Save money on gas - Buy a Scooter!
Why buy a scooter?
I like to save money where I can, and I'm betting you do too. The other day I was going over my monthly budget and I realized there was one expense that was literally sucking me dry ... my car.
With gas prices on the rise again, I am easily putting a few hundred dollars of gas into my car every month. Now, don't get me wrong ... I love my car and I don't plan on selling it. However, for a lot of my commuting (to and from work, the grocery store, friends houses, ect), I really don't need to be taking an entire car ... I just need something that will get me from point A to B and back again.
Back in my college days I rode a motorcycle and I know just how fuel efficient motorcycles can be ($9 for 350 miles ... oh yeah!). But for inner-city and neighborhood driving I don't really need a vehicle that can top out at over 3 times the speed limit. And if I have to go father than the city ... well then that's what a car is for.
So, I started researching scooters and I'm going to share with you here everything that I found about the advantages of commuting on a scooter. As you can see from the picture ... I ended up getting one :) I'll go into more details about the specific scooter I bought later.
"You may be laughing ... but I'm getting 150 miles per gallon."
Scooters use to be thought of as "dorky" or "un-cool" compared to motorcycles. However, times are changing. In an ever increasing eco-friendly society, efficiency and a small carbon footprint are where its at. And for fast, reliable transportation, you can't get any better than a scooter. For the price of a cup of coffee you could commute to work every day for a week. So next time you're at the gas station and you laugh at the person filling their scooter ... take a look at what they paid to fill up. You won't be laughing anymore.
My scooter has a 1.08 gallon tank and, in my first week of riding, I rode over 150 miles and only bought $4 worth of gas. That's it. With the inexpensive price of scooters (New between $1000 and $3000 for a good city commuter), almost non-existent insurance prices (under $20 a month for full coverage) and the huge savings you'll be reaping on gas prices ... making some of your commuting into a two-wheeled venture is going to save the average person thousands of dollars a year.
But why not just buy a motorcycle? Aren't they just as good (and way cooler)?
It depends on what you are using your motorcycle/scooter for. Normally motorcycles don't get as good of MPG as a scooter ... sometimes even less than half. However, you can more easily go on freeways with a motorcycle - so if your commute requires a freeway, then a motorcycle is better than nothing.
However, on most city streets you'll never be going faster than 35mph ... so all the power of a motorcycle is unused. Plus, motorcycles are heavier and harder to maneuver at slower speeds than a scooter. If your commute is on roads that don't exceed 50mph ... then a 100cc scooter will be more than enough power, easier to handle, less expensive, and get better gas mileage than a motorcycle.
Bottom line - if you want to save money commuting - buy a scooter.
Easy and Fun!
Also, unlike motorcycles, most scooters have automatic transmissions and smaller engines. This means the average person can hop on a scooter and ride it without issues! On a larger bike (most motorcycles have 500+cc engines) its easy for a new rider to crank the throttle a bit much, throw themselves from the bike, and end up with a large repair bill. On a 100cc-150cc scooter you'll never encounter this problem. Its smooth automatic transmission means you don't have to worry about a clutch or stalling the bike either.
Scooters are also very agile, which is great for maneuvering in and around city traffic. Parking downtown becomes a joy, as you can fit a scooter just about anywhere. 5 or 6 scooters can fit in a single parking space along the curb, or in the nooks and odd spaces you could never get a car into. Look around next time you're in the city and you'll start to see some very creative and efficient parking places for scooters :)
There is a wide variety of scooters to choose from. Popular brands like Vespa, Piaggio, SYM, and Kymco come is multiple designs from the classic Symba to the futuristic MP3 three-wheeled series. Little 49cc bikes, which top out at 35mph, are great for getting around the neighborhood and don't even require a motorcycle endorsement in most states. However, above 100cc you'll most likely need to be endorsed on your license.
But the best part about riding a scooter is ... ITS FUN!!!!
Hearing the wind, smelling the air, zipping along on a nimble little scooter ... what an amazing feeling! Getting together with other people and riding in a pack is one of the most exhilarating experiences. Riding a scooter or motorcycle turns your everyday commute into an enjoyable adventure ... each and every time :)
Before You Ride ... Become Safe
Many people are put off from riding a scooter or motorcycle because they view it as more dangerous ... and they are correct. Riding a two-wheeled vehicle has a lot of risks. But most of those risks, if you are aware of them, can be avoided.
Riding a scooter / motorcycle requires a different way of thinking and a more specific level of awareness than a car. Just on their own - a motorcycle is just as safe as a car and, in many situations, even safer. Its agility, low weight, and control means that avoiding problematic situations is much easier - if you're looking for them. So ....
TAKE A MOTORCYCLE SAFETY COURSE!
These courses are designed to teach you how to think while riding a motorcycle or scooter. They instruct you on how to overcome situations that send less educated riders to the hospital. They show you what type of gear you MUST wear every time you ride and why. You'll learn how to scan the road, plan exit routes, safely navigate traffic, and how to have proper awareness while riding.
Most importantly, they'll teach you how to read and avoid the most dangerous thing on the road ... unaware car drivers.
The most dangerous thing about riding a scooter or motorcycle is that the majority of car drivers aren't use to seeing you. I've literally been riding along and have had a person, about to enter my lane of traffic, look right at me, then look the other way, then look back and proceed to pull right into my path. The reason for this is simple ... he was looking to see if there was a car in his way and his brain just simply didn't register the scooter in plain view. This happens all the time.
But if you are looking and aware that car drivers are, for the most part, idiots ... then you can avoid this situation. Slow down, let the car pass, don't be aggressive, and you'll be fine.
And the best part is ... as more people begin to ride motorcycles and scooters, the safer it'll become! Car drivers will get use to looking for and recognizeing scooters/motorcycles.
However, until that time, it is our job as riders to be aware. So take a course, learn the rules and tricks, and then get out there and have fun riding!
Go Buy A Scooter!
I hope this article has helped you in your decision on weather or not to buy a scooter. I know its one of the best decisions I've made. I save a ton of money and have a blast cruising around town on my little scooter. Hopefully you'll join me soon!
If you live in the Portland Oregon area, I'd highly recommend you go check out the scooters at Vespa Portland. They have a wonderful selection, great staff, and can answer just about any question you have regarding scooters. I had one of the best buying experiences I've ever had while purchasing my scooter from them - and I'm sure you'll have the same!