Friday, October 19, 2007

Bigger Isn't Always Better

Here's a photo that gives you the general idea of where my mind is at in relation to my latest post. This shot was taken a few Sunday's back at Altaire campground, and shows Mod Kevin's Metropolitan, JayBee on his 50cc Vino, and my Big Ruckus parked in a campsite by the river.

This campground in the Olympic National Park is about 15 miles west of Port Angeles, and the route that we took to get there is on some beautiful country roads. With speed limits on these roads no more that 35 mph for most of the trip, it's no problem maintaining the speed limit on the smaller scooters. And our area is filled with such roads.

Where my interest lies, and the way my interest has been fueled, is in how these cats have adapted to their individual rides, and how they genuinely feel about their steeds. These scooters give them the same feeling of enjoyment that maybe a crotch rocketeer gets carving canyon corners, or a weekend warrior Harley rider gets in blasting down a long stretch of open highway. It's about the ability to get your face in the wind, and your knee's in the breeze. These guys enjoy riding as much as I do.

Granted, the speeds come nowhere close to what I can achieve on my motorbikes, but it doesn't seem to matter. They shrug this off by simply saying, "we don't need to go fast to get where we're going." Okay, thats true, no argument there. Now I'm looking into the window of their world, and I like what I see.

When I took the above photo, I was sitting at the picnic table, and this is where we sat and had a really nice conversation about scooters, and how they affected how we viewed our personal scooter lifestyles.

Mod Kevin, gets the whole Mod scene, and minus owning a traditional Mod scooter, plays the role full time. JayBee, has ridden the Vino full time since buying it, and has in my opinion become a real scooterist. Bear in mind, these guys ride 50cc scooters.

Part of our conversation was about how if they had 125, or 150cc scoots, they could really stretch their wings and go farther and faster, but what their daily needs call for doesn't require a larger displacement ride. They are quite content being who they are, riding what they have. This attitude made an impression on me that really got me to thinking. They sold me on the point that "bigger isn't always better" when it comes to having fun riding scooters.

So the seed was planted a few Sunday's back, and I am glad that it was. I know that the popular opinion is that I am off my nut for even considering "stepping down" to a little scooter, but there is something about the passion that was shared by these cats that has stuck with me, and it was the sincerity of the way they spoke that struck me so hard. That friends, is where the idea was planted, and it just might be taking root.

Have fun,


Blogger Orin said...

Bill, I've been in discussions about what might be a good scooter to have as a backup, and to be able to offer visiting friends. Something 50cc would fill that bill rather well: in Washington, at least, there's no licensing issue (don't need the endorsement if you're on a 50). Some talk about having an old 50cc Vespa smallframe, but really the steel/shifter snobbery is kinda misplaced... I'd like to offer the friend something easy to ride, and something one could drop without too much trauma... after all, the plastic body bits are available separately. Or you could get a Zuma, or a small Ruckus...


12:47 PM  
Blogger American Scooterist Blog said...

Bill, I can absolutely relate to what is is you're in search of. It is not the same to ride a larger displacement, higher speed capable machine with Men riding 50cc machines. There is something "large" about the 50cc limited experience that's hard to quantify. You're at the literal edge of the world you choose to involve yourself in. You have to think differently. Its a little about that one lunger digging as deeply as it can into its bag of tricks to give you what you need. Its about a mindset that, without the familiarity of having done it cannot be adequately expressed, presents a challenge in both spirit and road conduct. I can tell you this, that riding a limited speed 50cc is a much more vivid experience and I don't know why. You ride in a different state of mental tune if that makes any sense. Yes, Bill, what you seek is satisfying beyond merely riding for its own sake or the purpose of getting somewhere. It is inerantly the ride in all its unadulerated glory. It is the point where the rider finally grasps there is no perfect bike and rediscovers the redemptive potential of inadequacy.

God bless you man. You've found the fountain of scoot!


1:58 PM  
Blogger Shaun said...

I understand where you are coming from Billy. I was up in Victoria, BC this past summer and my girl and I rented 50cc Metros and buzzed all around the area, out to the coast with a view of the San Juan Islands. Great riding. Sure my Vespa 250 can get up and go and take on a freeway or two, but those little Metros made getting there that much better. Thanks for shaking that memory loose.


4:21 PM  
Blogger Steve Williams said...

As you know I stepped up from the 150 to 250 Vespa and it has been a great move.

But lately, reading posts here and at Big Guy, Small Scooter thoughts have started rolling around my gourd related to riding a 50cc scooter. Along with bigger is not necessarily better I think that easier may not be better either. I think if things are too easy you lose a little respect for what is happening. Had this conversation with a friend this morning concerning digital vs. chemical photography.

A 50cc scooter. Hmmmmmm.... Defintely cheaper than the Triumph Scrambler I have been thinking about.

Steve Williams
Scooter in the Sticks

8:42 AM  
Blogger Bill Sommers said...

We're not as limited here for choices in a small scoot as I had thought. The local name brand dealer has 5 models to choose from, and a small independent shop has some pretty low quality rides at prices well above the Hondas and Yamahas. I get the feeling that they are pretty clueless though, since I had a better grip on what I was talking about than the coffee swilling sales(?)person.

I've ridden the Zuma and the Vino both, and the better feeling ride was the Vino. It has more of a Vespa feel to it. I hope to ride the Eton two-stroke, and the little Ruckus next week.

I just might print your comment, frame it, and put it on my office wall. You get it, and I apprieciate you sharing these well written words. Thank you my friend.

One of my plans is to get together with some of my cronies, and spend a day or so riding around lower Vancouver Island, or at least Victoria.

I rode my bicycle from Seattle to Vancouver one time, and a riding partner told me that "the beauty of the ride isn't really in making the trip, it is really in finding where the roses are, and stopping to smell them." "And when you get there, you'll remember all of the places that you stopped, and not the work that you put in to get there."

This is how I want to ride again.

Wouldn't it be something if both of us started looking for our own little moments of riding happiness on 50cc scoots? Smaller might turn out to be better.

There is something about the whole challenge of making this work for me, and the anticipation of what the scooter will give back to me that has me determined to make this happen.

If you get a chance to test ride something in your area, please pass it on.

Have fun,

6:28 PM  
Blogger Conchscooter said...

I just can't agree. Perhaps its because I grew up in a linear way "graduating" from mopeds and motorcycles. Perhaps its ebcaus eI use dto get around key West on an Elite 50 and thus the experience is relatively fresh in my memory. 50cc is a bicycle alternative in my mind. You don't get the speed sensation that even a 150 confers, you don't get the idle daydream of "what if..." I were to take my ride to the Grand Canyon (say,). The 50cc gives the satisfaction of minimizing your life one step further than even a modest motorcycle, but 50cc is a wide open throttle all the time, which is pretty minimal.

9:35 AM  
Blogger Bill Sommers said...

I know the graduating process well. I have the bikes parked in my shop right now that will do speeds much faster than I'd like to go. It's the challenge to do more with less that has my interest.

Have fun,

12:16 PM  

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