Would You Ride a 120 MPH Scooter Built By a Bonneville Record Mechanic?
I’ve rented scooters to bop around Southern Europe (its a charming cliche for a reason) and Asia (where they are a way of life). The latest generation of ICE and electric powertrains make for an elegant little vehicle–up to 45 mph. But to us American motor-heads, they feel underpowered. Race car mechanic and custom motorcycle builder John Piper is fixing all that with his line of 120 mph scooters. How tight can you hang on?
Super scooters are nothing new. But to be honest, most builders just slam a motorcycle engine on to a scooter frame and call it a day. The result doesn’t have nearly enough tires, or suspension, to take advantage of all that power. And don’t get me started on the brakes.
John Piper is not most builders. This master autosports mechanic has had a hand in famous race cars for F1 and rally. He has even worked on one-offs that set Bonneville land speed records. In his 70s he could have retired. Instead, he poured all of his expertise into a super scooter. Lucky us!
The Piper Moto J Series is built around a 67 horsepower KTM 690 Duke motor. And its truly built around this motor. It has a custom tig welded space frame and modern Mecano swing arm. Its wheels are 17 inch spoke units with sportbike tires and Brembo disc brakes. This scooter has enough getup and go to embarrass most any other vehicle at a stoplight.
Despite oodles of “get-up-and-go,” the J Series is still very much a scooter. There’s no foot shifter here, Piper used an electronic shifter and paddles to keep all the controls on the handlebars. With the engine at the back, there’s no room for an under seat compartment. So Piper built two locking compartments up front.
There’s no way to hide those motorcycle-size tires. So I am a fan of the sportbike-sized wheels and tires. So I like how Piper has incorporated a few other sportbike-inspired design elements such as the vents in the bodywork. But the J Series strikes a perfect balance with its retro chrome hardware and trim. And before you criticize the twin saddle seats, know that they are inspired by vintage Vespas.
Overall, this would be the coolest beach cruiser around. I fully expect to see the who’s who of Hollywood snap them up for Cannes or the Lake Como house.
Next, learn how to rent a scooter for your next Mediterranean vacation.