Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The art of alternative transportation: toggling between bike and scooters in Hot Springs

Aaron Butler, Hot Springs
Originally uploaded by trudeau
Musician and Centenary College grad Aaron Butler (former Red Shift, Dirtfoot, the Peekers, now with Brian Martin) added thoughtful responses to the recent series of biking articles though he has relocated to Hot Springs. I asked him for a brief evaluation of his rolling stock because I know that readers are interested in scooters.

He responded, "I went with Yamahas. I did quite a bit of research online and seemed the Yamahas got more praise for quality. My father's also been riding a Yamaha for years, so that influenced me a little. I do have quite a few friends up here that really, REALLY love their Honda Metros and the Ruckus.

I got the Vino (smaller "vespa" styled one) first because I really like the looks of it. It has now been passed on to my girlfriend. I wouldn't say I feel safer on the Zuma, but I guess it has it's benefits (better visibility to other drivers). The Zuma also has a little more power (I get a top speed of ~38 on the vino, while the Zuma does ~42).

Both are 49cc and they do just fine around Hot Springs, so I know they'll be more than adequate around Shreveport. Of course I wouldn't ride one on I-20, and I'd probably opt for "back roads" rather than the parkways as well, but at 80-90 mpg you can afford to go a little out of the way.

The 2007 Vino cost me just under $2,000 after tax and the Zuma was $2,300 after taxes - which are quite a bit higher up here.

I financed mine. And at $50 a month (for one scooter) and about $9 towards gas, I'm still spending less than I would driving my Jeep around the same amount.

One thing to watch when purchasing new scooters is the inclusion of a throttle cam restrictor (you don't have to worry about pre '08 yamahas. I'm not sure about other brands). When I drove the Zuma off the lot it seemed a little sluggish and had some trouble up a couple hills. After some googling I found out about the restrictor which is essential an extra chunk of metal on the carb that keeps you from opening the throttle all the way. It's a pretty easy fix for those with a little experience under a hood, but the shop I bought it from did it for no charge - and I suspect most shops would do the same.

They're a blast to ride. And I use a lot of my cycling "skills" while riding. Yet it almost seems that I get more respect from drivers on my bike than I do on the scoot."

Looking forward to more such responses from you early adopters
on scooters.


chris said...

I've got a 2005 vino 125cc and I love it. I got mine a bit cheaper than the current MSRP of $2899 too. Unlike Aaron's, mine is quite a bit larger and more powerful and I can regularly hit 55mph on it. I still average around 90mpg too. It's illegal to use a scooter under 150cc on the interstates and there's no possible reason anyone would feel safe doing it anyways. On mine, I feel fine on Youree or Clyde Fant, but I'm extra cautious to make myself very conspicuous to "four-wheelers". I bought mine when I moved to Shreveport because I knew that I'd be spending a lot of time commuting to school and not a lot of time driving to NOLA or Dallas. I also realized that Shreveport has the perfect weather and I drive mine year-round. Just get a decent set of gloves and something to keep the wind off of your neck and you'll be fine.

I would definitely recommend spending the extra money to get a well-known brand. Popular scooter manufacturers include Honda, Yamaha and Kymco. These brands will allow you to order replacement parts more easily than some of the cheaper Asian off-brands.

You wouldn't believe the amount of questions you get when you pull up to a stop light on a scooter these days.

chris said...

a little eye candy

Gas Motor Scooters said...

Glad to hear scooters are catching on in Louisiana. They are great and hope to see more and more people get them. They cause less accidents, are cheaper, get better gas mileage, and are better on the environment that cars.

Kyle Park

Aaron Butler said...

I guess I should mention that the Vino 50 would likely get around 110 mpg in Shreveport... the hills in Spa City take a little off.

Also check out the laws on engine size. Up here I don't have to have insurance/motorcycle license/tags because they're under 50cc (my main influence in not getting a 125cc/250cc.

I tagged mine just because I figure Cops may be more suspicious of a bearded fellow doing 40 mph down Central without tags.