2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner

Scooters gain prestige, market share

Published: September 14, 2013, 4:39 pm, by Garrison Wells

They’re everywhere. They go beep-beep.

When they rev up, their tiny motors sound like lawnmowers.

They yearn to be motorcycles. But they’re not.

They’re scooters.

They’re going viral, and why not? They get a million miles to the gallon. And if you have a scooter with an engine under 50 cubic centimeters, you don’t need a motorcycle endorsement (though you do need a driver’s license and liability insurance, and while they need to be registered, it is only $5 for three years).

And you can motor in the bike lane in some areas, which is better than putt-putting on the road and sending drivers of conventional vehicles into a fury.

For riders, it’s a love affair. They are brave people, unshaken by the preference of most Americans to go bigger, better, louder, faster, more powerful.

For the first time since 2002, sales in all four segments of motorcycles — scooter, dual, on- and off-highway — were up in 2012, according to the Motorcycle Industry Council, a trade group that tracks 19 leading manufacturers. The council doesn’t break down the numbers by specific segments.

“Estimated vehicle miles traveled were 29 billion in 2009, an increase of 8 billion miles since 2003. All of this signals that motorcycling is an increasingly mainstream mode of transportation and fun,” MIC President and CEO Tim Buche said in a news release.

Retail sales overall were up 2.6 percent.

Most of the uptick nationwide has been in larger metropolitan areas, such as Los Angeles, New York City and closer to home, in Denver.

Steve Clark, general manager at Rocky Mountain Cycle Plaza in Colorado Springs, said his scooter sales depend on the weather. h ere haven’t exactly skyrocketed.

“It doesn’t necessarily hold true for Colorado Springs,” he says.

He points out, though, tha tMarch and April were unusually cool and rainy, so sales were down.

In May and June, when weather was better, sales were up.

“Weather is a big factor to our business,” he says.

His scooters are the more expensive and larger Hondas and Yamahas. Running around $2,200cq.

But, he added, “you can buy one for $600. I think a lot of people are buying those.”

For some riders, Clark said, the cost of gas is the driving factor to a scooter purchase.

And some buyers are folks who got hit with DUIs and can’t drive cars, so they buy the cheap scooters just to get around.

“People also just look into the recreation,” he said. “They don’t want a motorcycle, but they figure it will be fun to ride around the neighborhood on a scooter or something. I

do see a lot of them around town.”

And you’re in good company. Among low-powered scooter riders: Tom Hanks, Nicole Kidman and Jennifer Lopez.

Actor Hugh Jackman is among celebrities who ride scooters Courtesy VESPA

Actor Hugh Jackman is among celebrities who ride scooters
Courtesy VESPA

What you guys said:

Jan Farrell ·  Roy J. Wasson High School

juvenile motorcycles. Hope they don’t fall in with the vicious mopeds.
 
Matt Walcker · SR. Regional Director of Education USA at Employee Awareness Association

That’s just plain STUPID. I guess they like suicide machines then. Nothing better to write about?
Bill Allen ·Cheap and dangerous Chinese junk!

 
Lee Gary · Works at Owner, now retired

They’re all over the country. For u whining about “Chinese junk” almost every thing u own has Chinese parts in it. Statistically they are safer than a motorcycle (NTSB)
 
Jerry St.James ·  Colorado Springs, Colorado

My Wife, Son and I have Yamaha T-Max motor scooters. There are Motor Scooters and there are Maxi Scooters. Ours are automatics, have large windshields, lots of storage under the seat and run close to 130 mph with a 400 pound load. We took a 2400 mile trip last year and had the best time of our lives. When we pass people and they see my wife they are totally freaked out, not to give her age, but I am 68. She rides hers to work most any day if the Weather permits, I’m on mine for any reason I can make up. I take allot of Pictures during the Summer so I’m gone most of the time doing that. I have had about every kind of Motorcycle there is and I really like the Tmax-(500cc) the best. I am looking into getting a new one as soon as Obama gives my SS Check a raise. (750cc)
Besides Sex, it is the most Fun you can put between your legs!