Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Scooter Gear: An interlude, Why gear is important.

Well it's taken me longer than I expected to get back to the topic of riding gear for scooterists, and I apologize for that.
Originally, I planned on doing only one post on the whole topic, but after starting with Leather Jackets, I realized this is a topic which needed more in depth coverage.
The topic of safety gear for scooterists doesn't get discussed enough. To a lot of folks, the possibility of a scooter accident is like the 500 pound gorilla in the room. They hope if they don't talk about it, it will go away. Part of the appeal of scooters, especially the high-end Italian models that so many of us enjoy, is that they are fashionable. Indeed, when the Vespa was first being designed, the intention was to create a motorized two wheeler that wouldn't dirty a business suit, and would allow ladies to wear skirts and heels. You still see representations of this in scooter advertisements.
I have to admit, when I first started scooting, I didn't wear anything more protective than a helmet. Despite all of our protests to the contary, many scooterists think of a scooter as just a step up from a moped. It is easy to think of a scooter as a bicycle that you don't have to peddle. In fact that is a great bit of it's appeal to urban commuters. And, again, I have to admit, I can't stand the idea of wearing a helmet on a bicycle.
But this is a subject on which my opinion has changed with time. On one hand, I actually think a scooter is safer on the road than a bicycle, due to it's ability to keep up with traffic, and marginally safer than a motorcycle, due it's slightly better maneuverability, the simple truth is the road doesn't care what you fell off of when you hit it. While I believe that an experienced rider will be fractionally more likely to avoid an accident on a scooter than a motorcycle, and perhaps significantly more likely to perform an emergency dismount when an accident is unavoidable (due to the step-through design), the fact is that riding a scooter at motorcycle speeds, requires the same precautions as riding a motorcycle.
Look at this way, sex with a condom, is still sex, it's still the most fun you can have with your clothes off. And you are much more likely to live to be able to have more sex. Rding a scooter with protective gear is still riding, it's still the most fun you can have with your pants on, and you are much more likely to live to be able to ride some more.

Working in a Vespa dealership has really brought this home to me. I see so many new Vespa riders who think that a helmet is all the protection that they need. And, sure, I'd love to sell them jackets, pants, gloves, and boots out of our stock. But much more, I'd like to know that they are getting protective gear from anywhere, and using it. Yes, I know that new Vespa is a fashion accessory for some folks. For others, it is an economical, reliable automobile replacement. For some it is a toy, a means to motorized bliss. But in all these cases, there exists protective gear which will fit your priorities, and should the worst happen, increase your chances of pursuing them in the future.


Russ said...

I see what your talking about all the time. I run a Scooter Shop in Gainesville, fl and body protection and eye protection are overlooked. I was told that falling from your bicycle at a stand still and hitting your head is like hitting at 30mph so thats a pretty good marketing tool to get them to get some form of protection. Motorcycle Squid is another things to use for people who refuse to wear a helmet because of something as stupid as thier hair Cut. Would like to pass ideas give me an email at russ@swampcycles.com

Sidney said...

I ride my scooter in full gear, I get funny looks, but when I came off, i only had a graze on my leg. My arms were fine as was my head.

Sadly my little scooter is not doing so fine right nwo