Remember when you were a little kid, around the age of four or perhaps five? It was finally time to hang up the tricycle or that noisy plastic Big Wheel that had a hole in one of the back tires and was covered with scratches. Now you were ready for something with two wheels, something that in your mind went a lot faster. The only problem was you still had about a year to go before you could graduate to a real bicycle with training wheels. So maybe you got a scooter. A bright red one with white stripes down the side and hard rubber wheels that were white in the center. The thing looked awkward, like a big roller skate with handlebars. You had to get a running start by pushing your left foot on the ground and trying to keep your balance with your right. If you turned that front wheel just a little too much, it would lock up and off you went. Some of the other kids who already had bikes zoomed past you, laughing, and you might as well have been sitting in your little red wagon.
Now you’re all grown up and have a family. You finally have been able to purchase that huge SUV that gets a couple of miles to the gallon, or at least it seems that way. The only problem is, you really can’t afford the gas to drive it anywhere. You have to plunk down fifty bucks a week just to get back and forth to work and you don’t even live that far away.
What’s the solution? For some people it comes in the form of a bright shiny new scooter, the ones with an engine that gets anywhere from 50-100 miles per gallon. Dealers throughout the country say that motorcycle sales , especially scooters, are zooming up faster than Uncle Roger’s Harley heading down an open stretch of interstate. A lot of these sales, they say, are to middle-aged buyers who want to avoid high gas prices at the pump.
Traditionally these moped-type bikes have appealed primarily to teenagers, college students and environmentalists, but those times have changed. Now people are leaving the gas guzzler parked in the garage and using the scooters to get back and forth to work. A lot of dealers that sell the two most popular brands of scooters, Aprilia and Vespa, have reported that their sales have doubled in the past two months. And the average age of the scooter rider as well as the motorcycle rider is on the upswing too, to the ripe old age of 41.
Scooters are generally lighter and slower than motorcycles and can get up to a hundred miles per gallon. Depending on the model and the features, prices can range from less than a $1,000 to more than $6,000. Scooters have a step through design that allows you to sit upright, while motorcycles force you to straddle a large gas tank. This makes riding the scooter much more comfortable if you are advancing in age and have back problems or arthritis in the hip.
The scooters come with ample storage underneath the seat. They also have a top storage compartment and a glove box. Some even come with a plug-in charger for powering up your laptop. Most of the new scooter owners don’t seem to worry about the wintry weather that is right around the corner either. A lot of the scooters have heated handlebars and you can always get one of those big, puffy orange jumpsuits.