Monday, September 26, 2005

Increase in Fatalities

For motorcycles, that is. Trouble is, that does include scooters too, without breaking out numbers for scooter deaths.

There's extra interest in Florida, and here's why:

Graph source: The Auto Channel

The reason for concern looks pretty clear on the chart. Some people say the increase in deaths is all because this state repealed its helmet law in 2000. But then again, sales of motorcycles and scooters have increased a lot since 2000, thanks in part to TV shows like American Chopper and Biker Build-off, which seemingly make everyone want to go out and hop on an impractical and expensive custom chopper.

Sales of new motorcycles in the U.S. in 2000: 710,000. Sales in 2004 (est.): More than 1 million. If you add up the yearly numbers, you'll see that 4.547 million new bikes hit the road in five years.

And then there is the other thing the chart makes clear: There are fewer deaths among bikers who have the motorcycle certification on their driver's license.

Look at it. 71 percent vs. 21 percent in Florida. 37 percent vs. 13 percent nationally. What difference does that motorcycle certification (MC) make? The rider had to pass a test. The rider had to prove that he or she knew how to control the bike.

Uh huh.

So now Florida is talking about making a training course manadatory for all motorcyclists. I'm not sure how they intend to enforce that, though -- obviously, tons of people are riding in Florida without the MC, and that is required by law in this state.

Labels: , , , ,

Monday, September 12, 2005

Geely Scooters

I was trying to do a little research on the Geely brand, which comes from China. These are some very low-cost scooters that you can order by mail (although I'm sure you can find some way to buy them in person too). The company has been making scooters since 1992, according to their corporate info.

I came across one very informative post at Yahoo! Groups. Apparently you must be good with a socket wrench to get these puppies running smoothly -- but if you're handy with tools, then a Geely scooter might be a good deal.

Not being very mechanically inclined, I think this is not the right choice for me!

Labels: , , ,

Vespa Envy

Something in me longs for a Vespa. But the prices are just sooooo up in the stratosphere, as far as scooters are concerned.

The LX 150 looks sharp, but at MSRP $4,199, what are they thinking? I can get a brand-new 2006 Honda Shadow Spirit 750 for $6,399. You need motorcycle certification for the little Vespa in Florida, so if you had $4,000 to spend, why not just get a real motorcycle? The prices for used Japanese bikes are great.

Still, I do feel an undeniable attraction to the Italian scooter. Must be that Roman Holiday thing. Who wouldn't want to be Audrey Hepburn in this photo?

Maybe I'm just a cheapskate. I'm looking at the 2006 Vino 125 from Yamaha. For $2,499, it's also going to cost less to fix when it breaks, I'm almost certain.

Labels: , , , ,

Monday, September 05, 2005

Thinking About Buying One?

Some wise words of advice for anyone thinking about buying a scooter (or a motorcycle, for that matter), from Bryan and Vina in Chicago, U.S.A. I was hooked when I read the first tip:

"A scooter is a motorcycle."

Although riding a little 50cc scooter will not win you any street cred with actual bikers astride 1500cc V-Twins, you will understand the meaning of the tip the first time you find yourself sandwiched between an SUV and a big delivery truck on a city street posted at 35 m.p.h. where everyone usually does 50 m.p.h. (minimum).

You're not permitted (by law) to take refuge in the bicycle lane. Uh-uh. You are a motor vehicle and you are supposed to keep up with the big fellows on four wheels.

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Florida Motorcycle Laws

A while back, I made a page that links to all the pertinent laws I could find for my state, Florida. These laws apply to scooters as well as to motorcycles (and even mopeds). For example, who is permitted to ride without a helmet? What are the driver's license requirements for scooter riders?

If anyone wants to add links to similar pages for other U.S. states, please do.

Labels: , , ,

Use Less Gasoline

I knew I'd be able to find recent press connecting scooters and the current U.S. gas-price problem. This article comes from the Associated Press, via the Pittsburgh (Pa.) Post-Gazette, Aug. 23, 2005. Their title was "Motor scooters gaining popularity in U.S.: Some owners gas up just once or twice a month," and the writer is Joe Kafka. It covers all the bases:
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 was amused to see that the dateline for the article is Pierre, the capital of South Dakota -- a state that is known to get some serious snow in the winter!

Labels: , ,

My 750cc Ride (and 50cc Scooters)

I have to make an admission before I really get started with this: I do not own a scooter. I own a 750cc Honda cruiser, which is rather a lot larger than what is traditionally called a scooter. Now, I owned and rode a motorbike in Malaysia for eight months, and that was a 115cc machine, single-cylinder, four-stroke, with an automatic transmission -- so that was not very different from a traditional scooter.

A lot of the scooters you see on U.S. college campuses are 50cc. This is a low-power machine, just barely street legal. In most places, you do not have to earn a special motorcycle certification on your driver's license to ride a 50cc bike (check your own state's motor vehicle laws). Some scooters, like the Yamaha Vino, come in a 50cc version and a 125cc version.

Check out this nice comparison of the 50cc Vino and Honda's 50cc Metropolitan.

So I'm thinking about adding a little scooter to my stable, just because that bike I had in Malaysia was so nice, so light and quick ... Anyway, that's my excuse for starting this blog.

Labels: , , , ,

A New Blog

Every fall on university campuses around the United States, scooters zip and zoom everywhere like cute little squirrels on wheels. There are several scooter-only publications in Britain, but here we have such a lot of wonderful roads for full-size motorcycles (and so many huge highways that are totally unsafe for little scooters), I think the scooter phenomenon is below the radar of most people -- unless they live in a college town, as I do.

So, the first thing I'm going to do with this blog is make a list of links to the manufacturers who sell scooters in the United States, and I'll see where it goes from there.

Labels: ,