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

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  •  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.


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