Friday, March 16, 2007

Scooter Dreamin'

I've wanted a scooter pretty much as long as I can remember; all my adult life-since viewing my first Italian film, for sure. I used to dream of Vespas but, after researching scooters, I decided that I could only justify owning one if it was the most fuel efficient, cleanest burning engine and Vespas do not qualify. Only the newest (and most expensive) Vespas have a 4-stroke engine and they're not particularly good on gas. Yeah, they look cool, but looks are not everything.
In my searching, I found the Bajaj Chetak ( It's an Indian scooter with the same basic body structure (monocoque) as the Vespa because Bajaj used to manufacture the Vespa in India. The Chetak gets 100+ miles to the gallon and rates the best on running clean according to several measurements (
(which none of the other scooter companies even tries to claim). Chetaks are built for durability. The thing is that last year was the end of production so whatever one finds in a dealer's showroom is all there are. Bajaj promises that parts will be available for a long time and with hundreds of thousands of Chetaks being driven around the world, I believe them.
I've taken another social research field interviewing project (this time doing a survey for the federal reserve) which will start in May. I'll be driving all over the county and will easily put 300+ miles on whatever vehicle I'm driving each week. The mileage reimbursement is good for this job ($.44/mile), it covers gas and wear and tear. But imagine, I said to Hammy, if I'm getting 100+ miles per gallon! I could pay for a third to almost a half of the scooter just out of my expense checks in the first 3 months of the project!
I think Hammy's almost talked into it.
I'm now trying to ascertain if getting my hands on a Chetak is a possibility. There's a scooter shop in Chattanooga who's owner I like and trust (the first time we met him he was wearing a peace sign t-shirt; not that that makes a person trustworthy or not, just that it shows that we share some values):
I'm waiting to hear from them about Chetaks or other scoots they would recommend that fit my criteria.
Lately, I've been reading my horoscope on occasion. I don't believe in astrology; I think it is, at best, pretty silly. I don't know what my children or my husband's 'signs' are and I don't care. I read my horoscope almost as a query or some rhetorical spiritual question or a tool to gain psychological insight. A couple of days ago my horoscope coincidentally said that I was about to get my heart's fondest wish such as a car or lingerie and then it said, "would it help to know that you'll want to take it back to the showroom the next day". Hmmmm....
It makes me think about "be careful what you wish for". Do I really want a scooter? Will my life actually be improved by owning one? Is it a whim? An indulgence? Will it help me be the person I desire being? Will it feed my ego? Yes, I do want to pollute the environment less, use less fossil fuels and save money but am I justifying buying a scooter when really I just wanna have fun?
I'm going to "sit" with these questions for a few days. I don't want this to be an ego driven purchase nor a waste of money. On the other hand, maybe I think too much.

1 comment:

Nickel said...

Do it!

I am the proud owner of a 2004 white Bajaj Chetak, which I have just rolled over 11000 miles on. It is a kickin scoot. Being a manual transmission really lets you get the most out of the 145cc motor [if you can drive a manual car, you can do this scooter]. It is closer to a motorcycle than to most modern scooters because of this great feature. I could not say enough good things about my ecological, practical, all metal scoot.
But, if I was going to offer any caution... I am the owner of another scooter as well, it is a 2003 Honda Ruckus [which I have enjoyed 8000+ miles on] and it is a bit of a contrast to my white lightening. I mean, I have never had to do a thing to my Honda, besides changing the oil. My Bajaj is fantastic because it is from the old school of scooting, but that also takes you back to the days when you NEED to carry extra cables, and keep your spare tire [included] aired up, and know how to install these parts. I have changed several flats, nearly every cable, and a few other things on the side of the road.
Have you looked at all at the Yamaha Vino 125? I have a few friends with this scoot, and it is a good compromise for a modern scooter, that is Japanese reliable, 4-stroke clean, cheaper than a Vespa, and much faster than a 50cc scooter.

I love my Bajaj... and I know that you will love whatever scooter you get... DO IT!

[if you would like to talk scooters, email me at nickelp543 at gmail dot com]