Jun 24, 2008 Ami Olson Uncategorized
Less intimidating than a motorcycle – less expensive and more efficient, too – scooters have been rolling just under the radar for decades, enjoying bursts of popularity throughout the United States but never quite catching on as a ‘serious’ vehicle.
Then again, fuel has never hit such a ‘serious’ high price.
Mainstream American mover, meet the scooter.
What is it, exactly?
The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles refers to a low-speed vehicle with two or three wheels as a moped – also commonly called a scooter, (not to be confused with a manually-powered two-wheeled device, most recently popularized by brand name Razor). DMV records show 306,000 motorcycles registered for road travel statewide in 2007, and more than 10,000 mopeds.
The numbers show a huge increase in motorcycle registration in the last ten years, while scooter registrations dipped slightly then gradually increased – but dealers believe that is about to change.
Jerry Kessler at Destiny Motorsports in Lakeland said the shop has been selling Schwinn scooters since it first opened three years ago, and for a long time did not sell many.
In fact, this year the store did not order any new models, waiting to sell the 2006 and 2007 models still on the floor.
Kessler said sales suddenly increased, and when he contacted Schwinn to place an order in May, he was told there would be a one to two month wait – 2008 models were on backorder.
In Manlius, Steve Kushnir is experiencing a similar phenomenon. Kushnir owns Extreme Alternatives, specializing in offering motorists alternatives to the extreme prices of gas.
Kushnir sells Lifan scooters, a Chinese brand, and he said he has seen an increased interest as well as an extended wait time on orders due to higher demand in other parts of the world.
You want me to get on that thing?
One obstacle to embracing two wheels is the additional license many models require for operation. The DMV categorizes mopeds by top speed, and any vehicle capable of reaching and maintaining speeds greater than 30 miles per hour call for an M class license, which requires written and road tests.
Some instructional courses like Learn 2 Ride, offered at Onondaga Community College, provide a road test waiver upon completion of the two-day course.
Some models do not require an additional license to operate, but still reach up to 30 miles per hour, making them ideal for urban use and for those interested in having a scooter but unwilling or unable to become licensed.
Come on – who can ride that?
If you can ride a bicycle, you can ride one of these, Kushnir said.
By nature, the scooter’s design offers a low center of gravity, giving them balance and making them easy to maneuver.
Kushnir said he sees interest in scooters from a range of ages, backgrounds and experience. His most popular models are those that can go on- and off-road, and the models with the classic ‘scooter’ look, made famous by the legendary Vespa design.
Almost every manufacturer offers models now in a range of designs, from retro to racing-inspired.
Worried about being laughed at by the hardcore bikers down at Dinosaur Barbeque?
Cardinal Paradiso, who has been riding motorcycles for more than 40 years, said it takes a while for a person to find a mode of transportation that makes them comfortable, but being comfortable and confident is most important.
I respect anybody that respects the road, said Paradiso, of Paradise Leather on Milton Avenue in Solvay. I’m against anyone on two or four wheels without learning the rules of the road