Last month, I shared how I got hooked on Vietnamese scooter culture in Saigon. American scooter culture is a bit different. In the USA, scooters and even motorcycles are usually looked upon as toys or passionate hobbies. But after my trip to Vietnam and seeing first hand how economical, useful, and practical a scooter can be, I was sure it could work for an environmentally aware couple as a serious transportation choice.
Did we really need two cars? I work from home and Dearest works about a mile or two up the street. We have a 2013 Ford Escape for road-tripping. Our second car was a 13 year old Ford Ranger (that was giving up the ghost.) Faced with a $1800 repair bill, we knew we had to make some decisions about our transportation needs. My mind kept coming back to scooters.
In Ohio, a scooter is treated just like a motorcycle for license and registration purposes. So my first stop was the Ohio BMV to take a test for my motorcycle temporary learner’s permit. 20 minutes later, I was officially allowed to ride (during the daytime only and with a few other restrictions.) It was time to go visit Capital City Scooters in Columbus Ohio to see if American scooter culture would suit me as well as Vietnamese scooter culture had.
I had done some research online and thought I knew what I wanted in a scooter. I even researched a particular make and model that interested me. Caitlin, the owner of Capital City Scooters, happened to have one for me to look at but now I wasn’t so sure. I asked her to tell me a little about her favorite models. She carries scooters made by SYM and the Genuine Scooter Company with a few vintage Vespas on hand for good measure. So many different scooters to choose from. The playful and retro feel of her shop was welcoming and friendly. Caitlin was sweet but really knew her vintage scooter memorabilia as well as her modern scooters. She made it a pleasant experience to learn and explore American scooter culture. Then it was decision time!
This was a very important choice. This scooter was going to be my main ride since I work from home and Dearest would be taking the Escape with him to work all day. Caitlin listened to me and helped me work out what my transportation needs really were. Then with a knowing smile, she introduced me to a lovely little piece from the Genuine Scooter Company, the Buddy 125.
When I first saw her in the showroom, I knew we were meant for each other. Her head (light) was turned shyly to the side, almost flirting with me. She was a delightful sea foam green. Her wheelbase was smaller than the other scooter I was considering promising nimble handling. She even had that petite, curvy retro look I adore. It was love at first sight. I bought her and named her “Pearl.” Our first ride? To the library, of course! Pearl has a lovely little cargo bay under the seat perfect for books and sundries.
Since part of getting a motorcycle license in Ohio is taking a Basic Rider Course, Caitlin put me in contact with a trainer who has a scooter-specific class. Pearl and I have been practicing in the library parking lot after hours. We’re getting ready for our skills-test. She is as graceful and nimble as her looks promised. Once Pearl and I pass that basic rider course, our riding restrictions will be lifted. We will be fully licensed. When fully licensed, I will be allowed to take passengers. The first thing I’ll do is put Dearest on the “cupcake” seat and take him to Graeter’s for ice cream. Now that’s classic American scooter culture!
Turns out, I’ve been getting a lot of compliments on Pearl. Even my parents are thinking about buying a pair of scooters for driving around town. I know just where to send them.
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