Okay. So you’ve decided to be wise and ride something that is purpose-built to tackle traffic infested urban confines. Allows for your things to be tucked away neatly underneath its seat and doesn’t expose your trousers to all the rubbish on our roads. It also lets your neatly polished formal shoes thank you, for a toe operated gear shifter doesn’t make them scruffy anymore. But apart from these very apparent reasons which make the scooter a natural ally for your commutes within the city, what are the things you should be looking for when you go out and buy one for yourself? Let’s take a look.
The basic riding position of a scooter on its own is a much more comfortable affair compared to a motorcycle. One sits in an armchair position, where your legs have enough freedom and space to move around, unlike a motorcycle, where your feet must rest on the pegs. However, if you are tall, ensure there’s enough knee room and those caps don’t foul with the apron or the handlebar. Also, once in the seat, make sure your feet or at least one foot can rest firmly on the ground in the standstill position.
The seat must be soft enough, but not so much that things start hurting after a while. Moreover, if it slopes too much towards the front, you will have to constantly adjust your riding position as there is no fuel tank to stop your slide when braking. When riding with a pillion, since you can’t hog as much seat as you’d like if you’re tall, the sliding could cause the slack in your pants to tighten and build up stress in the groin area. Worse still, constant friction could lead to a rash between the thighs. Along with this, ensure that the handlebar rests at a comfortable height according to your size and proportions.
Ample storage space
You’re buying a scooter for practical reasons and whatever you buy should stick true to that. So ensure there is adequate space on the footboard for you to place your backpack or something similar there. A flat board without any tunnel running in between is more convenient. A little storage compartment on the insides of the front apron is a plus, while most scooters will offer a hook.
Ensure space under the seat is enough to swallow a full-size helmet and there is separate space to carry documents and a first aid kit. Although a portable mobile charger is the way to go these days, a little charging point under the seat helps. A little bulb illuminating that space will assist in the dark if you ever have to find that tiny thing you just dumped in there before setting off.
Peppy off the mark
Take a test ride of all the shortlisted models and check for strong initial performance. This is vital in stop-go urban conditions because your scooter will encounter them all the time. A nippy scoot off the line is more enjoyable for practical reasons, unlike something which makes its power higher up in the rev range. It will help you get off the line quicker and things won’t feel bogged down when riding two up, especially when both or one of the riders is on the heavier side. Since you and the scooter will spend the majority of on-road time between speeds of 0 – 60 kph, strong performance within that range will keep things cheerful.
Scooters are no longer those traditional machines which existed for getting the job done. Most of them have gotten rid of the basic, link type front suspension and employ telescopic forks these days. It helps in better absorption of bumps and offers better stability over basic suspension setups. The rear spring shouldn’t be setup too softly, as it will make the scooter’s rear pitch vertically at decent speeds. This will lead to a lot of stress on your spine, even when riding on decent surfaces.
An external fuel filling cap will mean that you don’t have to disembark and lift the seat while refuelling. More convenience comes in the form of a parking brake, which can be engaged if you have to park your scooter on an incline. A strong illumination system and a fuel gauge is a must. Some scooters offer riding modes, where a Red or a Green light activates according to your throttle inputs to convey whether your riding style is economical, or otherwise.
Brakes and wheels
There are no gears on a scooter to allow aggressive engine braking. When you roll off the throttle, the only way to bring things to a halt is by grabbing the brake levers. During your test ride, ensure braking power is adequate and the scooter remains stable if you grab the lever aggressively in panic situations. If your scooter rides on alloy wheels, for being lighter than the ones made out of steel, although just as strong, they enhance the economy and improve handling characteristics. Make sure your scooter employs tubeless tyres, which are more resistant to punctures and can be mended without much fuss and in lesser time, compared to a tube-type setup.