This is my first in depth article for the viewers of my blog. In my first post I promised the blog would feature the wonderful people I meet and their rides. In November, I was asked by my friend Bob "Cannonball" Addis to photograph his 1957 Zundapp Bella Scooter for his Antique car club calendar. We set a few dates in December, one at night and another during the day, so we could get different photographic moods. I brought a lot of lighting gear but ended up using Canon Speedlites.
For those who what to know more about the details of the shoot. I used a Canon 1D Mark III for most of the shots. I used up to three flash units Canon Speedlite 580 EX II, 430 EX II, and a Phottix Mitros+. I fired the flashes remotely with a Phottix Odin wireless system. Final for the night shots I used my laptop tethered to the camera, so I could see the images better. Also used a fog Machine in some night shots.
I asked Bob about his beginnings with scootering and his first scooter, this is his reply:
"When I was 17 and just out of Cobleskill High School in 1963, I bought my first motor vehicle, a 1959 Vespa 125 motor scooter to ride to my summer job as a tour guide at Howe Caverns. I rode nearly 3,000 miles that summer including a 1,000 mile camping trip all around New York State and into Pennsylvania and Canada before I went to college at RPI in Troy. What is more remarkable about this introduction to two wheels is that I only had a Cinderella license - I could not drive after dark!
Although, I was quite addicted to riding, the second summer I traded the Vespa in for a 1960 VW Beetle with a large fabric sunroof and expanded my traveling horizons and season. I bummed rides and borrowed various bikes over the years when I was first a student and then in the military. By the 1970s, I was on my financial feet enough to at least buy some basket case scooters and have owned something on two wheels ever since."
He continued, "In 1980 I was riding a 1964 Sears Allstate Vespa 125 in western NYS when I made the great leap to buy a BMW motorcycle as well. I went to PA to buy a 300cc, single cylinder BMW, thinking it was a good step up from the Vespas. But it was already sold and they talked me up to a 1963 BMW R50/2, a 500cc bike weighing 468 lbs. and putting out (on a good day) 26 hp. Some people have riding mowers with more horsepower than this! Undaunted, I entered the magical world of motorcycle traveling and camping."
What is one of your more memorable riding stories you would like to share?
"I went up and down the East Coast from my home in WV and in 1984 planned a trip to WY. The boss cut my vacation time back from 3 weeks to one and I realized the only way out and back from WY would be nonstop since I was going to spend Monday through Friday there. Somewhat by accident and somewhat by design, I earned the coveted "1,000 in 1" award, riding 1,000 miles in one day or 24 hours. That's only 41.7 mph average; that should be easy, right? Not really with all the stops for gas, food, rain, and even a 10 minute nap lying on the ground in full gear and helmet. The 1,000 mile mark blew my mind. I rode into town to get someone to certify my time of arrival and it was Beemer, Nebraska, population 800! From there I still had to ride to Sheridan, WY, so the total trip out was 1,400 miles in 36 hours. Upon arrival, friends said that I wandered around aimlessly in full rain gear and helmet for an hour! Dazed much? On the return trip to WV, my headlight switch had crapped out, so I rode two long days of 17 and a 19 hours to get home during the daylight."
I can tell that Bob is proud of how well he maintains his vehicles. "That R50/2 I still own and is called Zeke. It's like the old faithful family dog. You may ignore him for others but he's always there and ready for a ride! Zeke's most recent trip in 2013 was 500 miles out to Hammondsport. He was evenly matched in top end and in the hills by a modern Vespa 150 with a lighter rider! And the headlight switch crapped out again - hum-m-m."
How many motorcycles/scooters have you owned?
"Over the years I have owned an estimated 80-90 motorcycles, scooter and mopeds, many of them being parts bikes or basket cases. During the peak of my collecting/selling/trading career, I owned 31 and kept them all in the house. I had a huge ranch house in WV with a finished basement sporting a wide door down below. I would bring visitors downstairs, turn the corner and snap on the lights in the game room to see 31 headlights pointed at them! I was a bachelor then."
Any interesting stories about selling motorcycles/scooter?
"My two best sales stories: In WV I bought and sold two Triumph TR3 sports cars before 8 AM. Second, I sold two Silver Pigeon Japanese motor scooters and an Austrian Puch motorcycle to father and son Amish farmers from OH."
Tell me about the Cannonball Endurance Run and how you are involved.
"I have ridden across country five times on as many bikes and plan on going from Atlantic City, NJ to San Diego in September 2016 on a 100 year old Henderson 4 cylinder motorcycle in the Cannonball Endurance Run. In 2014, Brian Pease and I shared riding cross country on a 1923 Neracar (Is it a motorcycle? A Scooter? Yes!) in the Cannonball from Daytona Beach to Tacoma, WA."
Now for this restored 1957 Zundapp Bella R201 scooter, tell me about it.
" I traded an oversized BMW gas tank for it around 1988. It has been through 4 restoration shops and 27 years to get finished. This included an interesting trip through US and Canadian Customs with a VW Beetle absolutely full of parts completely disassembled and no passenger seat."
"Once I decided to have this restored, I traded bunches and bunches of scooters, a bike, a BMW basket case, 2 sidecars, and a suitcase full of cash. This was an agonizing decision to clean out projects I would never get done and to end up with one good scooter. I'm very happy with that decision."
About the Scooter
"The Zundapp Bella: Has a 200 cc, 2-stroke engine (mix oil in the gas before starting), electric start- no kick start (unusual factory confidence), 10 hp., weighs 330 lbs.(heavy!), about 50-55 mph tops. And oh, so smooth a ride! Weird to shift with a 4-speed foot shift through the right floorboard and a left heel brake."
"Zundapp has made many different motorcycles in Germany before, during and after WW II and only briefly in the 1950-60s made scooters."
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