I've been helping a friend purchase scooters for his shop in San Francisco, so I know the used scooter market well.
My prediction is there will be a glut of lightly-used, once-crashed scooters on the market next summer. Dented Vespas and scuffed Zumas with under 1000 miles on them.
I don't know what their problem is, but first-time scooter buyers approach motorcycling from a car-owner perspective, and they don't like it when reality smacks them on the a$$. They go into a scooter shop with no education or training, but the scooter that looks the most like their weird fantasy dream scooter (Vespa sells more units than BMW in the USA!) and put it on a credit card.
Motorcycle training is too inconvenient for these people; they don't want to wait...they want to scoot NOW!
We need mandatory training for everybody, not just sub 18 year-olds. If you need it for an airplane, you should need it for a scooter or motorcycle. Yes, even 50cc.
All their friends are getting scooters, and if you can afford to live in Jackson hole, you are paying pocket change for a scooter. Mileage is a handy excuse.
Of course, it's already the middle of September, and within a month, the only residents of the area riding scooters will be the waiters, barkeeps and housekeepers. (Well that's assuming the purchasers pass the latest toy to someone who can use it; sooner or later somebody might..)
It's funny how the cagers think it's dangerous to play in traffic with full-sized bikes but it's safe to be in the streets with smaller vehicles like scoots. Bikers are the ones taking their lives in their hands but scoots are somehow different ... anything so cute must be safe, right ?
I knew I guy back in another geologic era (the 60's) that had a Vespa. Gas pumps in those days didn't have vapor recovery systems or anything. He would hit half a dozen gas stations after they closed, and just drain the gas out of their hoses, and he was good for another day or two. He said they kinda suck when it rains, but have better weather protection, at least for your lower body, than motorcycles.
The Aprilia SR50 Ditech is the most technologically advanced scooter on the market. It's fuel injected 50cc 2 stroke goes 50-55MPH in de-restricted form (a simple ECU mod done at a dealer) and delivers an amazing 110+MPG. The factory claims nearly 140MPG, but the best I've heard has been 125MPG..still not too shabby just for tooling around in the city.....
I don't know for sure on an 80cc scooter, but a 250 cc motorcyle can reportedly get 75 mph. I'd much prefer a Kawasaki Super Sherpa 250, say, over any 250 scooter. Not sold in the U.S., but the Super Sherpa has to be the sharpest looking and most versatile 250 sold. And sitting up relatively high is a big plus, whereas most scooters Ive seen seem low slung. The 50 to 80cc ones are really dinky looking.
I have owned scooters and motorcycles for 33 years and thought my own recent experiences might be relevant to this issue (180 vs 160 mph sport bikes aren't relevant to my florida keys lifestyle, actually). i recently sold my stella 150 (an Indian copy of a Vespa PX four speed 150cc two stroke) and replaced it with a Suzuki Savage 650 single. I wanted an inexpensive commuter vehicle as there aren't great riding roads around here (i enjoy getting out on the water by way of compensation) and i thought the stella would allow me commute 25 miles on a road that has speed limits between 45 and 60 mph. however the stella was horribly unreliable and strained to keep up to 50 in frequent headiwnds. around town, in Key west the four speed gearbox was more annoying than my previous gearless honda 50. mpg equalled about 62. mainetneance (when the engine wasn't seizing) was minimal. purchase price brand new $4000 with accessories. my 2002 savage with 800 miles cost $3100 plus saddlebags for$200 (with supports and a rear rack. mpg equals 52 and my 45 minute commute loses at least ten minutes each way depending how many sheriffs cars i meet on the way. around town the savage copes fine and is easy to park. on the highway i can roll from 40 to 70 mph in top gear and i cured the backfiring issue with a quick tweak of the carb (instructions found online). I miss the straight riding position of the Stella replaced by a bizarre-to-me feet up chopper style on the Suzuki and the superior weather protection and luggage carrying of the Stella. i love the final drive belt on the suszuki, clean, maintenace free and smooth. all motorcycles shoudl come so equipped.
Having said all that motorcycles like boats are
reflections of our inner demons and i still lust after a sensible-to-me Guzzi Breva 750, irrational, expensive and not as easy to maintain as my single cylinder "beginner's bike."
as for cager sriding scooters, if they really did get into being on two wheels it would be good for the environment, good for traffic congestion and hiopefully good for rleations between road users. I'l beleive that when i see it.
Sure you can get a perfectly good Ninja 250 for 3K. And the best part is this - it only costs 3K if you absolutely have to have a brand new one. Among the members of one of my motorcycle gangs, there have recently been 3 Niinja 250's bought. Apparently they're getting popular. At least in central Arkansas...
Overall I reckon that a few people will react to fuel prices by buying scooters and bikes. But the vast majrity of people will not. I remember way back in the past when gas prices soared up to $1.50 per gallon on September 12, 2001. Everybody was throwing a fit and swearing up and down that they would get rid of their gas guzzling behemoths. Maybe .01% actually did. Sure they all complained loudly and threw gas nozzles on the ground, but they continued to buy the gasoline.
Now gas is sitting at about $3.00 per gallon or more. Once again everybody is complaining and swearing that they will ditch their gas guzzling behemoths for something more fuel efficient. And once again very few people are actually doing anything other than complain.
We're pretty darn good at complaining around here (USA, not MO). But when it comes time to actually do something that will involve changing our lifestyles, we'd rather not. That's why gas prices aren't going to come down significantly. Ever. People will continue to buy the stuff at whatever rate the oil companies charge. They would rather pay $10.00 per gallon than change their travelling habits. People are freaking stupid.