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Saturday, June 21, 2008

New experience: Riding with someone else!

Our first ride together today!

Bob has a BMW F650 GS Dakar

I have a SYM HD200 named Ariel. Obviously our top speed capabilities are different, as are our skill levels with me being the newer rider.

So, I went first and set the pace. We headed north on the Peak-to-Peak highway from Nederland and went beyond Ward to an awesome view of Long's Peak.

Bob's summary: A cloudless, beautiful day, the road is rough, lots of bicyclists, lots of great sweeper curves, fun heeling the bike over.

Shelley's view: Wow! Weeeeee! My most constitant and fastest ride yet. Really concentrated on being smooth and taking the curves correctly. For some reason my scooter is 10mph SLOWER than before its first service - maybe they readjusted for 5400' (rather than 8300' where I live and ride). The air smelled beautifully - sweet flowers, pine, cut grass, etc. Waved to dozens and dozens of other motorcycles out for a ride.

Just before our joint ride I had gone over to the lake across from Kelly Dahl to photograph the great blue herons.

Finally, I've passed another scooter! We didn't just wave, WE WAVED! and SMILED! Kindred


After our ride we ate at Katmandu Restaurant in Nederland. Yumm. Bob led our way home - I was mostly just trying to keep him in sight; a 170 cc road scooter is just no match for a dual sport and 650cc engine on dirt roads. Fun was had by all.

We did 'exchange' our rides. OK, I tried to reach the ground while sitting on the bike. Uh ah. not going to happen. I practiced teetering from one tippy toe to another, pushing the bike by one foot, practice balancing some more, and got over balanced and slowly dropped the bike to its side. Its been on its side many times in its life, so I don't feel guilty. Until we lower the suspension, this bike is off limits to me.

I went back to Ariel - she feels right sized - and we puttered off down our dirt road toward home after a happy day of riding.

Consumer Reports and scooters

I just saw a blog posting by Consumer Reports that they are looking into scooters. I have read many, many newspaper articles which glibly and shallowly report about scooters as a means of transportation and their articles are puff pieces either pro or con. Recent posts in Harrisburg's Patriot News and Boulder's Daily Camera come to mind.

In CR 's discussion area, they are appealing for more information about scooters and riding - and I think we should share our knowledge and love of scooters.

Consumer Reports is EXTREMELY influential; a very positive means lots of sales and a negative reports can mean the demise of a model (Suzuki Samurai). Many people look to their reviews to help them choose cars, toasters, insurance, etc.


And for those looking to buy, they are planning to do actual scooter reviews so look for that in the next few months.

I am not affiliated with this organization in any way - this post is to help share our grass-roots savvy with a much larger audience.

my posting to Consumer Reports:
Thank you Consumer Reports for taking a serious look at scooters and motorcycles. Perhaps the analysis is also about 'riding a scooter in today's traffic' since your blog entry wasn't about consumer advice in how to choose through the myriad of characteristics of different scooters. Although, it would be nice to have CR's in-depth scrutiny of the many brands and their qualities and sizes to point the consumer toward high quality brands and make them aware of the slew of unacceptable/fly-by-night scooter brands which ARE dangerous because they are low quality and often break during use.

"We approach these products with grave concern for rider safety and caution readers against a hasty decision to move to two-wheeled transportation without proper training and safety gear."

"Let's not be hasty." Case in point, I began my research last summer for a scooter and took the time to analyze what my riding needs were and could be. My alternatives to riding a scooter were to consider bicycling the 6 miles to town to catch a bus to a larger town, to car pool (which I already do with 2 others, mostly in the winter), to walk, and to continue driving my car. Much of my research was in safety aspects (gear, skills, attitude) and with safety statistics. After 6 months of research, taking the Motorcycle Safety Foundation's Basic Rider course, and passing it, I purchased a scooter that fit my needs (a 170cc scooter with 16-inch tires to accommodate mountain living and riding). I estimate that I can safely ride 9 months a year while achieving ~82 mpg.

Scooters, motorcycles, and bicyclers share many common characteristics, which although obvious, I hope these are remembered when Consumer Reports starts analyzing the safety of these vehicles. And, at least around here, many bicyclists can achieve speeds of 40mph+ while going downhill (and the riders are wearing a helmet usually and a fraction of the gear considered necessary to safely ride a scooter & motorcycle at a similar speed). So the 'inherent instability and dangers' are similar and magnified - are these dangers explained during CR's bicycle reviews?

Really, the safety is incumbent on the rider; and for that, I point this organization to the Motorcycle Safety Foundation who offer basic riding courses and whose materials are often used as the basis for state driver tests and handbooks.

There are dozens of online user forums focused on scooters (and motorcycles), their safe use, their quality, and characteristics, etc. Perhaps as people replace their behemoth SUVs with smaller vehicles that also hold families of 5 just fine and the number of scooters/motorcycles and bicycles increases, the visibility and acceptance of these alternative forms of transportation will also increase. Think Europe and theFar East.

I have been reading Consumer Reports for decades and appreciate the thoroughness and thoughtfulness of its reports. Current newspaper articles seem to have taken a very shallow approach either pro or con; I look forward to the balance that CR is known for.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Soon to be two!

My husband threw a fit after I suggested buying a milk crate and zip tying it to the cargo rack on Ariel.

“Why don’t you just put a crate of chickens on the back while you’re at it.”

Of course, he’s about to get his own motorcycle tomorrow। In anticipation of this momentous occasion, he wore his motorcycle helmet this evening while surfing his political blogs and emitted ‘vroom vroom’ noises

now and then.

Sunday, June 08, 2008


If you are in the market for a scooter, the best place to see a lot of varieties and talk to real riders is at a rally.

I went to the Colorado Chaos rally today and even though I didn't show up with a scooter, everyone was really nice. There were mostly Vespas at this rally (the sponsor sells Vespas) and a smattering of other brands. Its maybe a smaller rally with ~75 scooters when I came by.

It was so much fun just to be there! People were very willing to tell me about their scooter, from the vintage Allstate (Vespa sold through Sears at one point) to a one week old Aprilia 50 cc.

Gosh darn, I forgot my camera! My DH thumped me on the head - "you always take your camera!!!" doh!

They had a 'gymkhana' which is designed to test one's slow speed skills. I'm sure if I'd had begged to the right person, I could have joined in as the passenger - that's how nice folks were.

So if you are in the market, get over the shyness, get over the 'they'll think I'm an idiot' and just show up. Just walking through the scooters was an education and lots of fun!

About Me

Join me in my adventures as I learn to ride a scooter and experience the world through two wheeled transport.