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.
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?
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.
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.