no doubt excited about the upcoming release of the live action Transformers movie. The folks at [...]
  • Supercars in Paris
    Despite the fact that supercars are all about status, flash and money there is something unavoidably appealing about them; maybe it’s the power, speed and handling. I can still remember the [...]
  • Badonkadonk
    Nope, I'm not talking about a girls backside, I'm referring to the JL421 Badonkadonk Land Cruiser/Tank that was spotted for sale on Amazon.com. Actually I have to give some props to my little sis' [...]

Hot Off The Press

  • Tonight, tonight
    Get you low fat cottage cheese and carrot sticks at the ready as tonight at 9pm is the next installment of America's Next Top Model. This episode should be a lot more fun as we only have 12 wannabes [...]
  • Gamecocks QB Suspended From Spring Practice
    South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia, arrested twice in recent weeks, will not participate in the Gamecocks' upcoming spring practice. Garcia was arrested Saturday and accused of [...]
  • Ryan Phillippe bullets Lindsay
    Lindsay Lohan is eyeing out newly single hottie Ryan Phillippe. Rumors are swirling that La Lohan is all set to start a new mission in her life – finding a new man. According to the [...]
  • The Disposal of "Downtown" Louie
    the Black Donnelly's sophomore episode was substantially more coherent than its premiere, but it didn't return in the manner I was hoping. Many of the same cliches stayed prevalent and the dialogue [...]
  • ClearCheckbook.com - Totally Free Online Checkbook Register and Balancing
    ClearCheckbook.com - Totally Free Online Checkbook Register and Balancing Programs such as MS Money and Quicken often have many features that are only used by professional money managers. For [...]
  • Funding For School Field Trips
    Is your teenager involved in school activities such as clubs, competitive teams, etc.? Do these clubs or teams often want or need to go on some type of field trip or to a competition? Money for [...]
  • TV Phone In Probe Threatens Dancing On Ice
    It started with the revelation that Richard And Judy's Phone in Quiz every day was not being entirely truthful with viewers and potential contestants. It leaked out that even after a viewer was [...]
  • Remy the Wonder-Puppy
    I recently brought home a new little baby named Remy. He’s a Bichon Frise (pronounced Bee-shon Free-Zay), and was seven weeks old when we got him. He’s twelve weeks old now, and weighs about four [...]
  • Author Websites - Introduction
    The internet can be a great way to promote yourself. More and more authors are straying away from the publishing company's profile page to have their own personal sites. Having your own site can [...]
  • Newsflash: Marcia was anxious to give birth
    I'm sure this will come as no surprise whatsoever to anyone who either a) given birth b) been pregnant with twins and/or c) been on bedrest: Marcia Cross was very anxious to deliver her twins. [...]