At first, they were a great buffer against rocketing fuel prices.
With no perceived gas price ceiling in sight about two years ago, scooters began to roll out of showrooms at an unprecedented rate of knots.
Riders rejoiced at having to part with just a couple of bucks to fill their tanks, and then buzz around town for up to a week before having to refill.
No pain at the pump for them.
Then, gas prices began their usual ebb-and-flow fluctuations, and the craze seemed to drop off somewhat.
But, say a recent group of scooter converts, the prime reason now for driving them is, simply, fun.
Islander Bill Perdichizzi and his wife Betsy recently became legal scooter riders after taking classes and a test that subsequently added a motorcycle addendum to their drivers licenses.
“The main reason for riding a scooter is fun,” Perdichizzi said. “Number two is that it is economical, but another reason is that it seems to sharpen your reflexes.”
Perdichizzi was referring, of course, to the age-old bikers’ nightmare of being mowed down by unobservant motorists.
“It’s true,” he said. “You really have to be careful driving around town. Drivers don’t pay attention to motorcycles or scooters. It peaks your attention to traffic, and makes you more alert behind the handlebars of a scooter.”
Care aside, Perdichizzi said buzzing around really is a pleasure.
“Whenever we have the opportunity, and it’s not raining, we travel on our scooters,” he said.
Most scooter riders opt for engine capacities of 150cc, providing enough power to keep up with traffic flow.
Importer Al Wagner sensed the early interest in scooters, and brought in a shipment from China. To date he’s sold 17, with 55 awaiting new owners. He hopes observations such as Perdichizzi’s will kindle more interest in riding scooters and in turn move more of his units.
He sells them through Gem Electric Cars by arrangement with Gem owner Mike Harris.
The scooters carry the name of JM Star, but Wagner says all Chinese scooters are basically the same because the government owns the design rights to the vehicles.
They cost around $1,200 apiece, and Wagner says he’s made sure to hold quite a big supply of spare parts as well.
Harris’ contact number is 595-0193, and Wagner is at 919-2204.