Friday, June 25, 2010

You Steer With Your Butt

The scooter is working out great so far. It makes the drive to work so much more enjoyable. And since it's getting about 55mpg I'm saving some on gas too. It's kind of nice to pay $8 for a fill up.

I've seen all kinds of stuff on the side streets that I drive on. There's a emu living among a bunch of horses on a ranch, farms with miniature horses and donkeys, lots of cattle and tons and tons of corn.

Owning any kind of bike sparks one thing: the never-ending search for the perfect helmet/headphone combination. I got a new helmet that I like a lot, bringing my total to four. Now to find the perfect set of headphones to go with them.

Back when I used to ride (motorcycles) there weren't MP3 players. (I'm old.) There were walkmans for cassettes and portable CD players, but most motorcycles didn't have them. Nobody I knew that rode a bike listened to music. Now everyone I know does, except one guy who thinks it's too dangerous. Well, he hasn't actually ridden his motorcycle yet. He has his license and has a bike, but he hasn't ridden it outside of the class he took to get his license. I'm sure he will actually get the bike on the street one day.

I've never really liked the "sound isolation" inside-your-ear type headphones, but those are really the only kind that you can hear well while riding. They always make me feel like my ears are full of water for some reason. If I toughed it out I'm sure I could adjust, I just haven't put in the time.

The ipod type that sit against your ear aren't quite loud enough with wind noise, and they are sometimes hard to keep in the right place too. I have some that loop over your ear that are better, but still not quite right.

Right now I'm experimenting with a helmet speaker system. The speakers velcro into a holder that sticks in the ear holes of the helmet. They're also not quite loud enough, but I got an amplifier along with the speakers that helps. Every ride is another experiment. I could probably permanently affect my hearing with this system.

A coworker asked me why I didn't just buy a motorcycle since the cost is basically the same, maybe even less. I'm not really sure why I got set on a scooter instead of a big boy bike. When I began looking I didn't even know they made scooters with bigger than 250cc engines. When I found out about "maxi-scooters" I was fascinated. The difference between motorcycle and scooter gets pretty blurry at that point.

Motorcycles have clutches and manual transmissions you have to shift with your foot. Scooters usually have a CVT (constant variable transmission.) Other than bigger wheels there's not much other difference. Scooters have much more built in storage and attaching extra storage is much easier. My scooter has a trunk under the seat that can hold 2 full face helmets. When I had a motorcycle I was pretty much limited to what I could carry in my backpack, and my back always got sweaty while wearing it. Now everything goes under the seat and the ride is much more comfortable.

Even when I rode motorcycles it wasn't really about speed. You don't have to drive really fast to have fun on a bike. The more curves the better. With a bike you kind of steer with your knees against the gas tank. On the scooter there's no gas tank between your knees, but you still maneuver in the same way. So instead of steering with your knees, you steer with your butt.

Almost every time I stop somewhere someone asks me about the scooter. They want to know how fast it goes or if it can get up to the 120mph that the speedometer dial reads. When I tell them how fast it is they almost always say "wow." When they ask if I like it I tell them "It's so much fun I'm surprised it's not illegal."