Life happens, as they say and sometimes life happens in ways you don't expect. I never expected to find myself owning a weird plastic covered Japanese scooter styled after a feet forward cruiser motorcycle. But here we are, my new ride the Suzuki Burgman 200 in a photo found on the web.It seems a heavy burden to lay on this 360 pound 18 horsepower scooter but the idea is to inject a little travel uncertainty into my life, which is decidedly too filled with routine.
I first saw the Suzuki in New York in a dealership after reading about it and I was struck by the proportions and the well designed lines of the usually bulky plastic bodywork (known as "tupperware" to contemptuous motorcyclists). The seat is vast and apparently comfortable and low to the ground and every review reports a decent turn of speed topping out around 80 mph. Yet my heart has always been with Italian Vespas. When I owned a 2007 Vespa 250 it left me stranded too often to count. It recently appeared rather tired looking at Jiri's shop, running but rusty and careworn:
It was a comfortable fast ride when it worked but I was not willing to go back to the uncertainty of a non starting non running temperamental travel companion. My Vespa 150 as much as I love it can only just keep up with traffic and I have grown weary of defending myself from aggressive car drivers who resent being passed by a hairy old hobbit on a moped, even when they are distracted and driving excessively slowly. Furthermore I don't feel as though attempting even modest trips to the mainland is possible on a 60mph 150cc scooter. To do so once on a dare or as part of some stunt would be entirely possible but to take my camera to routinely explore the Everglades is not within my grasp right now unless I take the car which is hardly an adventure. Hence the appearance of a larger more capable ride in my life.
Jiri my mechanic thinks I should ride a 400cc scooter like his Yamaha in lovely shiny blue, complete with carrier for his small dog...I went for a test ride and he has a point but these are massive beasts easily able to achieve 100 mph but crippled by bulk when it comes to parking or maneuvering 500 pounds of scooter through torturous Key West lanes. My idea was to have a small capable commuter that remains the essence of a scooter capable of occasional long distance trips for fun. Hence the relatively inexpensive Burgman I found lightly used in Tampa. I'd rather it be white but you can't have everything and I will going to pick it up on St Patrick's day chauffeured by my wife who will follow me as I ride it home.
I am in no hurry to abandon my dog but I have been feeling rather trapped in my daily routines and I think my wife has noticed because she pushed me to make the change. Her argument is I need to go off with my camera and enjoy some solitude which is true. Rusty will always get his walks but a day spent riding and photographing at my pace would be pleasant and a good way to vary my rare days off. The reason I have not looked at motorcycles after my Bonneville drowned is principally because my arthritic left wrist makes changing gears painful. I was coming to terms with this limitation wondering what to do when Irma drowned my dilemma in seven feet of angry salt water. I expect that in the not too distant future I will have to let a surgeon loose on my wrist and hopefully using a motorcycle clutch will again be a daily feature of my life. So far exercise and an automatic scooter have kept my wrist in only modest discomfort.
So all things considered change is good, life is good and learning to ride a weird cruiser scooter will be a new and I trust enjoyable challenge. Old age need not diminish us nor alter our essential natures.
My next painful task is to list this little beauty for sale. I am in no hurry though my wife is correct - three scooters is far too many. She is so unsentimental and practical, lucky for me.