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

Troy Siahaan
by Troy Siahaan

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.

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?

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.

Troy Siahaan
Troy Siahaan

Troy's been riding motorcycles and writing about them since 2006, getting his start at Rider Magazine. From there, he moved to Sport Rider Magazine before finally landing at in 2011. A lifelong gearhead who didn't fully immerse himself in motorcycles until his teenage years, Troy's interests have always been in technology, performance, and going fast. Naturally, racing was the perfect avenue to combine all three. Troy has been racing nearly as long as he's been riding and has competed at the AMA national level. He's also won multiple club races throughout the country, culminating in a Utah Sport Bike Association championship in 2011. He has been invited as a guest instructor for the Yamaha Champions Riding School, and when he's not out riding, he's either wrenching on bikes or watching MotoGP.

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2 of 14 comments
  • Keith Lamb Keith Lamb on Jan 21, 2014

    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.

  • Confuciussay Confuciussay on Nov 30, 2017

    I am a bit of a Mod and a Rocker....a two wheeled bisexual! 25 classic scooters and bikes in 36 years of riding. Vespas and Triumphs. Confused. Not at all. I love different horses for different courses and machines styled by the human mind, eye and hand. Same for cars too. If you like it and it does the job you need it to then ride it proudly! Go safe people.