How riding a scooter can help national security

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Scooters are effeminate, a bit silly and just not serious transportation, right? Well, what if riding one could decrease the risk of future wars and save you money? It’s estimated that if just 10 percent of American car drivers shifted just 33 percent of their miles onto scooters by 2020, national gasoline consumption would be reduced by 3.9 billion gallons per year. That’s 198 million fewer barrels of oil we’ll need to import each year equalling a $21.4 billion saving.

The figures come from Vespa as part of a mature, powerful pro-scooter use message. Vespa doesn’t want you to get rid of your Hummer, they want you to shift a portion of your annual mileage onto two wheels and want to demonstrate to you the savings you could make personally and the savings we would make nation wide.

That’s the idea with the Venn diagram above. Transferring some of your miles onto a scooter will save you money. Figuring the fuel consumption difference between the average 75mpg Vespa an a 21mpg SUV (which is actually pretty good for an SUV), your average fuel consumption can improve to 48mpg, which is on-par with a Toyota Prius. Unlike that Prius, your Vespa won’t get stuck in traffic. Figuring 15,000 miles-per-year, doing 50 percent of your miles on two wheels will reduce your annual fuel consumption from 714 gallons to just 312. At $3.67 a gallon, that reduces your annual fuel expenditure from $2,620 to $1,145. You’ll also save money on tires and other consumables and save time spent in traffic.

The message is uniquely fitting for Americans who are reluctant to give up the ability to haul large numbers of screaming children or take extremely long road trips, no matter how infrequently they do either. Owning both a scooter and a car would give Joe and Sally Average the best of both worlds. They can retain the ability to wish they did things like extreme kayaking on the weekends while saving money on gas on weekdays.

Vespa is also keyed into the national consciousness in a more meaningful way than the average bike maker. Reducing national gasoline consumption by 3.9 billion gallons a year only represents a 2.8 percent decrease from current levels, but it’s a step in the right direction of a goal created by President Obama to reduce foreign oil imports by 1/3 by 2025. Making their products relevant to the discussions taking place on national news and at water coolers is extremely powerful marketing.

Making this campaign stand out even more in an industry which typically can’t fog a mirror with its advertising is a strong message about the need to pass pro-bike legislation in order to reap the benefits two-wheeled transportation can bring to our country. You can agree that reducing national oil consumption is a desirable goal, right? Well then you need to install some scooter parking to help make that happen.

As a whole, this is a strong brand message linking Vespa to the idea of a green, affordable transportation future and making the attainment of that transportation as painless as possible while presenting a message that’s positive for all motorcycles and scooters. If every motorcycle company could make their products relevant in such a powerful way, motorcycling would likely be taken far more seriously in this country.

Vespanomics

  • http://cynic13th.livejournal.com/ cynic

    “They can retain the ability to wish they did things like extreme kayaking on the weekends while saving money on gas on weekdays. ”

    This sentence is just another example of HFL awesome.

    • noone1569

      Yeah, this definitely got a clap out of me.

  • ktaisa

    i grabbed vespa 300 last year for driving about 30 miles a day to and from work. not only does it cost me about $10 a week, i have a badass adventure every morning. For a city like chicago a scooter works perfectly in mad mad traffic and allows me to carry my lunches and laptop to the office.
    also if we get shit tons more people to drive them all drivers will become more aware of them in general and parking could become a reality in the city.

    im all about this

    • noone1569

      This is one of the reasons I push all of my friends to ride something motarized on two wheels. Not only does it benefit them, but it benefits me. The more motorcycles/scooters out there, the safer I am because more people will notice them.

      • http://www.anotherdamndj.com evilbahumut

        Word!

  • http://www.footshifted.com Footshifted

    If I only had that Honda Elite E from the late 80′s back… sigh. Not that 35mph would do too much good for my commute to work like a bigger scooter would, but this post brought back memories of tearing shit up (and the scooter for that matter) on that thing back in the day.

  • Vinicio

    Also, a Vespa (and scooters in general) is a great gateway drug. It’s easy to get people hooked on two-wheels. I started on a Vespa and before I knew it, I was sneaking out of work to go buy and ride motorcycles.

  • markbvt

    Hopefully other motorcycle/scooter companies will follow suit, and with gas prices rapidly approaching $4 a gallon again, hopefully people will begin to take heed.

    I live in northern Vermont, yet I commute by motorcycle for about 3/4 of the year. There’s absolutely no need to clog our streets with cars, let alone SUVs, or to shell out $50 at the pump on a weekly basis. Not to mention riding a motorcycle to work is a hell of a lot more fun than taking the cage.

  • Kirill

    More motorcycle-specific parking would be great, that’s about the only shortcoming of California when it comes to accomodating two-wheeled transport. It doesn’t make any sense to make a rider pay full meter rates, for example, or to even make them take up a metered spot. Personally, I think sidewalk parking should be allowed, most scooters/motorcycles don’t take up much more space than a bicycle and it works pretty damn well in Paris (which is infested with two-wheelers the way NYC is infested with cabs).

    As for the general benefits of riding, I’ve found that commuting in to work on two wheels stresses me out far less than commuting via cage, which makes me (somewhat) more productive.

    • Gregory

      Here in Portland, OR, motorcycles (or scooters, or any motorized two-wheeler with a license plate) need to pay full parking meter rates. The plus is that we’re allowed to scoot in at 90 degrees between cars, perpendicular to traffic. So I need to pay, but I’m always sure of a spot.

      -gceaves
      Portland, OR
      2008 KLR w. milkcrate

  • Andy Keech

    just buy more stuff. it’s the easiest solution to everything.
    buy more, insure it all, and just have it sit around in your enormous fucking house that you bought on 99% credit, when you and your wife bring home 1/5 of its total value, combined, yearly.

    • Ed

      No one is saying you got to buy new. You can buy used and cheap ($600 and running just fine) and learn to tinker the garage … flex some problem solving muscles instead of sitting in front of the idiot box. Hell, you might even be able to sell off your extra car and pay off some debt. You can’t buy your way out of debt, but you can make different choices save money (on car payments, on gas bills …) that is going out the door uncontrollably. Put that extra cash to paying down what you owe and the chains of debt begin to melt away. When they are gone, that’s freedom.

    • T Diver

      Stuck in forclosure friendo? Sell the wife. Buy a Vespa.

      • dux

        Haha! That’s a hell of a message-with the number of divorcees in the US, it could be highly effective!

  • http://twitter.com/hagus Luke

    “Scooters are effeminate, a bit silly and just not serious transportation, right?”

    No, way, I’d get a scooter again in a heartbeat.

    Funniest scooter story — used to hang out with a bunch of guys who had a regular Wednesday meet up (no chicks allowed). We’d all ride our bikes over to whosoever turn it was to host.

    Anyway, this guy swings past the bottlo (liquor store for Americans) with his vespa. Cracks open the seat storage and pours a bag of ice in, and packs a dozen beers into the ice. Closes the lid.

    This scooter gets driven to the house, around the side of the house, through the back yard of the house, and INTO the house. Parked in front of the couch, whereupon the Vespas seat was lifted up so we could enjoy its precious cargo. A portable Esky.

    Drinking beers out of your BMW panniers in the living room just doesn’t feel the same. Plus, it blocks the TV.

    • Gregory

      +1

  • http://worldof2.com/ jpenney

    Good except for the stuck in traffic part which still applies. I can’t legally split or filter, like 98% of the states.

    • 80-wattHamster

      What he/she said. I’m frankly surprised that CA, of all places allows it, seeing as it’s determined to be the paradigm nanny state in so many other ways.

      On another note, while disparaging scooters would be counterproductive since so many people lack the antipathy toward them that they have for motorcycles, I personally don’t get scooters. A 250-class M/C can get the same mileage (better v. some 250 scoots), plus are legal on all roads.

      • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

        Scooters are easier to ride, less intimidating and more practical. No clutch, integrated storage, low cost consumables etc.

        • HammSammich

          Just to play devil’s advocate we should add that scooters are less maneuverable and less stable at speed. Also, I’m trying very hard to reserve my ire for the few douchebag scooter riders I know, rather than assuming they are all that way. After all, there are plenty of douchebag motorcyclists out there too.

          • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

            LESS maneuverable?! The stability thing only applies to the short wheelbase, tiny wheel ones. Ride a maxi and they’re very stable. Even the little Vespas are pretty decent at 75mph though.

            • http://www.lgdm.fr stempere

              I’m with Wes on this one, if i had to make the smarter choice, seing that i ride everyday in paris, i’ll be riding a tmax 500 or even some 125cc scooter. They’re just better at almost everything and cost less.
              Fortunatly i still have the ability to choose style and performance over convinience and therefore ride a 1200 naked every single day (-2 days this winter).

            • HammSammich

              Fair enough…My only experience is with my little 1985 Honda Spree (50). I found the lack of power for the 49cc class scooters was a major detriment to their maneuverability. I’m sure that applies less to larger displacement scooters, though. To be clear, I’m not attempting to compare the manueverability of scooters to something like a Gold Wing. Perhaps my previous experience with my Spree is also coloring my perceptions of scooter stability, but even at it’s top speed (a paltry 33MPh, right after a tune up), it felt wobbly. I haven’t experienced a Maxi, but honestly, it’s doubtful I will, so perhaps I should just shut up. ;)

              I’m not h@ting on scooters. My little Spree got me through High School as a great commuter, for less than $2/week in gas, and didn’t require insurance or a motorcycle endorsement. I appreciate that scooters can be optimized to provide better performance than my little Spree, but I’m still inclined to think that the motorcycle form factor can be similarly optimized to accomodate all of the benefits of a scooter, with generally better performance (the old Honda Dream 150 comes to mind).

              Finally, this is a good advertising tactic, and I hope that motorcycle manufacturers can follow suit, not only advertising the environmental/economic benefits of motorcycling, but also building commuter bikes that are geard toward non-enthusiast buyers.

              • ddavis

                Yeah, there is really no comparison between a modern scooter and a Spree. I, too, owned a Spree and it was a fun bike for what it was but my experience with a borrowed Kymco People w/ 16″ wheels completely changed my perspective on scooters. All those advances in moto technology also apply to scooters.

          • http://twitter.com/BuddyJesus Peter

            Classic scooters sure, but modern ones are so darn chuckable. The biggest complaint among new Genuine Buddy owners is that they’re too reassuring for new riders who end up trying to drop a knee or whatever and end up catching their pipe. It’s amazing what not having an offset engine will do for a scooter.

            I like Vespa’s tactic here. It’s a much more compelling case than the Roman Holiday references and fluff they’ve peddled for years.

          • http://worldof2.com/ jpenney

            I rode a 49cc when my license was suspended (was legal in MO). WAY more maneuverable than a 250 motorcycle. Scooters ride very “light”.

      • Gregory

        Also, my girlfriend loves the looks of ‘em. She can slide into a scooter, whereas she feels awkward swinging a leg into the air. She feels more “normal” in city/ office clothes on the scooter, whereas on my KLR she’d feel the need to gear up.

        • http://www.lgdm.fr stempere

          The gear issue is true but that’s a bad point in my opinion. Scooter riders don’t feel the need to gear up with arguments like “i’m not going as fast as you” or “my legs are better protected”
          That, of course, is horse shit. Your speed won’t matter when that 2 tons taxi runs you over (talking big city traffic here).

          • dux

            If 2 tons of taxi runs you over, it won’t matter much if you’re wearing kevlar jeans

  • Myles

    The solution to this is pretty simple. . . . tax the hell out of gas. If I could make one change to this country immediately, it would be increase the cost of fuel to $15/gallon.

    Suzuki wouldn’t be able to make enough tu250′s and Yammy wouldn’t be able to make enough wr250′s. Everyone would ride, there would be no traffic, and everyone would be happy. Goddamnit, what a dream world.

    • http://www.kenta.ro Kentaro rides a NRS and a GSA

      Sir, that was the dumbest thing I’ve read all day.

      • tomwito

        Except it would cost $45 to fill up. Exactly the opposite of what I want out of a small bike/scooter.

    • a hipster

      the current $4.50/gal isn’t reason enough?

    • http://www.thisblueheaven.com Mark D

      $15/gal might be a bit steep, but I agreed with your point. Remove toll roads, add $1-$1.50 extra tax to each gallon of gas, and you might have enough revenue to fix collapsing bridges and crater-like potholes, while at the same time encouraging a reduction in petroleum use.

    • http://www.lgdm.fr stempere

      That’s what’s been happenning here in france for years. Here gas is around $10 a gallon (1.4~1.8€/liter). It hasn’t completely solved the issue (traffic is still horrific in Paris and around) but there’s billions of 50cc’s and 125cc’s (you can drive them with a 2 years car license around here) commuters. So i guess it works.

    • Kirill

      Except that rolling in such a drastic change overnight would collapse the economy and food supply simply because of how much stuff is shipped by truck.

      • Myles

        No it wouldn’t, not at all. It’s simple, make the tax completely reimbursable for all business uses.

        I’m talking end citizen, private use fuel – tax the fuck out of that. The additional revenue from that tax could offset current taxes on fuel for all users and provide even LOWER end prices on goods. It could additionally offset taxes on other fuels (heating oil, jet fuel, etc.).

        Your argument is the most common when my type of solution is brought up, but it’s a very easy issue to overcome.

    • Alix

      Instead of a gas tax, you could add a gross vehicle weight tax. Every time you register your Suburban or other vehicle over 5000lbs GVW you pay an extra $500 or some other higher amount. Vehicles like SUV’s do more damage to the roads and should pay more anyway. (http://www.slate.com/id/2104755/)

      Or, make driving a vehicle over 5000 GVW require a different license, like adding a “heavyweight” class endorsement. Unless it is made extremely expensive or annoying, people will continue buying SUV’s. People have been convinced that they “need” them and until that changes they will continue to be popular.

      • HammSammich

        This would be a great idea, but there’s no way to force this through for the entire country, since vehicle registration is regulated by the states. In WA State, where I reside, they pushed through a flat vehicle registration fee scheme through popular initiative back in the 1990′s. As a result it costs me the same to register my motorcycle as it would a Ford Excursion…

      • Myles

        The purchase of the SUV isn’t the problem. Driving the SUV on public roads is the problem. Someone with a 5 mile, 3 day a week commute in a Suburban puts a lower stress on infrastructure and uses less fuel than someone with a 60 mile, 5 day a week commute in a Civic.

        The only way to tax use fairly is by taxing the one thing required for use – fuel.

        • http://www.kenta.ro Kentaro rides a NRS and a GSA

          Why does everyone want more taxes? Citizens and businesses are taxed enough already. If I could save even 10% on the current taxes I have to pay I would love to get another motorcycle and stimulate this industry and fuel efficient transportation.

          • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Grant Ray

            Businesses are taxed enough already? You mean like how corporations including GE pay no taxes and actually tax the people with multi-billion dollar tax returns?

            Also, government maintained bridges, highways and our currently failing dams aren’t magically fixing themselves these days.

            Maintenance costs money. Since all that money that should be going to said maintenance is going to the 3 wars the US is currently fighting, we either risk catastrophic failure of our infrastructure or we raise taxes.

        • jbm

          Sorry Myles, wrong here. The fair and efficient way to solve congestion is a tax that accounts for the full costs of travel (ie the cost in terms of time and money from additional vehicles on the roadway). We identify the appropriate cost of congestion and tax vehicles $X during travel periods. For a city like SF, thats something like $.65/mile during rush hour and $.03 during off peak. A gas tax fails to affect our choices of time of travel leading to congestion, and would lead to hugely inefficient outcomes as the tax would apply to all gasoline purchased not just that used during peak congestion. A $15 gas tax is not desireable on any conceivable front.

  • Keith

    “Everyone would ride, there would be no traffic, and everyone would be happy”
    And everyone gets health care paid for :)

    • Myles

      Completely relevant point. I really appreciate the addition to the conversation, both your wit and knowledge of the political landscape is phenomenal.

      To have such a modern “renaissance man” among us is invaluable. You are a true Patriot, love freedom, and are exactly what makes our country run so smoothly. Look in the mirror, pat yourself on the back, and know that you’ve done a good job today, sir.

  • Thom

    Or….. if you Really want to make a difference , as well as benefit your own well being , but just have to have that ubiquitous Hummer /Expedition/Escalade in you garage ….

    ……. Buy and USE a Bicycle for at least 33% of your transportation needs .

  • Brook

    If Ducati designed a scooter for the American market, people would buy it.

    meh…maybe not. It’s still a scooter.

  • http://twitter.com/hagus Luke

    I’ll also add that the number one objection I get from friends, when I try to sell them on scooters, is riding them on a highway would be scary.

    A typical west coast commute involves finding the nearest highway onramp, traversing the highway for some distance, then exiting onto surface streets.

    Most drivers are, to put it bluntly, completely fucking oblivious to everything around them. I’ve seen people reading the paper at 80mph side by side with other cars. FSM help you if it rains, because these dimwits *do not* adjust their driving for the conditions.

    I can see myself using a scooter here for trips to the shops, but riding on a highway would mean bumping up to a higher class of scooter engine. That means less MPG, more weight, more expense, etc. Some of the shine gets taken off. You aren’t going to ride a 50cc on the 101.

    Scooters and motorcycles are allowed to use the carpool lanes here — that should be called out prominently wherever possible.

    • Kirill

      You can’t ride a 50cc on the 101 anyway, its illegal. I think you need at least 150cc to get on the freeway in CA.

  • CG

    I keep suggesting this idea to my wife for her 11 mile back road commute to work. She then looks outside at the 42 degrees and raining weather, down at her Coldwater Creek clothes, and then back at me. Then hops in her Audi and off to work she goes (I work at home so it doesn’t matter to me). I do think other people should bike and scooter to work*, and high gas taxes would get the poor and lower middle class off the roads, so those ideas work for me.
    *Back when I commuted I rode a bike or motorcycle to work about 90% of the time. I did have a short commute so I won’t presume any form of martyrdom in that respect.

    • Alix

      I would love to see more people bicycling/motorcycling/using public transportation to get to work, but I think it would be difficult for a lot of people. With the economy as it is, some of my friends have taken jobs farther from where they live just so that they can have a job, even if it means driving an hour to get there (they can’t afford to move closer). I’m lucky in that my 15 mile commute is within a major metro area and covered easily by a combination of bicycle and bus (and would be perfect for a motorcycle if I had one).

  • Dennis

    The financial argument is nice and all, but Vespa? Vespa?! Really?

    Because you’re sitting there making nickel and dime calculations trying to figure out how you can squeeze a few more dollars out of your gas budget, and then you run out and spend an extra $2000 on a scooter for no discernible reason except that you want your friends and enemies to notice yo riding around on an overpriced Italian fashion statement?

    A GTS 300 costs $6,000. A 150cc Vespa that only goes 59mph is $4,500! Their 50cc model is $1,300 more than a Honda Metro. Holy cow.

    Time to back up and rewrite the whole economic argument with a Honda or Yamaha, or even a SYM or Kymco if you really want to save some dollars.

    On the other hand, if the idea is to piss away money trying to impress the neighbors, well, then drive the Escalade every day. Or get a Harley.

    And I haven’t even added up the premium $$$ you’re going to pay for parts and labor at a Vespa dealer versus the cost of a real scooter that the masses can afford.

    • Devin

      Ok, don’t buy a luxo scooter. You’ve just helped prove the point of the scooter as affordable transportation even more.

      • Dennis

        I proved nothing of the sort. But now I WILL prove something…

        There are lots of small cars that will realistically get you over 30 mpg (US), without having to pay thousands extra for exotic technology like hybrid drive. A Ford Fiesta starts at $13k and gets 32mpg (Consumer Reports). For $15k, you can have a Honda Fit, Scion xD or or Mazda2, all getting 32 or 33 mpg.

        So, since you’re an average American, you drive your small car 13,000 miles per year. It has doors and storage space, a heater and no need to buy a helmet, armored jacket, rain suit, boots, gloves, etc. ($$$$$$$$$$$$$$…) At $4 per gallon, and at only 30mpg, you’re spending $1,333 per year on gas for your cheap, small car.

        Now let’s say you want to replace half your driving with a scooter. You’re frugal so you buy a $2,149 Honda Ruckus. You ride it half the time, 6,500 miles per year. Consumer Reports got 71 mpg overall on that scoot, so you burn 91.5 gallons a year, which at $4/gal is $366 per year. You’re only driving your 30mpg car for 6500 miles a year now, so it is costing you $867 per year in gas. The scooter is saving you $1333 – $867 = $466 per year. It will take 4.3 years to break even on the added expense of the scooter.

        During that 4.3 years, you will put 4.3 x 6500 = 27897 miles on your Ruckus. I don’t think you can realistically expect to get 10,000 miles out of a scooter tire, but let’s say, somehow, you can. You’ve got mad riding skilz or something.

        That means you’ve gone through 2.7 sets of tires in 4.3 years. A pair of ultra cheap Kenda 3.5×10″ scooter tires will cost you $25. You find a bargain shop that will mount them for $50. That’s $75 x 2.7 = $207.50 just on scooter tires alone. In other words, tires cost you $48 per year. You’re actually only saving $466 – $48= $418 a year, so it is going to take over 5 years for the scooter to pay for itself and for you to *start* to make our money back. I didn’t factor in the reduced tread wear on your car’s tires, but car tires come with tread wear warranties upwards of 60,000 miles — at least 6 times a scooter, and that’s being really generous.

        If you spend $500 on your helmet, jacket, gloves and so on, and replace it every 5 years, you will never break even. Gear alone — cheap gear! — eats up all your savings on gas. The hourly rate for bike repair is a good 50% to 100% more than for cars, so repairs and scheduled maintenance on your scooter are going to put you in the hole. And your car only needs a tune up ever 30,000 miles, not 5,000.

        If you start wishing for something a little nicer than the Ruckus, maybe a scooter that can cruise at 50mph or even 60mph on the freeway, the math gets even worse.

        Of course, if you redo the whole calculation with a 10 or 15 mpg truck, the scooter wins. SUVs just suck. We knew that. But a basic, low-tech, cheap car is the way to save money. And you can carry kids and groceries.

        I’ll give you this though: factor in an expensive daily parking rate for your car, and traffic jams that you can avoid by riding in HOV lanes or lane splitting in California, then, only then, will a two wheeler save you money. If your job has free parking and you can’t bypass traffic on your Honda Ruckus, then stick with the car.

        • Myles

          Here’s some quick math (really specific).

          -A shitload of households have more than one automobile.
          -Automobiles are really expensive to buy, insure, operate, repair, and fuel
          -Motorcycles aren’t

          If you replace your math with “having a bike in addition to an economy car” to “replacing one of the too many cars people already have with a bike” the math gets really awesome really fast.

          • Dennis

            I’d say you either need 2 cars or you need one. If you need one, the smart move is to get rid of the one you don’t need completely, not replace it with a scooter. Remember, insurance, taxes, and registration are not per-mile driven. They’re per year. It’s expensive to own anything you’re not using.

            If you *do* need 2 cars, then what good is it to have a car and a scooter in the winter time? That might be a solution for a few Americans in the warmest climates, but not in general.

            And I’d still like to see what numbers you’re imagining for repair and maintenance cost in order to claim cars cost more. What maintenance intervals are you thinking of? What hourly rate?

            • Kirill

              There aren’t “a few” Americans in the warmest climates. Three of the top four most-populous states in the country have largely mild-enough winters to enable year-round riding (that’s about 81m people). Then, depending on how generous you want to get with “mild climate,” you’re looking at upward of 130-150m people being able to theoretically ride year round with minimal to little discomfort and effort.

        • Kirill

          If vehicle purchases were purely logical and financially-driven, well, this site and the thousands of similar sites wouldn’t exist. But they’re not.

          For example, buying a stripper base-model compact car is incredibly depressing. Nobody actually wants to do it. Even a relatively cool compact like a Fiesta is still meh in the pants with no options. People want something to be proud of in their vehicle choice, even if its something perfectly sensible and milquetoast. Its much easier to brag about a 75 mph Vespa than a base-model Fiesta. You get to feel really damn smug about that. Smell your own farts smug. Seventy Five MPG. Damn, I like the sound of that.

          Now, if you’re the sort of person inclined to buy a Vespa in the first place, you probably think they’re cool. The reasoning for that could be anything, from “I saw *famous person* riding one in a movie” (did McQueen ever ride a Vespa? Was he even near a Vespa at any point?) to “its made in Italy, that makes it sexy!” to “it make me feel pretty” to “all the cool kids are riding them and I want to be cool” (this one’s a powerful decision influencer) and so on. All of a sudden, throwing down $6k doesn’t seem so stupid, because you get to be smug about your MPG and CO2 AND you get to look cool when you roll up to the nearest hipster bar to throw back PBRs.

          Shit, now I want to buy a Vespa. I want to feel smug and look cool too.

          Besides, scooter riders never buy gear.

          • Dennis

            I ride motorcycles because motorcycles are awesome. They’re awesome. But I’d be living in a fantasy world if I told myself I was saving money, or that most people wish they had two wheelers. Hardly anybody who sees me riding my bike wishes they were me. Being honest with myself about it.

            It’s a simple fact that for every bike you see, you see ten Fiestas and Hyundais and Civics. At least ten. The could trade that car for a bike, but they won’t. 95% of Americans don’t want a motorcycle. Don’t. Want. One.

            Before the Model T Ford, everybody was forced to be a motorcyclist. That’s all they could afford. Just like China and India today. But as soon as somebody made a car cheap enough, people ran away from motorcycles in like they had herpes. Before WWI there were over 200 motorcycle manufacturers in the US. After, only H-D and Indian remained. Same thing in Italy: the Fiat 500 put scores of Italian motorcycle marques out of business. In Japan after WWII, it was the cheap Kei cars that reduced the number of motorcycle makers from over 200 to just five. It happened overnight because most people find motorcycling too difficult, too wet, too cold, too uncomfortable, too inconvenient, and too unsafe.

            If you pay attention, you’re going to see the exact same pattern repeat itself in India with the Tata Nano, or some other cheap car. After that, it will happen in China.

            • Ilya

              Exactly the same thing happened in Russia between 1993 and 1998. There were 4 motorcycle manufacturers building 1 million units a year. Only Ural survived with 1/100 of it soviet-era output.

            • Eric

              You can save money hand over fist by riding a motorcycle, you just have to give up your car to realize the gains.

              Between the $105 difference in parking permit cost every 3 months, the $650 per year insurance difference, and the $40 a week gas difference (for my commuting, which has weekly trips from LA to SD) that’s $260 dollars a month less than the car I had before, 7 years ago. I nearly cover my share of rent from the savings. The bike’s small enough and simple enough that I do all my own work.

              When it rains I get wet. (Of course I’m in SoCal . . . )

    • Toby

      Vespas are ridiculously priced – even the Vietnamese-made ones here in Thailand.

      And I reliably get 70+mpg with my $3500 CBR250.

  • Ilya

    Nice artwork, but the message is a totally out of place. I wonder who told Vespa they are competing against cars?

    • nick2ny

      Do you know how many car drivers are out there? Do you know how many of them are feeling the squeeze of $4/gallon gas?

      • Ilya

        I think i know how many car drivers are out there. Why?

  • Miles Prower

    The Honda Metro is pretty much the cutest, most girly scooter you can buy. During the years I owned two of them, only one girl ever turned down a ride. Where I live, there are plenty of beautiful “secret spots” just minutes away — accessible by scooter, day or night. I think most guys would never realize that owning something so “effeminate” could up their batting average much more effectively than owning a manly Hummer.

    • Matt the sperglord

      You take passengers on it? Is it possible to even start moving with 2 people on a Metro?

      • Toby

        It’s bigger than a Metro, but I’m consistently amazed how much I can pile on my 110cc Honda Scoopy… last week it was me, my wife, and an entire full cart of groceries. It could still hit 45mph, and was more stable in crosswinds ;)

  • Toby

    I think what the US needs is AFFORDABLE scooters. In the developing world you can buy a brand new Honda 125cc Wave (with warranty!) for ~$1000 US. And it’ll hit 60mph no problem. You can buy an automatic shifting step-through Honda 110cc for ~$1350.

    I wanted to buy a scooter (new OR used) in California before I started riding motorcycles, because a) I was broke, and b) I wanted to start small and learn well. New scooters started at $2400 for a 50cc Ruckus, and used scooters didn’t seem to depreciate that much, if you could even find one for sale (I followed ebay and craigslist feeds for months). For $2500 you can get a really nice used SV650… it just didn’t make any sense.

    If you want Americans to ride scooters the way Asians ride scooters, give them the good cheap options the rest of the world has! I’d buy a $1k Honda Wave in the States just for shits and giggles. (Pro tip: you can wheelie one if you stand on the passenger pegs ;)