scooterlife - photog's blog

Motorcycles. Scooters. Wheelchairs. Tape. Whatever rolls.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Week One wrapup

First week mileage was just shy of 100 miles. If I had more free time and/or could get past the guilt of sneaking away from work, I could've easily doubled that mileage just with joyriding. I was also a bit apprehensive about riding at first, not knowing what to expect or how reliable it is, so initial jaunts were within walking (or pushing) distance of home.

The oil reservoir leak around the oil level sensor is pretty common, from what I'm told. If I buy another 2-stroke scooter with a similar design, I'll probably remove the sensor and put RTV sealant around it as part of the initial prep process. It only takes about 10 minutes including removing all the stuff to get to the oil reservoir.

Aside from that, the bike has run flawlessly, revving furiously and eagerly. I can get an honest 42 mph out of it on the flats; I don't think 45 is out of the question once it breaks in a bit. At 30mph it's remarkably smooth, quiet, and feels relatively untaxed. It seems to be in its element when I'm either cruising at 30mph on a quiet suburban road, or (oddly enough) blasting flat-out from stoplight to stoplight in dense urban traffic, slingshotting from one city block to the next and slipping through holes in traffic.

Costs:
So far it's getting roughly 80mpg--much higher than I expected.

Castrol synthetic premix is about $6.50 per bottle. Can't quite track that usage yet because of an oil reservoir leak.

I bought a few tools to leave in the scoot--a better set of screwdrivers, an adjustable wrench--to the tune of about $10.

RTV-type gasket sealant to fix the oil revervoir leak: about $5.00

Future upgrade: higher wattage headlight--about $10.

Figuring that I'm doing a ton of joyriding in addition to errands, I've spent about $3 a week for fuel and whatever the 2-stroke oil consumption cost are. Easily under $20 a month for all the errands and goofing off I'd like to do.



If you're absolutely shaving every penny you can off your household budget, figuring out how long it would take to recoup your initial scooter purchase price by saving on fuel and parking is an individual thing. However, I don't think that the fiscal bottom line is the single best argument for riding the scoot unless there's a long-term commitment (1 year minimum, at least 2 years to see returns). Personally, I think the best part is the enjoyment of riding something that's quiet efficient and a lot of fun. After all, if it's not fun, you're not going to stick with it.

The fun part is pretty dependent up on the scooter's competency, however, as well as the ride gear that keeps you safe, visible, and comfortable. I've seen some bargain-basement scoots with shoddy construction and low-grade parts that probably would struggle to hit 25mph, and their braking is substandard even at those sluggish speeds. So perhaps if the aim is simply A-to-B, then a smallish, inexpensive scoot would suffice--with the caveat that build quality and brakes are a priority. If you want to get a kick out of the joyriding element, go for something that has a certain gut-level attraction, as well as the most mechanically competent scoot you can afford.

Also, since I ride motorcycles (at least 12K miles a year) I have plenty of great ride gear to choose from--armored jackets and pants, mesh jackets for summer wear, great gloves and boots, and so on. If you don't have those things, budget for them. If you shop around, good armored all-weather, all-season textile gear--a jacket and overpants--can be found for about $200. A decent DOT/Snell rated full face helmet starts at about $125.

Wrecking at 35mph on a scoot is the same as wrecking at 35mph on a full-size motorcycle. The choice for gear is up to the rider but I'd recommend an honest risk assessment. While part of the attraction to scoots is the "get on and go" simplicity, an extra moment spent pulling on a helmet, jacket, gloves, over-the-ankle footwear, and wearing jeans, is a cheap investment in safety.