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Old 10-13-2003, 12:12 AM   #11
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Default Scooters: What the hell?

I'm kind of glad this topic came up, because I worked selling scooters at a very scooter-intensive dealership in San Francisco, a very scooter-intensive city. I sold hundreds of the things (well, 160 or so) and I've noticed a thing or two about people's attitudes.

People are unthreatened by scooters but very threatened by motorcycles, even though there is no reason for it. Sure, scooters can't go on the freeway (at least the 50cc ones can't), but they can, will, and do hit up to 50-60mph on straightaways. In a crowded urban environment, that's more than enough speed to get you in a world of hurt. And scooters don't stop as well as motorcycles at those speeds. But uninformed consumers don't think about that. All they think about is Roman Holiday and how cute they'll look on their scooter. They ask questions like, "Do I need a helmet (or jacket or gloves) on a scooter?" But it's basically the same thing. You're hard to see, like a motorcycle, have zero impact protection, like a motorcycle, and will fall over if unbalanced, like a motorcycle.

At least the California legislature got sensible in 1995 when it ended the policy of not needing a motorcycle endorsment for motorcycles (or "motor-driven cycles" in California) under 50cc. Why shouldn't you need a specialized license for a scooter when you need one for a motorcycle? Operating a scooter at 45 mph on the bumpy, SUV-infested, pachinko-like arena of San Francisco's city streets is trying for experienced motorcyclists, and must be daunting for someone with no skills or experience at all!

Not requiring a license for 50's is an absurd policy. One example of the absurdity is when a guy from out of state called me. Seems he had his license suspended because of his boozin' and drivin'. His solution? He wanted to purchase a Derbi GPR50R (http://www.derbiwest.com/GPR%20Flat%20Silver%203.jpg) and install a 70cc kit. A kitted Derbi uses a small two-stroke racing motor and can hit 80mph in the straights! (Just ask the 50 or so guys on big sportbikes and cruisers I passed on Highway One today if you don't believe me.) So now there's a guy riding drunk on a 200 pound GP bike with no helmet, registration, license or insurance. Not required for 50's in a lot of states!

Is that logical or sensible? If so, then licenses shouldn't be mandatory for ANYTHING, not cars, trucks, busses, helicoptors, space shuttles or heavy equipment. Scooters are like anything else- potentially hazardous to an untrained or careless operator.

California has answered the question at hand already with rare sensibility, and I heartily endorse requiring the same license for motorscooters and mopeds as for a motorcycle in other states as well. Stamping a number or labeling something "scooter" doesn't change the dynamics of two-wheeled locomotion, nor does it magically negate the need for the operator to have the basic skills and knowledge to operate a vehicle through traffic safely. After all, the majority of motorcycle accidents happen on city streets at under 50 mph, not on the freeways.

Who likes things the way they are? The motorcycle industry, of course! Scooters are cheap enough to pay for with a credit card, and are often impulse items. It would seriously reduce sales if customers had to go and get their licenses before buying a scooter. Over half my customers NEVER get an M1 endorsement, sometimes after 10 years of riding!

And yet...scooters are a fantastic way to get folks on two wheels. Their friendly, fun, easy nature can be used to introduce a new generation of riders onto motorcycles. But we need to require motorcycle licenses in every state, and offer free, on-demand basic skills training to all who seek it.
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Old 10-13-2003, 02:03 AM   #12
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Default Get a nice Aprilia then

Ebass must have been beaten up by a kid on a Spree when he was younger. Two wheels are cool in just about every form. Pocket bikes, scooters, dirt bikes, cruisers, sport bikes, mountain bikes, beach cruisers, road bikes, and even my old Schwinn are more fun than watching ghetto-liscious beauty contests..
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Old 10-13-2003, 02:25 AM   #13
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Default Re: 2-tier licensing

Just to complicate the discussion, maybe the US should put mo-peds (I prefer the term less-peds) and all lower-cc bikes into a lower license like the learner's license (not sure if that is the correct term) that some other countries have. All large bikes would require the 2nd/advanced license. Works fine until somebody makes a 1000-cc moped.

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Old 10-13-2003, 04:21 AM   #14
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Default Yes

Separate moped from motorcycle stats for insurance purposes. Also separate sport bike stats from the rest. Here's the thing. Car manufactures don't make Indy race cars for the general public but motorcycle manufacturers make sport bikes that go more than 2.5 times the speed limit. I don't care that people like to pretend they have the balls to ride like the pros but hiway stats should be separated so that we know where exactly the accidents are occuring. Hey, this might point out that these are the safest bikes on the road and this would prove that sportbike riders are unfairly charged on their insurance premiums.
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Old 10-13-2003, 05:50 AM   #15
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Default Sportbikes -- they DO separate them for insurance.

And I, for one, think they're screwing us with it. As a twenty-one year old male with one ticket two years back, (50 in a 35 in a cage), insurance, with liability, C&C, for my SV650 is $900/year. For an R6, same coverage, I would have to pay $3100/Year. Ouch.

Just like it costs you more to insure a ferrari than a yugo, or whatever, regardless of the vehicle's value.

Please, though -- don't get the can of worms opened about safety of sportbikes versus cruisers or whatnot. It's almost as bad as helmet law discussions! I'm going to say that sportys have (no numbers here though) significantly better stopping distances than cruisers, and I'd feel better being faster on the dodge at old ladies who decide to change lanes into me.

On the whole, though, we're all riders, and I think that's the important part, electraglide or gsxr1000 or anything in between.

But scooters? Hmm... (see below)
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Old 10-13-2003, 05:59 AM   #16
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Default Re: MoPeds are motorcycles too?

A friend of mine hits darn near 40mph on the straights, and he isn't required to carry any kind of insurance, license, or the like. As long as he eats his wheaties, that is. That's right, this guy's on a Fuji (road racing bicycle)

As the MOrons found out last year in :


...the above-average cyclist can ride away from a 50cc scooter. Both can get themselves in a lot of trouble, that's for sure, but I'd say if you need a motorcycle license to ride a Vino or something, you need a license to ride many bicycles

On that note, I do support mandatory MSF classes for motorcycle licensing.

And, most of all, a COMPREHENSIVE STUDY ON MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENTS AND SAFETY (modern Hurt report, the 1980ish relic that is STILL quoted at MSF classes.) "That which is measured, tends to improve."
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Old 10-13-2003, 06:08 AM   #17
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Default Re: MoPeds are motorcycles too?

I just don't see where there is any incentive to change anything right now. There's no money to do anything anyway. Insurance companies seem to be willing to charge a small fee for liability, since we aren't much of a liability to the rest of the motoring public, but then charge a large fee for repairing a busted bike. I don't think mopeds figure into the equation even if they over-represent the accident statistics. There aren't many out there in the vast majority of towns and cities.

Look, if you don't have any experience riding a motorbike in traffic the first trip on a moped is not going to convert you to its' virtues. And they don't offer any more protection against the elements than a bike. A small car is still the most practical transportation. Motorcycles are recreational vehicles and mopeds on balance don't give you that much fun for the effort, unless you happen to be in just the right urban environment - maybe San Francisco. How many times can you go around the block on a moped and still cry for more! Now there is one exception. There's a guy that works for the local water district and he rides a small scooter - some Chinese-made 125 and reads the water meters. That bike is big enough to go out on the main streets and get to the next neighborhood. I want his job!
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Old 10-13-2003, 06:49 AM   #18
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Default Re: Scooters: What the hell?

Your arguments for licensing scooters all make sense, at 3 am no less.

However isn't a big part of scooter sales tied into the tourist industry in places like Florida?

I see ads with happy tourists in shorts and sandals whizzing all over the place spending money, wouldn't the tourist industry fight any thing that cuts into their market by requiering m/c licenses to rent one?
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Old 10-13-2003, 06:55 AM   #19
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Default Re: Sportbikes -- they DO separate them for insurance.

I thought I read a study recently that stated the biggest increase in m/c accidents was in the over 40 y.o., single bike, alcohol involved catagory.

I hate to cast stones but that spells cruiser to me, not sportbike.
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Old 10-13-2003, 07:06 AM   #20
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Default Re: MoPeds are motorcycles too?

Here's the breakdown by vehicle type for motorcycles involved in fatal crashes in 2002 from NHTSA's <a href>FARS database</a>. I don't know the precise definitions of the vehicle types. I show them exactly as NHTSA does.


Motorcycle 3,043

Moped (motorized bicycle) 32

Three-wheel Motorcycle or Moped - not All-Terrain Vehicle 4

Off-road Motorcycle (2-wheel) 39

Other motored cycle type(minibikes, Motorscooters) 35

Unknown motored cycle type 7

Total 3,160</tt>

At 2% of the total, the moped/scooter/minibike contribution doesn't seem to big enough to have much effect on the much larger "real" bike probelm.
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