General Scooterism


 The scooter plays different roles in different places.  In much of Asia, the scooter is simply — transportation.  It is the family car.  The omnipresence of all manner of scooters does to a significant degree demonstrate that the scooter design is indeed more generally functional than the motorcycle, whose swing-the-leg-over design makes riding in a dress or skirt less elegant and makes the presence of a trunk or luggage box much less convenient.
Scootering
In Europe,  the scooter has traditionally been a source of mobility for the young — an affordable first vehicle, though not by any means the exclusive property of youth (see Scooter Freedom).  Very common among students and others of limited means, scooters often dominate university car parks and often tend to become associated with those of little means, but with much potential.  A study involving random interviews of scooterists and drivers of other sorts of transportation would probably find far more of the former who can conjugate a French or German verb, take a derivative, or speak intelligently on Spinoza.  Such a study deserves to be carried out.

In America, scooterists are harder to categorize.  Certainly, as a percentage of the driving population, they are far less significant than are their European and Asian counterparts.   It does seem likely that the American scooterist does at least have a heightened sense of the aesthetic and practical factors of inexpensive transportation (See Motorscooter Return on Investment calculator).  Or perhaps we would just like to believe that of ourselves.

Scooterism

Much appreciation to those of you who with the requisite tolerance for unsubstantiated theses to have read this far.  Perhaps you agree and perhaps you don’t, but — well, it would be nice if true.

Bus, subway, train, bicycle, skates, motorbikes, walking — all forms of green alternative transport which have become much harder and more dangerous to use in modern society. There are many factors which affect transportation choices but one serious disadvantage of these choices has not received enough notice.

When you do your errands about town, how many stores do you need to visit? What do you do with your purchases when you go into another store? With shoplifting scanners across the exits and armed security prominent in most department stores, supermarkets, etc., one can’t help worrying about the very real possibility of accidentally falling afoul of security with disastrous results. Given the frequency of technical malfunctions, misidentification, and the very real possibility of having an item in one’s possession which one could be accused of stealing, shopping can be highly hazardous.

Under-Seat StorageShopping in a car provides a level of convenience and safety that many have come to take for granted. Most shoppers would not cons9ider carrying merchandise purchased from one store into another, but would stow it away in the trunk before going on with their shopping. If shoppers have no trunk to stow items in, and particularly if they, in an earnest effort to avoid waste, bring their own bags with them, the potential for false accusations of theft is very high.

Unlike travelling by foot, bike, bus or motorcycle, however, riding a 100 mpg+ motorscooter does not leave one entirely without secure, lockable storage options (See Motorscooter Storage Issues). With a lockable compartment beneath the seat and another in the form of a trunk in the back, the scooterist is not entirely without a place to stow merchandise as she completes her errands. Though some motorcycles do have trunks, it is uncommon as they can be awkward things to swing one’s leg over. With the step-through frame of the scooter, locking trunks are a very common feature. The locking under-seat storage compartment is nearly universal on scooters.

Though not really feasible for stowing rolls of Christmas wrapping paper, a sponge-mop nor multiple watermelons, but scooter storage compartments work very nicely for many other things.

Johnny Pag – http://www.johnnypag.com/Dealer_List.html
Kymco – http://www.strmotorsports.com/dealers/dealerlocator.asp
QLINK – http://www.qlinkmotor.com/dealer.php
United Motors – http://www.umamerica.com/site/usa/find.html
Vento – http://www.vento.com/

The Ethical Pros and Cons of buying a Chinese Motorscooter

Many express concern about buying products produced in the near slave-labor environments common in Chinese factories. There is certainly food for thought there. Psychometry aside, there is still an understandable stigma about owning and using an object produced within such unpleasant exploitative surroundings (See Motorscooter Choice Ethics).

Unfortunately, there seems to be very little one can own and use which has not been, if not assembled in, at least assembled from parts made in — China. Just try avoiding the use of products connected with China for a day.

So, what can one do to to support the humane treatment of workers abroad and the retention of manufacturing jobs in unionizable countries?

Yumbo Roadpower (TANK, Roketa)
The Yumbo Roadpower (AKA TANK, Roketa) is found all over Central America because it is both cheap and reliable

Chinese products have not just been pouring into the US, they have become a staple in countries around the world. They have made the difference, in many cases, between affordable and unaffordable transportation among many other things (See TANK Motorscooters).

Drivers in the US expressing an aversion to Chinese products through boycotting specific high-ticket products (while ignoring the vast range of other Chinese products that probably add up to much more) are not likely to make any noticeable impression on sales, markets, or working conditions. However, a consumer consensus expressed through highly visible network channels, might well persuade Chinese manufacturing interests that there is a potential for increased market share in a shift toward more benign employee policies.

Chinese companies have made efforts to comply with federal and state regulations and to woo American buyers in various ways. Would it not be possible, through outreach by motorscooter forums and sites to inspire Chinese factories to make an effort to appeal to customers by improving worker relations? to convince them that such efforts would actually make a difference?

Perhaps it is a vain hope that any real change would take place. Why wouldn’t Chinese companies (much like companies everywhere) find it easier to beef up their PR rather than make any real substantive changes? These concerns should certainly be addressed in any list of improvements presented. For example:

  1. Access to real information about working conditions
  2. Knowing who’s who — the real faces of workers and managers
  3. Communication between scooter riders and factory workers including pictures stories and gifts.

There would be many problems implementing such a campaign, but who knows? Perhaps some scooterist out there has the brilliant idea that would work. With the growth of online motorscooter sales, there is a substantial community of scooter owners and would-be owners who could confer and cooperate in such a campaign.

One day a family Friend, Gerry Kuehner dropped by our house with his new acquisition — a motorscooter. It was the first time I had ever seen such a thing and I was absolutely enchanted. I was probably about 12 years old at the time and ownership of a vehicle of my own was not yet even a subliminal wish.

It was blue. Unlike bikes and motorcycles, it had a floor — with pedals. It really seemed more like a car, or perhaps half a car, than any two-wheeled vehicle I had seen. Gerry was always a role-model figure for me, in years, only slightly older, but in maturity and resourcefulness, always classified in my mind an adult more than a comtemporary. There was therefore nothing I would rather have acquired than a motorscooter.

For some reason, when I did find myself prepared to purchase a motor vehicle a few years later, scooters were apparently nowhere to be found. I had subjected my mother to a long fruitless voyage to a Cushman factory only to discover that they no longer produced scooters. A 90cc motorcycle turned out to be the closest thing and was made to serve. A few months later there appeared a pair of Lambretta’s in the showroom of a local dealer. I did reject the temptation to trade in my 90 for a smaller 50cc Lambretta which would cost more, have less power, and require mixing of gas and oil. The temptation was very strong though.

Only after college, work, family,  many vehicles of varying reliability and functionality, and the onset of middle age, did I finally indulge my motorscooter muse. A cheap Chinese motorscooter was the ideal solution, costing less in 21st century depreciated dollars than did my old motorcycle.

It’s not a Honda (Find a local Honda dealer), and it has its peculiarities, but Hondas do too.

Women Belong on Scooters

She takes her place at the helm

 

Unlike the motorcycle, a woman on a motorscooter is not at all out of place. Far more often than is the case with motorcycles, the woman takes her place at the helm (See Motorscooter Lib.).

At the same time the most practical and the cheapest form of transportation, the scooter is, in many places, the symbol of coming-of-age (See Dating and Motorscooters).

Motorscooter Freedom

The scooter is the first vehicle of the teen her way to full emancipation. See Motorscooter Freedom

The motorscooter is freed from the stereotypical role of the male domited motorcycle world.

 

See Dating and Scooter Culture

In Bangladesh, the scooter provides the means for women to play a major role.“a whole generation of role models who are having an impact on their sons and daughters. In the local governments, they may still be in the minority, but they will have influence. From the home to the roads to the market place, these women are making a tremendous change in society.” From Women on Motor Scooters: The Road to Success in Bangladesh

Modesty in a skirt

Modesty in a skirt just doesn’t happen on a motorcycle.
See Motorscooter Advantages.

 


cleardot (1K)

A tour of Online Motorscooter Enthusiasm

Scooters

Motorscooters mean many different things to different people, of different ages, in different places. To some, particularly in the states, the scooter is just a wimpy motorcycle. To others, it is a symbol of style, nonconformity, elegance, emancipation, perhaps even virility. To much of the world, however, it is simply basic transportation with no particular association with any message whatsoever. The motorscooter is really somewhat older than the motorcycle, having been created from the simplest ingredients: wheels, a board, and a box to sit on with a motor in it. See Motorscooter FAQ How did the motorscooter come about? Motorscooters are more basic, cheaper, simpler and in most cases, prettier than motorcycles (One could perhaps find many motorcyclists who feel that their vehicles are more aesthetic, but few of them are likely to argue that they are”prettier” than scooters). There are also many other advantages of motorscooters over motorcycles.Scooters
The fuel efficiency of motorscooters varies somewhat depending upon vehicle weight, load, inclines, etc., but tends to hover around 80mpg for 150cc models and a bit over 100mpg for 50cc models, making scooters one of the most ecological vehicle choices from both fuel consumption and emissions perspectives (At ome time, when two-stroke motorscooters were the norm, the infamous “blue smoke” produced by burning oil and inefficient combustion made scooters an ecologically poor choice. Modern motorscooters, most of them using four-stroke engines, are very clean-burning and efficient.). We all look forward to alternative fuel scooters but (Piaggio plans to launch hybrid-powered scooter in H2 2008), for the time being, the gas ones are still a very responsible choice.

E lectric Motorscooters do exist and some are very viable choices. Research has demonstrated that really novel scooters are just around the corner. The Vectrix VX-FCe fuel cell hybrid motor scooter contains a 500 watt fuel cell, a regenerative braking system, a top speed of 62 mph, and a 155 mile range. See Fuel Cell Electric Motorscooters. There is also a Scooter which burns liquid propane gas.

Classic motorscooters such as Vespas and Lambrettas once gained a reputation for being the cheap vehicle of choice for counterculture subversion and rebellion. With the current soaring prices of modern Vespas, only the established can afford them. The new cheap Chinese import scooters, TANK, Roadrunner, and Roketas, have largely taken over that role. Scooter Commuter Steve’s Motorscooter Blog contains a chronicle of TANK ownership. I ride one myself and love it (the others, not being approved for sale in California See Legislation-Happy California Shoots Itself in the Ecological Foot).

There has recently been a spate of anti-motorscooter deprecation in Australia (See Motor scooters ‘new menace’ on roads) where motorscooters have seen a major upsurge in usage (See Finding the best way to battle Sydney traffic) . Of course, the temperament of Australians combined with the narrow road structure which is treated by drivers as though it were the Autobahn, makes driving there dangerous under any conditions. See Motorscooters in Australia


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A Global Transportation Solution

Thanks to Motorscooter Muse

Cheap and fuel efficient transportation “available in all states but California”

Around the country commuters are finding what Europe, Asia, much of the world has already discovered, that the cheapest form of private transportation to acquire and to drive is the motorscooter, moped, or small motorcycle. The smaller street-legal motorscooters sell for as little as $800 and, in many states, that is the extent of the investment as no licensing, insurance, nor registration is required. One may become a mobile commuter for much less than a month’s wages in a vehicle that will handle daily commuting and may use as little as a couple of gallons of fuel per month. This is not the case in California, however, whereScooters in Taiwan
regulation of licensing, registration, insurance requirements and, above all, California Air Resources Board (CARB) approval requirements of cheaper vehicles are mind-bogglingly excessive. The Internet world of online scooter sales is full of cautionary notices stating “Legal in all states but California” or some variant thereof.

California’s Ecological Conundrum

Scootering in CaliforniaCalifornia’s abysmal public transportation system makes commuting by private vehicle utterly obligatory for many. Even where public transportation is available, it would not have the capacity to handle the tiniest percentage of commuting needs if even a fraction of private-vehicle commuters made the switch. Californians are well wedded to freedom and individual transport, and far too many of them are driving SUVs or similarly egregiously wasteful vehicles.

Calculating Motorscooter Economics

With gas prices on an intermittent but ultimately upward spiral, more and more commuters, however unecologically minded they might be, are inevitably considering the fuel-efficiency factorin their decisions on what to drive. The return on investment of a motorscooter (see Motorscooter ROI Calculator) is a compelling argument for the scooter commuter (but note that the scooters there listed are not California legal). The regulation impediments blocking the Californian from cheap scooter ownership are highly daunting and seriously erode the economic advantages of scooters with fees, higher prices, and DMV rigmarole (See California DMV entry on Motorcycle Licensing).

CARB Creates Impediments to the Spread of Eco-Friendly Vehicles

scooterThere is no bigger obstacle to the proliferation of fuel-efficient vehicles in California than the California Air Resources Board. It is certainly ironic that CARB regulations, designed as they are to combat pollution, are serving instead to perpetuate it. It is almost certain that, if mass migration from gasguzzling to more refined gas-sipping vehicles is to take place, it will be through the availability and proliferation of highly economical alternative vehicles — transportation choices almost everyone can afford, and can even afford to experiment with on a temporary or ancillary basis by adding another vehicle rather than replacing one. Regulation is responsible for the fact that many cheaper scooters are simply not legally sold in California, and those that are are more expensive than they would otherwise be, due to the expense of, and time required by the CARB approval process.

Disadvantages of Scooting in California

LA FreewayIt must be admitted that California, with its freeway systems, is not moped friendly (the term “moped” is often used to refer to the smaller 50cc, or minimalist non-freeway motorscooters. See Mopeds Defined.) Besides requiring license, registration, and insurance not required in other states, mopeds, 50cc, or minimalist scooters are, understandably, prohibited on freeways. Larger motorscooters are freeway legal however, and many commutes, particularly during rush-hour, are faster using surface streets. Also, though not necessarily a recommended practice, “lane-splitting” is specifically permitted in California. Together with motorcycles, scooters may proceed between lanes when car traffic has stopped or is creeping along. Lane splitting is permissible if done in a safe and prudent manner according to the California Highway Patrol (http://www.chp.ca.gov/html/motors.html).

Motorscooter Parking Issues

Scooter Parking in TaiwanTwo-wheeled vehicles require far less parking space than do even compact cars. Unfortunately, few parking lots in California are specifically provided with parking for motorcycles, leaving the scooterist with the choice of occupying a full-sized slot, taking a chance on parking with the bicycles, or entering the gray-area of using wasted spaces at the ends of rows that are too small for cars (See Scooter Parking Issues). In some places, Lancaster PA, for example where the Mayor rides a scooter (See Do you ‘scooter‘ to job? Park free at city garage), active efforts have been made to encourage scootering by providing special, free parking facilities. Of course, were two-wheeled vehicles to become more common, the space-economy advantages of parking scooters would be more universally recognized and more accommodation would be made.

Steps Toward an Eco-Friendly California

California vehicular transportation has to change. Public transportation, even if used to capacity, would be inadequate and is definitely not in tune the the California psyche. Two-wheeled vehicles are one possible solution of many but definitely the one adopted by much of the rest of the world and the one we at Motorscooter Muse are very enthusiastic about.

Scooters

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A Left Handed Scooter?

left brake

Left Brake

When I first drove my TANK 150 Sporty, I noticed quickly that the brake handles were not the same; one had a spherical knob on the end and the other did not. My initial assumption that something had been broken off proved erroneous. The brake handles were clearly of differing design.

Now one could naturally come to the conclusion that Chinese manufacturing and construction simply suffers from inconsistency and erratic mismatching but it seemed that perhaps a more charitable interpretation was in order. It deserved some deeper speculation. The thought that it might be a deliberate effort to aid cretinous Americans (this is certainly the way we are regarded in China) in distinguishing right from left presented itself, but this solution seemed too obvious and simple. Perhaps a more thoroughly esoteric motivation underlay this anomaly.

right brake

Right Brake

Switching from driving on the right to driving on the left can seem to be a simple mirror-image transformation, that is, until a sudden emergency arises and one attempts to evade oncoming traffic on the wrong side or to take a roundabout in the wrong direction. Clearly this is it! This is the reason for the knob on the right but not on the left brake handle: Stay on the side of the road with the knob. Go around the roundabout in the direction of the knob! Then, to switch to driving in England, Japan, or Australia one need only swap brake handles to create a left-handed drive scooter.

Well, perhaps this is a bit fanciful but it’s a kinder and more interesting interpretation.

I have been driving this scooter for two years now and loving it. There have been a few glitches (See the Scooterdoc), but none that have caused me to rethink my choice of scooters enough to wish that I had spent twice as much or more on an Italian, Japanese, or Taiwanese scooter. If it gives up now, it will have paid for itself and is easily replaced.

A Success Story

Motorscooterists in the Los Angeles area are blessed with access to excellent maintenance service. Rich (Scooterdoc) Proffitt runs a mobile scooter repair service out of Pasadena. Specializing in newer Vespa models, he will maintain your scooter at your location or will cart it off to his workshop.
The Scooterdoc I had been to a number of mechanics with my scooter which had been losing power when starting up from a stop or suddenly accellerating. Carburetor issues were considered but nothing was found. I was dispairing of ever getting my beast running properly again.

Rich took it off in his trailer and played with it for a while, looking for the problem. He found it! It was an almost-but- not-quite severed ring terminal to a grounding wire which metal fatigue had caused to give way. He had been able to hear the arc and then, by running the engine in the dark, was able to see it and find the flawed connection.

Rich has been working on and riding scooters for years and I recommend his work highly. See The Scooterdoc page.

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