Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Scooter are just zipping along

(gratuitous pic of the shop...)

Excerpt from the Philadelphia Inquirer, October 15, 2006.

Scooter are just zipping along

By Art Carey
Inquirer Staff Writer

...More and more Americans, tired of sharing their paychecks with Exxon and dealing with ricocheting oil prices, are adopting scooters as economical "second cars," or as a practical vehicle to tool around the city.

"Scooters are the fastest-growing segment in the two-wheel industry," said Mike Mount, a spokesman for the Motorcycle Industry Council.

Designed by an Italian aeronautical engineer, the first scooter was built in 1946 (the jaunty vehicles celebrate their 60th birthday this year). When Enrico Piaggio, head of the firm that made it, saw the prototype, he exclaimed, "Sembra una vespa!" ("It looks like a wasp!")

Newer scooters are far more ecologically sound than their forebears. They must meet stringent federal standards, and two-stroke models fueled by a gas/oil mixture are equipped with catalytic converters.

"The piston in a 50cc scooter is about the size of a shot glass," says Rachael Theobald, parts manager at Philadelphia Scooters in South Philly. "Scooter engines are so small they're already environmentally kind, especially compared to a four-cylinder car."

Today's scooters don't guzzle gas, they sip; depending on engine size, scooters can travel from 40 to more than 100 miles on a gallon of gas.

Being out in the open means exposure to the elements; most scooterists take this in stride.

"I plan on riding as long as the roads are clear and it's not bitter cold," said (Barbara) Nickle. "With the right helmet, good gloves, and a windbreaker jacket, it doesn't bother me."

Tedford Juachon, shop manager at Philadelphia Scooters, said his customers range from indie rockers to retirees, from purple-haired couriers to bow-tie-wearing lawyers.

Alicia Karr says it's a boon not only for the planet, but the psyche.

"On a scooter, I can actually smell the air. I see everything in detail," she said. There's nothing between you and everything, which is sort of a Buddhist concept when you think about it. It's very exhilarating."

For the full article, click here.

Great article Art! Except in PA, a "C" class or car driver's license is all that's required to operate a 49cc automatic scooter. PA Motor Scooter Fact Sheet.