New to Scooting

Primarily for vintage scooters and scooterists, but all are welcome
flattuca
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Joined: Tue Oct 22, 2013 10:06 am

New to Scooting

Postby flattuca » Thu Oct 24, 2013 2:24 pm

Hello,

I didn't see a sticky of commonly addressed questions, and/or a "Read this first" kind of post-so hopefully I break no forum rules here. Excuse me if I do, I apologize.

I live in Alexandria and I'm thinking of getting a 50CC Moped/Scooter for some light getting around town. My wife has the car all day and I often work from home-but I'd like something a bit easier/sturdier than my pedal bike to get to the Office when I do go, or the gym (or...wherever, I guess. Right?). I would imagine my longest ride might be Nationals Park over the summer at some point-but that would be about it. So the low end scooter is pretty appealing to me.

As a total noob to this, tho, I've only just started to get into the research and it looks like DC/VA laws are a mess. Plus, there don't seem to be very many authorities on what kind of scooter to buy, etc. At least that I can find.

I'm hoping you'll put up with some questions. Responses appreciated if you have the time.

1. Any suggestions on where to buy a Scooter? I went to the guy over on 1oth St. in Arlington, he seemed legit. He was pushing either the Vespa or the Buddy 50 CCs. That Vespa is prettier, but it's also a chunk more expensive. Currently I'm leaning towards the cheaper Buddy (given it seems just as solid), but I'd be willing to take suggestions. Also, I went to Mopedland in Alexandria, but it was all locked up and that didn't even look like a real place to buy things...

2. Anywhere to test drive one of these deals? I imagine it takes some getting used to, and I wouldn't mind a lesson/something to practice with before I commit. How much like riding a bike is it?

3. So as a VA resident, I can still take my scooter into DC even tho what I might buy might not comport with their laws, right?

4. Seems to be controversy over Parking etc, About sidewalk vs. road, etc. Are there definitive guidelines somewhere about how this works?

5. If I were to go to Nats Park from Alexandria, I would normally take the 14th St. Bridge. I could get off on 14th and make a right on Independence (or whatever that road is) and go over to Eastern Market. On a scooter, that seems like an awfully aggressive road to take-that bridge merges with 395. Anyone ever do that/try that? Better suggestions?

6. Open ended. Any constructive advice anyone has would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!

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imjuanpablo
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Re: New to Scooting

Postby imjuanpablo » Thu Oct 24, 2013 2:43 pm

First, before I respond to anything you wrote, STAY AWAY FROM MOPEDLAND.....dude is a crook.

Now then...

1. Place to purchase. Check with Modern Classics in D.C.......and see what they have used (or new) for sale........other than that, keep looking on craigslist local.

2. What to buy. VA laws for 50cc is that you can ride/drive it without a motorcycle registration (i.e. license plates) nor a motorcycle endorsement on your driver's license. But it's far too underpowered in my opinion, and definitely not safe for riding to Nationals Park. You can take anything into DC and the VA laws follow you, so no issue there.

I suggest you get at least 150cc (a Stella, used) or other auto (kymco, buddy, japanese), but they you'll have to register it (get plates), get insurance and get your motorcycle endorsement, all more of a hassle and cost, but you should take the MSF course a NOVA community college..teaches you all the basics of motorycle riding and you get your endorsement at the end, plus a discount on your insurance. Taking the course answers your 'test' drive question and practice.

3. Parking/sidewalks....... Hit or miss...if you have a 50cc bike, can't get a ticket, no plate, no ticket. So park where you want, but you can always be towed if somebody complains.
I have all my plates on velcro, so I can just take them off and my 200cc bike suddently becomes a 50cc bike.....parking authority doesn't know zip about vintage/antique scooters and what their engine sizes are.....

Feel free to ask more questions...
John F.

flattuca
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Joined: Tue Oct 22, 2013 10:06 am

Re: New to Scooting

Postby flattuca » Thu Oct 24, 2013 4:11 pm

Thanks! I will! I'll go look into some of this now.

Also, anyone else that has the time or inclination, would appreciate their thoughts as well.

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12CI
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Re: New to Scooting

Postby 12CI » Thu Oct 24, 2013 10:56 pm

first, welcome.

while we're more of a "vintage" bike crowd, there is a considerable amount of modern knowledge on this board, and years (and years) of riding experience.

second, john has given you some sound advice.

some folks buy scooters because they're buying into a fantasy or a fashion trend (after all, scooters are just so doggone cute/clean/easy/light/cheap...) but then they realise pretty quickly that riding just isn't for them. (this is one reason why you'll find 2-3-4 year old bikes for sale with very very few miles on the clock.) no offense, mate, but do some serious self-examination; if you think there is a chance that you may fall into that category, buy something cheap so you don't take a huge loss when you sell it. or check with your neighbours, friends and acquaintances to see if anyone has something you can borrow before you commit. its extremely very likely that, if it turns out that you like life on two, you'll soon outgrow a 50cc bike (soon as in a matter of weeks) (this is another reason why you can find newish bikes cheap).

if you do buy second hand, have it inspected by a reputable specialist.
modern classics is probably the best place to go inside the beltway (and for some miles outside it, too). they sell new Genuine Scooters (Buddys & all) as well as some select used bikes.

regardless of how cute/clean/easy/nimble a scooter is, you can still get injured or killed on one every bit as quickly as on anything with 2 wheels. take the MSF class. after you graduate, you'll be qualified to ride around a parking lot. do so-often-and practice what you learned. its far easier to learn to do things right at first than to try and unlearn bad habits later. buy good gear (helmet, jacket, gloves, boots). ride sober.

scooters do have some conveniences over a "real" motorbike, but they have just as many drawbacks as a big bike. you'll get wet. you'll get cold. every time you go out, even "just" to the gym/store/wherever, your life and health will be threatened by oblivious idiots busy eating/phoning/texting/etc in their warm comfortable cars/trucks/SUV's.
of course, most powered two wheelers have their rewards, too. they're fun. they're engaging. they'll challenge your attention and reflexes far more than driving a car. they'll require your full attention to your environment all the time.

there are some "50cc" friendly ways to get into DC from Alexandria but the 14th st bridge is NOT one of them. the memorial bridge can be OK but getting to it can be risky. the key bridge may be safest overall.


regards from the other side of the Anacostia,

Mike
as shameless as I am tactless and guileless

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Zeets
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Re: New to Scooting

Postby Zeets » Thu Oct 31, 2013 8:26 am

+1 to basically everything 12Ci and Juanpablo said.

A 50cc may be enough to wet your appitite, but if you start riding with any sort of regularity, you'll be looking to upgrade in a matter of months. This is a good time to buy though, most people are looking to unload their bike before winter, and the market gets pretty saturated. Plus dealers end up with more used stock and a fair number of last year's models, so they're more willing to talk. Also a Buddy is a great bike, when you buy a modern Vespa, you're paying for the name, the Buddies and Kymcos are pretty reliable (as well as the Zuma and the Ruckus). POC Phil (who is noone to you, but we all know him) Will tell you all day that there are few scooters better than a Buddy 125.

If you're a total noob to riding, I would seriously suggest a MSF course. I have been riding some sort of powered two-wheeler since I was around four years old, and it still took me a long time to get comfortable in traffic around this area. It's with out a doubt an offensive riding riding style around here. I am still more comfortable ripping across dirt with trees six inches away than I am in traffic.

Also, I couldn't agree more with 12ci in that there's this romantic preception of the chic scooter rider buzzing around the italian countryside, when the reality is, you're a moving target, on an underpowered, poorly breaking, bad handling, nearly invisible bike that is semi-reliable. (Your pedal bike is way more reliable, btw.) If it's hot, you're hot, if it's cold, you're cold, if it's wet, you're wet. There are about two months a year when the weather is pretty ideal for motorcycle commuting, and they're not concurrent.

All that being said, I love to commute by motorcycle/scooter. I ride nearly daily, 12 months of the year. It's a total trap, you start with one old bike, then two, then three, at some point you add a reliable bike, or two, or three. It's addictive.

Don't take our collective opinions as us attempting to disuade you from buying a scooter, we're just trying to be honest. If you do get a bike, buy some gear. Don't go cheap and get some crap half-helmet, buy a decent full-face. Get a good jacket that has armor in the sleeves and that will protect you if you go down. Get some good leather gloves, with a thick palm, because if you do crash, you're going to put your hands out and you're going to tear the skin off of them. Boots too; don't be a knuckle head riding around in flip-flops, you're guaranteed to eventually loose a toe or two. I've had a few minor drops since I've been street riding (and a ton of big ones on the dirt) and good gear has saved my ass everytime, I've never not walked away. Plus there's some statistic that shows that 70% of MSF people drop their bike in their first year. Most of those are minor, but it can never hurt to be prepared.

Also, if you plan on parking it in the city get a burley lock, scooter/motorcycle theft has been rampant in recent years.

Buy a bike, you'll love it.
Zayretow

70' Vespa Sprint (2009 LML power)
74' Yamaha RD350 (pinger)
2008 Suzuki DRZ-400SM (thumper)

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BeoBill
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Re: New to Scooting

Postby BeoBill » Thu Oct 31, 2013 12:07 pm

Since you say you're a total noob, I'll steer you first to the FAQ at Motostrada:
http://www.motostrada.com/2011/09/buyin ... ooter.html
Lots of good basic info there.

Next is a +100 to the advice above. I especially endorse taking a Basic Rider Course. I did, and I can't count the number of times it saved my life on the road.

Another thing to consider is riding gear. Don't delude yourself - the pavement is just as hard if you take a fall at 25 as at 55. You're planning to ride in one of the most dangerous cities in the country. It can be like being in a video game at times, especially in DC. Get the best gear you can afford. I'd recommend: a full-face helmet (Icon sells a solid hat for $150); a strudy all-weather jacket (textile is both adequate and inexpensive); motorcycle gloves; and motorcycle boots.

As far as a first scooter, I second the advice above. I'd go with a small Genuine scooter. They're reasonably priced and reliable. And you have the choice of manual or automatic transmission. That choice will start a debate here I'm sure. I'd first drive your desired routes, and then think about how many stops (gear changesx3) you'll make on the trips you want to ride.

Finally, welcome to the community. You definitely won't regret your decision!

Stay well
-=[ Bill ]=-
- Stay well
-=[ Bill ]=-

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12CI
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Re: New to Scooting

Postby 12CI » Mon Nov 04, 2013 11:32 pm

looks like i scared him off:

flattuca
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Last visited: Sat Oct 26, 2013 9:21 am


next time, somebody please remind me to step away from the keyboard and keep my opinions to myself...
as shameless as I am tactless and guileless

flattuca
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Joined: Tue Oct 22, 2013 10:06 am

Re: New to Scooting

Postby flattuca » Tue Nov 05, 2013 9:48 am

12CI wrote:looks like i scared him off:

flattuca
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next time, somebody please remind me to step away from the keyboard and keep my opinions to myself...


Hahaha no!

Thanks so much guys, I really appreciate the help. I just needed to step away from the computer for a bit, doing some travel. I'm still around.

The MSF course is currently closed up for the winter, so the soonest I could take that would be in the Spring. I'm still going to go look at some of the scooters at the suggested retailer above anyway, just to see what I am looking at.

And you've all made it very clear that scooting is neither "easy" nor to be taken lightly. Also, well established, that this isn't Rome in the 50s, and traffic is not the friend of the scooter.

The plan may be at this point to look at some of the 50cc Scooters now to practice on my very quiet side streets, particularly if this is the time of year I can get one cheaper cuz folks are dumping them. I figure if I like it, then the gear (helmet, etc.) will transfer over to something better if I really like it. If it turns out it is not for me, well I've reduced my investment. Still poking around my neighborhood and work to see if anyone has one that may be able to talk to me in person, let me ride it briefly. We'll see.

Seriously tho, this was very helpful. Thank you all! Hopefully this works out and I'll be joining up with you all at one point or another :)

Thanks!

dirtyhandslopez
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Location: Richmond, VA.

Re: New to Scooting

Postby dirtyhandslopez » Thu Nov 07, 2013 10:36 am

Haven't read all of everything here, but fyi, mopeds are going to have be registered here in Va. in the very near future and you will have to have a tag.
That's not going anywhere

JV
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Re: New to Scooting

Postby JV » Sun Dec 15, 2013 9:15 pm

Yeah, I guess the commonwealth of vaginya never misses a chance to regulate and tax something :(

fried okra


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