New To Scooters
Welcome to the world of riding scooters!
If you don't have a scooter yet, but are considering buying one and have many questions, you are in the right place!
HERE ARE SOME QUESTIONS YOU MAY HAVE:
What type of scooter should I purchase?
Should I buy an automatic or manual shifting scooter?
Manual scooters can be bump started: that is, they can be started by pulling in the clutch, rolling down a hill or being pushed up to speed,and then the clutch let out and pressing the starter button. This effectively bypasses the battery by letting the alternator start the scooter.
Most people consider manual scooters to be more fun to ride. Automatics are easier as they are twist and go...
Ultimately personal preference
Should I buy a new scooter or a used scooter?
What new models are available in the United States?
Here is a partial listing of new scooters in the US: LINK
How fast should my new scooter go?
This is mostly up to personal preference. However, you should consider how you are using the scooter. If you plan on using it as a commuter, make sure it goes fast enough to keep up with traffic. In the US at least, we know that traffic often cruises at up to 9 miles over the speed limit. Hugging the curb, like a bicyclist is not the safest way to travel. Having enough speed to keep up with traffic and have enough speed in store to accelerate out of danger if need be is important.
What's so wrong with buying a clone scooter on eBay?
Common problems with clone scooters: Lack of dealership support - Overall cheap build quality - There are many scooter factories in China. These factories will contract out to anyone willing to pay them to make scooters. They use the same molds but the part quality, fit and finish will vary depending on what the contracting company wants to pay. On a low price contract the factory will use parts that would be substandard according to Japanese, European, or North American Standards. The scooters are then dropped shipped in a crate (perhaps labeled "motorcycle parts")to someone in the US. The scooters never passed EPA or DOT testing and are not legal to register in the country. Some of them are advertised as having MCO's, or Manufacter's Certificate of Origin that would enable them to be registered. This would be true if they had passed EPA and DOT, but they haven't.
What's so great about a vintage scooter, anyway?
Most vintage scooterista are attracted to thier bikes because of a number of factors:
The Vespa and Lambretta scooters were created in Italy, which has a history of great design. These bikes are visually stunning and eye catching. Scooterists will approach this styling in different ways. Some see it as a palatte to add more eye catching gear (such as the mirror and headlight happy mods). Some strip it down to its essentisals: removing the glove box, not having any racks running one mirror on the cowl (or less if they can get away with it).
There is also the simplicity of these bikes. In the Vespa, the body is also the frame, and the two stroke motors of both bikes have a minimum of moving parts. The diffrence is immediatly obvious if one were to remove the engine cowl of a modern Bajaj chetak and a P200, for example, and compare what is seen. Vintage engines are easy to keep serviced, and it (usually) easy to address roadside breakdown if you carry some spare cables and spare tire (or tube).
Why wouldn't I just get a motorcycle/car/moped?
Motorcycles, being heavier and almost always having manual transmissions, are more difficult to ride. Cars can be cheap, but with even the smallest of them being fairly large, they can be difficult to park, store, or drive in certain situations. Mopeds are restricted to top speeds of 25 to 30 mph, depending on where you live, which seriously limits where you can ride them, while some scooters are fast enough to ride on freeways.
I guess the most compelling reason is the cool factor, and the fact that total strangers will always be telling you how cool they think your scooter is.
There are benefits in that in some states, one can ride a scooter under a certain CC with less legal requirements. For example in Missouri to ride a scooter on the street does not require a motorcycle endorsement. Registration nor insurance is required for 49CC sized scooters in Missouri.
Scooters and Mopeds
Scooters and mopeds, if they fall under the category of "motorized bicycle," don't have to be registered. Missouri DMV officially uses the following criteria to define a motorized bicycle:
Two or three wheels. Automatic transmission Motor with a cylinder capacity of less than 55 cubic centimeters. Motor produces less than three gross brake horsepower. Cannot have a maximum speed of more than 30 miles per hour on flat ground. If your scooter can travel more than 30 miles per hour or has a cylinder capacity of more than 55 ccs must be registered as a motorcycle, and requires a motorcycle license.
Registration, Licenses, and Helmets While motorized bicycles don't have to be registered, you do need a valid driver's license to operate one. Currently, Missouri law doesn't require helmets, but it's always better to be safe than sorry. Some local or municipal laws have different helmet requirements, so be sure to check.
What equipment do I need?
What type of helmet do I need?
There was a famous ad for Bell Helmets from back in the late 1960s that said, "If you think your head's only worth $10, then buy a $10 helmet." Or words to that effect.
In the meantime, materials technology has advanced to the point where motorcycle helmets are lightweight, comfortable and most importantly, protect your head very well. An excellent helmet can be purchased for around US$125.00.
Helmet designs range from full-face to what are known as "piss pots," which cover just enough of your head to meet the minimum DOT standard.
Every state with a compulsory helmet law requires a helmet that meets at least the standards set by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Helmets meeting this standard will have "DOT" marked on the middle of the lower rear edge, so it's visible to following vehicles. A more stringent standard is the voluntary one issued by the Snell Foundation. This organization conducts tests on helmets for motorcyclists, race car drivers and bicyclists. While the disclaimer that no helmet can guarantee protection in all conditions under all circumstances applies in all cases, the Snell Certification means you are giving yourself the best available protection by wearing a helmet with a Snell sticker.
Please note that a bicycle, snowboarding or even a U.S. Army WWII steel pot (yes, I actually saw a scooter rider wearing one of these) not only does not comply with any current helmet law, but simply will not protect you if you land on your head. Remember, you're going to make hard contact with concrete, asphalt, or even paving stones. Very hard materials, all.
The decision about helmet design is a personal one, but you must remember that you're not only looking to protect yourself in an accident, but from the general debris and weather conditons you encounter every time you ride. Not only will a full-face helmet will keep your face dry in rain, it will also keep your face from being pummeled by raindrops, which at 35-40 mph can feel like b-bs (or at lower temperatures, like needles). Small stones can seriously injure you if you take one in the face at those speeds. Newer full-face helmets have excellent ventilation, and even have a little "defroster" to clear fog from the face shield.
So it all boils down to this: How much is your head worth?
What other riding gear do I need?
A good pair of gloves, preferably leather. You'll probably want a pair for spring/summer, and a pair for fall/winter that are insulated with something like Thinsulate, so your hands don't freeze.
A pair of shoes that protect your ankles is also good. Motorcycle boots are actually kind of overkill here; inexpensive hiking or construction boots work just fine.
If you do a lot of fast riding, or ride in heavy traffic, a ballistic nylon jacket with shoulder, elbow and arm padding is a good idea. Joe Rocket and Corazzo make excellent jackets.
There's a lot of bicycle clothing that works well for scooterists. A rain suit will come in handy, and so will technical fiber long underwear if you ride where it's cold. If you're worried about being seen, a fluorescent yellow jacket shell will make you visible from space.
In fact, keep in mind the idea that you experience wind chill every time you ride. Dress in layers so you can be comfortable no matter what the temperature. Polar fleece is nice, and clothing that wicks moisture will show its worth it the first time you get sweaty on a ride. If there's an REI store where you live, check out what they've got.
What type of license do I need?
Check with the agency in your state or country that issues driver's licenses. In the United States, you will most likely need either a motorcycle license or a motorcycle endorsement on a regular driver's license. Some states, like Washington, don't require the motorcycle endorsement if the bike has an engine displacing less than 50 cubic centimeters.
In most states, getting the endorsement can be accomplished one of two ways: pass a Motorcycle Safety Foundation-approved rider safety course (this is a good idea anyway), or obtain a motorcycle learner's permit (typical restrictions are no passengers and no riding after dark), practice and take a riding skills test. Many states issue motorcycle endorsements tiered by engine displacment or number of wheels (a trike or sidecar would require a separate endorsement), others, like Washington, don't. The issuing authority is the best source of information on individual requirements in each locality.
What type of insurance do I need?
Check with the motor vehicle authorities in your state or country. The state of Washington does not require motorcyclists to carry insurance, while the state of Oregon does. Where insurance is required, it is usually a mimimum amount of personal liability coverage. Again, laws vary from place to place so it's best to check with your local motor vehicle authority.
You can often save money by getting insurance for your scooter from the same company with which you have other policies (car, homeowner's, renter's). Of course, your driving record will have a tremendous effect on the actual cost of your policy.
Keep in mind that you must be properly licensed if you should happen to file a claim for an accident or damage, since you would be in violation of any laws requiring, say, a motorcycle endorsement on your license, and insurance companies aren't obligated to pay in situations where the law has been violated.
What about if I am based in the UK?
Sometimes it can be confusing with all of the information available to figure out exactly where you stand legally when it comes to learner legal riding (or riding with ‘L’ plates) in the UK.
To ride a 125cc Scooter in the UK on the road you must:
* Be at least 17 years old (16 for a moped) * Have a driving licence which allows you to ride motorcycles (category A)
That licence can be any of the following:
* A provisional driving licence with motorcycle entitlement * Full car licence. This automatically provides provisional motorcycle entitlement * Full motorcycle licence * Full moped licence. This provides automatic provisional motorcycle entitlement if you’re aged 17 years or over
A provisional motorcycle entitlement entitles learners to ride a motorcycle:
* Up to 125cc * With a maximum power output of 11kW (14.6bhp)
Don’t Forget Insurance!
Of course, although it seems pretty obvious, you’ll also need some 125cc scooter insurance. MCE Insurance are one of the UK’s leading scooter insurance providers and are currently sponsoring the British Superbikes and offering a massive 30% off insurance policies if you buy cover online.