Types of Motorscooters

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.

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.