As we head in to summer and summer commuting and summer gas prices a lot of people are starting to think about scooters as a fun, fuel efficient, alternative means of transportation. If you are one of those people I thought I would help you along in your search for the perfect scooter by providing some basic info and words of caution.
To begin, in Ohio scooters are considered motorcycles and require a motorcycle endorsement. I know in some states under 50cc doesn't require one but unfortunately, in Ohio that's not the case. But not to worry! All you need to do is go to the BMV and take the written test. I suggest getting the handbook and reading that before the test. Its a stupid test and maybe I only say that because I failed it the first time but then so did a lot of my friends so its probably a stupid test ; ) The written test gives you your permit which is good for a year. On the permit you are allowed to ride with the following restriction: not after dark, no passengers and you have to wear a helmet. Then all you need to do is take the riding test which is super easy on a scooter and that gives you your full endorsement. Of course, we recommend taking the motorcycle safety course. Its a 16 hour course, only costs $25 and you get your endorsement at the end of the course. It is really an awesome class but they fill up fast. For more information of the safety course go to www.motorcycle.ohio.gov You are now allowed to take the class on your scooter but we recommend using their bikes. Not only will you learn how to shift but also if you drop it, its their problem!
Now on to buying a scooter.
There are only a few companies we recommend that produce good quality scooters with good warranties and dealer support. Those are SYM and Genuine (of course two brands that we sell!) Kymco, Vespa/Piaggio/Aprilia. Honda, Yamaha and Suzuki are also excellent scooters of course. I will vehemently caution against buying any other brand scooter and especially a scooter you find on line for $999 or less. And let me tell you why. We've been doing this 70+ hours a week for 3 1/2 years and not only have we found that the off brand Chinese scooters are unreliable but also sometimes impossible to find parts for. Often, the motors are fine, its everything else that is shoddily manufactured. If you get an electrical problem on of those forget it. Wiring diagrams are not available and the labor hours to even find the problem would be more than the bike is worth. In one case we waited nearly 2 years for a wheel - that's 2 years sitting in our shop and not having fun on the road! It really is worth it to invest a little more money in a brand that is tried and true and has great dealer support.
Since I want you to buy from me of course I will talk a little about SYM and Genuine (though much is the same for the other quality brands I mentioned above). SYM is a Taiwanese based company who manufactured for Honda for over 30 years (you might read advertising that other scooters have Honda parts and styling - buyer beware! the only other company who manufactured for Honda was Kymco) Ok so good Honda quality without the Honda price tag. We've carried them since we opened and love them! Lots of different styles and sizes and we've only had one or two warranty claims for them! You may be wary because of some rough times SYM went through with Carter Brother's as their U.S. distributor. We have a new distributor, Alliance Powersports and they have been awesome! The parts guy even hit UPS on his way home after work to make sure we got a part quickly! Talk about customer service and dealer support! You can check them out at www.alliancepowersports.com
Genuine was started by the brilliance of Philip McCaleb and his love of scooters. The Buddy and the Stella are two of the top selling scooters on the market! The Stella (my personal ride) is the exact same frame as the P series Vespas. We only recently became a Genuine dealer (though we've wanted it since we opened!) and have been thrilled with the speed and service of everyone over there in Chicago!
So, my other advice is to think about how fast you need to go and what kind of style you like (retro, modern, big wheels etc...) whether or not you want to shift and what your favorite color is! We have a wide range of sizes and styles in stock. Come down and check them out and don't hesitate to call or email us if you have any questions! We want you to help you find the perfect scooter for your taste and budget so if used is the way you want to go we get them in stock when we can, but if you're looking on craigslist and see something you like but aren't sure if its good quality or a good deal call us! We'll let you know if you're looking at something that will last and if the asking price is fair. And if you want the security of buying new be reassured that all of our scooters come with a 2 year parts and labor warranty and Genuine offers free roadside assistance!
Welcome to the world of scootering. We love it and we know you will too!