● By Jon Lewis
SAVE MONEY AND HAVE FUN WITH A SCOOTER
Story: Jon Lewis
Photo: courtesy of Scooterville
Hop on a scooter and set out on an urban adventure and you’ll quickly realize there’s a new way of getting around town that’s a treat to the senses: a vibrant hum made of new sights, sounds and sensations.
The best sensation, though, awaits at the gas station when you discover that your two-wheeled machine can pick up a tank full of fuel for less than the price of a latte at Starbucks.
“It’s such a blast,” says Kimberly Brown, who has been piloting her Honda Metropolitan around Redding for the past year and a half. “You get to be a cool nerd.” Considering her 50-cc scooter routinely gets 90 to100 miles on a gallon of gas, Brown and the growing legion of scooter riders are happily taking their nerd status and chuckling all the way to the bank.
Indeed, the popularity of scooters appears to be linked to high gas prices. When a gallon of gas edged north of $3 last summer, the idea of turning that gallon into anywhere from 70 to 100 miles of simple, fun transportation translated into an uptick in scooter sales.
Anderson Motorsports, in business for more than two years, originally specialized in ATV sales and service. “We didn’t sell any scooters until the gas prices went up,” says Brian Robbings, who operates the family enterprise with his wife, Colleen, and son Steven.
The shop recorded its first scooter sale in May 2008. A few more rolled out the door in June before the floodgates opened. Scooter sales in July and August combined for a whopping 72. While the pace slackened as winter approached, gas prices dipped and the economy flattened, the Anderson Motorsports crew remains confident the scooter market is here to stay.
According to members of Scooterville, who have been “enjoying life in the slow lane” for more than two years, scooters are definitely here to stay. Although formed as a lark by three women—Kerri Fagan, Stacy Halpenny DeMar and Julie Dunlap— who had acquired scooters, the club has grown to 78 members and counting.
Group rides are organized on the second Sunday of the month at 1:30 pm at the Lowe’s Home Center parking lot and they routinely attract between 15 and 20 riders, says DeMar, the club president.
Fagan, a manager at the downtown YAKS coffee shop, says members have formed close friendships while sharing tips on scooters, maintenance, favorite destinations and everything else remotely scooter-related.
In addition to their gas-saving ways, scooters are relatively affordable. Robbings said a 150-cc model, capable of 50 mph and legal for Highways 44 and 299 (but not Interstate 5), sells for about $2,000, including tax and license.
Prices vary, depending upon make and model, ranging from about $1,200 for an online purchase that arrives in a crate from China to $6,000 or more for a top-of-the-line Vespa scooter with its famous Italian heritage.
People investigating a scooter purchase are encouraged to shop at a reputable dealer that provides warranties and services what they sell. Steve Robbings estimated 80 percent of the scooters he works on come from often-frustrated consumers who bought their scooters online.
North State scooter dealers include Lee’s Honda, Fator’s Suzuki and The Scooter Spot, all in Redding, and Redding Yamaha in Shasta Lake City.
Brown, who works at the YAKS coffee shop in downtown Redding, enjoys the simplicity of her scooter—“you pull the throttle and start going, and it’s easy to balance”—and says she feels safe on Redding’s streets. Like a lot of scooter riders, she says the key is being aware and respectful of other motorists.
“Just make sure you’re visible,” adds Christy Lochrie, who has been patrolling Redding’s streets on a scooter for more than a year. Visibility is seldom an issue, however, given her habit of wearing a bright pink helmet.
There is a social aspect to scootering as well, Lochrie says. “People are very friendly in Redding. They smile and wave and want to chat about your scooter.” About the only one who doesn’t appreciate a scooter is Lochrie’s pug, Zeus, who went for a ride nestled into a dog purse. “He was not very pleased. I won’t do it again.”
Anderson Motorsports 3012 W. Center St., Anderson (530) 365-6686
Lee’s Honda-Kawasaki 2230 Larkspur Ln., Redding (530) 221-6788 www.leeshonda.com
Redding Yamaha 2962 Cascade Blvd., Shasta Lake (530) 275-7300 www.rysonline.com
Fator’s Motorcycles 682 Grove St., Redding (530) 221-6612 www.fators.com
The Scooter Spot 2880 Churn Creek Rd., Redding (530) 226-9000 www.scooterspot.net
Scooterville (530) 604-6020 scootervilleorbust.blogspot.com