What is it about scooters here in America, or perhaps more accurately put, what is it with Americans and scooters? On the one hand there are forums dedicated to them and filled with stories of their practicality, toughness and sheer “fun-ness” to ride. On the other hand there are those who think that scooters are inferior and to quote one fellow, “less than manly”. I don’t know but I would venture to guess that it’s American’s obsession with all things BIG. This is where the line blurs. There are some very big scooters out there, but simply because they all have the step-through, they are deemed by some as inferior.
Chinese made scooters that can be purchased for as little as several hundred dollars do, I believe, definitely fall into the inferior category. Not because they are scooters, but because of their quality. A well built Japanese scooter is not only fast, but tough as nails. Take the Yamaha YW125A (aka Zuma 125) for example. This bike is fuel injected! Not even the ever-so-popular Kawasaki Ninja 250s are fuel injected! And the Zuma will go where no Ninja dare to tread. The last 4 miles of my trip home consists of a gravel road. I can’t see any Ninja taking that road without being dropped at least once. Yet the Zuma handles it with ease. I’m not knocking Ninjas because as far as sport bikes go, they are my favorite. But they just aren’t practical for me. Besides, once in town, I can smoke any car or truck from a stop sign or red light. I have no problem keeping up with and/or passing vehicles even on the faster roads (where traffic is usually flowing 10 mph faster than the posted speed limit anyway). I wouldn’t want to take the Zuma out for a road trip on busy highways, but I don’t travel highways anyway except for the occasional getting on to exit where I need to go (very short distances in other words).
Then there is the whole aspect of the inherent danger of riding anything on two wheels. It doesn’t matter if you are on the fastest, baddest super-sport on the planet or a scooter. If you crash, you’re going to get hurt. My Zuma’s speedometer pegs at 75 mph, but I don’t travel that fast on it. It begins to feel very light at even 55 or 60 mph. But you don’t have to be traveling that fast to be seriously injured (or worse, if you are one of those who believe you are invincible and wear no protective gear at all, not even a helmet). The only crash I’ve had was at around 30 mph, and trust me, it’s all pain. I wear a full-face helmet and I’m glad I was wearing one then because a significant deal of damage was done to the chin bar, face shield and lower part of the forehead area. I was, for a time, skidding down the pavement on my face! Had I not had the helmet on, I probably wouldn’t have a face left. The impact was hard enough to give me a concussion even with the high quality, DOT and SNELL approved helmet. If I got a concussion with the helmet on, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what might have been the outcome had I not been wearing the helmet.
So it doesn’t matter if you are riding down the road on an expensive crotch-rocket, a cruiser or a scooter. We are all on two wheels. Go to some places in Europe or Taiwan and you’ll see scooters everywhere. Far more than super-sports. There is nothing “less than manly” about them over there so it seems viewing scooters with disdain is an American phenomena.
Besides being able to handle my trip home far better than any sport/street bike, I am also able to (and regularly do) go off-roading with my son. Can you do that on a Ninja? By the way, how is that insurance payment on that super-sport working out for ya? Gas mileage? Even riding it hard I get 83 mpg, does your super-sport get that? Oil changes? All motorcycle shops I know of charge a hundred dollars or more just to change the oil! The Zuma 125 is a breeze to change the oil on. And not just the engine oil but also the final drive oil. I do it myself. Costs me nothing but the price of the oil.
I won’t even go into the whole having to shift gears 60 times or more to go half-way across town to the store or where you’re going to put your groceries on that super-sport once you buy them, neither of which is a problem for the Zuma 125.
So, if you’re one of those out there knocking scooters, maybe you should try one first. The super-sports and cruisers are definitely the way to go for distances (and completely paved roads all the way there and back), but in town (and also on gravel) nothing beats a good scoot like the Zuma 125.