2011 Gas-Price Scooter Frenzy Begins

POCPhil launches the 2011 gas price scooter media blitz. Fine, even Phil’s doing it*, I’m not gonna begrudge dealers for milking the gas mileage argument, scooter shops that lasted through 2010 really need the business, and I hope 2011 rivals 2008 for scooter sales. But if consumers do some research, they’ll see fuel prices are an excuse to buy a scooter, not a true justification.

To be fair, any excuse to buy a scooter is a good excuse. And I’ll never deny that (modern!) scooters get great gas mileage and pollute minimally, and buying a new scooter to replace a car or in place of a second car is certainly a wise move. That’s a fact, and many people have changed their lifestyle, saved money, and helped the environment, and had a lot of fun doing it, that’s great, and I can’t encourage that enough.

But if, like many consumers, you’re looking to buy two $6000 scooters (and accoutrements, see below) to add to your fleet of 2 SUVs, and you’re only going to ride them on weekends and the occasional nice day because you live in Minnesota where it’s snowing 3/4 of the year and you have a toddler and a first-grader, the gas-savings argument doesn’t make sense. And note (woman in POC video above) that two scooters, obviously, get half the mileage of one scooter, if you’re buying 2 60mpg scooters, is that saving gas over driving together in a 30mpg car?

Keep in mind MPG figures on scooters are generally somewhat inflated when compared to real-world use (though technology continues to improve mileage and manufacturers seem to be a little more honest latley). Also note that at around 60-80mpg the law of diminishing returns kicks in.

So do the math, and be sure to consider cost of ownership of a scooter, including the bike, insurance, taxes and titles, registration, local permits, maintenance, storage, and gear (helmets, jackets, gloves, rain gear, chamois, covers, decal kits, topboxes, windscreens, crash bars, flags, helmet cams, reupholstered custom seat, scooter club memberships, little 8-ball valve covers, trailer rentals, trailer hitch installation, camping gear, tolls, booze, tools, sidecars, pregnancy tests, gremlin bells, can of corn, etc.

Then just stop waffling and buy the damn thing, you’ll love it. But don’t expect to save a lot of money unless you’re changing your lifestyle. There are lots of people trying to sell you things to make you feel more green or feel like you’re saving money, but the only way to really save money and the environment is diet and exercise. Wait, that’s not right…

*POCPhil is one of our oldest friends, a contributor to this site, and one of the very few men I’ve ever kissed. He’s also a dealer, and dealers love hyperbole, and the media loves to distill hyperbole into metahyperbole that fits the story they’ve written before they interview anyone. Phil is also running the American Motor Scooter Association, a dealer trade organization, so he’s surely going to be a scooter-industry PR machine this summer. He’s already followed up this TV appearance with a quote in the Roanoke paper. He’s an asset to both dealers and consumers, as he always has.

11 thoughts on “2011 Gas-Price Scooter Frenzy Begins”

  1. There you go again, Bryan… being rational and all. In the U.S., the motor scooter is by far the most fetishized form of transportation. And the most fetishized scooters are the electric ones, whose owners are going to SAVE THE PLANET while they ride 300 miles on a charge!

    Oh, well. Once things settle down in a year or two, there’ll be lots and lots of nice bikes for sale on Craigslist, cheap. Just like last time…

  2. C’mon, guys. I went scooter-only in November, 2006, and based on annual fuel and insurance savings, it comes out to almost $1900/year. Enough to rebuy my lightly-used Kymco People 250 every 14 months. Not a bad deal!

  3. I went scooter-only for a year and two months, and even though most of that time I was living in a city with arguably (for its size) the best public transportation in the U.S., when a significant chunk of cash fell into my lap the first thing I did was hit AutoTrader.com. I found a really serviceable used car for less than the price of an Asian 150cc scooter. Bought it with a debit card, and the only significant expense is $36/month for liability insurance.

    To those who are able to get along without a car, I say more power to ya, but while the scooter is still my default transportation choice, it’s nice when the weather is cold and rainy (or snowy) to be able to travel in an enclosed vehicle with a really good heater. Or to make a trip on I-5 in a couple of hours that would require several on the scooter (on the GTS I don’t care to share the road with big trucks driven 20 over the limit by tweakers, thanks very much)…

  4. Presto, you’re the perfect example of how someone can make it work (in the right climate/situation) but you’re probably an exception, not the rule. I applaud people that have gone scooter-only, but it’s unrealistic for a lot of people (say, those who have children, or live somewhere with snow and no public transportation). I was clear to point out that it’s a great deal for some people, but I just want new scooterists to consider things that dealers don’t usually talk honestly about.

  5. Brian, I’ve been trying to find ME a job in Nashville for almost three years. How’s your scooter wrenchin’ skills?

  6. Oh, not in the scooter industy. You’d have to be nuts to work in the scooter industry. : ) I’m, like most scooterists, a graphic designer.

  7. Ah — my highest paying gig was “Senior Applications Engineer,” which meant I was making web sites look good, and working around code to accomplish that… plus, I was handy in usability testing and requirements-gathering. Don’t see anything so glamorous in my future. I’m too old, outdated, and too close to retirement.

  8. I’ve worked hard to reduce the hyperbole surrounding these “today’s top story” leads. As usual my comment to anyone not familiar with journalism and media is “you should see what they wanted me to say!”.

    This year they’re not coming as such a surprise, and with the trouble in Libya and Japan there’s been less of them. Our stresses now are “Buy Quality” – “This isn’t the first or last time we’ve done this” – and “Scooters are Fun”.

  9. Our stresses now are “Buy Quality” – “This isn’t the first or last time we’ve done this” – and “Scooters are Fun”.

    I think that’s damned good advice, Phil.

  10. It’s the same argument as it has always been.
    How do you justify the $2-25000 + Cost of a Scooter.
    With today’s dollar as hard as it is to earn, You have to ask yourself.
    Don’t You Deserve a Quality Scooter?
    Those who spent around $2000 for a quality built 150cc scoot in 08 and found they used it, have in fact saved a lot if they held on to it till now.
    Today, as a result of gas prices that same scooter, used, has been fetching $1200- $1500 on Craig’s List. Certainly more than $800 worth of fun regardless of gas savings.
    Around here, they guy who parks his scooter daily for free at the $4 a day for auto’s, train commuter station saves $20 a week before anything else.
    I also have customers who I see yearly to remove bad gas and replace their battery from lack of use.
    I think if you intend to save money with any scooter you will.
    Larger more expensive Scooters must be purchased to replace longer travel and fun/comfort Factor must be high on your list.
    I let customers know that Scooters make no pretense to go fast, carve corners , look badass, or even save you money.
    They’re only objective is to move you through open air pleasurably requiring minimal work and in comfort.
    I also think if you are buying a scooter to have somewhat equal Motorcycling fun with a smaller investment than a new motorcycle you will certainly accomplish that.
    Then again if you are a soccer mom trying to replace the SUV it just won’t work.
    The other customers I’m unable to satisfy are the one’s with a $1000 budget that just came from the web and want a new $899 50cc that will be used for their primary year round transportation. I employ them to search CL to search for a used SYM, Eton, TGB, Adly, Kymco or Genuine.
    There are just too many variables to claim there will be a blanket savings for everyone.
    You can argue that if it is Fun you’re looking for a well built Scooter will deliver that with minimal trips to the dealer for repairs.

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