Categories
Motorbikes Reviews

Life with the Vespa – Part 2 – Final Review

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Categories
Motorbikes Personal

Life with the Vespa – Part 1

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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.

Categories
Motorbikes

Hellow Yellow Vespa

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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.

Categories
Motorbikes

To Vespa or not to Vespa?

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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?

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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.

It’s a difficult decision, but definitely just a #firstworldproblem

Categories
Kuwait Motorbikes Personal

Hello Vespa, Goodbye Vespa

During the Gulf Run car show at 360 Mall my friend introduced me to the owner of Bike World who had a stand at the car show. The owner told me whenever I wanted I could pass by pick up a bike and try it out for a few days and then post about my experience (positive or negative). Since my car was in the garage and I’ve always wanted to ride a Vespa, I passed by last week and picked one up for a few days. I rode it during the cold and wet weather we had last week and this is what I thought about it.

I had never ridden a scooter before this Vespa but I’ve always had a thing for them. They always looked like a lot of fun to ride but for some reason I never had a chance to ride one before. I ended up picking up a silver 250cc version of the bike and it really did turn out to be a lot of fun. I hadn’t ridden a bike since I sold my Ducati Monster a few years ago so starting with the Vespa felt like the most logical thing to do. It’s a small bike and an automatic which meant it would be easy to ride. What I wasn’t expecting was the bike to be so snappy. I rode the Vespa into work every morning taking the Gulf Road route and I never felt the bike was slow. At traffic lights I was taking off pretty fast and on one highway I managed to hit 120km/h which is practically the bikes top speed. The comfortable cruising speed on the bike is around 90km/h which is why I didn’t (and wouldn’t) take the bike out on the major freeways and instead stuck to the Gulf Road.

The only downside I faced with the bike was parking it surprisingly. First night I parked it in my buildings underground parking the janitor knocked on my door and told me people might steal the bike and that I should take the bike up in the elevator and park it outside my apartment (seriously that’s what he told me). Then when I tried parking it under my office building the security guards also got me worried because everywhere I parked the bike around the building they would tell me a car might hit it. In the end they made me park the Vespa on top of the sidewalk on the side of the building. I found all that a bit too weird honestly. Anyway I dropped the Vespa yesterday morning back to Bike World and picked up a trike which I will be riding for the next few days.

The Vespa I rode costs around KD1,700 but they have Vespas starting from KD899. If you’re interested here is the link to the Bike World website. [Link]

Categories
Kuwait Motorbikes

Vespas in Kuwait

I was at the Tamiya dealer in Tilal Complex and on my way out I decided to take a different route than usual. So I am driving when suddenly on my right I see all these scooters parked outside a store. So I park the Jeep, go down and realize I was standing outside the Vespa dealer.

Turns out they’ve only been open for 3 months and they’re also the new dealers for Aprilia, Piaggio and Moto Guzzi. If you’re interested, they’re located in the block across from Tilal Complex. If Explorers Base is on your right keep going straight past the intersection and they should be on your right.

Categories
Automotive Kuwait

Vespa

Vespa COol

Is there someone in Kuwait that imports the Vespa brand of scooters? I think it would be cool to travel around Salmiya in a baby blue Vespa. No more looking for parking at Sultan Center..

Categories
Gossip & Rumors

Inspire to Take Over Corniche Club

Last year Corniche Club closed down after losing the right to operate the location and there were rumors that Alshaya tried to get the location for Equinox but lost out. But according to a contact it turns out that Arkan Real Estate which is part of the BNK Holding portfolio have taken over the location.

BNK have a number of consumer brands in their portfolio including Volvo, Vespa, Backburner, Gia and the Japanese restaurant Odachi. The popular gym Inspire will supposedly be taking over the club and I wouldn’t be surprised if BNK opened their other brands at the location like their coffee shop Backburner or maybe a Vespa showroom.

Update:According to Alshaya they never bid on the Corniche location just rebid on the PF Chang location. They won the rebid and PF Chang just reopened again this week.

Categories
Automotive

BNK Automotive Brands

Last year BNK become the dealer for Volvo cars and since then they’ve been busy acquiring the rights to more brands in Kuwait. So far from what I can tell these are the brands they’ve gotten so far:

Aprilia
Moto Guzzi
Polestar
Vanderhall
Vespa
Volvo

I haven’t seen the Vanderhall on the streets yet (pictured above), but I did see a Polestar a couple of times on the road last week. Vespa, on the other hand, existed in Kuwait before and I had one, but the previous dealer closed down and BNK instead has now taken it over. I loved my old yellow Vespa but sold it after I bought my first Datsun 240z.

Categories
Automotive Reviews

The New Suzuki Jimny

The new Suzuki Jimny is one of the hottest and hardest to get cars right now in the market. When it launched in Kuwait back in October the dealership sold out of the Jimny on the same day (65 cars is what I heard). The resale value of the car is probably the highest right now as well since whoever was lucky to buy one can sell it for basically the same price they paid for if not more. I’ve been wanting to try the Jimny ever since it launched and I was lucky enough to have a friend who lent me his to drive for a few days. Spoiler: It was a lot of fun!


The Jimny is a very tiny SUV that kinda looks like a mini Mercedes G-Class. It has a very boxy minimalistic design which I fell in love with ever since I saw the car when it was announced early last year. The car comes in 8 colors but my personal favorites are the Jungle Green and the Chiffon Ivory which is the color my friend luckily had and pictured in this post. There are no options for the interior color, all Jimny’s come with a black interior (thankfully). Locally, the car comes with practically no options other than powered windows. For some reason the GCC spec doesn’t include options like LED headlights or a stereo with a seven-inch screen and Apple CarPlay. The GCC spec also doesn’t include safety features like Weaving Alert and Lane Departure Warning. This isn’t the dealers choice, Suzuki just doesn’t offer these options for the GCC models right now.

As soon as I sat in the car I felt very comfortable and cozy. I’m 6’1 and there was lots of room for me, even in the back seat surprisingly. The car’s pillars are also fairly thin so there are no blindspots around the car and the large windows bring in a lot of light helping give the car a very open and spacious feel.

Driving the Jimny is a lot of fun, the small size and the fact you can see outside in every direction helps give you a layer of confidence you might not usually have when driving. Actually driving the Jimny reminded me of the Fiat 500 and my old Vespa since both of those were super fun and very easy to manage. You can tell what kind of mood the car put me in from the photos in this post, it’s not a serious car and so I wanted to have fun with it. But don’t get me wrong, the Jimny is still a very capable SUV, it’s actually why the older model had such a cult following. I took the Jimny out to the Mutla Ridge (pictured above) and it didn’t have an issue climbing up the ridges and even the deep sand wasn’t much of an issue since the Jimny is a fairly light SUV. It’s an off-road car as much as it is the perfect city car.

When I finally had to give the car back to my friend it felt a bit sad. Because its so easy to get comfortable with the Jimny, I quickly got used to it, and for the few days I had it, the car felt like it belonged to me. Thankfully the dealership doesn’t have Jimny’s for sale at the moment or else I might have been tempted to just pass by and pick one for myself. At only KD5,500, the Jimny is pretty much in impulse buy territory for a lot of people. But even if you weren’t looking for a fun second or third car, the Jimny would be a great primary one. The car is perfect for driving around in the city or areas like Shuwaikh because of the small size, but even on my drive to Mutla I didn’t feel like I was in a slow car and the ride was pretty comfortable.

If I didn’t already have an SUV I would buy one without hesitation. Plus, the amount of accessories and customizations available for the Jimny is just crazy. For KD5,500 I don’t think there is any other car on the market thats as fun to drive or as good of a deal.

Categories
Automotive

Courteous Drivers

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Although I think drivers in Kuwait can be the worst sometimes (people stop driving while whatsapping!), what I’ve also realized because of my Vespa and Datsun 240z is that there are a lot of drivers out there that can be pretty nice. When I used to have the Vespa and I’d be stuck in traffic, people always moved their cars a bit when they saw me so they could let me ride all the way to the front in between the standstill traffic. It felt like everyone was rooting for me to get out of the traffic that they were all stuck in.

With my 240z I’m now experiencing a lot of niceness as well. Because the car is so low, usually the headlights of other cars (mostly SUVs) is higher than my car as you can see in the picture on top. So if their lights are on it pretty much reflects off my rear view mirror and into my face. Nearly all the drivers who pull up behind me at a traffic light turn off their lights so not to blind me. It’s a small gesture but I love it since its from total strangers.

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I’ve also gotten so many compliments on the car from total strangers. For someone like me who doesn’t like attention, the amount of attention I get because of the car is so uncomfortable. On Friday I was heading back home on the Gulf Road and listening to my music loud while driving like a nutcase when I get to a traffic light. So I’m sitting there checking my phone when I here a beep of a police siren. I ignore it. Then I hear it again and I look out my rear view mirror and can’t see anything so I continue to ignore it. Then I hear the quick siren burst again the third time so I look to my right and there is a cop car right outside my window with a cop inside it trying to talk to me. So in my head I was like shit I’m screwed either because of my erratic driving or the fact my music was loud or because I was on my phone. So I quickly pause my music and yell out “Sorry?” cuz I couldn’t hear anything he had said. The cop then points at my car and says “very nice very nice” while giving me the thumbs up. I say thank you! and in my head I’m going wtf this is all so weird.

I feel like I’m in bizarro world sometimes.

Categories
Interesting

5 Intriguing Reasons to Explore Hawalli in Kuwait

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I’m really not a big fan of Hawalli even though my Vespa has made the traffic much more bearable but a reader thinks it’s worth giving a shot and has published an article on The Culture Trip website about it. Check it out [Here]

Categories
Information

Review: The Domain Hotel – Bahrain

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Last week I ended up going to Bahrain for the GulfRun event but also because I was taking refresher riding lessons with Harley Davidson. Harley have a few of riding events every year that take place in different countries where they invite the press on road trips to check out their bikes. I’ve had to pass on the last two rides since I hadn’t ridden a bike in years (Vespa not included). So they decided to give me refresher lessons and since they have a training center in Bahrain I decided to do it there during GulfRun weekend. I ended up being put up at The Domain Hotel and since I was fairly impressed with the hotel I figured I’d write about.

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The hotel is located around 12 minutes from the airport and in a skyscraper, one of the tallest in the area. The hotel reception area is located on the 16th floor and honestly didn’t look so great. The ceiling was low, the furniture a bit tacky and overall it just didn’t look impressive. Once I checked in though I headed up to my floor which was the 30th and thats when things started looking a lot better.

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Since the hotel wasn’t very busy I got upgraded to “The Corporate” room which was a corner suite. The room was spacious with a living area, a guest bathroom and an insane view. The main bathroom was also humongous with it’s own large window near the shower which is pretty convenient for exhibitionist.

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My favorite part about the room was the fact I could control various aspects of it using a tablet including the lights, the air conditioning and the curtains. I liked waking up in the morning and clicking a button on the tablet to have all the curtains in the room open up automatically.

During my previous trips to Bahrain I stayed at the Ritz Carlton which I loved. Although I prefer the room at The Domain (the Ritz rooms feel outdated), the rest of the hotel can’t really compete in anything else… except the price. While rooms at the Ritz start at around KD120 a night, at The Domain the prices start at around KD40 which is a big difference. So if you’re looking for an affordable place to stay while in Bahrain The Domain might be a good option. [Link]

Categories
Design Events Personal

The Nuqat Workshops

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Last week I wasn’t posting as much since I was taking two workshops at the Nuqat design conference, a furniture design workshop from 9AM to 1PM followed by a fashion design workshop from 2PM to 6PM. They both turned out to be a lot of fun and the whole experience was memorable.

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Furniture Design: Defy the Existing Function
The furniture design workshop was done in collaboration with IKEA and was run by the award winning furniture designer Younes Duret. It was basically an IKEA hack workshop in which we had to repurpose one product out of the 35 they had made available to us. There were around 26 people taking the workshop with many of the participants coming in from around the region to take part. The final work was pretty astounding since there were quite a bunch talented people taking part.

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Fashion Design: Fashion Meets Technology
The second workshop I took part in involved wearable technology and as a geek/designer I wanted to see if there was anything I could possibly bring to the table. The workshop was run by the super talented Sarah Hermez of the non profit fashion school, Creative Space. While the furniture design workshop was held at the Sadu House, the fashion design workshop was held at Fab Lab. What is Fab Lab? Fab Lab is part of MIT’s Fab Foundation and the Kuwait Fab Lab is part of the world wide network which spans 30 countries. It’s a ridiculously cool place where you can go fabricate products as well as take part in educational workshops (all for free). They have 3D printers, CNC machines, laser cutters, a robotics lab and even an in house patent registration office. I’m actually going to post a separate post about them since the place is just insane. After experimenting with different technologies over the four days, for my final project I ended up creating a fashionable and functional pair of mountaineering boots that came with a built in frostbite detector (pictured above). I also just for the experience learned how to drape a dress which if you were following me on snapchat you would have gotten a glimpse of my undeniable talent in making sexy dresses.

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The Nuqat workshops were filled with positive energy and I got to meet a lot of people and learn quite a bit. I’ll definitely be taking part again next year although most likely I’ll take just one workshop next time since two was just too exhausting.

Categories
Activities Information Kuwait Motorbikes

Rent a Harley

I’m not a big Harley fan since I prefer sports bikes and Vespas but I know a lot of you might be interested in this. According to a reader it seems you can rent Harleys from the Harley Davidson dealer. This is the email I received with minor editing:

I am sure you might be knowing about this, but just wanted to add in your activities, renting a Harley Davidson. The 2011 models are out and I rented a Fatboy this weekend for only KD72 (KD36 a day for a KD6,895 bike is really good). There are three other bikes available for rent as well: The Sportster Nightster for KD54, Street Glide and Road King Classic for KD81.

Please note these prices are for 2 day rental since they are closed on Fridays. You need to rent the bikes on Thursday and return them on Saturday and you get these special rates. Or you can rent on a daily bases and the rates are: Nightster – KD30, Fatboy – KD40, Street Glide and Road King Classic – KD45.

It was the best experience with friends having different bikes like Ducati, MV Agusta, Kawasaki, Honda, however the Harley stood out and was an amazing and comfortable ride throughout the day. Looking forward to rent another one again and try out all their models.

The staff at Harley Davidson is also very friendly and helped me select the best ride. You can contact Mr. Marlon, he will help you in the best way possible – 24823041 /2 / 3.

To rent a bike all you need to have is a valid bike license, your civil ID, the rental amount and KD250 on your credit card (or cash) as a deposit. All bikes are fully insured and they also provide you with a helmet (6 different helmets to choose from).

That’s actually not a bad activity especially with this great weather. So I’ve gone ahead and added this post on renting Harleys to the activities page.

Thanks Fahad