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Tips for buying a scooter

by G. Kunkel

The Basic Facts You Need Before Your Purchase

(This article was originally published at Yahoo! Voices on 5/21/2009)

Scooter purchases have risen over the past few years. They are a fun and economical form of transportation. With so many brands and models to choose from, how do you make a decision? After owning, riding, and maintaining a scooter for the past eight years, I’ve come to know the pro’s and con’s of scooters and their purchase. Here are some tips that will help you save time and money from the start.

Purchase price

Purchasing a scooter is similar to buying a car in many ways. A scooter is a vehicle and has similar features and maintenance. The purchase price should be only one consideration in making your final decision. In general, new good quality scooter prices start around $2200.00 and can go up to $10,000. Used scooters can be purchased for significantly less.

What engine size?

The most basic decision is to decide where you are going to ride the scooter. This will determine your engine size requirement. For simple commuting on 35 mph city streets, a 49cc size engine should be sufficient. If you need to reach highway speeds of 55 mph or greater, you should consider purchasing a scooter with an engine size of 150 cc or larger. If you have hilly terrain or need 75 mph highway speeds, you may want to purchase a 250 cc engine. If you do decide to get a larger size engine, this will most likely require you to obtain a motorcycle endorsement and insurance.

Automatic or manual?

Are you comfortable driving an automatic or a manual transmission? Like cars, scooters can come in both types. Most new scooters on the market today are automatic transmission scooters. Automatics tend to require less maintenance and the cables don’t break as often as on manual transmission scooters. 2-stroke scooters also require one to add two-stroke engine oil to the oil tank few few fill ups. If you are not mechanically inclined, I recommend going the automatic transmission route.

New or used?

Should you buy new or used? Like a car, new scooters come with a warranty. The warranty is only as good as the dealership. Check out the dealer just as you would a car dealer. How long have they been in business? How long is the warranty? Do they service the scooter? Can they get parts for the scooter? A new scooter can quickly become useless scrap metal if service is not available. While there are many reputable dealers, the current popularity of scooters has flooded the market with disreputable ones.

Used scooters can be budget friendly and reliable transportation. It is possible to find low mileage modern scooters on eBay and Craigslist. Before purchasing one however, try to get it checked out by a scooter mechanic. It would also be advisable to obtain information about the model you are interested in from online forums. Most popular and reliable scooters have online enthusiast forums with members eager to help out newbie’s.

One type of used scooter is of special concern. These are restorations of vintage Vespa’s performed in Vietnam. These scooters are extremely dangerous. They are pieced together very hap-hazardously and have been known to fall apart at speed. There are signs that give away these scooters. Descriptions of the telltale signs can be found by performing a Google search with the term: viet bodge. Online Vespa forums can also be of help.

Buy a quality brand of scooter

With scooters, quality counts! Brand name is an extremely important consideration in your purchase. Some well-known reliable brands are Vespa, Piaggio, Yamaha, Honda, Genuine, Kymco, Sym, Lambretta, Aprilia, Derbi, Malaguti, and Suzuki. Generally, reliable brands are Italian, Japanese, and Taiwanese. Avoid scooters made in mainland China. These scooters are less expensive but they are made with questionable quality metal and prone to mechanical breakdown. Parts and service are nearly impossible to obtain for these even with a warranty. Most scooter shops will not service them.

Take a test drive

Before purchasing a scooter, give it a test drive. Any reputable dealer should give you this option. These are some items to consider during your demo. Is it too heavy for you to control? Do your feet easily reach the asphalt? Do you like the seat shape? Does it easily reach your speed requirements? Do you like the color?

Maintenance

Scooters do require maintenance. Some scooters are more service friendly than others and labor costs can add up. Find out what the service schedule is for the scooter you are interested in and how much it costs. If you mechanically inclined, and even if you aren’t, you may be able to perform some of the service yourself.

Dealer negotiation

Scooter prices at a dealer are generally non-negotiable. Dealers have very little markup and must pay for shipping and setup. Most dealers make their profit in servicing scooters. Where you can negotiate with the dealer is with the warranty terms, scooter options, riding gear, and possibly the cost of a Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) course.

Accessories

There are additional costs associated with scooter ownership. Your scoot may require insurance, registration, and ownership taxes. Riding gear can include a helmet, goggles, gloves, and a jacket. Other items to consider are: a cable lock that can be attached to something solid, a battery tender, and a windscreen.

There are many things to consider when purchasing a scooter. These tips should help you be more informed before walking into scooter ownership. Scooters can be a fun economical form of transport and a way to make new friends. I bought one eight years ago and I’m still wearing a grin every time I ride it.

More information on motorscooters

The Top 5 Accessories and Modifications for Your New Scooter

How to Maintain Your Scooter

How to Winterize a Scooter

Sources:

http://daysailer1.com/

Modernvespa.com

http://sportiquescooters.com/

personal experience

 

© 2008-2014 G. Kunkel and Colorado, snowboards, and scooters. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to G. Kunkel and Colorado, snowboards, and scooters with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Google

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Sportique Scooters in Boulder Colorado Review

The viewable reviews on Yelp are a total farce.  Sportique Scooters in Boulder is awesome and I won’t let them get away with it.

The review I tried to post to Yelp but they filtered it out:

I’ve been going to Sportique in Boulder since they opened the first store.  I have no personal interest in their business.

I just took my 2001 Vespa ET4 with over 13,000 miles on it to get some repairs and maintenance performed.  I needed a rear brake issue and a speedo cable issue taken care of.  It also needed a comprehensive tuneup.

Set an appointment

I did have to set my appointment about 5 five weeks in advance.  The delay was my own fault as summer repairs are always backlogged for any motorcycle or scooter shop.  Winter is the time for maintenance to be performed as any seasoned scooterist knows.

Scooter mechanic diagnosis

Anyway, I arrived at 10 am and they helped me roll it off the trailer and get it into the shop.  Around 2 pm the mechanic called and gave me an update on the state of repairs.  He found additional items that needed to be taken care of.   My front brake disk pads were completely worn out (I didn’t know that since Malossi brake pads are high performance they wear out quickly) and and my front tire needed replacing too (Darn that Zippy tire).

The mechanic worked with me on the skilled repairs he needed to perform and the ones I knew I could handle myself.  He didn’t charge for anything extra for the additional repairs other than the cost of the tire and brake pads since he already had the front tire off the scooter.  I’ll be changing that headlight myself.

Front office contact

I found everyone from the front office to the mechanics to be helpful and knowledgeable about scooters.  They helped me carefully load the scooter when I picked it up.

Sportique guarantees their work

I later found that the speedo cable still had issues when I got home.  I called the next morning and they said bring it in now.  I rode it to the shop and they got right to it.  After I picked it up, they let me know they guarantee their repairs for 90 days.  There was no extra charge for the followup visit.

I didn’t have to pay for repairs until I picked up my scooter.

My scooters performance is back to normal and is a joy to ride.

I have to say the people who complain about Sportique must be real scooter novices and don’t know squat about their scooters or scooter maintenance.  Put 6,000 miles on your scooter and then you’ll start to understand what I’m talking about.  A tip: run away from away motorcycle shop or auto repair shop that doesn’t let you talk to the mechanic working on your vehicle.

They have a wide range of new and used scooters.  Prices depend upon scooter and condition.  All are fairly priced.  Boulder is not a inexpensive place to do business and they don’t sell disposable mainland chinese crap.

© 2008-2013 G. Kunkel and Colorado, snowboards, and scooters. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to G. Kunkel and Colorado, snowboards, and scooters with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Google

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Scooter horn upgrades

The stock horns on scooters sound cute but can be pretty weak in warning cagers that they are about to run over you.  There is a solution.  Upgrade your horn.

There are various upgrades one can do.  Some are a quick switch out while others are a major operation.  The more time or money invested in the upgrade generally results in a louder scooter horn.

All the upgrades will require messing around with the electrical system.  If you haven’t done much electrical work, read up.  You could short out parts in your scooter if you don’t know what you’re doing.

Some horns are louder than others.  Quality can vary too.  Do your research and find out what will work for your needs.

Stebel Flosser Nautilus Airhorn

Many scooterists regard the best scooter horn upgrade to be a Stebel Nautilus.  One honk on this and the cager next to you will think a Mack truck is about to run them over.  Other drivers will start looking around.

Installing a Stebel Nautilus is rather a major operation.  You’ll need to pull off alot of panels and do some extra wiring.  Where it will fit and the best way to install one will depend upon your scooter.

Most scooters have fan forums that have how-to installation guides.  Follow the directions and ask questions if you get lost.  It’s important for it to be mounted level.

One scooterists installed horn comparison.

© 2008-2012 G. Kunkel and Colorado, snowboards, and scooters. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to G. Kunkel and Colorado, snowboards, and scooters with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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