Meet Scarlet O’Baron

Weather: Gorgeous on the weekend, and rainy on Monday.
…as it should be, I guess.

Scarlet O'Baron in Nature...
Scarlet O’Baron, at the side of a local twisty road, early in the mornin’.

I have spent the last week getting acquainted with my new scooter: Scarlet O’Baron.

She has a 250cc engine, shoehorned into a little 150cc chassis like the one that I rode last winter. She is quick, she is fast, and now, she is all mine.

Yes, I know I said earlier that I shouldn’t own one of these, as it would only get me in trouble… but you do only live once, after all.

Scarlet had some carburation issues in development, and I have placed a sort of venturi-tube in the intake plenum, upstream of the carburetor, to limit performance during break-in.

This is sort of like the “restrictor plate” they use in NASCAR. I want to make sure that she is getting a slightly rich mixture, to keep the heat down and limit the stresses on critical engine components during her first five-hundred miles on the road.

Still, the early numbers look promising: I’m calling them 70/70 right now.

This means that on a section of freeway with a 65mph speed limit, at full throttle, we were passing cages with about 5mph overtake. This reflects at least a 70mph restricted top speed.

With 263 miles on the odometer, and not trusting the gas gauge yet, we went 112 miles since her last fill-up. She took 1.6 gallons, which calculates to a nice, round 70 mpg fuel mileage.

The Red “Baron in Winter” did 63 mph and got 80 mpg with a 150cc engine, so these numbers are right in line with my expectations for Scarlet. Once we hit 500 miles, I am going to remove the restrictor and see what she’ll do then. If we don’t hit 80mph, I am going to start shopping for another carburetor and a pipe.

Alright, enough with the numbers… This past weekend, we did some testing of another kind altogether.

You see, Scarlet isn’t as plush and comfy as the Black Baron or Old Yeller were. Those two were built on the PM, or “People Mover” platform, and they were quite luxurious compared to the taut and sporty SX chassis. So I wanted to see if Scarlet would still work well two-up with my daughter Emily.

Emily Rose with her new friend, Scarlet.
Emily Rose with her new friends: Scarlet O’Baron and Saphire the Dolphin.

We planned a Saturday visit to the Como Zoo, followed by an ice-cream run up Grand Avenue to the Grand Ole Creamery.

The weather cooperated, so Emily and I set out with Scarlet at ten-thirty in the morning.

It is a bit more of a stretch for Emily’s legs to reach the passenger “pegs” on Scarlet. She let me know about that right away. Of course, I told her what her mother and I always tell her in these situations: “You’ll grow into it…”. But it would definitely limit our endurance in the saddle together, compared to the Baron PMs.

That’s OK at this point, however. At her age, a short ride is a good ride. Longer rides become more challenging, and ultimately less fun.

We were able to sneak a parking spot close to the entrance at the zoo. Then we waited in a long line of people to get in. Once inside, we noticed that at least 40% of the exhibits were closed for maintenance. So it was a short visit.

But of course, Emily had to visit the gift shop, and once there, found a “stuffed-aminal” she just had to have. So I ponied up the ten bucks for “Saphire the Dolphin”; yet another plush critter with which to litter her bedroom floor.

Why is it that a fiscally conservative fellow (cheap bastard) like me, loses all sense of economic responsibility around his cute little red-haired daughter? Oh, don’t answer that. It seems as though I’ve been asking a lot of rhetorical questions lately. This is probably just a precursor to the geezerly habit of muttering to myself.

Anyway, riding down Grand Avenue in Saint Paul, we stopped at the Grand Ole Creamery to enjoy an ice cream cone the same way our grandparents used to have them. They offer many flavors, all of them made on-site, and they dish them into old-fashioned waffle cones, if you like, or the more modern cake and sugar cones for the less adventurous.

We sat outside while we enjoyed our `cones, and discussed the issues that occupy her six-year-old mind. They are a good bit more complex than what I was thinking about at that age.

We rode home by a roundabout path, through the park and along the river. She gave me a big hug as she dismounted, and I couldn’t help but sigh. This little girl has me wrapped around her little finger, and I’m not even sure she knows that. Well, that’s fine, for now. We’ll worry about adolescence when it gets here…

Scarlet Rides to Work
Scarlet O’Baron: Working Girl.

This morning, I rode Scarlet O’Baron to work. We had to use the old milk-crate, because we haven’t been able to find a suitable trunk for her. That was fine by me, however, because me and this old milk crate have History.

We rode home in one of the biggest rainstorms of the year, and it caught me with my (Aerostich) pants down. I had left my Darien pants in the garage at home, believing the Windsock and Crystal Ball Guild when they said that we had a 30% chance of Isolated Thunderstorms.

Well, that forecast changed throughout the day. By the time I left, we were certain to get hammered by heavy rains, if not large hail.

Scarlet O’Baron and I got totally drenched on the way home, but she never missed a beat. This gives me great confidence in our future together. I’m not sure if I am going to ride her this winter, but at this point it is a definite possibility. For now, however, we are going to concentrate on being the coolest, fastest, bestest commuter scooter in the Twin Cities.

It’s going to be a fun ride…

11 Responses to “Meet Scarlet O’Baron”

  1. DaveT Says:

    I hope you are taking time to save or backup your blog entries. Maybe print them out and put them in a binder. Someday, that red headed pixie of yours is going to want to read this stuff and think about the great day at the zoo with the “old man.” Maybe she and her own daughter will sit down and read about your trip to the zoo after their own ice cream run, just before slipping into bed to dream of a red scooter and a ride with “Grampy Gary.” Not trying to make you feel old, just saying someday Emily may treasure the written memories of her dad.

    Thanks for letting us have a peek into your family, and your thoughts. And enjoy your new red “mid life crisis.” ;)

    Dave T.

  2. Terry Says:

    Hmm, sounds like time to make some modifications to the scoot. In this case, on the passenger pegs. I had my 7 year riding on my gold wing and it took about 3.5 inches of additional raise to get him comfortable.

    You can go low tech or find a more aesthetic solution. Low tech could involve a roll of tape(electrical to match if desired) and a small piece of wood. Wood on peg, wrap tightly with tape. Could give that extra inch that will be nice for the rest of this riding season and can be removed easily by next riding season.

    Enjoy, I’m jealous of the scooter and the ability to take you daughter. My soon to be 6 year old daughter is just too small to put on the back of my gold wing…

  3. Dan Jones Says:

    Hey Gary, how about getting Emily started on a scrapbooking project to keep track of your rides together? That would be something fun for the whole family to look back on someday down the road.

    Ivan mentioned that Scarlet has a Yamaha type engine rather than the Honda clone in the 250-PM. How are you doing on cooling and fuel flow?

  4. Gary Charpentier Says:

    DaveT: For someone not trying to make me feel old, you’re doing a bang-up job! I’m trusting RTW’s webmaster Shane to keep the archives, and they couldn’t be in better hands.

    Terry: I’ve been pondering a footpeg mod myself, but I don’t want to drill through the bodywork to get to the frame. However, if I remove the stock footpegs and find a way to mount some sort of extension, that would solve the problem. I will be looking into that this coming weekend.

    Dan: That’s a great idea! I’ll ask her about it tonight.

    As far as the development issues, it is all about airflow, in both cases. It turns out there never was a fuel-flow problem with the SX.

    For cooling, we have opened up the louvers in the grille, and I have removed the glovebox door so we can get nice, clean flow-through. I wasn’t using the glove box anyway…

    I have already mentioned the venturi-tube modification to the intake plumbing. I will discuss this in further detail over on the Baron BBS, once I have the larger tube installed and tested.

    We should go for a ride soon, Dan. Watch your email…

    Ride well,
    =gc=

  5. Biker Betty Says:

    Great looking bike and what a great pic with your daughter. I just bet she would love to do scrapbooking. I’ve been thinking of doing that myself. I have two sons (11 &18) and if I mention scrapbooking to them they’d run for the hills, lol. I’ve had my 11 yr old son on my motorcycle, but my problem is the saddlebags are almost blocking the passenger footpegs. I need to move the backlights and then the saddlebags and just haven’t done it yet. My son loves to ride and usually does on my husband’s Honda Nighthawk. It’s a fun family ride.

    Betty :)

    Speaking of which, the ride to the zoo sounded so nice. You both will have fond memories of that.

  6. piedoggie Says:

    suggestion for the peg modifications.

    take some PVC tubing just larger than your pegs.

    Drill straight through the PVC in two or three places.

    enlarge the holes on one side, large enough to fit in a screwdriver

    if you have the tools, i.e. hacksaw, cut a slot down one side of the to 90° offset from the drilled holes.

    take a block of wood which bridges the gap between a comfortable position for your daughter’s feet and the pegs.

    Using wood screws (probably 1.5 inches-2 inches), fasten the PVC tubing to the wood. In case you haven’t figured it out, the screws go to the small holes and a screwdriver goes through the big. :-)

    Once the wood is firmly attached, back off the screws a little bit and fit to hose clamps between the wood and PVC. Tighten up the screws again once the hose clamps are in a good position for tightening around the PVC pipe.

    Slide the PVC pipe over the pegs, tighten hose clamps until the wood doesn’t move and you should be all set. Note: this configuration has a fair amount but not a large amount of sheer strength. You can increase sheer strength by increasing the number of screws between PVC and wood. You can also increase resistance to rotating on the tag by fitting some sort of spongy material like old mouse pads between the tag and the PVC. This will allow for greater compression friction.

  7. irondad Says:

    I’m at a dead run right now so haven’t done more than glance at the entry. Want to do that when I can do it justice. The picture of Emily is priceless. Makes me yearn for the days when mine were that age. The kids are still close but there’s nothing like the age your Little Rose is. One of the neatest things is that you know that. I won’t try to make you feel old because I’m the one that’s farther along the road!

    This comment has very little to do with commuting or bikes. I just wanted to reach out as one father to another. You have totally nailed what I consider the magic and essence of two wheels. None of this “filling in for whatever is missing in me and stroking my ego thing”.

    You’ve found the function, the fun, and the adventure of testing yourself; all while using the bikes as a vehicle to move the family closer together. Much of my being able to reach out and find what was really in my boy’s hearts was done with a bike between us. Kind of a buffer so they weren’t put on the spot by having to sit and look into my eyes. Memories of fun include races, rides, and other two wheeled hijinks. I learned a lot about family relationships through riding. Mostly about improving myself to be a better family head. I know you understand so I won’t elaborate.

    It’s obvious you’ve found the same to be true in your case. In what is probably the highest compliment I can bestow upon you, I respect your caring as well as your courage, my friend.

    I have to sign off. It’s getting a little sentimental, I know. Totally sincere, though. Like Steve said, even Road Warriors have soft gooey centers!

    Here’s to many more miles and smiles!

  8. Steve Williams Says:

    Grampy Gary……. heh heh heh.

    I wish I had a scooter when Hannah and Aleta were kids. Now I have to wait for the next generation to appear and hope I’m still able to get the Vespa off the center stand.

    Just to let you know—they do figure out they have you wrapped around their little finger and it gets worse over time. All that warrior stuff is no armor for that battle!

    I have to go, my daughter wants me to take her to lunch and I can’t be late…

    steve

  9. Gary Charpentier Says:

    Betty: She likes the idea, and we will begin work on it shortly. Thanks to Dan Jones and Dave T for the suggestions. It’s one thing to have this stuff on a hard drive, but quite another to put it into something you can touch and feel.

    piedoggy(?): I love some of the names I see in here. Your suggestion is a good one, and I will keep it in mind for other bikes. But it looks like my solution for Scarlet is going to be a good bit simpler, and made with some scrapped plastic from work. Thanks for writing in!

    irondad: Stop it, man… I’m gettin’ all choked-up ovah heah.

    Yeah, I suppose eventually I am going to have to address that whole “motorbike as pre-packaged lifestyle” issue in here, but how to do it without offending anyone? That’s the trick, isn’t it.

    Steve: Yeah, Emily’s dad is no warrior. I’m just the biggest in her collection of stuffed aminals. And yes, that misspelling is intentional. That’s how she says it, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

    Ride well,
    =gc=

  10. wildwussirider Says:

    nice stooter.i’ve got a baron250touring.it says “WUSSI” on the nameplate,it was marketed for puerto rico.i can cruise at 73mph and the top speed is 77mph,but once it hits top speed it starts cutting out and the speed drops down to 55mph and then it picks back up to cruising speed.i dont know why the speed drops when i hit top speed,is there a governor?i live in the dallas area and can’t find anyone that will even look at it to see why it does this.no shop wants to even look at it for me.the dealer i bought it from,on the web,said it’s supposed to go 80-85mph.i think it would do it if it was adjusted.do you know anywhere in my area or anyone that can help me out.this scooter i water cooled,and runs in the red on the gauges.is yours water cooled too?i’ve got somes pics posted on the ntscooterclub website.yours is the only other baron i’ve seen.i like it.thanks,nicholas(the WILDWUSSIRIDER)

  11. Gary Charpentier Says:

    Nicholas,

    There were issues with fuel flow in some of the early 250s. You should go to the Baron discussion board with this problem. They should be able to help.

    http://www.baronmotorcycles.com

    Ride well,
    =gc=