How Far Can You Get On Three Wheels? Piaggio Ape Adventures

Taurinorum Charity Rally 2012 – APEMAYA Official trailer” from Taurinorum Travel Team on Vimeo.

On my recent trip to Italy, I fell hard for the tiny Piaggio Ape (say AH-peh, means bee in Italian, for its pleasant hum), a glorified Vespa scooter with a truck bed or a back seat attached. In Italy and India, you see the adorable vehicles everywhere, outfitted as delivery trucks or touristy rickshaws. With its small footprint to park nearly anywhere, high fuel efficiency and low city speeds, I think the Ape might be the perfect car for a New Yorker who just wants it for IKEA runs and those times you find a really amazing coffee table on the street.

Researching the viability and legality of these cars outside of Italy (maybe okay in America, if you don’t take it on the highway), I found the Taurinorum Travel Team, a group who has been raising charity funds with some incredible adventures. They started in 2009 in West Africa, touring in a comparably large Fiat Panda. The first Piaggio Ape trip was in 2011, from Quito, Ecuador, to Machu Picchu, Peru, for the centennial celebration of the ancient city’s discovery and to support biodiversity (watch the little trike car make it over 4,000 kilometers here). The ApeMaya trip last year went through Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and Belize, ending in Chichen Itza to combat violence against women. The 2012 trip was designed to coincide with the end of the world as prophesied by the Mayans, but the tuk-tuk survived the 3,000-mile trip. Check out more of their beautiful footage here.

No news yet on their 2013 trip, but I hope they can stop by Brooklyn so I can take it for a test drive.

Video: Scooters In Shanghai

Every time I watch a video that features people, usually teenaged or young adult men, doing tricks on some device – skateboards, bikes, scooters or something of the like – I can’t help but notice the film’s location. For what I imagine are various reasons, a lot of these kinds of videos are shot in neat locations whether tropical, intensely urban or just far away. I like these videos because they offer me relatively accidental insightful viewing. There’s a keen sense of a place I get when watching these films. While the camera often focuses on the forefront action, the background and peripheral action is also recorded. During these times, I feel I see the respective destinations and their citizens candidly. This video features, of all things, scooters in Shanghai bending their way around the streets.

Shanghai Penguin Wedding

A mobility scooter for the adrenaline junkie

Paging the team at The Adventurists. Gadling Labs just dug up a great video from on the web showing a tricked out mobility scooter that would be great for a cross continent adventure. Youtube user colinfurze uploaded the video showing some of the ridiculous speeds and maneuverability afforded by a scooter that he customized, and the result is pretty outstanding.

This is actually the same machine that broke the Guinness World Record for fastest mobility scooter (at over 71MPH) a couple of years back. The outstanding weather that the UK has been experiencing in the last few days, however, allowed Mr. Furze to take the equipment out for some unique footage and fun. Perhaps next year’s Rickshaw Run will also allow entries from the scooter class.

Rolling luggage / portable scooter guarantees you’ll hurt yourself at the airport

How many times have you walked from gate B2 to B78 wondering whether there could possibly be a quicker way to make your connecting flight? Well, the folks at German company Micro Mobility obviously had that same question – because they invented the Trolley Scooter. The scooter combines one of those lightweight folding scooters with a piece of Samsonite luggage.

End result is a bag that can be pulled through the airport and turn into a personal mobility scooter. Sadly, it isn’t powered (other than human power), but with enough momentum, you may be able to plow down a couple of fellow passengers on your way to the gate.

The bag itself looks rather small, but in the photo, they do show a laptop, shoes and some clothes, so it may be just right for a quick overnight trip.

What do you think? Sheer brilliance or sheer stupidity awaiting a personal injury lawsuit?

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(Crunchgear via Gizmodo)

How the Japanese drive around town without spilling their soup

OK, this is absolutely brilliant. Imagine having to speed through Tokyo on your Honda Super Cub scooter. That is hard enough without having to worry about carrying a tray filled with bowls of soup!

Of course, it takes Japanese ingenuity to design a simple and crude way to keep things from spilling.

I’m not really sure what to call it, so I’ll just name it the “scooter self stabilizing soup shelf”, or S5 for short. It’s not much more than a couple of bits of tubing, a piece of wood and some form of shock absorber.

Even a parked scooter will be no match for the S5, parked up against the curb, the shelf stays level, and you don’t lose a drop of whatever you are carrying. Apparently these things have been around for years, but this is the first time I’ve ever seen someone photograph them.

There are several more of these contraptions captured on film by Lee Chapman, the Brit in Tokyo behind Tokyotimes.org. His site is filled with fantastic articles and some pretty stunning photography, certainly worth checking out.

(Tokyo Times, via Wired gadget lab)