Archive for the ‘Scooter’ Category

Scooter Or Moped: South Carolina Is Confused

Monday, August 28th, 2017

My mother is not well so I’ve been spending a lot of time in South Carolina where she lives. On my most recent visit I noticed that there were quite a lot of scooters zipping around. She lives in Clemson, which is a college town, so it made sense that the college kids would be using scooters. I know parking on campus is always an issue, but not for a scooter.

scooter with "moped" plate

No, I’m sorry, this is not a moped, no matter what South Carolina says.

Then I noticed a billboard with a (I presume) public service announcement telling people to “Be Aware of Mopeds: They’re Everywhere.” And the text was accompanied by an image of a scooter. OK, do you people not know the difference?

Just on the off chance that anyone reading this does not know the difference, I’ll explain.

The word “moped” merges two concepts: motor and peddle. A moped is essentially a power-assisted bicycle that you can get around on just by peddling if you choose. To be a moped it MUST have peddles. Anything without peddles and powered entirely by the motor is a scooter.

But then I noticed something even more interesting. As you see in this photo, all these scooters running around Clemson had this tag on the back that read “South Carolina Moped.” This official sort-of license plate proclaims to everyone that this vehicle is something it in fact is not. South Carolina is very confused.

I think I do get it, however. These “mopeds” are of the 49cc variety that do not require “M” designation on your driver’s license and do not require actual license plates. There are scooters that do have more power than 49cc. These do require proper licensing. By simply playing the Alice in Wonderland game of making a word mean exactly what they want it to mean, South Carolina has sidestepped any stickiness in identifying the scooters that do not have legal requirements.

Plus, I’d be willing to bet that the legislators who proposed whatever law this is based on are clueless about the difference between mopeds and scooters anyway. It still strikes me as pretty idiotic.

Biker Quote for Today

Motorcycle + full gas tank + no red lights = happiness

New Take On An Old Issue

Thursday, July 20th, 2017
Honda 50 Cub

This was the big, bad “motorcycle” I was dying for at age 15.

I’ve talked numerous times about how, when I was 14 I announced that I would save my money and on turning 15 buy a motorcycle. And that day came and I had the money and only then did my mother say, “No you won’t, you’ll never own a motorcycle as long as you live in my house.” I was crushed, and not a little bit angry. Why had she waited a year to say that?

We were visiting Mom last week and she was talking about something her parents did when she was 13 that she considered extremely unfair and which she still resents. I didn’t say anything but was thinking about that Honda 50 Cub I had had in mind. One thing led to another and I was asked if my parents had done anything that still bugs me.

“I really did want that motorcycle at 15,” I replied.

That sunk in a moment and then Mom said something she has never said before. In past discussions she has always come back to saying she was sorry I felt that way but she stands by her decision. She just didn’t think I had any business with a motorcycle at that age.

This time she said she had spoken about it with my brothers and they had assured her that yes, I had made my desire and intentions known, and yes, I really, really wanted it. You see, after all these years she doesn’t even remember any of this; she only knows about it because I have stated that this was the case.

But in speaking with my brothers it seems that maybe they gave her some information she never had before, and certainly never bothered to obtain way, way back then. The “motorcycle” I wanted, and had saved my money for, was a little 50cc bike that was essentially a scooter. Not some big, hulking 350cc bike or anything like that. A little tiddler. That’s what a 15-year-old could legally ride in Nebraska back then.

And then she said it: “For the life of me I can’t imagine why I wouldn’t let you get a moped.” OK, she’s not a motorcycle person, and neither are my brothers, so they are not clear on the distinction between a moped and a scooter. But there it was. Is it really true that all those years ago she actually might have let me get the Honda 50 if she had understood what it was I really wanted? Can you say “I wish I could turn back the clock”?

Can’t be done. But I can’t help but think about all the what-ifs . . .

Biker Quote for Today

Diagnosis: knees in the breeze disease.

Not Our Beef–Don’t Penalize Us

Thursday, January 26th, 2017
The clever artwork the AMA came up with for this effort.

The clever artwork the AMA came up with for this effort.

Where’s the beef? And what’s the beef? Oh, the beef’s right here; the second answer is a bit more involved.

It seems the Office of United States Trade Representative is proposing to retaliate against European countries that bar American beef raised using hormones by levying a 100% tariff on small EU motorcycles coming to the U.S.

Now, you can argue whether using hormones is good or bad but for motorcyclists that’s not the issue. The issue–or beef–is why should we be the ones to feel the impact of something that has nothing to do with us? I mean, if the U.S. feels retaliation is appropriate, why not single out imports of olive oil or some other food product? Something that is at least in a way related. That would also serve to spread the impact around through a broader portion of the population, rather than focusing it sharply on just our small group.

Additionally, I have to wonder just how much impact this is expected to have. The new tariff would only be imposed on bikes between 51cc and 500cc. The manufacturers impacted would be Aprilia, Beta, BMW, Ducati, Fantic, Gas Gas, Husqvarna, KTM, Montesa, Piaggio, Scorpa, Sherco, TM, and Vespa. You know someone like Vespa would be hit pretty hard but think about the Vespa dealers in the U.S.–they’d be hit pretty hard, too. This is something done to benefit Americans? But on the other hand, how many bikes do all of these companies sell here? Can you name a single model in that size range?

As the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) sums it up, “Should product availability be hindered through unjustified trade sanctions on European-produced motorcycles, dealerships may close, leaving countless Americans without jobs. The negative effects of the proposed trade sanctions will not only harm the motorcycle sales industry, but will spread through the aftermarket equipment sector, recreation equipment sales, the sports entertainment industry and further down the line.”

This all got started before Trump became president so you have to wonder what attitude his administration will take. They might see this as harmful to Americans but they might also decide to double down, maybe increasing the size range to 1000cc or removing the size range entirely.

Anyway, the AMA is urging riders to oppose this proposal before the January 30 end of the comment period. And to that end they have set up a petition page to make it easy for you to do so.

I just sent my remarks. Now it’s your turn.

Biker Quote for Today

Therapy is expensive, wind is cheap.

Motorcycling Thoughts From Spain

Monday, May 9th, 2016
motorcycles filtering to the front

Motorcycles filtering to the front in Madrid.

We got home a few days ago from three weeks in Spain and of course I paid a lot of attention to the motorcycling scene over there and have some thoughts to pass along.

The first thing that struck me was how, unlike Paris or Rome, Madrid was actually not engulfed in small motorcycles and scooters. Yes, there were far more of them than you’ll see in any U.S. city, but not as many as in those other capitals. I think part of that may be that in Madrid–and in all of the Spanish cities we visited–the streets are generally wider, making things less congested and therefore the benefit of two-wheeling it is lessened. Just my speculation.

I was also interested to see that the Spanish seem to do a lot less lane-splitting. That seemed to be due to there not being enough room to get through up the middle when traffic stopped at red lights. Instead, the riders would filter to the front as much as they could by riding in the gutter–or even up on the sidewalk–or riding down the center stripe or even over into the oncoming lane. Then, as everywhere, when the light changed they would blast ahead.

Small bikes and scooters, and even a surprising number of larger bikes, were very common throughout the older, medieval areas of the cities where the streets are extremely narrow. We had rain off and on and I had to wonder how their tires gripped on the cobblestones and marble that were so common. I have a pair of Rockport shoes I took along and they slipped like crazy on wet marble, so much so that I quit wearing them if it was wet out or rain threatened. Presumably the tires had better grip.

I noticed how many of the scooter riders cruise along with one foot down. It makes sense. In the stop and go of working your way through dense city traffic you would forever be lifting your feet and putting them back down again. Many just don’t bother.

The city with the most bikes and scooters turned out to be Barcelona, the last stop on our trip. At last I was seeing the hordes of bikes I had expected to see in Madrid. Mostly scooters. Here it was amazing how sometimes almost entire blocks were given over to motorcycle/scooter parking only, and every slot was in use. Rather than stop in traffic and roll backward into a parking slot, the common approach was to pull up on the sidewalk and drive straight into the slot off the curb. Barcelona also has a large number of broad streets so actual lane-splitting, coming up the middle between lanes of cars, was much more common.

It was particularly interesting on Sunday, April 24, when we were driving from Sevilla to Arcos de la Frontera and the roads were full of motorcycles. Motorcycles by the hundreds, if not thousands. What, does every Spaniard go riding in the country on the weekend? I couldn’t believe how many bikes there were.

Well, we figured it out. We got to Arcos and were having beers and tapas in the bar at our hotel and they had the TV on. They were reporting on the Spanish Gran Prix, which had been held that day in nearby Jerez de la Frontera. All those bikes we saw were people riding home after the race. Valentino Rossi won, by the way, so he’s apparently not totally washed up yet, though he’s no longer the top dog he once was.

Most of the Spanish countryside we saw was not very interesting, and didn’t look like particularly compelling riding country. The one place that was not true was in the de la Frontera area. This area of what they call the Spanish white hill towns is, as the name suggests, a very hilly area. Narrow, twisty roads going up high with fabulous views. It’s probably like that up north in the Pyrenees, too, so if you ever go to Spain to ride just head straight for the good parts.

Biker Quote for Today

Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations.

Resurrections From Examiner

Thursday, April 7th, 2016

I no longer write for, but I did for about eight years. During that time they went through numerous tech upgrades, with the result finally that all the work I did for the first nine months or so was no longer compatible with their latest software. So all that very early stuff was removed and is no longer available. I consider that a shame because some of that was very good (my own not so humble opinion).

So I decided the thing to do would be to put some of the best stuff up here on this blog, and here’s the first. I will make note that one thing has changed radically in the interim, which is that the price of gasoline has plummeted. It’s a good indicator of how the future may not be at all like we currently envision it.

I Have Seen The Future And It Seems To Work Just Fine

Woman in skirt with scooter

They do things differently in Europe.

The middle-aged woman, wearing three-inch heels and a black cocktail dress, paused next to the little scooter. Popping open the storage compartment, she stashed the black shawl she was wearing and put on the denim jacket she took from the compartment. Pulling on a helmet, she shut the compartment, and shakily, on her high heels, rocked the scooter off its center stand. Finally, she unfurled the scooter’s protective skirt and draped it over her in order to ward off dirt or water and to maintain her modesty. Then she drove away.

Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas any more. Heck we’re not even in the U.S. My wife and I witnessed this vignette last week in Paris. Clearly they do things differently over there.

Welcome to the land of $11 gasoline. While we moan about $4 gas, the Europeans paid that much and more for years. Now we pay $4 and they pay $11. Scooters are king on the Continent and you really know that’s true when you see this sort of scene.

Of course, it’s not as if I didn’t know about this, but our recent two weeks in France, Belgium, and the Netherlands brought home a number of points I didn’t realize.

For one, you really see the most bikes of all sorts in Paris, at least of the places we spent time. In Toulouse there are many, many scooters, too, but a really phenomenal number of bicycles. In Bruges, Belgium, bicycles constitute an even greater majority. At the train station in Bruges they had racks and racks and racks of bicycles, thousands of them, apparently parked there by their owners who were taking the train in to Brussels or Ghent to work.

In Rotterdam, the city center was destroyed during World War II and has been rebuilt with wide streets. Consequently, there were nowhere near as many bikes, motorcycles, or scooters. Still, rather than sharing the streets with cars and trucks, bikes and scooters have a separate lane of their own on both sides of the street.

The key in all these cities, however, is public transportation and two-wheeled transportation. The Europeans saw the need for fuel-efficient transportation long ago. Now that we’re feeling the bite in gas costs we’re finally seeing the light, too. I have seen the future and it appears to work just fine.

Biker Quote for Today

The only thing better than a motorcycle is a woman riding one.

Vintage Motorcycle Show Will Be June 7

Thursday, May 14th, 2015

by Matt Wessels

The Vintage movement is in full force and old motorcycles are finding their way back to daylight and backroads in record numbers. This year will mark the 5th annual Vintage Motorcycle Show in Golden, Colorado.

Heritage Square will host the event one last time before they close their doors at the end of 2015, and all of their facilities will be operational for the show. Those facilities include bathrooms, restaurants, and a bar.

Erico Motorsports, GrandPrix Motorsports Indian and Foothills Triumph/BMW will be there showcasing some of the factory retro motos. Last year they had a half-million dollar Vincent show up, by the name of the Black Prince. It might make a re-appearance at this year’s show.

The show (Sunday, June 7) is open to anybody with a vintage motorcycle following the structure of a controlled open floor. To enter, respond to the evite and drop a comment so that Bob can get an idea of how many bikes there will be. Being a part of the show is just as free as attending it. They are taking donations for Hospice care, so bring some stray bills to support a good cause!

Much like the show being a celebration of all that was good and right in the motorcycle world, the Hospice donations are a celebration of good people who make it their life’s work to increase the quality of life for those who can not completely provide it for themselves. The idea was started when a friend was immensely impressed with the Hospice workers who take care of his mom, and wanted to give back.

The VJMC is also giving back by footing the bill for the event and wants all motorcycles from all backgrounds, manufacturers, and styles to attend. This isn’t a profitable endeavor, this is simply two enthusiasts who want to bring like-minded people together and celebrate good bikes, good food, good talk, and good experiences.

If you missed the link up above, go HERE to register for attendance. IT’S FREE!

For any other questions or comments, please reach out to Bob @

Many of the same folks meet at the GB Fish and Chips on the first Thursday of every month for Old Bike Night. There are a few other Old Bike Night meetups around the front range area, but not all necessarily connected with this one.

Scoot in San Francisco

Monday, November 17th, 2014
Scoot San Francisco

Scoot Networks scooters ready for you to climb on, parked two blocks from our B&B.

OK, this will be my last blog post dealing with our recent trip to California. But this was the one I actually planned before we left.

Just days before we headed for the West Coast I happened upon an article about Scoot Networks, which is an outfit that is set up in San Francisco offering electric scooter rentals. From what the article I read had to say I expected to see a lot of these easily recognizable red scooters in the mix of traffic. I was intrigued.

Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows that I have an interest in electric motorcycles in general and a personal interest–as in I want one–in electric scooters. So the idea that someone is renting them, and at a very low price, definitely caught my eye. And it was right where we were headed. Cool.

I didn’t see a single Scoot (as opposed to scooters generically) on the streets. And it wasn’t until the night before we left, with time in the morning only to get to the airport, that I noticed that just two blocks from our B&B there was a charging/parking site where four Scoots sat. So I went over quickly in the morning and got that photo above.

Nevertheless, in a crowded, busy city like this, scooters are a great way to get around quickly and easily. And of course it’s all handled with an app.

The way you use Scoot is you create an account and then when you want to ride one you use your smartphone to see where near you there is one available. You then plug your phone into the Scoot and off you go. There are three levels of membership but if you plan to do it regularly the only rational option would seem to be the top-level package, Scoot Pass. For $29 a month, with two months free so a $290 cost for a year, the first 30 minutes of any ride is no additional charge. If you’re just getting around the city, that’s probably going to be most of your rides right there. Then for anything past the first 30 minutes it’s $1.50 for each additional 30 minutes between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. and just $0.25 per 30 minutes from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m.

We’re talking cheap. Just for comparison, we took buses a lot while in the city and each time I got on a bus it cost me $2.25.

Now, these Scoots are all single-seaters, so if Judy and I had wanted to go somewhere on them she would have had to rent one, too. She doesn’t ride so that would not have worked. There’s no way she would have wanted to learn to ride a scooter in the middle of the San Francisco congestion. But imagine if you lived there and could pick one up close to home and drop it close to work. You could pay $290 a year and that would be your total cost of commuting. Plus, you’d be on a scooter, and that’s fun!

I don’t know how successful the business is. As I said, I didn’t see any of them on the street. And the scooter business seems to be funny. In places such as Key West there are lots of scooter rentals and it is absolutely the best way to get around that very congested town. And they do land-office business. On the other hand, here in Denver, ScooTours Denver rents scooters and I’m not sure how much business they manage to do. I’ve dealt with those folks in the past, and they advertise on this site, but my recent attempts to contact them have not been successful. So I don’t know; I hope they’re at least making enough to continue in business.

So no, I didn’t have the opportunity to ride one while we were out there. But maybe next time you’re out there you might want to give it a try. And now you know they exist.

Biker Quote for Today

He was so slow, there were bugs on the back of his helmet.

Not a Harley in San Francisco

Thursday, November 13th, 2014
Scooters In Rome

There's a reason this scene is common in Rome.

We were just in San Francisco for a few days and it was interesting how these things work: We didn’t see one single Harley or big motorcycle in the city. We did, however, see plenty of small bikes and a ton of scooters.

It’s pretty much that way in Rome and Paris. We’ve been both places in recent years and far more than San Francisco, those cities are chock full of small bikes and scooters. San Francisco is nothing compared to them.

It makes perfect sense. Lane splitting is legal in all three places but you just can’t lane-split with a bike the size of a small car. While San Francisco has a lot of sport bikes and dual sports, the two European cities are awash in scooters. They’re cheap to operate, you can park them anywhere, you can slip between the cars to filter to the front–it’s perfect. If I lived in any of these cities the scooter would be my first choice for transportation. For the life of me, I can’t understand why–and how–anyone drives a car in Rome. That city is impossible.

But I never thought there would be no Harleys at all in San Francisco. I mean, of course there must be some–we just didn’t see any. Not even a Sportster. But as soon as we crossed the bay and got into Oakland there they were, plenty of them. And up in Marin County, north of the city across the Golden Gate, there were plenty of hogs. Just absolutely none in the city. You better believe there’s a reason for that.

Biker Quote for Today

Death is more universal than life; everyone dies but not everyone lives.

The Scooter I Didn’t Buy

Monday, October 13th, 2014
EVT America R30

An EVT America R30 scooter like the one I didn't buy.

I make no bones about the fact that I want a scooter. Scooters are just plain FUN to ride.

So I really thought I was going to buy one Saturday but it didn’t happen. Very disappointing.

I would really like an electric scooter. They’re quiet, they don’t pump out poisonous gas, and the ongoing cost of operation is just about nil. So I was really pleased when I saw on craigslist an electric scooter for sale down in Castle Rock. The guy didn’t list an asking price, saying simply that he wanted it out of his garage because he needed the space.

I contacted him and arranged to come down and check it out. I also asked what ballpark price he was looking for because, as I told him, if he didn’t want to let it go for, say, less than $1,000 I would save both of us the trouble because I’m not looking to pay anything close to that. He was a bit cagey–a good negotiator–and did not cite a number but asked me what my range was. I said $400 to $800 and he said he might be willing to come down to $800.

OK, I wasn’t excited how that played out but when I checked to see what these scoots–an EVT America R30–sold for new I saw that it was around $2,000. This one had only 500 miles on it so I figured that if I paid $800 for it that would still be a bargain, even if I could have paid even less.

I went down and checked it out and took it for a test ride. All in all it seemed like a decent little scoot, perhaps a bit inexpensively put together, but you do get what you pay for. But the test ride showed issues right from the start.

I pulled out of his driveway, which has a Hollywood curb. A Hollywood curb, in case you’re unfamiliar with the term, is when instead of putting in a curb cut for your driveway, the entire curb is sloped so you have an bit of a bump going in or out. I went over the edge of this curb and hit the street hard. Whatever front shock this thing had was clearly trash. Fine, you can replace shock absorbers.

Taking off down the street the thing showed plenty of pep. I went zooming around and–as I keep saying–it was a heck of a lot of fun. But I did some esses back and forth and made some turns and the front end was raising some concerns. It didn’t seem very stable and gave what I took to be warning of steering head issues. I had no idea what it might cost to do work on the steering head.

Back at his place, pulling back into the driveway over the Hollywood curb, it was another severe thunk of the sort that could easily send you flying if you were going very fast. I told him about the front shock and the steering. He held the front wheel steady while I pushed the handlebars left and right and there was a noticeable click and shift that they made while the wheel didn’t move. No wonder the steering felt unstable.

I was torn. I clearly was not prepared to pay $800 for something with these problems, but you don’t see many electric scooters for sale so I was asking myself if there was a price at which I would be willing to buy it even with these issues. And I told him plainly what was going on in my head. He acknowledged the issues and said he would be willing to take just $500.

Finally I concluded that no, I wouldn’t be interested in this scoot at any price. I told him it wasn’t the shock; shocks can be replaced. It was the steering. I thanked him and left.

I got home to find that he had called saying he found the problem with the steering, it was just a nut that was loose, would I like to reconsider? I was interested but figured before I answered him I would check out what it would cost to replace the front shocks. I had to do some searching but finally found a website focused on electric vehicles and a page for this particular scoot. Here I found something very interesting. In the listing of features it mentioned “rear shock absorbers” but not a word about front shocks. I also found an owner’s manual and in the diagram where it points out the different features of the product it pointed to the rear shocks but not to the front end where something that seemed to be shocks were clearly visible.

My conclusion was that although there is something up front, some sort of piston, there apparently is only the weakest possible spring and it is perhaps not something that can be replaced.

So with no actual front suspension and no way to do anything about that, I was losing interest rapidly. Then the idea that a single nut was the only thing holding the steering in place didn’t inspire confidence either. I sent him an email saying no thanks.

Very disappointing. I still want a scooter, and I’d especially like an electric one. But I guess I’m going to have to keep looking.

Biker Quote for Today

Four wheels is for people with no balance.

Don’t Miss This (But I Will); A Running (Riding) Conversation

Thursday, September 4th, 2014
A bike from the 2013 Motorcycle Cannonball

A bike from the 2013 Motorcycle Cannonball.

Can someone please clone me? I don’t know how many times I’ve said here that I’m going to do something or be at some event only to have those plans fall through because I have a conflict. Here we go again.

As I announced way back in April, the fifth annual Motorcycle Cannonball Endurance Run is coming through Colorado this weekend and while I want like the dickens to go see this rolling museum, I’ll be out of town. But that doesn’t mean you should miss it.

To recap, this thing is a ride from the East Coast to the West Coast on motorcycles that were built in 1937 or earlier. They’ll be stopping at the Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Museum in Colorado Springs mid-day on Sunday and then will come to Golden for the night. Either would be a great place to catch the scene.

A Conversation

On a totally different note, I had an interesting ride to work the other day. I head east on Hampden (US 285) and just keep going when it turns into highway, getting off at Kipling.

Shortly after crossing I-25 I picked up someone on two wheels behind me, and when we came to a traffic signal at Dahlia this scooter pulled in alongside me and a little back. I turned and said hello and we chatted a bit while the light was red, then took off again.

We got stopped again at Colorado and chatted some more. It was a People brand scooter, a GTi300 and I asked if the 300 meant it was 300cc. He said it did. Does the i mean it is fuel-injected? Yes. Cool. So it goes pretty fast? Yes.

We cruised on and as we passed a street that turns into one of the ritzy developments on the south side of Hampden we saw a bunch of police cars and a motorcycle lying on its side with broken pieces all around on the ground. Not pretty at all. When we stopped for the red light at University (we caught all of them) we both shook our heads and shuddered at what we had seen. No blood and gore, no broken bodies–those apparently were already off to the hospital–but no one who rides likes seeing something like that.

At the next stop we talked our plans for the day. I was going to work. He was meeting some folks at a gas station in Lakewood and they were riding to the top of Mount Evans. Boy, did I want to come along with him.

But I didn’t. At Kipling I turned north and he blasted on past. And now it’s too late to go up Mount Evans any more this year. They just closed the road for the winter on Tuesday. Next year . . .

Biker Quote for Today

I rarely think of motorcycles without a little yearning. They are about moving, and humans, I think, yearn to move – it’s in our cells, in our desires. We quiet our babies with cyclic movement, and we quiet ourselves by going. — Melissa Holbrook Pierson (I think)