Introduction: Save Gas, Save Parking Charges, and Have Fun on a Scooter

Picture of Save Gas, Save Parking Charges, and Have Fun on a Scooter

One of the most fun things you can do to reduce your fuel consumption is ride a scooter instead of taking a car.
Motorcycles are also great, but harder to learn to ride, and less maneuverable in congested urban areas. (Motorcycles typically are standard, so you have to shift gears, whereas most scooters have continuous variable transmission i.e. automatic)

Consider:
Most new scooters have very high mileage -- 100 MPG is not uncommon, and some are even better. I found a link here to a source of more detailed data: http://www.greenconsumerguide.com/scoot.php

In some cities (like mine, Toronto), scooters park free on city street parking. Even the cheapest vehicle parking costs me about $15 just to get in and out of one client meeting; if I park underground, it quickly rises to $25. There are lots of convenient places to park the scoot. Last summer I estimated that I saved about $300 on parking, which is a pretty good rate of return on the investment, considering I only ride it 6 months of the year.

Newer scooters have low emissions. Those built to European standards are very low, as they only permit 4-stroke engines. A newspaper here reported this startling statistic:
If Americans used scooters for just 35 per cent of their weekly driving, they could, in aggregate, reduce fuel consumption by 53 million litres a day, ICR found, citing U.S. Department of Energy data. They could also reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 147.2 million kg a day.

Plus it's fun to scoot, you meet a lot of nice people, and if you want, you can join a scooter group and attend rallies and go on group rides.

This is really barely an instructable, but I wanted to add this perspective to the green contest.

Step 1: Ride Safely

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Even if you don't need a motorcycle license to ride in your area, you should take a safety course. There's actually a lot more to it than you might think.

Safety courses teach you how to start and stop safely, even emergency stops and emergency swerving (to avoid mowing down little kids or pets that might suddenly be in your path, for example).
Equally important, you learn how to keep yourself safe from the four-wheeled vehicles around you.
And they'll give you some basic maintenance tips.

The picture of me in the red jacket was before I got a proper scooter jacket. Now I have a jacket with armour panels inside, so if I get clipped on the elbow or take a fall, my joints will still be intact. (The black one in the next step.)

Step 2: Go Shopping

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Yes, your new scooter can be a bit of a black hole for spending at first.
You will need a good helmet -- the sky is the limit on these, but you can get the basic models for about $100, less in US$ ;-)

If you make a living using your head, I strongly suggest you wear a helmet even if the law does not require it. Early on, I added the three-quarter visor. You'd be amazed how much it hurts when a bug flies into your face. This year I plan to add protective sun glasses.

A good jacket is crucial. After I took the safety course, I found out why motorcycle/scooter gear has all those buckles. The belts, etc. are so that the jacket stays in place if you fall and go sliding along the pavement. So the sleeves and belt, etc. do need to be snug to achieve the intended protection. Cool good looks is just an added bonus.

If you can't afford a new jacket, definitely wear the most rugged denim or canvas jacket you own.

The reason I bought a proper jacket: I "dropped the bike" (i.e. fell) when on a motorcycle license course while going quite slowly. I had bruises the size of bread plates on my rear end, and multiple bruises all over the place.

I normally would have the black jacket done up completely, but it was a VERY hot day (see people in shorts), and I was doing a "ride slow" event at a rally for fun.

One great side effect of the shoulder panels: they make your hips look smaller! LOL

In Europe, you can get wonderful gear like the Tucana Urbano jackets shown in the next photo. These do have armor inside, and are waterproof, but look more businesslike. Saving my pennies...

Gloves are also a must. I've seen people wear leather gardening gloves, which are much less expensive than motorcycle gloves (ie. $5 versus $50+), but would certainly do the job. If your hand hits the pavement going fast, you'll be glad it's the glove that got grated, not your skin.

I found the red suede boots on E-Bay for very cheap. Most motorcycle boots are just too ugly, and really intended for highway use (protect your ankles from rocks, etc.). So now I keep my eyes open for deals on any kind of boots -- cowboy, hiking, etc. that will look good.

Step 3: Find a Group

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You can find all sorts of group rides on Meetup.
These pictures are all taken from a rally with a Meetup group here in Toronto. That's me all in black on the red scoot. As you can see, some of these scooters are big enough to be motorcycles, but they still have step-through design so technically are scooters.

Group rides are fun, but it's also a way to learn more about riding in your city (i.e. good routes, good places to park the bike, where people found good gear for cheap, etc.)

As far as I can see, most of these groups are pretty informal -- you just show up at the appointed coffee shop or parking lot.

Step 4: A Couple of Last Thoughts

Picture of A Couple of Last Thoughts

Before I bought my Vespa last spring, I was vascillating between a 50cc and a 150cc scoot. Where I live, the 50cc licensing requirements are much less stringent, but you can't ride on highways.

A good guy at the dealer asked me where in the city I live. And then pointed out that I was going to have to climb a fairly steep hill to get home from downtown, regardless of which route I took. This was excellent advice. I can keep up with the traffic at 80 K (about 50 mph) even when going up these long hills.

Plus, a scooter weighs so little that the acceleration will amaze you. You can beat anything on the street except for a bigger bike. So if you don't like the taxi creeping up too close behind you, when the light changes, you're far, far away.

I know lots of people commute by bicycle. I tip my hat to anyone who does that. This wasn't an option for me, however. The scooter makes the drive downtown fun instead of tedious. My clients seem to think it's pretty cool. And it's better for the environment.

So go get yourself a scooter! There are so many models now, all sizes, all price ranges. There's a scoot that's perfect for you, and you'll smile every time you get on.

Comments

Andsetinn (author)2012-08-16

I've used gloves meant for bicycle riding. If you want something more comfortable than those huge motorcycle leather gloves the bicycle gloves can be nice alternative, they are available with nice padding for skidding on pavement. Friend of mine bought golf gloves for his kids to go riding.

tmross4 (author)2010-08-08

Good Instructable! I own a 2002 Yamaha Classic Vino 49hp and I love her dearly. She's not fast enough to go on the freeway (only reaches 40 mph) but she is one tough little scooter! She's 2-stroke, but I don't have to mix the gas and oil. I have complete strangers come up and ask me about her! Even though it's not required in the state of California, I strongly urge people to get insurance. Most companies that offer motorcycle insurance will cover scooters. I have AAA, which also offers roadside service. And if you are interested in getting a scooter, I recommend taking either a motorcycle training class or the newer motor scooter training classes. Here in California, if you take a class put on by the CHiP and pass, you can take the proof of passing to your local DMV and you won't have to take the driving test. You will still need to take the written test. Also, by taking the course, you will receive a discount with many insurance companies.

2 stroke (author)tmross42012-01-05

2 strokes are awesome

ddbaz (author)2011-11-26

Love the instructable! I started put with an Avanti 50 about 4 years ago. As a big guy, I had a hard time getting up small hills here in KY. I went out and got a used Wildfire 300CC. Took it out on the interstate to go to work (top speed is 80mph). If you're wondering about the gas mileage I average 75.4 MPG and I spend $6 every two weeks. You can't beat that! 4cycle scooter's have a higher top speed as opposed to a 2 cycle which has more power to get up hills than a 4 cycle. Bear in mind that MPG and top MPH is affected by weight and terrain when shopping for one. I love scootering and suggest people to try it!

2 stroke (author)2011-10-23

get a 50cc yamaha jog 2 stroke it is a very fast scooter if i get one im adding a boost bottle and a expansion chamber they are not that bad for emissions just when they are cold or running to rich and the engine is very easy to work on ,parts are cheap mileage is a very good 95 mpg too save the 2 strokes from extiction

oud25 (author)2011-07-27

i would love to have a vespa but im in college and cant get one
especially with this economy i cant even find a job anywhere

Schisler7 (author)2010-04-14

 I also own a scooter and even have convinced and seen through 5 friends of mine buying their own scooters (so far ;) ) but one word of warning for those of you thinking about purchasing. Chinese made scooters are notorious for electrical systems failures, along with other problems. if you find a really good deal on one, it still might be worth it some of the time, but be aware that you really have to take care of it and be prepared for future repair expenses. But anyways, go out and get one!

PS message me if you are in So Cal if you want to join my little cruise club :)

di5150 (author)2010-04-03

I have an electric bike and just bought my first scooter. I've had many motorcycles and the scooter is great. It's simple, lightweight, and my four stroke is freeway legal here in California.

Go scooter, wear bright clothing, make eye contact and keep your finger on the horn.
Car people grow some cajones and get a scooter. The chinese will love us again.

briackman (author)2009-07-11

well if i go scootering right now, i'll probably be dead, because where i live the high is over 100, and i'll be wearing a jacket!!

Scalpel (author)briackman2009-07-16

You can get mesh jackets that have the armor but also a ton of airflow. From what I've heard, wearing one actually feels cooler than wearing nothing, at least when you're moving.

briackman (author)Scalpel2009-07-17

ok, thanks for telling me

skunkbait (author)2009-05-29

Nice ible!

teapotking (author)2009-05-08

VESPA!!! i'm getting one when i'm 18 :D

I smell bacon (author)2009-04-20

My only memory of scooter riding is spewing all over a lambretta I was riding (lucky I wasn't wearing a full face helmet). I think it was an Li50, very nicely restored, no idea what era.

phoenix124 (author)2009-04-13

lol nice instructable! i've been looking for a honda NRS 50 myself for a while but for the life of me i cant find them in the US...

Nero85 (author)2009-04-12

Don't use a "Jet" helmet, they won't protect your face if you fall. Use a full face helmet. It would be good if you used a jacket with a back protector to protect your spine. Elbow protections are very important since that's probably the first thing that will hit the road if you fall. Shoulder protections are very important too because breaking the collarbone (clavicle - I googled that) is the most common injury in a bike accident. Motorcycle boots are intended to protect your ankle from taking a "weird" angle in an accident, not to protect your foot from rocks.

John Kiniston (author)2009-04-09

I love my scooters and encourage people to try riding them all the time. I own a 87 Honda Elite 150 and a 97 Honda Elite 80.

hg341 (author)John Kiniston2009-04-09

no i want a motobike!!

John Kiniston (author)hg3412009-04-09

They quite fun to own and operate :)

hg341 (author)John Kiniston2009-04-10

I know I love bikes and im been trying to make mine electric for a while nowI don't have the money I need to buy parts...

Phil B (author)2009-04-09

This is a very nicely written Instructable. I enjoyed reading it.

TerraPlop (author)2009-04-09

Ciao! Bella!! ;-) .

lemonie (author)2009-04-09

Hurray for 2-strokes! L

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