Gas crunch has Auburn eyeing scooters

By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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A more efficient form of transportation is zooming through Auburn. Gas-powered scooters were flying out of stores all summer as Auburnites searched for a new way to commute that would help save money on gas. “It was so crazy, it’s all a blur actually,” said Brad Rhodes, general manager of OTD Cyclesports in Auburn. “We were bombarded by people who wanted scooters all of a sudden — and now. It wasn’t a matter of waiting.” Scooters have been seen as an acceptable form of transportation in Europe for years, according to Rhodes, but they have just started to reach their peak in popularity in the United States. “Yamaha especially, they had these machines over in Europe in mass production but they had been afraid to bring them to the U.S., because Americans stereotypically like big, fast, powerful, expensive — we’re not very conservative like the Europeans,” Rhodes said. “Yamaha has now released some of their models they make over in Europe … It’s going to be successful.” Scooters have truly become attractive to consumers because, depending on the size of their engines, the machines can get upward of 100 miles per gallon. Rhodes said that if this kind of mileage is desired, a scooter with a 50 cubic centimeter engine is the way to go. However, scooters this size can only go about 30 mph and are not allowed on interstates. If consumers are looking to use their scooters for commuting as well as saving money, larger scooters with 400, 600 or 650cc engines are acceptable for interstate travel with speeds up to 85 mph. These scooters also get 50 to 60 mpg, and offer some useful attributes to consumers wishing to make them a sole mode of transportation. “You can hang with traffic, but you definitely will knock your mileage about in half,” Rhodes said. “The reason the bigger scooters are becoming more popular … they’re easy and fun to ride, they offer adequate lockable storage … You could put your briefcase and your lunch, all your items in there and it’s all locked and you commute on your way to work.” OTD Cyclesports offers three brands from which consumers can choose: Honda, Yamaha and Suzuki. Honda offers a line of scooters that range from 50cc to 600cc, and Yamaha’s range from 50 cc to 400cc. Suzuki sells two scooters in the U.S., a 400cc and a 650cc. Another facet of these scooters that might make them attractive to consumers is their simple operation. “There’s no shifting involved,” Rhodes said. “You sit on the seat and you twist the grip and it goes. So, it’s very easy to ride and have a lot of fun.” Rhodes said this simple operation system also has the potential to make scooters safer than other modes of transportation. Consumers who never thought they would buy a scooter are now getting into the market, Rhodes said “I would say a very large percentage of the people were a new buyer that this industry has never seen before,” Rhodes said. Lincoln resident Tyler Findley said he chose his 49cc Honda Ruckus scooter in about 15 minutes, and loves it. “I got it just for fun, not really for commuting or anything, just for fun on the road,” Findley said. “I’d recommend a scooter probably because there’s a lot of adrenaline involved in riding that thing.” Consumers can expect a wide price range when purchasing a scooter. A 50cc scooter can start as low as $2,000 and the larger 650cc scooters can be as much as $9,000. Bridget Jones can be reached at ---------- OTD Cyclesports Hours: 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Friday 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday Phone: (530) 885-7105 Fax: (530) 885-3820 Web site: Address: 11905 Dry Creek Road, Auburn