What's the deal with Vespas?
April 15, 2005 7:04 AM   Subscribe

I'm thinking of buying a Scooter, but I live in a northern climate. How much use will I get out of this thing?

Recently, a Vespa dealership opened up in my city. The nerd in me tingles whenever I even think about it. I live in Nova Scotia, so there's usually snow or slush or something on the ground for at least six months of the year. How much use am I going to get out of one if I buy it? Should I go with the lower end models, or splurge for the better, super-highway ready ones? Basically, if I don't live in a gigantic city am I going to be able to justify using it as a primary mode of transportation? Especially in a colder climate?
posted by hughbot to Travel & Transportation (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

Well, motorcycles and scooters are different beasts, right?
posted by hughbot at 7:06 AM on April 15, 2005

I've been wondering this myself, so I'm anxious to hear the answer. I was *this* close to buying a Honda Metropolitan when I was in Victoria, BC. Now that I'm in Southern Ontario, I'm not sure it would be worth the cost, given that I would be snowed in for four-five months of the year.
posted by Popular Ethics at 7:14 AM on April 15, 2005

OK...this is from experience that is about 30 years in the past, but I imagine it hasn't changed much..

Bottom line..it depends on how tough you are! :)

I used to ride a scooter/motorcycle to school all winter in Michigan.. cold as heck, would wear a scarf over my face to avoid the dreaded sinus freeze (hurts like hell!).

You will NOT ride a two wheeler when there is ice or snow on the road, unless you are very stupid... you will fall down, you will slide, you will get hurt.

It also depends on how you like to look, how much trouble you want to go to... if you have a suit/tie job, you'll not be riding in the rain unless you can store/carry a change of clothes...if you have a t-shirt/jeans job, might not matter as much...

Friends??? if you have more than one you'll be leaving them behind...

Bugs...they will be caught in your teeth, in your hair...and smack you on the forehead...(hurts!).

Look at it like this...if you NEED personal transportation on an everyday basis (no bus/public transportation available), and you won't be able to borrow a car when the weather/roads are bad, the bike is not the answer.. unless, of course, you can afford to own a car as well.

If, however, you can make do somehow when you can't ride it, are able to stand a bit of discomfort once in a while, don't have a huge/long/highway commute and are smart enough not to get killed on the darn thing...they are fun!
posted by HuronBob at 7:28 AM on April 15, 2005

Buy a Ural if you live that far north. You can ride them in the winter just fine. ;)
posted by SpecialK at 10:15 AM on April 15, 2005

Nova Scotia. I dunno. I'd say any two-wheeled vehicle is will be severely compromised for half the year. Road grip/traction is *real* important for bikes if sliding under a truck is something you'd like to avoid.

I rode my motorcycle every month this winter, but I live in Maryland, considerably to your south, and I *never* rode when the roads had been wet within the last three or four days and the temps were anywhere near freezing.
posted by mojohand at 11:25 AM on April 15, 2005

Beware, scooters are not as safe as motorcycles. They slip too easy and spill you on the ground. That being said, they are also comfortable and fun!

Things to look for: Can your helmet fit in the storage compartment? On my Honda Beat, it can't! Pain in the ass! Honda provided a handy hook, from which the helmet can't be removed when the seat is locked down...except with a simple pocket knife. The gas tank access is under the seat, which could be seen as good or bad.

Don't buy any unknown brand. There are plenty of those going around here in South Africa. Buy only known brands from official dealers (unless you buy used).

Cold weather? I avoid taking mine out even if the pavement is just wet. But I'm perhaps overly fond of my skin, though I tend to ride in shorts and sandals (normal clothes here much of the time).

The only real advantage of scooter over a motorcycle that I can see (licensing rules may add advantages in some places) is the scooter's lack of shift and clutch. No muss, no fuss. The electric start is minor. My battery often goes flat between rides as I don't ride it that often, I don't need to go anywhere (that is, by scooter. Have the car on weekends and evenings). Its very easy to start the old fashioned way.
posted by Goofyy at 5:19 AM on April 16, 2005

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