I was looking forward to this year, as last year, our family lost a few of its older members. The one that hurt me the most was my uncle. Uncle Robbie was 85 when he succumbed to prostate cancer in early November. He rode up until his passing, and I was very proud of him and the way he lived his life. As he got older, he changed his bikes to suit his situation, to the point where he upgraded from his BMW to a Suzuki Burgman 250. At first, I was a bit bemused, as it was a scooter; and I thought that they were odd things at best. But after discussing it with him, I could see that it suited his needs perfectly, and the fact that it could cruise at 100kmph with some reserve for overtaking was just perfect. Well, Uncle Robbie passed away in early November, and my Aunty told me that he wanted me to have his Burgman, if I wanted it. Well I’d never considered a scooter, but because it was Uncle Robbie’s, and he was such a legend with riding it everywhere, I was honoured by the offer and accepted it. Now, I have a few bikes (that's them on the left and below), but nothing anything like a scooter, and as the time drew closer to pick it up, I started thinking a bit more about scootering. Well, nothing prepared me for riding a scooter! Andrew inherits a Suzuki Burgman 250, and has his whole view of motorcycling changed. He tells us the story. I’d always waved to scooter riders (admittedly because they didn’t look like scooters from the front – more on that below), but that was about it. Many of my mates would laugh and joke about them, and even to this day I still find them unusual to look at, but I’d have to now say that my attitude has changed completely! I picked it up last Thursday, and having never ridden one before, put my wets on and rode it 500kms home, the first 50ks in pouring rain. I loved it! Forget about comparing it to riding a motorcycle as it is totally different. Yes, it does have two wheels and an engine, and it does corner a bit like a motorcycle, but the riding position and comfort was something that I just hadn’t thought about. Okay, it’s a bit weird that there is no foot controls, and the clutch is actually the rear brake, and all you have to do is twist the throttle to go, but they do actually go pretty well, on account of the Constantly Variable Transmission. For a single-cylinder 250 auto I wasn’t expecting any decent acceleration, but I was wrong, and the comfort was something that just blew me away! My bike of choice for long distance riding is my well fettled Honda ST1300, which is a superb comfortable kilometre-eating tourer. And whilst it is the most comfortable motorcycle I’ve even ridden any distance, I would have to admit that the Maxi-scooter riders have it all over us hardcore tourers! Why? You ask. Well it’s in the variation of positions that your feet can occupy, as well as where you can move your backside. I started off with my feet flat, leaning back against the plush backrest, when after about 100k’s, I found my lower back getting a bit sore, and that is when I realised that I could move my feet higher up the footboards, or whatever they are called. When I moved them forward and up, I then found that I had a totally different riding position, and in fact, an almost endless combination of foot / bum locations! Every now and then, I’d simply move my feet and bum and I’d have to say that after 500km, I’ve never felt better and fresher, even better than my ST1300 with its expensive seat and air hawk, bar risers etc. If anyone reading this is pooh-poohing the idea of a scooter (yes, I still have to squint a bit and hold my eyes funny before they start to look acceptable to me), don’t knock it until you try it! Okay, to other motorcyclists, you’re not going to look as cool as you would on any Harley, and to some, you’re probably just going to look plain silly, but when you actually swallow your pride and try one, prepare to be surprised! And get over what other riders think, as they simply won’t understand until they try one. Okay, there are some downsides, but they are pretty much all in my mind. How many times do you start to wave at a rider heading towards you on what looks like a touring bike, only to realise as they pass that they are on a big scooter? Many times for me, and I’ve always sort of thought that the poor sods obviously couldn’t afford a proper motorcycle, but at least they are on two wheels, so good on them. Well, I was wrong! Now I know why scooter riders always seem to have a smile and look happy! They probably think, as they pass me; “Poor motorcyclist – probably hasn’t considered a scooter for its comfort and utility.” At least they are on two wheels! The only other downside is the size of the wheels and potholes. Enough said. Uncle Robbie was right and way ahead of his time, as he wasn’t so proud and self-conscious to upgrade from a real motorcycle to a scooter. Why do I use the term “upgrade” rather than “downgrade”? Surely going from a proper motorcycle to a scooter is a downgrade? Wrong again; it is an upgrade. See, as we get older, it does get harder to get the leg over that bike, harder to pick it up when your foot slips in gravel and it tips over, so a scooter or similar is a natural progression, due to our aging bodies. My Uncle taught me that, and now my attitude has changed toward anyone who rides anything that doesn’t look like a normal motorcycle. That includes trikes, sidecars, Gilera Fuoco’s (Google that! – Awesome!) Yes, I’ve just grown up from my old attitudes that if it doesn’t look like a proper motorcycle, it isn’t, and those who ride them obviously don’t have any class. I was wrong. Anything that still allows aging riders to get out in the wind and enjoy themselves behind a set of handlebars is cool in my eyes! Did I mention that my Dad just bought a Piagio MP3, and it has 2 front wheels? Can’t wait to test ride that! As long as it doesn’t have a steering wheel! Thanks, Andrew. Your uncle sounds like a great man, and very practical in adapting his machine to suit his capabailities and preferences. I haven't ridden a Burgman 650, but some of my readers have (and even own them) and they are a very capable machine! I'm glad you are enjoying your scooter. I wish I had a scooter - perhaps as a second-bike at this stage, but I'd like to have one!
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