I find it fitting that my first real post be about that which allows for the greatest stress relief, the most ability to explore, and some of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve had the last few years. This enabler is DonnaStella.
Donna is a 2013 Genuine Stella 4T Manual Transmission scooter, created by the LML company in the same factory that some Vespa models were made. She is 149.9cc of pure fun, excitement, and style.
Donna joined the family in the Late Summer/Early Fall of 2013, and was purchased (adopted?) from Wick’s Wheels in Bloomington, IN. She was not my introduction to scootering (that goes partially to Beth’s first scooter, Scooterlou, a Honda Metropolitan, and to Scooterbern, my Kymco Sting 50). I had been eyeing various Stella’s on the showroom floor, but Donna was calling my name often and loudly.
Aside from bicycles, all of my previous vehicles had been automatic transmission. In truth, I have had very limited experience in using a manual transmission (though my Dad did help teach me the basics in a Ford Mustang), so learning to use the clutch, shift, and not die was something new I had to learn. To be honest, I was concentrating a lot on the last part – not dying.
One accidental wheelie (may have let the clutch out too quickly) and fifteen miles later, I was shifting like a pro on Donna. The MPGs were going up, the number of stalls down, and excitement was off the charts.
This isn’t to say that Donna was all sunshine and rainbows. She is aptly named after the Doctor Who Character Donna Noble – fiery, temperamental, passionate, and compassionate. There are times on start-up where she will grumble, where her shifting will be difficult, or have some sort of easily-remedied mechanical or cosmetic problem (looking at you in particular, crappy Indian rubber neutral light switch! Also you, suspect initial engine builder who forced us to rebuild it…for free under warranty repair, but still…) But there are also times where she will be very happy soaring down the road, full speed, not a care in the world. She has also been mostly friendly in teaching others the ways of driving her, forgiving of their mistakes (for the most part, even when they accidentally bump the curb…with the floorboard). I like to think she is an excellent match for what I need, when I need it (most of the time, anyway).
Donna and I have been on many, many adventures over the last 11,000+ miles. We have traveled through the Adirondacks on a lovely drive around Lake George, NY (Which will definitely get it’s own blog post), through the St. Lawrence Valley of Upstate NY, and to many points between Indianapolis, IN and the Ohio River (near Leavenworth, IN) . Donna figures prominently in the local scooter club, Hoosier Ride, and is instantly recognizable no matter where she is around town.
Many who know about scooters might think that she is a stock Stella, with little-to-no modifications. Donna hides some secrets and customization which are not readily visible to the naked eye – some safety-focused, some not. While I have a full list available for view of the modifications I have done (or want to do), a few items I’m most proud of are the Tubeless Wheels (no more tubed tires!) and LED lights (much brighter than the stock bulbs).
While Donna has been by my side for only a few years, she has been a constant and stalwart companion through some of the most difficult times of my life, and has been key in helping me cope with drastic and dramatic changes over a short span. Many people treat their vehicles as merely tools – ways to get from Point A to Point B.
But Donna is much, much more than that. Donna is family.
Let’s conclude with a ride-along, shall we?