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Discussion in 'Battle Scooters' started by dbk23, Feb 10, 2013.
You will be more in control of the vehicle faster on a Scooter, but there are advantages to motorcycles if you really are looking for a long distance touring bike. The significantly greater unsprung mass on a scooter means you are going to feel variances in the road much more, and the feet forward seating position may cause problems with your lower back on long rides. By putting your legs under you, touring and dual sport motorcycles allow your legs to absorb a lot of the bumps and ruts that otherwise travel up the bike and into your back. Scooters don't brake as well as Motorcycles, especially in adverse conditions, again primarily due to the difference in unsprung mass.
OTOH, if you buy a vehicle based on that one trip you might take at some point, you are less likely to get something that you can just jump on and ride. There is a lot to be said for putting your wife on the back of the Vespa and going downtown for dinner, or going to the store and putting six bags of groceries into your scooter. You will more than likely get a lot more practical use out of the scooter. Most people don't hop on the 'wing and go down to the store if they need more milk, but it makes sense on a scooter.
I'm 59 and have ridden both since I was a kid. Lots of touring on everything from an old Vespa Rally 200 to a Goldwing. For serious long distance 2 up touring it's hard to beat the Goldwing because that's exactly what it was designed for. Lots of carrying capacity and luggage space. It is big and heavy though so not the best starter bike.
I started on a 150 Chinese crapper and have worked my way into a 400 cc scoot. Every time I have decided to buy a motorcycle I managed to migrate back to the scooter world.
Funny, you actually start to enjoy the comments after a while.
I did approximately 10,000 miles in long trips (defined as more than 500 miles per trip, including a 3,700 and 4,480 mile trip ) on 500 cc scooters a BV 500 and Scarabeo 500. We used to have a Burgman but its ergonomics didn't fit me as well as the more upright seating position. Nor did my husband or I care for its slow speed handling or moving it around the garage. I also don't like its foot forward seating position. Too much weight on my tailbone. The standard upright position of the more traditional scooter style (aka Italian vs Asian) is just much more comfortable. After 350-400 miles on a Burgman my ass was tired and my knee would hurt but I've done 680 on the Scarabeo in one day and while tired was not in pain. The only time we ride two up is if we are going to take to or pick up from the shop or a bike/scooter has broken down.
I also ride with a women's riding group where the majority of riders are on Harleys or other cruisers. I rarely get grief from any motorcycle rider but then when I've gone riding the twisties with folks on BMWs, Yamahas and Harleys I'm not the slowest either. Real riders respect others on two wheels regardless of what they ride. That goes for cruiser riders, sports bike riders and dual sport riders though each may well rib the others over their choice.
Around Houston I mostly ride a smaller Vespa that is still freeway capable but small enough I can park it in places you would never be allowed to park a motorcycle even a Ninja because "its a scooter" so therefore more acceptable to park next to a bike rack for some reason. Between the various scooter I put on about 14,000 miles a year on them.
I have no problem riding a motorcycle or shifting (the ATV I ride is motorcycle shift) especially since I don't care for engine braking (half of the year I'm riding in the Rockies) so the lack of engine braking isn't an issue. For me I prefer the lighter weight and more flexible foot placement options as well as the lack of a hot engine between my legs when I'm riding in Texas.
Neither my husband or I care what others think about what we ride. I don't care to ride dirt and my husband has taken our Sports City scooter down dirt tracks normally used by jeeps and dirt bikes with loose sand that others have turned back from on motorcycles with no problems other than a cloud of sand being thrown up. Though you wouldn't want to take one into real back country off road riding.
The advice to ride what fits you is the best you can follow and I wouldn't start with a Burgman 650 as a new rider because of its weight. Get something lighter to start with. Many of the newer 350cc scooters are good touring bikes and easily capable of running all day at 80+ mph have longer maintenance intervals and weigh hundreds of pounds less.
I just got into scooters a few years ago and fell in love. I started out on a dirt bike at age 8. My first street bike was a Suzuki GT380 2 stroke triple. After that I got a brand new Suzuki GS450L, a cruiser, and have been hooked on cruisers ever since, because of their comfort. I still have a dual sport bike, and I've had a few sport bikes, but never kept them very long because the sport bike riding position causes to much pain for me. I've had cruisers from a Rebel 250 to a Vulcan 1500. On a motorcycle you get bigger wheels, a manual transmission, a front mounted engine, and the gas tank up on top right in front of you, compared to a step through design with a scooter. My biggest gripe with smaller scooters (my favorite kind) is that they lack the gearing to ride in the mountains and keep the rpms up to avoid lugging the engine. On a motorcycle you can downshift and keep the engine running in the powerband. A manual transmission has a much wider gear range from top to bottom than a CVT transmission. I have a 50cc 2 stroke 2 speed moped that will climb mountains way better than my 125cc scooters, because first gear is super low. Your pretty much moving at a bicycle pace, but the engine is spinning where it should be with such a load on it.
This lovely couple have transcended that phase of "riding/operating a motorcycle" and are into that higher plane of travelling on two wheels or "motorcycling". In this phase you take whatever PTW is at hand and plan an appropriate trip within its and their capabilities, taking most of their pleasure from being out on the open road.
I went from a scooter as my first vehicle then getting a supermoto allot to be learnt but i do miss the simplicity of just twisting the throttle and enjoying the road not thinking about how i should enter this corner, but for now i'll stick to motorbikes until I can have both.
I rode motorcycles for over 30 years before getting my first scooter. Currently I have 2 motorcycles and 2 scooters. They both have their advantages. I have not experienced anyone laughing or looking down at me when on a scooter. I have impressed a few motorcycle riders when I kept up with them on their 1000cc bikes.
As someone else posted, just go out any get something to start on. Motorcycle or scooter doesn't really matter, as long as it has 2 wheels and a motor. I would recommend buying something small and used to start with. Ride it for a while and then you will be in a better position to know what you really want.
BTW, I bought my latest, an Aprilia Sport City 250 as a 2 up touring bike. Here's some of my ride reports on my 250:
Personally I think smaller bikes are more fun. They are definitely easier to handle. Read my ride reports and you will see that a 250cc scooter is more capable than most people think.
I have owned both. Been riding since 1990. Don't expect your first bike or scooter to be perfect. If it is, you're lucky. You will learn from experience. If you don't like what you're riding, sell it and start over. If you can afford more than one machine, then get one of each: a motorcycle and a scooter.
If you get a chance to test ride bikes at a "demo days" event, go for it. I have participated in BMW, Honda and Harley demo. They are great fun and will help you decide.
What he said.
Funny things, motorcycles. I started at age thirteen by using my paper route money and the pay I got from hanging around the local Sunoco station so much the owner hired me to clean up and restock the islands to pay a whopping $50 for a 1940 Harley 80 inch flathead with cowcatcher handle bars and a side shifter. The guy I bought from had a car battery strapped to the rear fender because he didn't want to spend any money on it. Showed me how to work the foot clutch and shift and sent me on my way, thru Philly traffic to home. I've had just about every kind of motorized two wheel animal there is, from a Cushman to a 'Wing and just sold my dirt bike, a '72 SL350K2, last year. Still ride street on a '75 CB750k5. This year I'll turn 70 and I don't plan on quiting. Enjoy the ride, ignore the morons and "weekenders" and "profilers"!
I agree 100% with everything you say, really good advice & commentary. Thanks for this informative and eloquent post.
I just went back and reread your original post, and I guess I read it wrong the first time. You said you need something that will do highway speeds and be able to carry your wife as a passenger. For that you will need a decent size machine, whether a scooter or a motorcycle. Out of the 46 motorcycles and scooters I've owned, the only ones I've felt comfortable carrying a passenger on were Goldwings and a 1500cc cruiser. The rest, including an 1100cc cruiser, were just too small. Yes, they have passenger accommodations, but I am on the large side at 220+, and carrying a passenger puts us right at the GVWR of most bikes. Even the Goldwing is pretty close to it's maximum weight rating when carrying 2 full sized adults and with the saddlebags and trunk full. A lot of bikes carrying passengers you see out on the road are overloaded by the book. And that has an adverse effect on handling.
If you are a complete beginner, I would not even consider carrying a passenger for quite some time. You need to ride first, then you need to get good at it. And I would not start out on a bike big enough to comfortably carry a passenger. I started out on dirt bikes and crashed plenty of times before ever riding on the street. Son far, in over half a million miles on the street, I have not crashed, but I have come pretty close many times. Not only do you need to learn how to control the bike, but you have to learn how to deal with traffic. That is the hard part. Traffic is a LOT different than it was back when I started riding on the street in 1975. There is a whole lot more of it, most drivers are less skilled, and most of them are otherwise occupied with cell phones to the point where they are not paying much attention to driving. I got to get used to this slowly, as it was happing. riding in traffic today is not a good place for a beginner. Everyone out there in a car/truck will try to nail you (well probably not actually TRY, but it will seem like it, and the effect/outcome is the same. You are invisible to most of them) I would get the smallest scooter or motorcycle you fit on, take the MSF beginners rider course, and get a couple of years of practice and experience in before carrying a passenger. By that time you will have a much better idea what is suitable for what you want to do with it, and what you like and can afford. Used Goldwings can be a great deal pricewise, but as has been said, they are not for beginners. Learning to ride a bike in traffic is about 10 times harder than learning to drive a car. Learning to fly a plane is easier (I used to be a private pilot) I have heard more than one combat veteran who rides compare it to being in combat. One thing for sure, it is not something to be taken lightly.
I don't mean to try and dissuade you from riding, but I'd sure hate to hear that you and your wife were killed in a motorcycle accident. Learning to ride means embarking on a major endeavor, and requires a strong commitment and the right attitude. It is something that becomes an important part of your life. In fact, some people actually live their lives around it. If you can't take it seriously, then it is probably not for you. I have heard to many stories of someone who got the urge to ride, got a bike, and got killed a few days later.
If none of that deters you, then you probably have what it takes to become a rider. But take your time and do it right. It is not an overnight thing. I've been doing it (including off road) for 45 years, and am still learning.
Respect, Jerry. Of all the posts I have read directed at newbies over the years, your comments stand out as being solid, sage advice, every word of it.
Outstanding, Jerry. Of all the posts I have read directed at newbies over the years, yours stands out as being solid, sage advice, every word of it.
I have gone from motorcycles to maxi-scoots and back a couple of times. I had some buds that ribbed me a little for riding a scooter, but as I pulled out of their driveways to hit the next leg of my tour, I told them to have fun hanging out with their wives working on their honey do list.
I think a maxi with ABS would be a great way to get started. The downside is that if you drop it even shuffling it around in the garage, it can do some expensive damage. If you are short, a Burgman can be a bit heavy and cumbersome. At 5'11" I never had an issue with mine. Two more drawbacks come to mind. If the road surface in the area you intend to ride isn't good, the small tires and budget suspension on the Burgman can make for an unpleasant ride. Add the foot forward riding position and all of that shock gets transmitted up your spine. I find the foot forward position comfortable at times, but on longer trips I need to be able to stand and put some weight on my feet. That said, I managed a couple of extended Burgman tours in relative comfort. I just took more frequent butt breaks.
Truth be known, I had more fun on my Burgman at Deal's Gap (318 curves in 11 miles) than I have had on any of the other bikes I have ridden there. I also like the fact that I can take pics from the saddle with my left hand and not have to worry about a clutch.
Folks may make fun of you a bit, but what are they doing while you are living life on 2 wheels. The Burgman 650 ABS is a great beginner bike and while beginners and passengers don't mix well, this bike will be easy to learn and manage, leaving you more confident and capable with a passenger earlier in the learning curve. Most passengers report that the pillion seat on the Burgman is a comfy one!
Jerry's comments really resonate with me. My advice: read and re-read his post. He knows what he is talking. I have been riding for decades. Riding with a passenger is challenging. All of a sudden you have a lot of weight up high. Trust me, it is harder to control a bike that has a lot of weight up high. Learn to ride solo for a while. Expect to drop your first bike at least once. Slow speed manoeuvres and tip overs happen. A maxi scoot as a first bike, in my mind, is a bad idea. Get a smaller scoot or a dual sport bike. Or a baby Ninja, CBR etc. Riding is a skill. It takes time and a lot of practice.
One other point: try not to give a damn about what other people say or think about your ride. It's what's important to you. I can't stand it when people buy something just to look cool or impress.
Again, only my $.02.
I ride both a motorcycle and a couple of scoots. I freely admit I like my Honda Silverwing best. Although labeled a 600 it actually has 582cc for power and it's crazy fast - especially since I added the 24 gr Dr. Pulleys to it. I often leave motorcycles in the dust at red lights. Always love the stunned look I see in my rear view mirror. So no, I don't miss my BMW much at all when I'm riding the Swing.