YKK Forum

Scooter Mystery

Ya know... If you put a fairing over the rear end of a Honda Roadpal, it would look a lot like Alpha's scooter. The front end is a close match. The gas tank and seat are in the right place.


- Loran
Monday, May 17, 2004

Maybe just a coincedence, most likely the author drew something sub conciously that matched the scooter

- Roy Zhou
Saturday, May 22, 2004


Personally, I doubt that it's a coincidence. Ashinano pays an awful lot of attention to mechanical details.



- dDave
Sunday, May 23, 2004

Dunno - IMHO the Honda looks more like a motorized bicycle, mainly for short trips inside a city. Alpha rides a full-blown scooter sufficient for "cruising", so to speak;-)

- Rainer
Sunday, May 23, 2004

Piroshi Sakamoto pointed out the similarity between Alpha’s scooter and the Roadpal during an earlier discussion. I went back and looked at it again recently.
Points of similarity:
1. Telescoping front forks (unusual on a scooter)
2. The straight, sloping central tube
3. The arrangement of the steering (like a bicycle, also unusual)
4. Location of gas tank
5. Engine configuration (could be concealed by fairing)
6. Location of footrests
7. Position of seat
8. Exhaust on the right side
9. Chain and gear assembly surrounded by a sheet metal cover on the left side (visible on Alpha’s scooter on http://ykk.misago.org/Volume1/17 )
10. Diameter of the wheels

1. Roadpal has no rear fairing covering the engine and rear wheel.
2. On the Roadpal, the lower section of the front forks is narrower than the upper. On Alpha’s scooter, the upper section is narrower (and covered by a rubber boot).
3. Alpha’s handlebars are lower than the Roadpal’s handlebars.
4. Alpha’s wheels are solid disks, not spoke wheels.
5. Alpha’s front wheel is not set forward of the forks as on the Roadpal.

These differences are minor points. It could be that Alpha’s scooter is a Roadpal prototype that preceded the release to manufacturing of the final design in 1976. The designers might have dropped the fairing, modified the front forks, and changed the wheels after some experimentation. The Roadpal is a closer match to Alpha’s scooter than the Nibbio (sniff! So much for my bird theory).

Unfortunately, I can find no information on the development of the Roadpal design.

It is true that the Roadpal was intended for short errands and not long road trips. Indeed, it was intended for “shopping trips.” When Alpha announces her plan to visit Yokohama, Ojisan acknowledges that it would be a long trip in the little scooter. The trip took something like six hours and required an overnight stay. Of course, I have known young folks to cover great distances on small motorcycles and bicycles. It is more a question of posterior endurance than engine displacement.

- Loran
Sunday, May 23, 2004

Hmmm. I never considered before how long it took to get to Yokohama. Six hours by scooter?

If we estimate even a 15MPH average speed for Alpha-san (she DOES get distracted and the roads are iffy), that puts the cafe, at minimum, ninety miles away!

Does this mean supplies (or coffee) are no closer?

Also, Japan must still be trading by sea to some degree (there aren't many coffee plantations in Japan, are there? Okinawa?) after everything.

- steven
Sunday, May 23, 2004

Come to think of it, I have no idea what the distance is between Alpha's home on the peninsula and downtown Yokohama. I just assumed that since she stayed overnight that the trip took all day.

Does anyone here know what the distance is?

- Loran
Sunday, May 23, 2004

Really, we're not really sure where Alpha's coffee shop is located exactly

- Roy Zhou
Sunday, May 23, 2004

There seems to be general agreement on its approximate location - somewhere on the west side of the Miura-hanto peninsula.


The general outline of the present day peninsula matches the map provided by the author:

- Loran
Sunday, May 23, 2004

I recently bought a book of maps of Japan: Given where we think her cafe is (as the previous poster said; on the west coast of the Miura-hantou peninsula), it is about 30km in a straight line to the west side of Yokohama (the part that would be above water). I think we can safely say that it would be 50km by roads, and maybe much more since the more direct roads are washed out. I'm betting the 16 is not usable all the way anymore, as Oji-san says, having to take the "ridge roads"...

- Ian Darrow
Sunday, May 23, 2004

@ Loran

I don't see those differences you point out being *that* minor. The fronts of both models have a resemblance, no question, but that's IMHO the conceptual similarity of (motor) bicycle front wheel development.
BTW, it's questionable whether the wheels on Alpha's scooter are solid - you'll find the same depiction on a random scooter in http://ykk.misago.org/Volume1/21. The "solid" front wheel of the bicycle in PositioN Cha. 4 http://ykk.misago.org/PositioN/38 even shows both fork arms: The one in the back is a bit blurry, like partially obstructed by the spokes. IMHO Sensei just reduced the drawing complexity, as he likes to do with other objects and scenery, too.

Summary: To me Alpha's Scooter is a different beast, I still believe in either a mod job (~1960's motorcycle front wielded to a scooter rear), or a rare model (prototype?), maybe an intermediate step into the scooter market by a motorcycle company?

- Rainer
Monday, May 24, 2004

Ian wrote:

"I think we can safely say that it would be 50km by roads."

That's about 30 miles. At average speed of 10 miles per hour, the trip would take about 3 hours. I figure a low average speed due to stops, detours, and bad roads.

So her trip to Yokohama would be the modern equivalent of a 3 hour or 180 mile car trip. Yep, that's far.

- Loran
Tuesday, May 25, 2004

So three hours each way, usually she'd start around 8 or 9 in the mornings, figure in about 2 hours for shopping and and hour for lunch. that would be from 8 AM to 5 or 6 PM. Yep it would be a whole day.

- Roy Zhou
Tuesday, May 25, 2004

@ Rainer

You pointed out that in Position the bicycle spokes were not drawn out and the other fork was visible. I can not find an example in YKK where the other fork was visible through the wheel of Alpha's scooter. There also appears to be times when the artist added lines to the stationary wheel that suggest reflections. I think that Alpha's wheels are supposed to be solid.

Concerning those curious forks...

I looked at pictures of many scooters and mopeds yesterday. The arrangement of the forks on Alpha's scooter are very rare. Most motorcycles, scooters, and mopeds have different arrangements. The ones with telescoping forks typically have two cylinders on either side of the pivot. Anchoring the forks in a yoke assembly below the pivot resembles a mountain bike. This element of the design severly limits the number of possible origins for Alpha's scooter (unless it is a fantasy or custom design).

Do any of the Japanese fan sites discuss this curious scooter?

- Loran
Tuesday, May 25, 2004


I think you're right on the wheels - http://ykk.misago.org/Volume3/103 clearly shows the fork arm's shadow, and the black dot at ~ 4 o' clock seems to be the valve.

(kotau) :D

- Rainer
Wednesday, May 26, 2004

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