Special Series: Alternative Transportation

By: Amy Fost, Staff Reporter | Photos By: Scott M. Roberts

Motor Scooters

“Alternative Transportation” is a special fall term series that looks at various means of transportation. Look for “Trains” in issue four.

Amotorized scooter is a good money saver with lots of other benefits, said Youth Development major and Lobo Scooter repair­person David See.

A 50cc scooter has a two gallon tank and gets up to 90 miles per gallon, said See. With gas prices above $3 per gallon, a scooter costs far less to fill than a car, truck or SUV, said See.

“Oil prices are through the roof right now. Gas is expensive. I just went to the station and filled up my tank. Cost me $6,” said See.

Expenses to drive a scooter after purchase are also less than a car. Scooters with less than 50cc do not require taxes, ownership titles or a driver’s license to operate in the state of New Mexico, said See.

Parking is stress-free for owners in Albuquerque because all parking meters are free for scooters, even downtown, said See.

“You can park on any lot for free, at any campus, and get right up front in the first row where the bikes park. Then you don’t have to walk so far to class,” said See.

Part-time SAGE Instructor and scooter owner Patrick Fairbanks said he has only needed to pay for one oil change and one belt replacement since he bought his scooter three years ago.

Fairbanks uses his scooter as daily transporta­tion from Montoya Campus to Main campus and home, he said.

He said he was frus­trated with the amount of money it took to buy and take care of a vehicle. After a trip to Shanghai where he saw gangs of scooters, pedestrians, bikes and cars move in traffic together and fill the sidewalks around every corner, he decided to buy his own, he said.

“Right after I returned, I bought one. It takes 12 minutes rather than the half hour I spent in traffic when I drove in rush hour to arrive here at work at eight o’clock in the morn­ing,” said Fairbanks.

A variety of engine sizes and body styles are available for scooter enthu­siasts, including those that reach high speeds, said See.

Faster scooters are still less expensive than many vehicles, said See.

“I put a Big Boy kit on my small scooter so that it now does 45 miles per hour. You can get any kind of scooter you like and do anything you want to cus­tomize it. I own a scooter from 1957 that still runs,” said See.

The industry has been around for a long time, but it has grown in the past decade and there are new designs that were not avail­able before, said See.

Brands have come out with their own styles to keep up with the new gen­eration, said See.

“There are scooters with three wheels, scooters that look like motorcycles and just about whatever you can imagine. Nowadays you don’t have to own a car,” said See.

One big concern for first-time buyers is not doing enough research on manufacturers, he said.

Students should be care­ful of Craigslist, Ebay or unfamiliar manufacturers because of the risk of getting bad vehicles, said See.

“I recommend that before purchasing any scooter, do a little research online. Read some scooter-related forums for the bike you are interested in,” said See.

Motor Scooter Information

Pedals and Transmission

Mopeds, or motorized pedal cycles, are named so because they usually require pedaling to start the motor. A moped is propped up onto a kickstand with the rear wheel elevated, while the driver holds the clutch in and pumps the pedals to start the engine. Most mopeds have two wheels but in some jurisdictions low-powered three- and four-wheel vehicles can be classified as mopeds.

Scooters have an automatic transmission and require a key for ignition. Scooters do not have pedals.

Engine and Fuel

Moped engines have a maxi­mum of 50cc and their top speed ranges from 30 – 35 mph. They usually have one chamber where the gasoline and oil are mixed to propel and lubricate the piston.

Scooter engines range from 50cc – 800cc. Like automo­biles, scooters require motor oil only for lubrication and require standard gasoline.


Scooters usually have wheels less than 16 inches in diameter.

Moped wheels are often comparable with wheels of motorcycles.

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