View Full Version : Scooter sales surge on gas $$

08-22-2005, 04:46 PM
Scooter Sales (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20050822/ap_on_bi_ge/scooter_mania;_ylt=A0SOwmGwNgpDOcoAJhys0NUE;_ylu=X 3oDMTA3MjBwMWtkBHNlYwM3MTg-)

[Unfortunately, they post a picture of someone wearing the ubiquitous shorts, sandals and tank top]

PIERRE, S.D. - Gasoline pushing $3 gallon? Why worry? Buy a motor scooter like thousands of other Americans and stretch that single gallon of gas a week or more.

"As people start driving them, they start finding more reasons to use them," said Doug Day, owner of Scooter Centrale and Vespa Hartford in Plainville, Conn. "They're practical, easy to park and get great gas mileage. I put $5 worth of gas into mine when it's totally empty, compared to $50 in my SUV."

As gasoline prices soar, the popularity of peppy, fuel-sipping motor scooters most easily get 50 miles per gallon and some of the smaller ones get up to 80 mpg is soaring. Sales, estimated at 86,000 last year in the U.S., have doubled from 2000, according to the Motorcycle Industry Council.

"I put about 20 miles a day on mine, and I only have to fill it up twice a month," said Jessica Meuchel, 23, who uses a scooter to deliver daily newspapers in Pierre, S.D. She bought the two-wheeler this spring because it was costing her $200 a month to fuel her truck.

Even the larger scooters are more economical to drive than cars, says Day. He says sales at his shops climbed nearly 200 percent last year and are doing well this year, too.

MIC spokesman Mike Mount said the market gained momentum when upscale Italian scooter maker Piaggio re-entered the U.S. market with the legendary Vespa scooter in 2001. Motorcycle makers such as Honda and Yamaha also began offering new lines of scooters in recent years.

Scooters were pioneered in postwar Europe by Piaggio, which made the first Vespa in 1946.

Gary Christopher, an executive with American Honda Motor Co. in Los Angeles, said Honda heavily promoted U.S. scooter sales in the 1980s, but annual U.S. sales peaked in 1987 and slumped after advertising was pared. They have long been popular in coastal areas and warmer climates, but more also are being sold in states with colder weather, he said.

"It looks like this new resurgence of interest in scooters is something that can stand on its own without massive injections of advertising and promotion," Christopher said.

Although scooters are economical, the fun factor cannot be overlooked, Christopher said.

"There's just something about a scooter that invites you to jump on it and go," Christopher said.

Dwight Turner, owner of GS MotorWorks in Frisco, Texas, a large seller of imported motor scooters from China, attributed the fad in part to rising gasoline prices and the coming of age of youngsters who have graduated from popular foot-propelled sidewalk scooters.

"Many 10- to 13-year-olds bought those scooters, and then got hooked on the idea of riding scooters instead of bicycles and are moving up the scooter food chain," Turner said.

Scooter sales at his firm climbed 300 percent last year, and they increased 50 percent this past April alone, primarily because of high gasoline prices, he said.

"We sell to many teenage customers, college students, as well as people in bigger metro areas looking for more economic travel and parking options," Turner said. "I would estimate that 50 percent of our customers buy scooters for primary transportation and 50 percent buy them as a toy."

Ross Petersen, a motorcycle and scooter dealer in Pierre, said scooters have turned into a fashion statement for some teenagers.

"It's kind of cool," he said. "You'll see a little group of them riding around together, and that feeds it."

Small scooters, especially those made in China, Korea and Taiwan, sell for as little as $800-$900. Larger scooters, capable of legal highway speeds and more, can cost $4,000 to $6,000.

Scooters, while fun to drive, also can be dangerous. Other motorists often don't notice the small two-wheelers, and that can land scooter drivers in the hospital or the morgue.

Inexperienced and young scooter drivers should be especially careful, Petersen says.

"I see a lot of people driving scooters with shorts, flip flops, no helmet, two-up on a machine that shouldn't ride two people," he says. "Scooters are pretty small, and the headlight's always on for safety, but sometimes people driving bigger vehicles don't see them. We've all seen those drivers with a cell phone in one hand, a cigarette in the other. I don't know how they can drive."

Motor scooters are usually regulated by state laws as either motorcycles or mopeds. If classified as motorcycles, special licensing endorsements are required. Several states require young drivers to wear helmets, Mount says. As for liability insurance, some states require it and others don't, he said.

While parking his scooter at an annual motorcycle rally that draws hundreds of thousands to Sturgis, S.D., Fred Hathaway said he uses his scooter to avoid traffic congestion. Hathaway, 70, a Dover, Del., silversmith who travels around the country to fix jewelry, said he finds it easier to ride a scooter than a motorcycle.

"This is a good-riding scooter," Hathaway said. "I've got two plastic knees, and throwing them over the seat of a motorcycle doesn't work for me."

Mount says the median age of scooter owners is 46, but they have wide appeal to both young and old, males and females. One-fourth of scooter owners are women, he says.

"Scooters are an easy entree into the world of two-wheeling for many people and are less intimidating than motorcycles," Mount says. "And if you're getting 50 to 70 miles per gallon, that's a lot better than pretty much any car you can buy."

08-22-2005, 08:08 PM
Yes, they're easy to ride. Trouble is people don't understand that just because they're easier to ride than a motorcycle, you can still go fast enough to get killed. ATGATT regardless of size!

08-22-2005, 08:42 PM
Unfortunately, they post a picture of someone wearing the ubiquitous shorts, sandals and tank top...

...but with a Honda Metropolitan. :)

Oh, and Vespa strikes again - they got yet another reporter to buy the lie that they pioneered the scooter after WWII. And BTW, Mr/s Reporter, scooter sales were way up before gas prices were. Sigh.


08-23-2005, 02:16 AM
In an area like mine- not very 'big city'- scooter sales have surged due to gas prices and entry riders that are afraid of shifting on a motorcycle.

In other areas, I agree scooter sales surged long before the gas prices struck.

I actually disagree that long term, scooters are easier to ride. In the city and stop and go traffic if you're riding a 'higher powered' scoot- yes, a scooter is easier. When you are starting out, not having to shift is easier.

On the highway when you're dealing with wind buffeting and semi-traffic, I find a classic MC much easier to handle. The same is true- for me, at least- in a lot of 'twistie situations'-

It's a lot easier for me to downshift a gear and handle downhill twisties with a gas tank to hug, if necessary, than deal with a scooter with no gears to shift and no gas tank for stability. Braking in curve situations requires a lot of finesse and is above the skill level of most begining riders. Dealing with the engine braking if you let off the throttle- which can cause loss of traction- which occurs on some maxi-scoots is tough.

The MC's handle rough road conditions- seamed surfaces, pot holes, etc.- with more ease than a scooter.

IMHO- a scooter is easier to ride INITIALLY- when you're first starting out. When you get into more advanced riding techniques, I think it takes a lot of skill to handle a scooter well and safely in diverse riding conditions.

Just my two cents- I think riding a 50cc scoot in city traffic (which I have also done) takes a level of awareness and ingenuity that MC riders seldom face.

Take care,


08-23-2005, 07:44 AM
...but with a Honda Metropolitan. :)

Heh. :smug:

A co-worker and I were talking about gas prices; she was asking me about the mpg I get on my 'wing; and she is about 90% decided on buying a scooter. She plans to check out the Honda Metropolitan today. We then got into a discussion on gear, with me intending to advise what I thought was the best brand. I got as far as helmets, and hardly past that, before she wrinkled her nose and said "well, it's just a little scooter, I really don't think I need all that other stuff." :uhh:

08-23-2005, 10:25 PM
Hey NC HACKER, go back and ask your friend what she would like to be wearing if she was sliding across pavement!!!! That kinda puts it in perspective. :(

08-23-2005, 11:28 PM
Well, as much as a safety geek as I am on my motorcycle (I always ATGATT on my motorcycle) I'd have a hard time gearing completly up on a small scooter. If it was just something for around town with a top speed in the 30's I just couldn't see me getting completly geared up.

The reason for this is I carry those speeds on my bicycle quite often, dressed in nothing more than a helmet, spandex and a light jersy. Heck, I hit speeds of 50+ quite often on downhills, all on about 3/4" tires.

Now, on a more powerful scooter with a little acceleration to it and higher top speeds, I'd definately gear up. On smaller ones though, I just don't think I could do it.

08-23-2005, 11:45 PM
Hey Wookie, well when I hit speeds of 50 mph which I'm now doing on the People 150, I feel better with my arms covered with something..... Just me, I guess.......

Scooty Gal

08-24-2005, 12:35 AM
Wookie, I can see you being accustomed to those speeds on the bike and feeling comfortable on a scoot that did the same speeds. You're accepting the risk on your bike, so it's easy to accept on a scoot.

It all comes down to how much of your skin you want to stay your skin- whether the two wheels are motorized or not. Difference on a bicycle is it'd be darned near impossible to ride it in gear- that's not true on a scoot or a bike. For me, not wearing gear is a risk that isn't necessary- 30+ miles an hour will rip your skin off quite well!

08-27-2005, 04:55 AM
Well, as much as a safety geek as I am on my motorcycle (I always ATGATT on my motorcycle) I'd have a hard time gearing completly up on a small scooter. If it was just something for around town with a top speed in the 30's I just couldn't see me getting completly geared up.

It does seem a little incongruous to see full leathers on a small scooter. Last year I exchanged nods but was glad my smoked helmet face was down to hide the grin at the sight of a fellow on a 50cc dressed head-to-toe in black leather, with tassles dangling from his handlebars. :lolup:

However, more sobering was remembering missing two days of school back in my college years when I came off the moped I rode. I had to wait until the lump on my hip went down and the road rash scabbed over. Not fun. :nono:

The person I advised is still in the looking stage. She was trained to ride a motorcycle by her boyfriend - a MSF instructor, and her Dad rides a Harley. I suppose she's been well-lectured on the hazards of riding. She's also a single mother. I hope the thought that she's the sole caretaker of a child influences her attitude about gearing up.

08-27-2005, 09:02 AM
The famous, groundbreaking and influential Hurt Study on motorcycle accidents found the average speed for motorcycles hitting the ground or another object/vehicle was 18mph - easily attainable on a moped.

Does anyone watch the TV coverage of the Tour of France bike race? Have you seen what those professional racers look like after they hit the pavement in their lycra outfits at cycling speeds? I contrast those guys getting haulled off to the hospital with the MotoGP racers hopping up and walking away from dumps at 5 times the speed.

The motocross/offroad motorcyclists have it right: same gear for a 50 or a 650.



08-27-2005, 12:49 PM
As far as mileage, I bought a new 04 883 sportster. I average about 58mpg around town and about 53 on the highway doing 65mph. If the choice is to buy a scooter or a MC that get similar mpg then im going with the MC.

I went to myrtle beach this year and they had vendors selling street legal smaller versions of full blown choppers. Briggs and straton motors, capable of doing 50mph. If I was only going to cruise around town I would give it a thought.

08-27-2005, 04:24 PM
There's an element of compromise in choosing what to wear on a scooter. Since a scooter (barring a maxi) is much more likely to be used as a commuter and short-hop ride, one has to balance protection with other factors. Full leathers when going out to the store can be hot and hard to get change for the store from.

I compromise as best I can for conditions. Of late I use a Draggin Jeans K shirt and regular jeans for my in-town commute. It's the best balance between protection, avoiding heat exhaustion, and portability I've found. Naturally I always wear my gloves, boots, goggles, and Snell-rated dirtbike helmet. I consider myself reasonably kitted out for a crash. And a heck of a lot better kitted than most scooterists and motorcyclists I see out there.


08-29-2005, 04:10 PM
The topic should have said "Shorts and sandals sales surge on gas $$ "

08-29-2005, 06:13 PM
In my part of the country, the 'shorts and sandles' applies to MOST bikers- of any and all kinds- certainly not small scoots!