Are Scooters Actually Motorcycles
Like most folks, when I thought of a Scooter I imagined the flip-flop beach-bum with the classic baby blue Vespa and the cute rounded headlight riding around with no helmet, salty hair, and not one care in the world. I used to see this image and figure there was obviously no skill needed to operate such a vehicle. Anyone could ride a scooter…
Fast forward many years into my riding and Rider Coach career to the day we received a Scooter on loan to use for classes. I had still never straddled a scooter in almost a decade of riding. My brain was underwhelmed with the idea, almost disappointed as I approached this strange and not-so-cute version of my idyllic beachy Vespa.
After a few minutes I finally figured out how to start the engine. When taking off the throttle was smooth and satisfyingly peppy. As I proceeded to shift into second gear the entire machine felt as though the engine had seized and I was about to become very intimate with the instrument panel! Turns out the “clutch” was actually the brake due to the automatic transmission. On the range exercises the riding was obviously a little different, but it had its advantages. It was easy and quite pleasant to ride with the right amount of knowledge and skill.
Many students went on to have great experiences in class on that scooter. Most students looking to use a scooter were those not wanting to shift, or those who could not shift anymore. Scooters have evolved so much that I believe more and more riders will begin appreciating them for more than the automatic transmission. They have a comfortable seating position, tons more storage capacity, and many other benefits depending on the model. You can get anything from the all-terrain Ruckus, Sport-touring BMW, Three-wheeled Peugeot Metropolis, to the Super Scooter from Aprilia.
The conclusion for me is yes, scooters are motorcycles, they too deserve the friendly rider wave. But does is it ever really matter what we ride? In the end aren’t we all just Riders?