Scooters Are Cool, I Don’t Care What You Say

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I have a confession to make: I love scooters. From piddly scoots like Vespas, to burly 700cc beasts like the Kymco MyRoad 700i, something about scooter riding really appeals to me.

As the resident sportbike guy here at MO, you’re probably used to seeing me with my knee on the ground, riding the latest KawaYamaCati at the racetrack. Naturally, it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to imagine me riding said motorcycle on the street as I battle with my daily commute. Which makes sense, as sportbikes are relatively small and narrow motorcycles with gobs of power – perfect for squirting between cars.

But the truth is, I’m really only a sportbike guy at the racetrack or local twisty road. When it comes to everyday riding I don’t want to be arched over, kissing the front tire, with my weight resting on my wrists. I want to lean back, relax, and have a place to store my stuff. Hell, I can even do without the shifting, too. Sacrilege, I know, but for me, the answer is scooters. Fun fact: of all the two-wheelers I bring home, scooters are the ones the missus gets most excited about.

Scooters Are Cool Traffic

Intimidating? Yeah right, but little scooters sure are useful when you need to cut through the city during rush hour traffic.

The way I see it, sportbikes are for having fun (way) over the speed limit. With scooters, a good time can be had well below it. Just check out that photo above for proof.

When I’m riding small scoots, I generally want to blast around town to do my errands or meet up with friends. Those tasks seem too trivial to take my truck, and it’s just silly to get all geared up for a motorcycle trip to the local burrito joint. Plus, if the roads get congested, small scoots have the ultimate advantage of being able to maneuver between gaps in cars waiting at red lights. Sometimes if I’m running late, even the sidewalk becomes an inviting option…

During our recent Uber Scooter shootout, I fully realized the benefits of big-bore scooters. I loved being able to stretch my legs fully while riding the BMW C650GT – it truly felt like a lounge chair on wheels. Then, if I wanted, I could scoot (pun not intended) my feet underneath me for sporty riding when the roads got twisty. What other category of motorcycle allows that kind of flexibility?

Scooters Are Cool Kymco MyRoad

The current crop of large-displacement scooters are surprisingly capable machines when you want to take the long and curvy way to the grocery store.

With the added space under the seat compared to their small-bore counterparts, I routinely took whatever scoot I had grocery shopping, leaving the four-wheeler at home. From there I’d replace my reusable bags for a backpack and make the 37-mile one-way commute to school twice a week, comfortable knowing my books and computer were safely stored underneath me, away from the elements.

Scooters, no doubt, have their practical uses, and if I were in the market to actually buy another motorcycle right now, the utilitarian nature of a scooter would place it under serious consideration, even (especially?) against traditional motorcycles.  

Liking scooters doesn’t necessarily exclude me from satisfying my sportbike side, either. Inevitably when a bunch of like-minded people get together with motorized vehicles a race is bound to happen. So not only do scooters appease my practical side, if I wanted, they still allow me to satisfy my competitive urges, too! If you haven’t seen them, scooter races are some of the most bizarre things you’ll ever see.

Before you write off small scooters as boring, you owe it to yourself to watch 115cc scooter racing in Asia. The action is fierce from beginning to end.

Need proof? Simply search for “Vespa Raid” and check out the results. Yes, those are Vespas fitted with knobby tires racing through the desert! If that’s not enough, search for “Underbone Racing” and feast your eyes on leather-clad racers, dragging knee and banging bars on 115cc scooters. It’s all part of the feeder series run by the Asian Road Racing Championship, which has produced a number of racers currently competing in Moto3 and Moto2. Some of these kids have yet to reach puberty but are racing side-by-side in fields that are sometimes more than 30-deep. Needless to say, trying both of those events rates pretty high on my bucket list.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll always have a place in my heart, and my garage, for traditional motorcycles (I’m not a total weirdo) — it’ll just be beside my scooter.

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  • Michael Howard

    My Yamaha Majesty’s practicality allows it to be my “daily driver” in place of a car (except when the roads are icy). How can any rider not think that’s “cool”? While most “real” bikes are sitting at home waiting for the weekend, mine’s being ridden every day of the week. For some of us, “Live to Ride, Ride to Live” is more than a t-shirt slogan or tattoo. And some of the best bikes for that “daily rider” lifestyle are actually these big scooters.

  • Brian Fistler

    I totally agree. Unless I’m headed out to some twisty roads I’ll, more often than not, leave my ZX6 at home and hop on the 250cc Roketa or the 650 Burgman for a relaxing hour ride or a 15 minute trip to the store.
    If I’m going to be anywhere near the mountains, though, it’s the ZX6 that I fire up.

  • Doug Erickson

    a honda pcx150 is a little monster — it’s got the agility of a bicycle and the lean of a sportbike, and winds up to 60+ mph with a quickness. for urban rats, it’s pure hooliganism — plus it has plenty of underseat storage for your bags of organic kale and coconut water.

  • ScooTours Denver

    Here in Denver where we rent Kymco People 50 scooters, you can’t beat the benefit of parking on the sidewalk. Regardless of how costly or elusive car parking is, we ride right to the front of the place we want to go and hop off. It makes downtown and other congested areas our domain. Plus, people want to chat with you when you ride up on a scooter. Probably because of the big grin.

    • DL Nielsen

      Three years ago when I took my Speed Triple in to Erico’s for service, I
      got a loaner 50cc Vespa. I wanted to go to the auto show while the
      Triple was being serviced. They told me if I took the little Vespa that I
      could park on the sidewalk in front of the center for free. That solved
      a major headache. And it was a hoot to ride, too!

  • Tim Quinn

    We have two scooters, a 2009 Zuma 125 and a 2012 Burgman 400 ABS, parked in the garage along with with our new V Star 950.
    We live down the street from a high school and I joked with my wife when we bought the Zuma that some of the teenagers were going to kid us about riding it: WRONG! Much to my surprise, most of them think the Zuma is pretty cool.
    When we ride the Burgman, we always get smiles from older people driving around in their Lexus or Benz. That seems to be the target market for these bigger scooters (People who don’t want to shift a motorcycle, but don’t want a trike or a Can-Am and have lots of disposable income).
    However, one thing I do caution non-riders about maxi-scooters is that they are totally different machines than those little lightweight, slow 50cc scooters they rent when they go on vacation. I always suggest a MSF rider course before they hit the highway on one because thinking “It’s just a scooter” is a dead wrong attitude.
    I’ve been riding for 35 years. and yes, I think scooters are cool too!

    • Michael Howard

      Yeah, these big (and fast) scoots are really full-sized motorcycles – just with CVTs, auto clutches and way more practicality. I tend to not even refer to my Majesty as a scooter since it has so very little in common with traditional (small) scooters. To me it’s a motorcycle with a huge trunk under the seat.

  • Oslo Norway

    My wife has been wanting a scooter BAD, and you just gave me an idea. If I can get it in a suitable displacement such that I can steal it when she’s not using it, welllllll….

  • Jason 1199

    City riding is what supermotos are for, plus you don’t look like a dork

    • Tim Quinn

      I love supermotos too! I would love to have one parked in my garage if my lower back was not so out of whack. I’m gettin’ old, man!
      According to Suzuki, the average Burgman rider has 12.4 years of riding experience, is 52.1 years of age, and has a household income of $71,884.
      That’s more riding experience than the average Suzuki motorcycle rider.
      That’s not a bad demographic to belong too.

  • frankfan42

    Ride what you like or ride what you HAVE. Just as long as you ride. There is room for everybody, from the most fervent Harley addict, to the raciest ricer, and everyone in between. Its not about the bike, its about the RIDE.

  • Mike Morrill

    I’ve been riding motorcycles for more than 35 years and never ridden a scooter until moving to Italy a few months ago. I now own a Piaggio 250 along with my Ducati Multistrada. Exploring the narrow streets around Naples, scooters totally make sense. I’m in love and use mine for daily commuting, saving the Multistrada for two-up touring with my wife. I plan on purchasing a Piaggio 350 when I return to the US in a few years. The agility and convenience can’t be matched, plus it’s always more fun to ride a slow bike fast!

  • Keith Lamb

    Autos are far better when you have to deal with stop and go traffic and the storage that’s almost always built in is a huge plus. I prefer the big bike if I’m taking the wife or just goofing around on the weekend, but for cummuting there’s not a lot of bikes that can match the utility of a scooter.

  • SkinnyAllis

    My current Burgman 650 a good daily rider. I get 50 MPG when in long distance tour mode and 45 MPG commuting. Push the “sport” transmission button and it finds a whole other mentality: real acceleration, engine braking, and attendant lousy gas mileage (lower 40s). When in sport mode it can keep up with most sport biker-Squid-studs, those who only think they know what they are doing in the curves.

    My wife likes riding on the back, its good for fairly long distances and the under seat trunk storage can take two helmets or one big duffle bag. It’s fairly easy to add electrical toys (mine has self installed heated grips, a GPS, and a stereo). All that plastic and fairing means you can easily hide the wires.

    On the downside, the suspension is merely OK. I find it hard to find the ideal rear suspension preload setting when I am riding alone. It’s either too soft or too harsh. I really think the thing is designed with two riders in mind, b/c I like how it rides with two of us on it with the preload adjusted to the hardest position.