A couple of weeks ago Harley Davidson sent me to Lebanon to participate in their spring ride. They were launching their brand new showroom in Lebanon and invited some media members from around the region to cover the opening and then take part in the ride the following day. My ride with Harley has been a work in progress for probably over a year now since they had invited me to two rides last year. I ended up backing out from both of those rides because I hadn’t ridden a motorbike for a few years and wasn’t sure I’d still remember how to. So Harley offered to hook me up with refresher courses in Bahrain which I managed to conveniently get done during the GulfRun weekend back in January.
I had never taken part in a Harley ride before or yet alone any kind of ride that consisted of more than two riders so I wasn’t sure if I’d enjoy riding with a large crowd. We were around six media members and we all met up at the lobby of our hotel on the morning of our ride. Once we were all there we were taken to the parking lot where we had our brand new Harley’s waiting for us. Before the trip they had asked us to name three Harley bikes we would like to ride and they hooked us all up with one of the bikes on our list, I ended up with a 2015 V-Rod. We took off from our hotel, filled up our bikes with fuel and headed to the Harley dealership which was the meeting point for all the riders.
There were over 200 bikers at the starting point of our trip which was just insane. I didn’t even realize how complicated the logistics of organizing and riding with 200 bikers was until this trip, it’s just mind boggling. Imagine how long a line of 200 bikers is? It’s like a train going through a city. Actually a friend of mine said it better, it’s like a village on wheels and the amount of work that goes behind a smooth ride is impressive.
Our ride started off in Beirut and then headed south away from the city into the mountains. In addition to the 200+ riders there was a crew of Harley volunteers who would help make this journey as easy and smooth as possible. These members would ride ahead of the main group and block traffic for us or stop at intersections and point us towards the direction we need to go in. Once the group passes they then catch up and head to the front again and repeat the same thing over and over. Even a fuel stop requires a lot of logistics, imagine 200 bikers stopping at a gas station… they literally took over the whole block.
We had lunch half way through the ride at a scenic spot beside a river. It wasn’t a sunny day and in fact it started raining in Beirut while we were in the mountains so on our way back into the city we all got into our rain gear just in case. We passed through some really beautiful locations along the way but sadly since I was riding I couldn’t take any photos. It was one of those occasions where I just had to enjoy the moment for myself but as a photographer I was hurting inside because I would see a beautiful shot with my eyes but I wouldn’t be able to capture it not even on my phone. Harley Davidson did have a photographer on this ride which is how I got these shots but I honestly don’t think he was great, he missed a lot of beautiful moments and for some reason applied so many random filters on the photos I think he ruined them. I just spent half an hour trying my best to fix them up so I could use them for this post. If I ever go on a ride similar to this again I’m going to figure out a way to take photos myself while riding.
The V-Rod bike I rode was surprisingly very easy to ride. Even though the bike was big, heavy and had a lot of power, the throttle was very smooth and the bike just seemed so rider friendly and forgiving. Compared to my friends KTM RC8 I was riding a few weeks back, I felt so much more comfortable riding the V-Rod.
It was a super fun ride and I’m glad I got to experience it. I was honestly never a Harley fan before I started working with them, I’ve always been and still am a sports bike kind of guy. But, riding a Harley and riding in a large group like this has given me a better understanding on why people love Harley’s so much. Even though there were over 200 bikes I don’t think any two were the same because everyone customizes their bikes to their liking. I think people also love the feeling of belonging. It doesn’t matter who you are or what your background is, once you’re on a Harley you’re automatically accepted into this world and I think thats an amazing thing.
I’ve had my Vespa for over 6 months now and not only have I not gotten bored of it, but I love it even more than ever. It’s by far my best purchase of 2014. As I mentioned in part 1 of my review, whenever I’m riding my Vespa I feel like I’m on a vacation and 6 months later that feeling hasn’t changed one bit.
I don’t even know where to begin this post because there are so many great things about living with a Vespa. The obvious one is the fact there is no traffic when you’re on a Vespa. Throughout the past 6 months whenever I had any kind of work in the city or Shuwaikh during the day, the Vespa was my go to ride. You would think any motorbike would fair the same in traffic but that’s not true because scooters are much more agile and nimble. In Shuwaikh where there’s lots of road construction taking place the cars don’t really line up properly because the lanes aren’t properly divided. So you could be making your way between the cars in traffic and then get to a point where the cars are just too close too each other and you’re stuck.. unless you’re on a scooter. Scooters are much more lighter and more compact so it’s so much easier to just weave your way between cars in traffic and the fact the Vespa has an automatic gearbox also means it’s quicker and less of nuisance to stop and start. There hasn’t been a single traffic jam yet in which I wasn’t able to make it to the very front.
Imagine if the roads were empty all day long… thats life with my Vespa.
I own the Vespa Sprint which has a 125cc engine. It’s not that fast, the maximum speed is around 95km/h and I can sometimes hit just over 100 when going downhill. Although that doesn’t sound fast it’s more than enough when riding on the Gulf Road or even the 4th Ring Road where the maximum speed is 80km/h anyway. Vespa do have have different models with larger engines but the bikes themselves are also slightly larger and heavier. My Sprint is usually the first off the line at a traffic light but after that acceleration is fairly slow. But really you don’t need the bike to be faster since it’s not like you’re going to ride the Vespa down to the chalets on the weekend, it’s for city errands and at that I can’t imagine anything performing better. Even though my Vespa isn’t fast I still ride like a hooligan because the bike gives so much confidence. Probably too much confidence because I slid and fell at a small roundabout near my house a couple of months back scratching up the left side of my bike. Luckily my favorite pair of jeans and sneakers were unharmed.
The Sprint has a good amount of storage space in case you do some shopping. Under the seat you’ve got a large compartment which I use to store my helmet in and you also have a small glove compartment in the front which I use to store my phone and wallet. In case there isn’t enough space under the seat for your grocery bags, there is a small hook that comes out from the seat in the front which you can hang your bags on. I also love the retro looking analogue speedometer since it adds a lot of character to the bike.
A lot of people have asked me if you need a license to ride a Vespa and the answer is yes, you need a motorbike license to ride one. That wasn’t an issue for me since I got my license years ago when I got my first motorbike, but it’s still worth noting for anyone considering getting one.
With all the traffic issues in Kuwait I’m surprised not more people have gotten scooters. It’s obviously impossible to ride one in the blazing summer heat but there are at least 6 months a year where the weather is great for them. I really don’t have anything negative to say about my Vespa, maybe if there was a built in USB port to charge my phone that would have been convenient but actually thinking about it now, I probably could get one installed easily. Honestly it’s so much fun riding a Vespa I can’t stop recommending it to people. Get one if you can.
I was in Kuwait City yesterday heading to a meeting when I spotted a Police Can-Am 3-wheel motorbike parked. Not sure when they got them but have been fairly recent since I hadn’t seen a cop version before.
The popular website Vice have published an article on Kuwait’s All Female Biker Club. The Moto Lady Club as they’re called is the first woman’s club for motorbikers not only in Kuwait, but in the Gulf. Check out the full article on the Vice website [Here]
Every now and then I’m going to post a series of posts on life with my Vespa. It’s something I thought about doing when I decided to get the bike and I think it would make for some interesting posts. It’s been a month since I got my Vespa and I’ve basically been riding it every day. I’m actually trying to ride it as much as I can because whenever I’m on it I feel like I’m on a vacation. It’s such an odd feeling but it makes sense since the only times I ever ridden a scooter before were on vacations. It also probably doesn’t help that I’m usually in my shorts and a tank top while riding the Vespa (and helmet of course).
I’ve been using the Vespa mostly for trips in and around Salmiya, for example I live in the beginning of Salmiya while my two best friends live on the other end of Salmiya. Previously I used to drive my FJ Cruiser over to their place and get stuck in traffic but now I take the Vespa and it cuts down on so much time and stress. There are no traffic problems when I’m riding my Vespa since I just zip between cars all the way to the front of the pack. I’ve actually practically stopped using my FJ for any Salmiya trip because riding the Vespa around isn’t only much more fun but so much more convenient. Even picking up groceries from Sultan is really doable with the Vespa since there’s a large compartment under the seat which holds all my grocery bags.
I’m also really glad I went with the yellow color, it really looks great on the road even though I end up getting much more attention than I want. I keep getting stopped by people asking me about the bike which is nice but sometimes all you really want to do is just get from point A to point B without socializing so it kinda feels like a waiter opening a conversation with you while you’re trying to enjoy your meal. On more than one occasion I would be at a red light waiting and the person in the car next to me would start making conversation over the bike or after parking the bike somewhere, someone would come up to me and ask me where I’ve gotten it from and how much it costs.
Other than strangers though my friends also ask me about the bike but mostly on the fact if I’ve gotten into any dangerous situations. So far not really, I thought I would have issues with taxi drivers and bus drivers whom I usually detest the most when in my FJ, but turns out they’re actually the friendliest drivers to me when I’m on my Vespa. The only close call I’ve actually had wasn’t related to the Vespa. I was riding down Baghdad Street in Salmiya and the road was empty since I had taken off at the previous traffic light first and all the cars were behind me when I suddenly see an SUV driving towards me. Turns out an old man took the wrong turn at a traffic light up ahead and ended up driving down the wrong way of the street. I slammed my brakes and pulled over to the side quickly (thank you ABS!) while he continued to drive past me only to realize there was a fleet of cars right behind me. That’s when he realized what he had done wrong and stopped his car. Luckily all the cars stopped their cars as well and allowed him to climb over the median strip over to the correct side of the road. So bizarre.
First of all I know I spelled hello with a “w”, I meant to do that so stay away grammar nazis. So last week I did it and went ahead and bought a Vespa. I was originally unsure if I should get one or not but in the end I realized it’s something I’ve always wanted and so I might as well get it and be done with. I then had the complicated issue of deciding which model and color to get. I was torn between a white Vespa Primavera with a red seat or a yellow Vespa Sprint model. In the end I was leaning towards the white which is why I ended up getting the yellow. I know it sounds weird but I realized I was leaning towards the white because it was the safer option and since I wasn’t buying a Toyota Camry, I decided to go with the much more exciting yellow.
Since I know the dealer fairly well we ended up working out a good deal on the bike. I won’t go into the exact details but I ended up paying part cash and part advertising space on the blog. Plus I’m sure it didn’t hurt the fact that I told them I was going to do a series of posts on life with a Vespa in Kuwait. I’ve only ridden my Vespa around the block so far but I rode it with the biggest smile on my face so I can’t wait to take it out for a night ride later.
I love scooters and I’ve loved them ever since I was a kid. Last year when I was in Holland I spent nearly a week riding one around the city and I fell in love with them even more. So, around a month ago I passed by the Vespa dealer in Kuwait to check out what bikes they had available. Originally I wanted the new Vespa GTS 300 but then I found out about the 2015 Vespa Primavera and Vespa Sprint models which appealed to me even more. Turns out they had a new shipment arriving and they told me they’d call me once they arrived.
I finally got the call on Thursday that both the Primavera and Sprint models had arrived to Kuwait and were on display in the showroom. So, I passed by earlier today and checked out a white Primavera and a yellow Sprint and I fell in love with both. Now not only do I have to decide between the two models, but I have a more important question I need to answer, will I be able to ride and enjoy a scooter in Kuwait?
If you put the weather aside, I think it should be possible. I live in Salmiya and I just want the scooter for running random errands around my neighborhood like getting groceries or dropping by The Foundry or Gia for dinner. I definitely wouldn’t get on the highway with it not even on any of the ring roads, but I would probably ride it on the Gulf Road Friday morning to Cocoa Room for breakfast.
Harley Davidson are holding an open house this coming Friday as a way for them to introduce their new range of bikes for 2013. Additionally, the event will help raise funds for the United Nation’s World Food Programme (WFP) to feed school children.
The open day is for both riders and non-riders and if you’re a rider and have a bike you’ll be able to take part in the parade which starts at the Harley Dealership at 4PM and then returns back at around 5:30PM where the 110th anniversary bikes will be revealed.