My Scooter And Me

My scooter and me!

In my effort to live as frugally as possible while still maintaining a high quality of life I decided to purchase a used Yamaha Zuma 49cc scooter a little while back. Now that I’ve had a chance to really try this thing out I’m deciding to write this article as a report to anyone interested in such a move.

First, the gas mileage is awesome. 100+ mpg is nothing to sneeze at. A typical “fill-up” is less than a gallon and as such costs me less than $4. That’s the kind of fuel bill that would make any self-proclaimed frugalist smile in delight. I know that I’m loving it. My fuel bill is almost nothing and that fill-up typically comes every 1.5 weeks or so.

Second, it’s super easy. It doesn’t have gears due to a CVT transmission and so shifting is non-existent. It simply needs to be started and then there is the throttle and brakes. It’s so easy a caveman could do it! It requires no mechanical skill whatsoever to operate. From what I can tell the maintenance is very minimal and can be done at any motorcycle shop for little cost. I would recommend a motorcycle rider safety class for safety reasons, but as far as operational education there is little needed here. I feel at ease while riding it and so far it’s started with the electric starter every single time and I’ve had 0 issues with the scooter so far. Parking is easier than a car, which can be a huge plus when trying to find a parking spot by the beach.

Third, it’s cheap! I paid less than $1,400 for it and it requires no monthly insurance. That’s a big bill that comes pretty standard on just about every transportation option out there, but this little scooter requires none. The gas mileage, as mentioned above, is extremely high and the maintenance, when required, will be small and inexpensive (compared to a car). I’d say the only cheaper transportation options would be walking, riding a cheap bicycle or perhaps a bus depending on where you live. Here, a bus ride is $1.25 one-way and when doing the calculations a scooter might actually be cheaper over the long haul. Surprising.

Fourth, it’s just plain fun. At first, I was a bit concerned what people would think when they see a grown man riding around on a little scooter. But now I don’t care. I think it’s a ton of fun to ride around town and the warm Florida sunshine in my face while the 35 mph breeze keeps me cool feels superb! It really wakes me up in the morning when I’m riding to work and the early temps are hovering 65 degrees.

I would actually highly recommend one of these for the frugal-minded out there. Compared to a car’s costs there is no comparison. This thing can only be compared to a bicycle or public transportation cost-wise, but even then this comes pretty close if not cheaper. A bicycle will get me to work, but much slower and I’ll likely be sweating. The bus gets me to work just fine, but it’s not as fun or autonomous. The scooter easily fits a small amount of groceries under the seat and on the floorboard and it’s been great for weekly grocery runs. I really can’t say enough good things about riding a scooter. The only negative aspect is the risk of injury and/or death. If I get hit on a scooter I’m much more likely to get seriously hurt or die vs. getting hit in a car. Of course, car accidents can be very dangerous as well and I’m typically not traveling on major roads and I’m generally riding under 40 mph.

How about you? Ever consider a scooter?

Thanks for reading.

Comments

  1. says

    Scooter is awesome! When I lived in Europe I’ve never needed a car or scooter due extremely good and cheap public transport. But in Sydney each short ride by train/bus cost $3.4 and sometimes they even don’t show up… So I bought a Kymco Super 8 125cc (70mpg) for $1800 and have the same feelings as you have. I would not want to drive a bicycle in the jungle you can see on the streets

    • says

      Jakub,

      Glad to see a fan of scooters! I would agree that Europe is much friendlier to this type of transportation. I only occasionally see fellow scooter riders around here and I live in an area where they’re considered “commonplace” due to scooter rental facilities for tourists visiting the beach.

      Kymco, from what I understand, makes a great product. Sounds like you are fond of your Super 8. Glad to hear it.

      I wish America had cheaper and more prominent public transportation. Maybe then I wouldn’t own a scooter. Until then, however, I’ll continue riding my little Zuma.

      Best wishes!

    • says

      I’m from India and I agree fully with your views. Scooter/motorbikes are more affordable than cars. Although they cannot be as cheap as public transport, they score more on flexibility and personal convenience. Most middle class people have two-wheelers (scooters or moterbikes).
      However, I find it funny when American leaders claim that developing countries are to be blamed for fuel demand and price increase. I find this absolutely unfair, because many developed nations waste a lot of money on SUVs and other large gas guzzlers.
      I think USA should start encouraging the use of scooters and tax the large vehicles.

  2. says

    Very inspiring! Looking healthy, buff-man. I need to do some pushups.:)

    Thanks for writing about the scooter. It sounds like something I may pursue sooner or later. Good stuff.

    • says

      Joe,

      Thanks for stopping by.

      Yeah, I took that picture right before heading off to the gym so I have my gym gear on.

      If you decide to pursue a scooter I can only recommend quality. A friend at work bought a cheap Chinese 50cc scooter a little while back brand-new and had a myriad of issues.

      Best wishes!

  3. says

    Hi DM, here in the UK I ride a vintage BSA 250cc from the 1950’s, about 80mpg, easy to maintain, cheap parts, no road tax, cheap insurance and it’s a classic so no depreciation. I didn’t realize you don’t have to have insurance on scooters over in your neck of the woods, that would be brilliant here since insurance premiums keep rocketing, though not for my BSA, as I say vintage vehicle insurance is much cheaper.

    • says

      eddy,

      Wow, you ride a scooter from the 50’s? That’s awesome! I know that vintage Vespa’s are pretty popular and I do see one from time to time, but I don’t know how many are quite that old. Very cool.

      I guess it just shows you how much quality is behind one if you can keep it running for over 60 years.

      Best wishes.

  4. Anonymous says

    The old joke always made me laugh. “A scooter is like a fat Girl, fun to ride but you don’t want your friends to see you on it”.

    I wouldn’t choose a scooter for safety reasons but they do seem fun. And who cares what others think. Enjoy!

    • says

      Anonymous,

      Haha, yeah only fun until someone sees you. Good stuff. I guess it’s my vanity that concerns me with such petty issues as what others think. In the big picture other people’s opinions matter not.

      I hear you on the safety issues. If/when I decide to move on from the scooter it would be because of safety issues. All it takes is one person looking down while texting on their phone while they are rolling up to a stop light to hit me…and then it’s adios. Getting hit from behind is the one thing that scares me a bit only because it’s so common around here. There is no defense against that.

      Best wishes!

    • says

      Well even in a car, the car gets destroyed, and you can hit your head on the dashboard while wearing your selt belt when you get slamed from behind. Let alone crashing into every car in front of you.

    • says

      FreeYourChains,

      Good point. Nothing is perfectly safe. I would argue a car is much safer than a scooter, but of course on a scooter I’m driving much more defensively and slower…so maybe a scooter isn’t so dangerous after all.

      Best wishes!

  5. says

    very cool DM….

    my first motorbike way back in college was a 50cc Honda Super Cub. Nobody ever mocked me, at least not to my face. but back then there wasn’t all the macho crap surrounding bikes there seems to be today.

    anyone can look tough on a Harley, it takes huevos to look tough on a scooter. seems you got it covered.

    as for safety, I think they are better than a bicycle. at least you are keeping up with the flow of traffic and don’t have cars whizzing past inches away….

    • says

      jlcollinsnh,

      Good call! It does take a certain confidence to roll out on a scooter. I try to make it work. Even if my image suffers a little, my wallet is better off for it.

      I can agree with you on the bicycle. Getting hit on anything that only has two wheels would be a nightmare, but I can imagine how one would have a better chance at safety on something that moves as fast as a scooter.

      Take care!

  6. Anonymous says

    im glad you got a good scooter.I made a mistake and got a cheap one it lasted just over a year.ride safe safe. Quentin

    • says

      Quentin,

      I’m sorry to hear about your scooter only lasting for a year. I do believe that buying quality is key here. The Chinese scooters can be pretty cheap, but it may end up costing you more in the end. On the other hand, if you can get one once a year for $500 or so I guess it doesn’t really matter how long it lasts. $500/year for transportation is still pretty cheap!

      Best wishes.

  7. Anonymous says

    I bought a scooter about 3 years ago. I have loved it. The fun and low cost can’t be beat. 2 things you may find helpful:
    1. Find some brake light “flashers” on the Internet. They’re cheap and greatly augment your braking visibility. They are separate little lights that can mount practically any where on the back of the scooter. I installed my own no problem.
    2. Do the very minimal maintenance yourself. Shop rates are outrageous for the little work that they do. I have found youtubes for everything I needed to do.
    Oh, and I got my scooter after trying the bus and bike too…..

    • says

      Anonymous,

      Wow, thanks for the helpful tips. The flashers for the back of the scooter sound really great. I’ll definitely have to look into them. Do they have to be wired in, or do they run on batteries?

      I agree with you on the maintenance. What little maintenance the bike requires seems fairly easy on the whole. Replacing the spark plug, air filter and battery all seem relatively easy. Carburetor work might be a little more difficult, but should be something I can learn quickly.

      It seems we had a similar journey with transportation before settling on the scooter idea. If you don’t mind me asking, what kind of scooter did you purchase and do you still have it? Three years is a long time to own and operate a scooter if you still have it. It seems most people only use these things for a year or less before discarding them for one reason or another.

      Best wishes!

    • Anonymous says

      The Flashers hard wire into your existing brake line. Sounds hard if you haven’t done it before (and I had not before) but it wasn’t. If you know anyone handy with electrical stuff, maybe look at it together for an extra set of eyes.
      Do a search on “electro pods”, that looks very close to what I installed. But, I bought mine at a local scooter store for around $25 total for 2. My quick web search showed $40, so shop around a little. Speaking of the scooter store, I actually asked a question or two of them and they were very helpful.
      Mine is a Buddy 50. I still have it and will be driving it tomorrow!
      I still have a car. My view is that we need to purchase a certain number of miles per year. A scooter’s price per mile is going to be lower than the car’s. So I figure that whatever miles I offset with the scooter is a savings.
      You’re FL correct? See if there is a local scooter scene. I know it sounds corny but like most interests and hobbies out there you won’t believe how nice and helpful people are with any questions you may have.

    • says

      Anonymous,

      Thanks for all that helpful information. I appreciate it. I’ll definitely look into the additional lights for the rear.

      I looked into a Buddy 50. They seem pretty cool. American made is a plus! They’re quite difficult to find around here, and the Yamaha Zuma’s and Kymco People’s are much more popular and seem to be pretty reliable.

      Thanks again!

      Best wishes.

  8. says

    This post makes me live somewhere warm so I can drive a scooter! Actually I thought a scooter looked fun after watching the movie Larry Crowne, have you seen it? Glad it’s working out for you.

    • says

      MSS,

      Yeah, living somewhere warm is almost a requirement when roaming around on a scooter full-time. If it was a secondary transportation option to a car then I guess weather wouldn’t be such a big deal.

      I haven’t seen that movie, but I remember seeing that during a big showing for the movie there were a bunch of scooters there. Cool stuff!

      Best wishes.

  9. says

    Mantra cool! Nice to see you enjoying your money, even though it is supposed to be a “frugal” investment. Way cheaper than a car – that is cool as well. :)

    Cheers and enjoy!

    • says

      Ninja,

      The scooter is fun AND cheap. Can’t beat that, right? It’s not the safest option out there…but of course, life is short and you gotta live it.

      Take care!

  10. says

    Sounds like a great way to reduce your expenses and have fun, I admire your dedication to FI. You are a man on a mission. It’s kind of ironic that you work in the automotive industry and ride a scooter. I bet your coworkers don’t understand. But you can laugh all the way to the bank, especially when you no longer need to work!

    • says

      CI,

      Thanks for stopping by. You’re right…it’s very funny and ironic that I roll up to a car dealership everyday by scooter or bus. I’m sure that bugs some people because of the image of it, but oh well.

      I’m a man on a mission, but so are you. You’re on a roll. Keep up the great work.

      Best wishes!

  11. Anonymous says

    Have you ever looked at a site called BuyUpside it is a site that talks about drips other infomation is also available.IM well on my way to retirement. I dont know what I will do all day. I have summers off I ALWAYS put on pounds in the summer.I dont have any hobbies. MY advise to anyone is gettin near to retiremnent is to find a hobby Thanks Quentin

  12. says

    I had a scooter for several years while I lived in a metro area, always really fun. I do have a word of advice. I needed a horn more than I thought I would since my scooter was little and people are blind. I bought a two horn car horn and imbedded them in the front facia of the scooter behind the plastic. On yours it would be even easier. You will want to get a separate battery for it so it doesn’t zap your electric start but it works great and cars really take notice when you hit them with some real sound. Have fun!

  13. squasher55 says

    Hey Mantra,

    Good move. I am 72, and own 2 scooters. One is a Kymco, and the other is a Buddy 50. A good thing to note is that only scooters under 50 cc do not require insurance, or even a license. I highly recommend you wear a good helmet, however. The Kymco and Buddy are made in Taiwan….the best scooters are made there. I visited there last Dec., and the volume of scooters there would boggle the mind of the average American. But they are quality made. Enjoy your scooter….I am able to ride mine all year round..even though I live high in the Rocky Mountains.

  14. Anonymous says

    Hope your OK! I miss you’re blog and prey you didn’t have an accident with you’re scooter.

    Bill from Wmsport

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