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View Diary: Microcar Blogging, just for fun (21 comments)

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  •  Don't forget scooters! (4.00)

    I am a big fan of microcars but most of them are just way too expensive for my paycheck.  However there is a great alternative for those who want energy efficient yet stylish transportation:  SCOOTERS!  Many of the companies of the cars that you are showing pictures of also made some great, energy efficient yet fast and nimble, beautifully styled scooters. Some of these will do 70 mph and get 80 mpg.  The slower ones will get even higher mpg!  And the great thing about scooters is that you can get a great one for the tenth of the price of a so so condition microcar.

    In addition, many of these microcars were really just enclosed scooters.  Both Messerschmitt and Heinkel made "Kabinerollers" and "Kabine(roller)" respectively which translate to cab scooters and cabs.

    You showed us the beautiful microcars, here are the Scoots made by the same companies!

    Piaggio made both the famous Vespa scooter and the Vespa 400 microcar.

    Iso was the company that designed the Isetta, which was licensed to BMW.  (Personally, I prefer the Heinkel Kabine.  They also made the Iso Milano.

    Messerschmitt (I've wanted one of these for decades) also made the very best Vespa GS models.  The engines in the Messerschmitt GS is said to be bulletproof.

    Goggo made some of the finest German scoots with the typical Teuton nose.

    NSU made the first VW prototype, the Prinz and the Wankel driven Spider.  They also made their own version of the Lambretta LD - the NSU Prima D

    and then went on to make the mighty NSU Funfstar.

    Zundapp made the Bella, which one of the Gallaghers of Oasis raves about.

    For those of you who are interested, there is a growing scooter "movement".  Parts for the classics are now more available than they have been in 35 years.  Vespa is back in the states, Lambretta just died (1999) in India but new ones are still (!) being assembled from parts from the suppliers.  Bajaj and Lml are exporting Vespa P series clones to the USA.

    Check out the scooterbbs for information on new and classic scoots.

    Just to let you know, the group is fiesty, often snarky, and diverse.  Their are a large number of women (40% of the community)  and they wrench their bikes.  They are not passive.  Subordinate female riders AKA "The Bitch" as they are pleasantly described in macho Harley and chopper are almost absent.  The politics run from fascist to anarchist and are only allowed on the anything board.

    Thanks for the photos,  If I could only make my photo choices display, this posting would be more interesting.


    •  What's the difference between scooters (none)
      and motorcycles?
      •  C'est le difference! (4.00)

        Physically, scooters have certain traits that make them a subset of motorcycles.  These traits tend to be more gender neutral and attract a different crowd.  Hence, le difference.

        From Danny's scooter FAQ.

        The most commonly accepted definition of scooters requires two-wheeled vehicles (or two-wheeled vehicles modified to have a rear axle) that have wheels between 8 and 14 inches in diameter (smaller than motorcycles), step-thru frames and typically engines that are low and close to the rear wheel [see The New Encyclopedia Britannica (1997), vol. 8, pg. 367]. However, it should be noted that this definition is not universally accepted, as some have argued (Dregni & Dregni, for example) that scooters need only have 2 out of 3 of these attributes. Scooters also often incorporate full bodywork, including legshields and generally are designed to be easier to operate than standard motorcycles. It should be noted that scooters may be of any engine size, though historically they typically have ranged from 50cc to 250cc. Likewise, there is no limitation to possible top speed inherent in scooter design -- many scooters regularly exceed 100mph.  (Interesting historical fact, scooters are banned from motorcycle racing because they were winning and embarassing the big cycle makers.)

        The modern scooter really started with Piaggio in 1946.  The Vespa was designed to be reliable, efficient, stylish, and CLEAN.  Motorcycles at the time were beasts in several sense of the term: Loud, dirty, cantakerous (Go read the sequence for starting an early Triumph.  Gahhhh!) and not for the "modest" woman.  Interestingly, women were a primary target for Piaggio.  The idea of the step through frame was both properly attired men and women would be able to ride the scooter to work or social functions.  

        Another difference has to do with attitude.  

        Many (but not all) motorcycle circles are male centered and very ....  ..... butch.  One motorcycle participant described a motorcycle rally thusly.  Imagine mating season at the primate center with 90 alpha males to 10 taken females and everyone has hemmorrhoids.  While there is macho bullshit in the scooter community,(see some of the english scooter boys) it TENDS to be reduced.  Afterall, we are riding the motorcycle equivalent of a cute girls bike.  

        As mentioned in an earlier post, in the scooter community you have more of gender parity and the women often are active in maintaining their classic scooters.  In fact, it was a woman, Marlene Parker of England, who in 1965 ran her 200cc Lambretta at over 130mph on a racetrack at Monza to set the speed record.  They also tend to be assertive.

        So that's the difference: classic design, cute and stylish, low center of gravity, smaller wheels, stepthrough frame, easy to use, cleaner, fuel efficient, fast, nimble, disarming, not tied to male masculinity images, and fun.


    •  You need to do a scooter diary ;<) (none)
      I always wanted a scooter, but living in such a small city, I can bicycle most places in 10 minutes so I havn't gotten one.

      Do not feel safe. The poet remembers.
      You can kill one, but another is born.
      The words are written down, the deed, the date.

      Czeslaw Milosz

      by Chris Kulczycki on Sun Dec 11, 2005 at 08:45:23 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Does anyone know (none)
      ... generally, in the U.S. what kind of license do you need to drive a scooter?  Auto? Motorcycle? None?  My teen is convinced you don't need any license and I can't believe that.
      •  In most states if the engine is under 50cc (none)
        and top speed is under 35mph you don'd need a licence. We have hundreds of them here in Annapolis.

        Do not feel safe. The poet remembers.
        You can kill one, but another is born.
        The words are written down, the deed, the date.

        Czeslaw Milosz

        by Chris Kulczycki on Sun Dec 11, 2005 at 09:11:18 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  In California (4.00)
          you need a motorcycle license to drive anything over 50cc (35mph and above).  Under that, you can get by with a Moped license, but the rule of thumb, at least here in California, is that if it's motorized, you need either a Moped or a motorcycle license.

          Your state probably has a DMV website.  You can find the licensing requirements for a Scoot or a motorcycle there.  Google the address for your state.

          For the young men and women who stick with their training while their youth calls. It's hard, it will get harder, but it turns the world.--Bart Kosko

          by pasadena beggar on Sun Dec 11, 2005 at 09:39:01 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Must take Motorcycle safety course before you buy (4.00)

        It depends on your state BUT:

        Most motorcycle deaths occur between 25 and 30 mph.  People die on these things, just like they die on bicycles or cars.  The faster you go, the more likely you are to die in an altercation.  The problem with no licence requirements is that people say no licence - why bother with training?

        Take the AMA motorcycle safety course first.  Most people have accidents in their first year while they are learning.  I don't care if it isn't required in your state.  The training has saved my life, TWICE.  $300 versus my life.  

        Next, make him or her buy a full face helmet before they buy the scoot.  It will cost $200.  I don't care if it isn't required in your state.  A study was done on the impact pattern on a helmet and a full 60% are in the face.  No full face helmet, no jaw after an accident.  I have this photo of this gorgeous girl who went bouncing down the road at 40 mph after some jerk in an SUV cut her off .  It looked like someone took an angle grinder to her full face helmet.  At 40 mph, black top is an ANGLE GRINDER.  If you don't believe me, drag a piece of metal behind your car at 40 mph.  Her body armor was trashed.  BUT SHE WALKED AWAY AND STILL HAS A BEAUTIFUL FACE.  And I think of her photo when I ride in a helmet optional state and people laugh.

        Don't buy a "fly by night chinese scooter" over the internet.  That $1000 bargain won't be after you will pay more in parts and service in the first few months.  Get a nice used or new BAJAJ, Stella, or even a nice used Vespa ET2.

        Lastly, don't let him get a fast bike, especially a squid.  It is necessary to have enough speed to pull away from trouble BUT kids feel invincable at that age.  And they die in large numbers on sports bikes and fast cars every year doing stupid things.    

        Sorry to frighten you but this needs to be done.  No activity is risk free.  To quote Lt. Frank Drebin,  "You take a chance getting up in the morning, crossing the street, or sticking your face in a fan."  But you can ameliorate a lot of risk through precautions, training, and careful choices.


        •  thanks for your thoughtful reply (none)
          Sadly, I don't think my son who's most likely to buy a scooter will listen to the rationale for wearing a helmet.  He's that invincible kid you talked about. (quit worrying all the time, mom - nothing bad's going to happen to me!) I am going to press for it - and for safety class, however.


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