No matter who you are or where you live, it is not hard to see that gas prices are higher than they were a few years ago, and it is not likely they will drop much lower than they are now. In our society, bigger has often been thought to be better. When it comes to vehicles, bigger might seem safer, but that is not necessarily true. Think back to the high-center, rollover problems that SUV’s had just ten years ago.
The only conclusion that can be made about bigger vehicles is that they are more expensive to own and operate. Bigger vehicles require more expensive maintenance and repairs, and more recently, bigger means that it could easily cost $80 to fill the gas tank of that bigger, better truck.
Two decades ago, the federal government foresaw the need to teach Americans to use less fuel. The American Federal Government passed laws requiring auto manufacturers to manufacture vehicles with higher gas mileage ratings, but as is always the case with the political landscape in Washington, D.C., compromises were made. The one compromise that led us to our current fuel price crisis is that Washington exempted trucks and SUV’s from the higher gas mileage rules. If it were not for these exemptions being made, Arnold Schwarzenegger would not be driving the 15/10mpg Hummer H2H.
The 20-Somethings Get It…
Our younger generations get it. They get that America as a collective society must take steps to decrease our dependence on foreign fuel sources and we must take steps to protect the environment. The 20-Somethings have chosen to buy vehicles that get better gas mileage, and better yet, they have ushered in the acceptance of the scooter as a viable means of transport.
Young people in this country are opting to drive motorcycles and scooters, instead of their father’s Oldsmobiles. If you have any doubt, you only need to visit any college town across the country to see scooters filling the roadways.
Scooters On The Road
The Italian-made Vespa Scooters are one of the more popular gasoline-powered scooter brands on the road today. Their high-end LX models retail for under $5,000, and deliver 70-80 mpg at near 60 mph. The Vespa Scooters have actually been on the road since 1946, so the company has a lot of experience in manufacturing this type of product.
Other popular models include the Riptide Scooter, the Sinclair Scooter and the Wasp Scooter, all made by the American company GS MotorWorks. Historically, GS MotorWorks has also sold the Euro Scooter, the Retro Scooter, and Sport Scooters.
The Genuine Scooter Company produces its own line of scooters as well. Their super-charged Blur Scooters can turn on a dime and jet down the highway at nearly 70 mph. Their Black Cat model delivers more than 100 mpg on a scooter that is limited to a top speed of 30 mph. The Buddy Scooter will deliver 100 mpg, with speeds limited to 30 mph and 70 mph, depending on the model. Their Rattler Scooter is made for those rough country roads and is expected out later this year. The Genuine Scooter Company also offers a range of Stella scooter accessories, including the motorcycle-style, Stella sidecar.
Motorcycles Serve The Transportation Needs of All Generations of Riders
Motorcycles used to just be for rebels of society. Now, from teenagers to those approaching retirement, men and women, free spirits and business executives, motorcycles are everywhere. In rural areas and major cities, many people are choosing motorcycles to get them to where they want to be.
While scooters are popular among the high school and college students, older generations favor the motorcycle over the scooter. Many people were introduced to dirt bikes when they were kids, and they fell in love with the motorcycle at a young age. As adults, they now have a much wider selection of motorcycles from which to choose.
There are still many brands of motorcycles available in the marketplace: Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, Yamaha, and the American-brands Harley Davidson and Kodiak. Of course, these manufacturers make a standard motorcycle for the average rider, racing bikes for the adrenaline junkies, the touring bike for those riders who like long, leisurely journeys across the country, and the recreational dirt bike for those who like off-road riding.
Off-Road Pleasures And Farming Utility
Of course, there are also people looking at motorcycles and ATVs not for transportation, but for recreation, a chance to get out in the dirt and blow off steam. The options here are no less limited, from lightweight motor-cross bikes to four-wheel ATVs, these motorcycles are built for fun.
The ATV is a popular product for the off-road riders, because it adds extra wheels to the riding surface, allowing for a slower pace and more safety. Even the aging rock giant Ozzie Osborne is known to ride a four-wheel ATV in his spare time for fun.
In the modern-age of ranching, the three-wheel and four-wheel ATV has replaced many horses, as the rancher’s transportation vehicle of choice. While you might be able to talk to and pet your horse, you cannot pull a trailer behind your horse. For strictly utilitarian purposes, the ATV simply makes more sense to most ranchers. In fact, many ranchers use the ATV to haul feed out to the horses. How is that for irony?
Motorcycle Safety Equipment
Riding motorcycles safely, whether riding for transportation between home and office, on longer trips, or just for recreation requires two things: common sense and appropriate gear. Common sense means understanding where it is safe to ride, following the rules of the road, wearing the right clothing, and avoiding unnecessary risks.
Even if there are not helmet laws in your state, requiring motorcyclists to wear helmets when they ride, helmets could mean the difference between a minor traffic accident and a funeral. Additionally, it is a good idea to wear proper shoes, boots, and clothing, as well as a visor or protective glasses.
Riders should keep in mind that vision is key to knowing what is going on around them; so choosing the proper helmet with a good viewing radius is important. If the rider chooses to not wear a helmet, a good set of goggles is the next essential piece of safety equipment. Remember, if that bug is flying across your path when it hits you, it could easily bypass those sunglasses and hit you in the eye, temporarily blinding you at 70 mph.
Proper Motorcycle Maintenance
The importance of proper motorcycle maintenance is fully realized when one thinks about the consequences of a front tire blowout at 70 mph. I don’t even want to think about that possibility. As they say, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Good motorcycle maintenance means a lot of things. It means to make sure that the motorcycle always has a good set of tires on it. It means making sure that the motorcycle always has a good set of brakes. Motorcycles are inexpensive to care for properly, so there is no excuse for not taking care of it in a way that will prevent accidents and malfunctions.
By looking over the vehicle at regular intervals, one will be able to determine whether there are motorcycle parts, scooter parts, or even ATV parts that will need to be replaced in order to help keep the vehicle in its best condition. For example, with motorcycles, riders should always take a close look at the clutch cable, fasteners, spokes, steering heads, oil levels, and brake pads. These motorcycle parts often show signs of wear and not fixing the problem in a timely manner could easily lead to an accident.
Similarly, there are scooter parts that riders should examine regularly. Scooter tires, starters, batteries, fuel filters, chains, and other parts can suffer wear and reduce the safety and reliability of the scooter.
ATV and off-road cyclists who ride on trails and other rough surfaces will see wear and tear to a much larger degree, and they may need to replace a variety of parts to keep riding fun: oil filters, gaskets, tires, pistons, and brakes. Additional ATV parts also need to be cared for and maintained at regular intervals. Off-road riders should also check the frame of their motorcycle or ATV on a regular basis, in order to ensure that the frame has not become a hazard to the safe operation of the bike.
No matter what, why, or how you ride, staying safe is the key. Replacing worn parts, wearing protective clothing, and following the rules of the road, all serve to keep motorized travel and recreation safe for people of all ages.