Around the block or around the
world, it makes sense to leave home
with a helmet securely fastened on
your head, since it’s one of the best
items of protective gear you
Helmets come in all sizes, from
extra small (XS) to extra, extra
large (XXL). There are also helmets
for children. When you buy a helmet,
make sure it fits properly. Try it on; it should
be comfortable to wear, neither too tight nor
too loose. Remember, it is going to spend
a lot of time on your head. Always fasten
the helmet’s chinstrap. If the helmet is not
secured, it is doing about as much good as if it
were on the shelf at home.
A good helmet will have an authentic Department
of Transportation (DOT) sticker. This
means the helmet was designed to meet DOT
standards. Don’t buy a helmet without one;
it may not provide the protection you need.
Helmets vary greatly in price and style. Buy
one that suits you and wear it. Fasten it every
time you ride.
A good helmet makes scooter riding a lot
more pleasurable. It reduces wind noise,
minimizes windborne debris in your face/eyes,
and helps prevent temperature extremes from
becoming uncomfortable. Good helmets are
made of modern lightweight materials with
many designs and colors to choose from.
Riding with bare eyes is a gamble. Your eyes
are precious, and it does not take much to
injure them. An object hitting the eye at
only four miles per hour may cause
Proper eye protection means an approved
shield on your helmet, a pair of goggles, or
shatterproof glasses. Settling for less just isn’t
worth the risk. It’s also a matter of comfort,
since wind quickly dries out the eyes.
Make sure your eye protection is clean and
unscratched. If you use a tinted lens or shield
for riding in the bright sunlight, take a clear
one along as well, in case you are riding after
dark or in low light conditions.
Jackets designed specifically
for riding are
made in many sturdy
as denim, nylon in
its various guises,
and leather. Cowhide
when it comes
which are comfortable
to wear even in
hot weather because
as they allow a breeze
to flow through.
Synthetic material jackets (such as Cordura®
or ballistic nylon) with integral body armor
work well too.
Pants used for riding should be made of thick
material, such as leather or a tough synthetic
material, to resist abrasion and provide protection
from the elements. There are several
brands of riding pants on the market, and a
number of companies sell riding pants and
jacket combinations that zip together.
Always wear gloves, even on a hot day. It will
make it easier to operate the controls, and
you never know when you might lose balance
and use your hands to brace a fall. It also
has to do with comfort; the car or truck in
front of you may throw stones that could hit
Use over-the-ankle boots, preferably made
of strong leather since your ankles are very
vulnerable. Boots also protect your feet and
lower legs from abrasion.
Boots with slippery soles could cause embarrassment
when you put your foot down at a
greasy gas station or a tollbooth. Rubber soles
with a good tread design offer better gripping
Inevitably, one day you will be caught out in
the rain. Why not acquire a good rain suit
designed for riding? Make sure it fits properly,
and don’t forget rain-covers for your boots
and gloves, since you’ll be a lot more comfortable
riding in the rain if you’re dry.
The easier it is for people to see you, the less
likely they are to run into
you. Brightly colored
clothing or helmet
to drab, dark
You can buy
vests that are
make it easier
for others to see you.
Look for those with re-
flective materials. Also,
you can buy clothing
with integral reflective
strips, and you can place
reflective strips on your
helmet and the backs of
your boots. Every little
Don’t forget, operating a vehicle on public
streets and highways is a privilege, not a right.
If you ignore the laws of your state, your
license may be taken from you.
Laws are intended to protect you, not to
harass you. You may be the best and safest
rider in the country, but these laws are designed
for safe and predictable behavior by the
Just think of the chaos if we didn’t have these
laws. Respect them. You put yourself, your
wallet, and others at risk if you choose to
violate the law.
These vary from state to state. Some states
require a specific scooter or motorcycle
license to operate on the street. Be sure to
get one. Drop by your local motor vehicle
department and ask for licensing information,
or visit them online. The MSF also maintains a
summary of state licensing information online
INSURANCE AND REGISTRATION
Obtaining insurance is important. Most states
require liability insurance (check your state’s
laws). Shop around. Some companies provide
a discount if you’ve taken a motorcycle safety
or training course.
You can also get other coverage for you and
your scooter, such as comprehensive, collision,
medical payments, uninsured driver, etc.
Ask your insurance agent what each type of
coverage can do for you, and how much it will cost.
It could end up being a very wise investment.
The better your driving record, the less costly
your insurance. It pays to be safe.
Registration is easy. Follow proper
procedures and pay appropriate fees. Get a
license plate to attach onto the back of
To be a safe rider, get to know your scooter.
It’s very different from a car since it makes
more demands on its operator. The scooter
accelerates, turns and stops smoothly according
to your level of skill and knowledge.
Therefore, the more you practice, the more
skilled you will become.
Check your owner’s manual; not all scooters
are exactly alike. There are large scooters (engine
displacements of 650cc and over), small
scooters (50cc) and
everything in between. The scooter owner’s
manual gives you many specifics you will find
helpful in understanding and maintaining the
scooter you’ve chosen.
As with other small displacement vehicles,
certain models may not be allowed on highspeed,
Make sure to check your local laws. It takes
a long time to become properly familiar with
a scooter, so it is best not to lend it or to
borrow one. Think of your scooter as being as
personal as a toothbrush.
There are some basic controls that are
standard on scooters. Refer to your owner’s
manual for variations from what is provided in
Put the scooter on the center stand and sit on
it. Become familiar with the controls and how
to use them. Work the levers and pedals (if
equipped). If something isn’t within easy reach
of fingers or toes, maybe it can be adjusted to
suit you. Check your owner’s manual.
Practice finding and using the turn signal
switch. Learn the location of the horn button
so you won’t have to look for it when
somebody starts backing out
in front of you. Figure out
how the headlight dimmer
switch works before it
Become familiar with the reserve
fuel valve, if there is one
on your machine. When you
are riding down the street and
your engine hesitates (indicating
it is running out of fuel),
you want to be able to quickly
turn to the reserve fuel
supply. It is not fun or safe to
be fumbling around when you
are moving. Become familiar with the routing of your scooter’s
various cables and hoses.
BRAKING IN A STRAIGHT LINE
Don’t ever forget: The front brake on your
scooter can supply 70 percent or more of its
stopping power. The single most important
skill you can learn is to brake effectively by
using both brakes every time you want to
Always apply both the front and the rear
brakes at the same time. Apply them confi-
dently, but not so hard that you lock up either
wheel. A locked wheel causes the scooter to
skid and may extend the stopping distance.
Make sure the handlebars are straight, too.
The time to take your left foot off the floorboard
and put it on the ground is just as the
scooter comes to a complete stop. Refine
your braking technique every chance you get.
You can always become more skilled at it.
When riding along a curved road, you must
lean a scooter into a turn. Learning to lean is
an essential part of riding. It is a normal function
of the scooter when you are changing its
path of travel – and quite different from turning
the steering wheel of your car or truck.
To get the scooter to lean, press forward on
the handgrip in the direction of the turn and
maintain slight pressure to take you smoothly
through the turn. In other words: press right
to go right; press left to go left. Maintain a
steady throttle. Demonstrate to yourself
how a scooter moves by pressing forward on
one side of the handlebar while traveling in a
straight line. The scooter will move and
lean in the direction of the handlebar side
you pressed. Practice these techniques to achieve smooth
• Slow before you enter a turn; keep your
head and eyes up looking through the turn.
Check well ahead for traffic and surface
• If you do have to slow more while in the
turn (probably because you did not slow
enough before the turn!), do it gently with
no sudden motions or hard braking.
• Keep your feet on the floorboards and your
• Lean with the scooter; don’t try to sit perpendicular
to the road while the scooter is
leaning over unless you are riding at a very
low speed (below 5 mph).
• Try to maintain an even throttle through
the turn, or even accelerate a little. Some
scooters have a bit of throttle lag time (from
when the throttle is turned to when power
is felt). You may have to start accelerating
before you get to the turn.
CHECKING THE SCOOTER
BEFORE THE RIDE
Who knows when Murphy’s Law may strike
(Whatever can go wrong, will!), like that nail
your tire might have picked up just before
you turned into your driveway the other
evening. It’s not fun to have things go wrong
on a scooter, but if you spend a minute before
you take off on a ride, you can increase the
chances that nothing will go wrong.
Any information you’ll need, such as correct
tire pressures or throttle adjustment, you’ll
find in your owner’s manual. As soon as you
finish this booklet, read the manual thoroughly.
You will be much more acquainted with all
the specifics of your scooter.
#1 Check the tires. They are one of the most
important parts on your scooter. If your
engine quits, you roll to a stop. If a tire quits
– trouble! Make the effort to check the surface
of the tires, looking for cuts in the rubber
or foreign objects – like a nail. Check the tire
pressures with a good gauge. If a tire is low
every time you check it, even though you have
added the proper amount of air each time,
you have a slow leak. Fix it before it becomes
a fast leak.
#2 Check the controls. Cables are quite
strong and rarely break, but look for
kinking or stiffness or anything unusual in
#3 Check the lights, including brake light,
headlights, and turn signals, to make sure
everything works. Also check your horn and
#4 Check the oil and fuel. If the scooter engine
is liquid-cooled, check the coolant levels.
#5 Check the chassis (frame) and suspension.
Look for damage or cracks in the floorboards
and make sure that the scooter will move
freely up and down when you put weight on
the handlebars or seat.
#6 Make sure the center stand works properly.
If a retraction spring is weak, broken or
missing, replace it.
#7 As you move out, check your brakes.
Make sure they are working properly.
Now go enjoy the ride!
There’s not much day-to-day maintenance for
most modern scooters, but do what you can
do, including your pre-ride checks.
Your scooter has a regular service schedule
listed in the owner’s manual. Unless you
are an accomplished mechanic, we recommend
these services be performed by an
Keeping your scooter clean is a good idea.
Dirt can often cover up potential problems.
Check your battery every month and make
sure it has a strong charge. Make sure the
fluid level is where it should be. If it is low, top
it off with distilled water.
Always take a tool kit along when you go for
a ride. You never can tell when it will come
in handy. Use the tools to check the scooter
occasionally and make sure no screws or bolts
You should always have your owner’s
manual with the scooter. It tells you
where the fuse box is in the unlikely event a
fuse fails. It may also tell you how to remove a
wheel should you have a flat tire.
Flat tires are pretty rare occurrences on
scooters, but they can happen. For this, you
can either get on the phone to the dealer, or
temporarily fix it yourself with a tire repair
kit. You may want to have it replaced as soon
as you can (check with your dealer). We recommend
that you carefully read the directions
at home, rather than have your first shot
at fixing a flat happen alongside a deserted
road in the middle of the night when you don’t
have enough light to read the directions.
Little things may happen to the scooter that
may be cause for concern. Don’t panic until
you check out the obvious.
#1 If the engine doesn’t start:
• Is the ignition on?
• Is there fuel?
• Is the battery too weak?
• Is there a loose battery connection?
• Is the engine cutoff switch in the
• If equipped, is the choke in the
#2 If the engine stops when you don’t want
• Did you accidentally move the engine
• Did you run out of fuel?
• Did a fuse fail?
#3 If the scooter feels unstable or wobbles as
you go down the road, especially in a curve,
pull over and stop as soon as it is safe to
check your tires. You may have a flat tire or
low tire pressure. Check your suspension.
You may have it adjusted
incorrectly. Your owner’s manual
is the best reference for proper
settings and adjustments.
#4 If you detect any problems with
the scooter – doesn’t feel right,
doesn’t handle properly, doesn’t
sound right – that you can’t figure
out yourself, take it to your dealer.
Think about the problem so you
can describe it to the service
manager. Remember, an ounce of
prevention is worth a pound of
cure. Pushing a scooter is not fun!
Highway, Byway, Street and Alley
This is what it all comes down to: you, your scooter, the road and the traffic. There are millions
of miles of roads in this country, from one-lane dirt roads to multi-lane highways.
When you ride, the surface conditions, traffic, and the weather constantly change. You have
to be aware of a lot of things. Daydreaming when you’re riding a scooter isn’t a good idea. Things
happen quickly out there on the road, and you have to be prepared for them.
THE SEE SYSTEM
Here is a good reminder for riding safely in traffic.
The SEE strategy is for safer and more responsible riding. Use it effectively and you’ll cover
many safe, happy miles on your scooter.
SEARCH around you for potential hazards.
EVALUATE any possible hazards, such as turning cars, railroad tracks, etc.
EXECUTE the proper action to avoid the hazard.
INCREASE YOUR VISIBILITY
What’s the most common explanation from
the automobile driver who just turned
in front of a scooter? “Gee,
officer, I didn’t see it.”
It’s a sad truth.
You’re not as
large as an 18-
don’t see you
for you, so you
have to attract their
you are invisible, and leave plenty of time and
space to react to problems.
Many scooter headlamps are hard-wired,
which means that the headlight goes on
whenever the engine is running or the key is
We’ve said it before, we’ll
say it again: Wear
bright clothing and
surface that a
usually sees is the
clothing on your upper
back. Make it stand out.
Always signal your intentions. Change lanes or
make a turn using your turn signals in advance.
You want to be sure that the people around
you know what you are about to do.
And it sometimes helps to add hand signals to
your turn signals when you really want others
to know you are present and asking for their
Remember to cancel your signals when you’ve
completed your maneuver; otherwise, drivers
will get misleading information from you.
Don’t be shy about using your horn. If pedestrians
or drivers are dozing or about to pull a
non-thinking maneuver, give them a BEEP. You
want to make them aware of what you are
doing and announce your presence, but don’t
count on it helping because they may not hear
it. Always leave yourself adequate time and
space for a safety margin.
Position your scooter where it can be seen.
Don’t put yourself behind a large truck or ride
in the blind spot of a vehicle near you. Make
HELPING YOU TO SEE OTHERS
The other half of the visibility battle is being
alert and seeing everything around you. Use
your eyes effectively as you look for factors
that could affect you. Don’t get fascinated by
that sports car off to your right, or go rubbernecking
at a crash scene. If your eyes are
locked on one thing, you may be missing an
important factor or situation.
Look ahead and to the sides. Look in your
mirrors and over your shoulders. Keep looking!
Keep SEEing! Anticipate the oncoming
left-turning driver, the reckless fool coming up
behind you, the car poking its nose out of the
driveway, the person beside and a little behind
you who’s moving across the lane-dividing lines.
Never let your eyes fix on an object.
Keep looking around to pick up things that
could affect you.
Always keep at least a two-second gap between
you and the vehicle you are following.
For example, when it goes by a telephone
pole, count “one-thousand-one, onethousand-
two”; and then you should
pass that pole. Leave yourself more
distance as an extra margin
It probably surprises no one to know
that the majority of crashes between a
scooter and a car happen at intersections
– the most frequently occurring
situation is a vehicle turning left in front
of the scooter.
Any intersection is potentially hazardous,
whether it has stoplights, stop signs, or
is unmarked. The same is true for alleys
Always check for traffic to the left and right.
Look for others who might ignore stop signs
or traffic lights. Check for traffic behind you
to make sure no one is about to hit you from
behind. Flashing your brake light may help them
PASSING OTHER VEHICLES
The procedure for passing another vehicle is
the same whether you are riding a scooter
or driving a car. Make sure you have enough
power to pass in the space that’s available.
Remember, some scooters don’t have enough
power to accelerate quickly at street speeds.
Know what your scooter can and can’t do!
If you decide it’s safe to pass, you should be
two (or more) seconds behind the vehicle you
want to pass, and have positioned yourself in
the left portion of your lane.
This position makes it easier to check oncoming
traffic and the road to make sure you have
enough distance to pass safely. Don’t even
think about overtaking if you are approaching
a corner, driveway or intersection.
If you have room ahead to make the pass, look
in your mirrors, turn the signal on, and check
over your shoulder. That head check is essential
because someone might have just moved
into your blind spot, intent on overtaking you.
Always remember the head check.
Everything clear? Move into the left lane and
pass the car/truck/buggy/whatever. Do not
crowd closely to the vehicle you are passing;
you should be more or less in the center of
the lane you are passing in. Get by this vehicle
as quickly as possible without exceeding the
Before returning to your original lane, signal
your intention and use a head check to make
sure that there is enough room between you
and the vehicle you just passed.
Return to your lane, cancel your signal, and
proceed merrily along – with care, of course.
Continue to SEE.
Tailgaters are a special problem to you. They
are simply following too closely to stop safely
if you have to stop quickly.
You can flash your brake light to warn the
tailgater that you are slowing. Slowing will
increase your distance from the vehicle in
front of you, giving you (and the tailgater!)
more time/distance to react to some
You should also stay close to the center of the
lane. (If you move to the far right or far left of
your lane, you might give the tailgater the idea
that it would be OK to pass you in your lane!)
If all else fails, you should consider giving a
turn signal and simply pull off the road and let
the tailgater go by. Remember, if the tailgater
makes a mistake, you might be the one who
has to pay the price!
You may have to ride at night. After all, it is
dark around 50 percent of the time!
Dusk may be the worst time, when people’s
eyes are adjusting from daylight to headlights.
Be especially careful just after sunset.
Usually it is advisable to slow down a little
when riding at night, especially on any sort of
Use your own headlight and those of other
vehicles to keep an eye on the road surface.
It is more difficult at night to see the patch
of sand or something that fell out of a
The distance between you and the vehicle in
front becomes even more important at night.
Give yourself room to react, room to SEE.
Wear a clear face shield without scratches.
A scratched shield can create light refraction
that might confuse you; two headlights
can look like four, and you don’t know who
is coming from where. One of your biggest
hazards at night may be a “who” coming from
a few hours of drinking. Be especially alert
for drivers and vehicles doing odd things, like
weaving in and out of traffic, and give them
lots of room.
Handling Special Situations
In the best of all worlds the temperature
would always be 78 degrees, the wind would
be at your back, and no emergencies would
arise. Since it is an imperfect world, be prepared
for whatever happens.
Sometimes you have to stop as quickly as possible.
Here are some tips on how to get you
and your scooter halted quickly:
• Apply both brakes for their maximum effectiveness,
just short of locking them up. Practice
in an open place with a good surface,
such as a clean parking lot.
• Keep the scooter upright and traveling in a
straight line, and look where you’re going.
• You don’t want to lock the front brake. If the
front wheel begins to skid, release the front
brake lever for a split second, then immediately
reapply it with slightly less pressure.
• If your rear wheel locks up, keep your
straight-line balance. You will skid in a
straight line, which is better than
skidding when leaned over. You
have a more important priority,
and that is to get stopped!
Read on and we will talk more
LEANED INTO A CURVE
Using SEE will help you avoid
this, but sometimes it might be
You can brake (with both brakes) while leaned
over, but you must do it gradually and with
less force than if the scooter is straight. This
is because there is less braking capability
when your scooter is leaned over.
For maximum braking efficiency in an emergency
(and when traffic and roadway conditions
permit), straighten the scooter by
straightening the handlebars, then brake hard.
You will want to practice both of these techniques
in a parking lot, before you have to do
it on the street.
COPING WITH A SKID
A skid – that’s when your heart leaps up to
your throat because your wheels have lost
traction! You might hit a patch of sand on a
mountain curve, or a puddle of oil as you’re
slowing for a stoplight. It can be a frightening
experience on two wheels, but a skilled scooterist
can handle a skid.
At a highway speed, sand-in-the-corner skid,
steer slightly in the direction of the skid (if
you’re leaned to the left and the rear tire is
skidding to the right, press forward a bit on
the right handgrip). Chances are the scooter
will straighten up, and you’ll continue on
Should you hit a slippery spot while you’re
braking for a stop sign, release the brakes for
an instant, and reapply them a little more
gently. You want those tires to have traction.
At higher speeds when traction is good and
the rear wheel skids because of too much
brake pressure, do not release the rear brake
unless the scooter is absolutely straight.
If your scooter’s back end is skidding sideways
because the tire is on a slick spot and simply
spinning, ease off on the throttle. A spinning
wheel provides no more control than a
RIDING ACROSS POOR
Here are a few simple rules to follow when you
anticipate riding over sand, mud, water or any
loose surface or obstruction in the road. These
are the kinds of maneuvers that require you to
have good basic skills:
• If there is traffic in the area, make sure that
the drivers are aware you are slowing.
• Try to cross the bad surface in a straight
line, or at least do not abruptly change
direction or speed.
• Maintain the balance of the scooter.
• If you are moving along and have to go over
an obstruction that is lying across the road,
like a 2 in. by 4 in. piece of wood, rise up
on the floorboard and shift your weight
back as your front
wheel comes up to the
obstacle. This will make
it easier for the front
wheel to bounce
up and over. Then
move your weight
forward to help
the rear wheel get
over. Use your legs
as shock absorbers
your knees as you
• Do not accelerate until your
scooter is completely over the
STEEL BRIDGE GRATINGS,
Steel-mesh bridges can
be unnerving. Keep an
even throttle and keep
the scooter straight. If
there is a vibration in
the handlebars, do
not fight it or grip
the handgrips too
tightly. The vibration
is natural feedback
from your tires going
over the grating.
You may come upon rain
grooves in the highways. This
is when the road surface, usually concrete,
has several dozen grooves
running lengthwise down
each lane. The purpose of
the grooves is to prevent
cars and trucks from losing
traction when it rains.
The reaction of the scooter
to these grooves often has
to do with the tread pattern
on the tires. Sometimes it
feels as though the scooter
is getting a flat tire, with
a squishy back-and-forth
Don’t worry; just keep
going straight. Don’t fight
There is nothing dangerous
about these rain grooves – it just feels funny
to ride on them.
For railroad crossings, it is usually safe to ride
straight within your lane to cross the tracks.
For track and road seams that run parallel
to your path, move far enough away from
the tracks to cross at an angle of at least 45
degrees. Then make a quick, sharp turn.
Haul out the rain gear that you’ve stowed in a
handy spot. It is also a good idea to stop and
put on your rain gear before it actually starts
Be most cautious when it first starts to rain.
That is when the water goes into all the
dimples in the road, and the oil residue
from passing vehicles floats to the top. That
A wise scooterist will stop riding when it
starts to rain. Who knows, it could all be over
in 15 minutes, and you won’t even have to put
on your rain gear.
After a while the oil will be washed off to the
side of the road. However, traction on a wet
surface will not be as good as on a dry road.
Strong winds can create problems. A constant
25 mph wind from the side can make for a
challenging ride. Gusty wind is the worst. You
might have to lean a bit into the wind to maintain
your position. Keep the scooter toward
the side of the lane where the wind is coming
from. This is in case a big gust moves you
over. Expect it and be ready to react.
The biggest problem is with domestic animals,
i.e., dogs. Most seem to have an urge to chase
a moving vehicle. Those that don’t chase may
wander into your path. Don’t let one distract
you and cause a spill.
Here are three rules:
• Slow down well before you reach the animal.
• Do not – repeat – do not kick at the animal.
• If the animal might intercept you, speed up
before the interception point. It will throw
the animal’s timing off.
If a deer jumps out in front of you on a
country road, but is far enough ahead not to
be worried about – watch out for its mate.
They tend to travel in pairs. Hitting a deer
with a scooter is not the preferred way to put
venison on the table.
If your scooter is properly maintained, you greatly reduce the
possibility of any equipment failure . However, just in case . . .
Use tires of good quality, keep them at the
proper pressure and change them when the
tread is worn. Should a blowout occur on
either of your tires, you must act quickly and
#1 Do not use the brakes; braking hard will
only make things worse. If you must brake,
apply gradual pressure to the brake on the
#2 Ease off on the throttle and slow down
gradually; rapid deceleration could throw
the scooter out of control. Ease over to a
#3 Hold those handgrips firmly; a great shuddering
may take place as the out-of-round
tire flops against the pavement, but you are
concerned only with keeping that front wheel
pointing ahead until you stop.
Chances are you will never have a throttle
stick, but if you do, you need to know how to
respond to it by using the cutoff switch. Always
using the cutoff switch to stop the engine
(before you turn off the ignition key) helps you
develop the habit of using the cutoff switch
for when you really need it.
If you use the cutoff switch for an emergency,
be sure to have a safe place to coast to a stop.
Use SEE to have plenty of time and space.
Group Riding and Passengers
RIDING IN A GROUP
It is useful if before taking off on a group ride
to get two or three hand signals organized
among the participants: “Let’s stop”; “Need
gas”; “I’m hungry.”
A few rules for the group:
• Riding in a group of more
scooters can become
both for the
If there are
up into smaller
• Ride in a staggered formation, with first
scooter on the left side of the lane,
second on the right side, etc., but not side
• Always keep at
least a two-second
directly in front
• At a stoplight
or stop sign,
wait in side-by-side
• Pass other
safe – not in
pairs or groups.
CARRYING A PASSENGER
Good company is always nice, but putting
extra weight on the scooter will affect its
handling. Make sure your scooter is designed
to carry a passenger (the seat is large enough
for two people and there are footrests for
the passenger). Adjust the suspension and tire
pressure to compensate for the weight of the
passenger. (Check your owner’s manual.)
Also realize that your braking capabilities have
changed. The more weight you have on the
scooter, the more time and distance it will
take to stop.
Passengers should be instructed to mount
from the left side, and to warn you
before they climb on. This goes a long way to
preventing a muddled heap lying on
the ground before you even get started.
Passengers need the same protective gear that
you do – proper clothes and helmet. Ten-foot
scarves flapping in the wind may look
dashing, but not on a scooter. Make sure
that long shoelaces are securely tied so
dangling ends won’t get caught in the moving
parts of the scooter.
Never carry anyone sidesaddle. Passengers
should always be properly seated with their
feet securely planted on the footrests. Tell
passengers not to put a foot down when you
come to a stop, since this can make you lose
Tell passengers not to come in contact with
hot parts, such as the muffler. Also, rubber
soles that contact hot parts can leave a mess.
Instruct passengers to hold onto your waist or
hips. Ask them to lean forward slightly when
you leave from a stop or accelerate along the
Also, when you brake, passengers should be
firmly braced against your waist and should
lean back slightly. You don’t want their weight
to shift forward.
Advise passengers not to lean unless you do.
You do not want the person behind hanging
off the scooter; that will do funny things to
the steering. However, when you lean going
around a corner, passengers should lean as
well. So have them look over your shoulder in
the direction of the turn
when you go through a
corner; that will put their
weight where you want it.
Practice with a passenger
in a safe area, such
as a parking lot, before
venturing out onto the
Loading the Scooter
Whether it is a carton of milk from the convenience
store, or camping gear for a threeweek
trip, you may end up carrying more than
people on your scooter.
All loads should be secured to the scooter.
Do not balance a bag of groceries on the
floorboard for a short ride home. Strap it on
the back seat with bungee cords or an elastic
There are appropriate places to carry loads
on a scooter, but they do not include the front
of the scooter. If your scooter has saddlebags
or storage underneath the seat, you’re set. If
your scooter has none of this, you can always
buy a luggage rack, as they can be quite useful.
When you load saddlebags, keep equal weight
on both sides. This is even more important
when you are using soft throw-over bags, as
an imbalance can cause one side to drop down
and rest on the muffler. A blazing saddlebag is
Keep the weight relatively light in your travel
trunk or on your luggage rack. Avoid carrying
heavy items behind the rear axle. It can turn
a well-handling scooter into a poor-handling
Check the security of the load frequently, and
make sure nothing is dangling. It is one thing
to lose part of your luggage, quite another to
get it tangled up in a wheel.
Above all, DO NOT EXCEED THE
GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating)
of your scooter! The best place to look
for that number is in the owner’s manual. It
includes the weight of the scooter, gasoline,
oil and coolant, the rider(s), and the luggage.
Drinking, Drugs and Riding
Mixing alcohol or other drugs with riding is
like putting nitro with glycerin: there’s a dangerous
Alcohol is a depressant. The first thing to go
is your good judgment – and bad judgment
gets you into trouble. Drinking riders tend to
run off the road more often, have a high frequency
of rider error, use excessive speed for
conditions around them, and tend to miss important
clues in traffic that can spell trouble.
It takes a long time for the effects of alcohol
to be cleared from your body, roughly one
hour for each bottle of beer, glass of wine, or
shot of liquor. Nothing but time will remove
that alcohol – not showers, coffee, or other
If you are going to drink, don’t even think
about riding. Period.
Alcohol is not the only drug that affects your
ability to ride safely. Whether it is an overthe-
counter, prescription or illegal drug, it
may have side effects that increase the risks
of riding. Even common cold medicines could
make you drowsy – too drowsy to ride – and
mixing alcohol with other drugs is even more
dangerous than using either alone.
There is no conclusion to being a better scooterist.
Riding a scooter is a constant learning
experience. Get trained and licensed; Be a
lifelong learner; Wear
proper protective gear;
Ride Straight; Ride within
your personal limits.
You’ll never know all
there is to know about
riding. But a year from
now, you’ll know a lot
more than you do now.
Keep renewing your skills
and attitude about safe
Have a good time, don’t do anything foolish,
and we hope to see you on the road. It’s going to be
a great ride!