If you’ve been convinced by the “Scooters are the best DC area transportation” article and you’re ready to take the next step, there are five things you’ll need to know before you go to buy.
- Go to a reputable dealer
Scooters can range from under $1,000 to over $7,000 depending on the power and manufacturer. Even if you’re looking for something cheap, you may get what you pay for, so go to a reputable dealer that services bikes and can tell you what they see in terms of problems. Some scooters, like the popular Vespas are gorgeous in design, but are expensive to repair and service. One of the best dealers in the DC area is Modern Classic. Located near the Rhode Island metro stop, they have a selection of Vespas and Genuine Buddys (similar style to Vespa, but cheaper) as well as vintage bikes to choose from.
- You may need a M-class license
Depending on where you live and which power scooter you purchase, you may need to get your M-class before picking up the scooter. In DC you’ll need a motorcycle’s license regardless of the power of the vehicle. In Maryland and Virginia, you just need a driver’s license for a scooter under 50ccs. Depending on what you’re looking to purchase, you may have to make a visit to the DMV before you go.
- Protective gear is a must
There’s nothing more irresponsible than people riding scooters without a helmet. Ask anyone who’s survived an accident and they will tell you that most accidents occur at a speed of less than 25 miles per hour within the city limits. A helmet is an absolute must and if you don’t want to wear one than you shouldn’t be riding. A helmet with a face shield will set you back about $100. You can decide if you prefer a full face helmet (goes down around your chin) or a half helmet, but either way you’ll need to have protective eyewear in the form of a face shield or sunglasses when you ride.
The helmet is the absolute minimum for safety. A good riding jacket and gloves will definitely help to minimize damage in an accident. Riding jackets are padded in the elbow, shoulder and back. Be prepared to spend about $200 for one. They come in vented and non vented so if you plan to ride 3 seasons, you’ll need a vented jacket for the summer and then a non vented for spring and fall.
- Don’t forget the lock and chain
Scooter theft in the DC area is on the rise. Scooters weigh a lot less than a motorcycle, so it’s imperative to lock it up. To do so you’ll need a thick chain and a lock. The chain should be thin enough to slip through the back wheel of the scooter and long enough to fit around the chassis. Ideally, you’ll always want to lock up the scoot to a tall stationary pole or bike rack by wrapping the chain around the chassis and around the pole, however if you can’t position yourself that way, the back tire is the next best thing. Just like a bicycle, the front tires are more easily removable, so if you do lock the front, understand that you may just have a chain and a tire when you return.
- Buy ahead of pickup
Unlike a car, most dealers will not allow you to test drive the scooters in their showroom. You can usually test drive scooter that they have, but not necessarily the color/style you want. The ones in the showroom are not ready to be driven off the lot, so unless it’s a slow day and they have no other bikes to repair, be prepared to come back for your purchase in a day or two.