It's really about time. The scooter market in the U.S. has grown over 300% in the last 8 years or so. They are reasonably in expensive to own (almost every manufacturer has a 50cc scoot for under $1500) and insure. If you stay at or under the 50cc mark you don't even have to tag them in most states. Not to mention the fact that you don't need a mc license. The biggest thing is making sure that the newbies actually check into a msf course for safety reasons. Other than that, let the good times roll.
This country needs to drasticaly improve driver education to include NOTICING and SHARING THE ROAD with 2 wheeled vehicles on a regular basis before a scoots becomes the "perfect" second car. But there's alot to recomend them, even for people who never thought of them selves as the "motorcycle type" Hell, even though I'd ridden off road and in the field behind my house when I was a teenager, my first street legal two-wheel experience was on an Aprilia SR-50 (1998), and that experience influenced me to get a real motorcycle, which was promptly ignored by a 95 year-old man from Florida, causing a totaled bike and a well-broken wrist (at his insurance company's expense thank god!)
Space eficient, cheap to own and operate, easy to ride, ther're great! As long as your commute doesn't require use of an interstate or speeds much over 45 MPH I'd recomend a scooter to nearly anyone, both for fun, and as a fair-weather gas saver.
Interesting thing, cagers seem to pay more attention to scooters than "real" motorcycles. I get waves and smiles and pleasant yeids when on my brother's SR-50, but on a "real" motorcycle I get ignored, pressured and scowled at. Maybe it's the cute factor? I don't know...
I'd love to read a 50cc scooter comparo. My commute is about 8 miles of non highway; it take me around 25 minuters or so. I ride my bicycle most days, but that eliminates my ability to run errans during lunch. I think I a scooter would be perfect for me. I'm looking at the 50cc because they are cheap, and I don't want to deal with liscensing and all that crap.
Perhaps, test a modded scooter. Say a Zuma w/ a pipe and what not.
When our American friends stop fooling around with oversized SUVs and trucks, problem is already solved. No need to fit those ample backsides on top of 50cc Piaggios.
In my opinion the best way to get there is the high gas taxes a la Europe. They really do work. Less money to the other guys and more to our own governments.
Not only fewer barrels means saved euros but furthermore: less demand = cheaper oil. Back to Economics 101 America!
The downside is that, well have you guys ever tried to do it in the back seat of a Fiat 600? I have. Unfortunately, the crucial moment, the girl´s brother tipped a vodkalime bottle on his lap and woke up.
I didn't bother reading that. I started riding on a 100cc Honda scooter which includes one of my most memorable road trips, an 8 hour adventure in the rain. I eventually graduated to my last bike, a ZX-12R.
I have no bike right now, but I am going to be moving to a new job soon and depending on what the commuting situation and climate is like, I am going to be examining if I should buy a 250 or 400 scooter.
I am now past my youthful machismo and past the superior purist attitudes of youth and am now ready to appreciate instead of scorn the value of a scooter for commuting.
Frankly, I detest commuting on motorcycles. I hate sitting in traffic on a motorcycle, hunched over. I detest the constant clutch pulling, slipping dance, and the I just want my feet free to put down and lift up with the stop/go of the traffic without having to also dance the gear shift ballet. Not to mention the massive heat the bike's engine throws off (particularly the ZX-12R) and racket the fan makes, cooking me in my gear while I sit and bake in the summer afternoon sun.
A scooter is blissful for this environment. your hands to make you go stop and turn, your feet to keep you tipping over when stopped, not gear shift tap dancing, no clutch slipping, no left hand work outs, no messing about with trying to use the left foot for constant on the peg off the peg nonsense.
DOn't get me wrong. in cars and trucks, I HATE autos. In a car, even in stop go traffic, I'd rather be letting the clutch in and out to move the car than be in an auto equipped car. But a manual transmission car doesn't make me do two things with every limb all at the same time.
Scooters are agile, maneuverable, easy to ride, easy to park, light on fuel, cheap, and just about the most stress free for of transportation. and its getting transported I need, the scooter it is.
But prices for new ones are too high. 250cc scooters for near $6k?! are they mad? I'll buy a nice used one for cheap.
I used to have no interest in scooters until I spent a month in a college town (Madison WI) and I noticed that all the scoots could roll right up on the sidewalk and chain to anything, just like a bicycle. At the same time I could not park my motorcycle anywhere without paying parking fees or feeding a meter all day. If I actually lived in a town like that, I would have a scooter - absolutely. In some urban areas they make a lot of sense.
I've been extremely, blissfully happy with my Silverwing for all the above reasons, with the added benefit of being able to tour on it - spent 8 days and 6000 miles touring the southwest this summer on the thing. Get one, you won't regret it.
You were commuting on the wrong kind of bike. My 75 CB750F still gets 40+ mpg and weather protection is good with the Windjammer in the winter. In the summer, I never feel heat from the engine even in 100+ temperatures. No hunching over, and tires are comparatively cheap and last 15,000+ miles. It may wear out someday, but so far is not giving any sign of it.
I could say the same thing about small to mid-sized motorcycles. They do require a bit more skill to ride than an automatic-trans scooter, but my W650 gets >50mpg and is light and easy to handle. I do have to admit to envy over enclosed waterproof storage on scooters, though.
Some of the problems I see about commuting on bikes aren't just related to inclement weather and perceived safey. Rather, in most cities in the U.S. there just aren't any big benefits. The smaller size and fuel economy are great as an individual, but lawmakers rarely seem to appreciate the reduced congestion and fuel efficiency. I think there are some really inexpensive things that our legislators can do to incent the use of these alternative forms of transportation:
Parking - how about free parking in city lots for bikes? Give up 2 or 3 regular spots and paint smaller lines and let motorcycles and scooters park at no cost. I've actually lived in some cities that enforced a one-vehicle per parking spot rule. So, a single motorcycle had to take up an entire car spot and pay the same hourly rate. Just downright stupid. How farfetched is this? San Jose, CA, recently passed an law allowing free parking in city lots for hybrid-electric cars. Great, except the same rules don't apply to bikes and scooters that get even better fuel economy AND take up less space. Seems like a small sacrifice to the city that would encourage even more alternative transportation choices than overhyped hybrids.
In Europe I usually see scooters jammed into every conceivable nook and cranny like the sidewalks, doorways, etc. How about just not enforcing parking laws for scooters and motorcycles or actually legally excluding them?
I have to applaud my employer. Our parking lots are overflowing with cars and we often have parking shortages. However, they recently repaved and repainted the lots and added smaller "motorcycle only" spots in the most desireable areas close to the building entrances. Sweet for me and the two or three others who often ride their bikes to work.
I live in Northern Californa so a bike is truly a viable means of transportation here except for the a couple of months of monsoon rains. And then there are still a lot of diehard riders who continue to commute by bike. Personally, I'm not particularly concerned about getting wet, but people around here spin and crash in the wet as if it were ice and snow so I'd rather have a bit of protection around me when the weather turns nasty. Last year I watched a guy spin out and cream the car in front of me at a stoplight. I was on my bike and was really glad I decided not to lane-split to the front of that line that morning. Now that I think of it, legalizing lane-splitting in other states would also seem to be a low-cost/no-cost benefit for bikes and scooters that would encourage their use.
I'm glad to see bikes and scooters entering discussions about alternative transportation.
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