The purpose of this article is to help you understand why you should be riding a scooter and why you should not drive a Hummer. Some of these arguments will seem obvious to any person of conscience and some will be revelations of an earthshaking and life-altering magnitude. Read on, you seeker of knowledge.
Scooters are cool. Hummers are stupid looking military vehicles. A Hummer says ” I am insecure. I want to be associated with the most power military in the world when I pick my kids up from school. My goal is not to avoid accidents, it is to crush the life from the other vehicle and its occupants when an accident occurs. I can afford gas. Screw you.” A scooter says “I am secure with myself. I enjoy the wind in my face. I don’t need a vehicle designed to drive through rivers to get a loaf of bread from the store.”
Scooters get 60-80 miles to a gallon of gas. Hummers get 5-10. My wife couldn’t figure out why we had three or four charges of $2.50-$3.00 on our statement every month. It was the fill-ups for my scooter. Insurance for a scooter is around $200 a year. Maintenance is cheap. You can get 30 scooters for the price of a Hummer, 20 if you buy Vespa.
Scooters are less polluting. When you have the wind in your face, you want it to be clean air. You want your children to breath clean air when they play outside. You want to see the mountains, the ocean, and the sky.
Scooters are safe if you don’t have an accident. I know that sounds stupid, but think about it. When I ride my scooter, I assume that I am virtually invisible. I assume that people in Hummers are hunting me or, at a minimum, refuse to see me. I assume that it is my responsibility to avoid collision regardless of who is at fault.
Convinced? Good. Here are some things to help you choose your scooter and help you undertake the scooter lifestyle.
Don’t just buy a scooter and start driving around. Take a motorcycle training class. It will teach you some great techniques for avoiding accidents. It will make you a better driver of automobiles. I can’t stress this enough. If you let a Hummer squish you, it will set the scooter movement back. Don’t let it happen.
Wear a good helmet. Don’t be stupid. I was with my good friend in Junior High when he found out his father was killed on a motorcycle. He died of a head injury that could have been avoided by wearing a helmet.
Unless it is your only form of locomotion, don’t ride your scooter when it’s wet. Drive your car or take the bus. Don’t take your scooter to get lumber or plants from Home Depot or try to carry eight passengers. We have a Ford Ranger and a Honda Pilot for that stuff. I ride the scooter whenever it makes sense and use one of the other vehicles for what they were designed to do.
If you are going to carry a passenger, get a 150cc scooter. I recommend one with larger tires like my Kymco People 150 (www.kymco.com). Larger tires make the scooter easier to handle. If you are not carrying a passenger, I’d still get a 150cc scooter.
The larger scooters are four-stroke, the 50cc scooters are two-stroke. There are exceptions, but that is the basic rule. The four-stroke scooters are cleaner, quieter, get better gas mileage, and can go 65mph. They are freeway legal, although I would never ride mine there. I feel much safer on my 150cc scooter than I did on the 50cc models I tried, but the more powerful scooters do cost more.
Go talk to dealer before you buy. I got mine from Honest Mick at the Scooter Shop in Orange, CA (www.scootershop.com). You can buy online or used, but a good dealer can tell you what models are reliable and what the trade-offs are between models.
In the motorcycle class they will teach you about protective clothing. You should do what they tell you. I don’t, but you should. I can’t be bothered with putting on gloves, long pants, boots, and a leather jacket to scoot over to the store. Scooters were designed for shorts and scandals, the standard fare of my wardrobe. I do, however, wear glasses. Regular sunglasses are Ok. You can grow new skin, but you want to avoid that rock in the eye kicked up by that Hummer in front of you.
Here are some brands of scooters to start you on your way figuring out what brand to buy. It is not an exhaustive list. I found the exotic European models to be pretty incestuous. The engine is made by one company and manufactured by another company using a design by a third company which based it on an extinct model that is now back in style. I bought a Kymco because the dealer recommended it and people said great things about it on the newsgroups. The user’s manual is not great, but the scooter runs like a dream and looks cool.