Scooter sales zoom higher in Augusta

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Neither style nor speed drew Wes Childers into his silver two-wheeler.

It was gas mileage.

"You can't beat the mileage on scooters," the North Augusta resident said. "For me, I'm trying to do anything I can to save on gas."

Mr. Childers bought his Yamaha Vino scooter more than a year ago and has managed to get 60 to 80 miles per gallon when driving to downtown Augusta or to the grocery store. He said he plans to use it more as gas prices rise.

Mr. Childers represents a growing number of consumers who are buying scooters to save on gas costs. Interest in and sales of mopeds have increased rapidly in the past few months, local and national retailers say.

The significant increase in Georgia scooter sales started last year, said Mike Mount, a spokesman for the Motorcycle Industry Council. Georgia ranked 18th in the nation for scooter sales in 2007. Scooter sales in Georgia have increased 19 percent in the past five years and will climb exponentially this year, Mr. Mount said.

Motorists are opting for scooters because they are "fun and efficient" to drive, said Schwinn Motor Sports vice president George Simone.

"I don't think it's just a trend," Mr. Simone said. "They get exceptionally good gas mileage, you can go in and out of traffic. I think it's becoming more accepted to drive them."

Schwinn won't have any scooters available for two weeks, Mr. Simone said. The company has sold 3,000 scooters so far this year, double the amount of last year.

Local scooter dealer Tomberlin Outdoors also has seen increased demand for scooters, said Jesse Oscarson, the general manager of the store. Scooter sales have increased 100 percent since last year at the Washington Road location, Mr. Oscarson said. Scooters range from about $2,000 to as much $8,000, he said. Many Tomberlin customers are searching for scooters with larger engines, he said.

"Most people want the larger ones, because they can go about 50 miles per hour," Mr. Oscarson said. Smaller engines, similar to the one Mr. Childers drives, can get as much as 80 mpg, Mr. Simone said. Scooters with larger engines, 150 CCs, get about 60 mpg.

Though Mr. Childers' Vino doesn't move too fast, he said the benefits of driving his scooter outweigh the setbacks.

"The scooter is not a interstate type of vehicle, but when I'm driving around North Augusta it's just smarter to drive," he said.

Reach Stephanie Toone at (706) 823-3215 or stephanie.toone@augustachronicle.com.

SCOOTER FACTS

- A motor scooter is an on-highway motorcycle, generally with a small displacement engine, full bodywork and a step through design.

- Domestic sales of midsized scooters increased 64.9 percent in April compared with April 2007. Dealers sold 10,109 more midsized scooters than in April 2007.

- Georgia ranked 18th in the nation for scooter sales in 2007. Sales in Georgia have increased 19 percent in the past five years.

Sources: Motorcycle Industry Council, Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association

Comments (14) Add comment
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Just My Opinion
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Just My Opinion 06/09/08 - 02:58 am
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First of all, I think it's

First of all, I think it's great that more people are getting these things and I've seriously thought about getting one myself. My biggest concern is driving in the traffic, like on Washington Road. My biggest question is why, if there selling so fast and so much, why haven't I seen any out here in Evans? I sure see alot of gas-hog SUVs, but no scooters yet. I drive a very small Toyota that gets great mileage and I used to feel rather intimidated next to the big SUVs, but now I know that these SUV drivers realize full well that they have a gas-guzzler and nobody will want to buy it from them. I know this because I also own a SUV! We park the SUV and drive it as little as possible. I say good for the people who go ahead and buy the scooters! They're the smart ones.

DeborahElliott2
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DeborahElliott2 06/09/08 - 03:10 am
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I went online and found that

I went online and found that there are some that can go 65mph on and get 80mpg on a 2.1 gallon tank. The cost of those are about $2500.00. I am seriously considering one myself but they go fast when they get to the stores.

gailkaitschuck
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gailkaitschuck 06/09/08 - 06:09 am
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Another area that is

Another area that is increasing in popularity are gas or electric bicycles; small engines (49 cc to 80 cc) placed on bicycles. I've found that these engines can be purchased for around $200.

The issue is (as always) the safety of scooters/motor bikes/motorcycles around the nuts driving cars out there.

ITDoc
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ITDoc 06/09/08 - 06:38 am
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I've had my scooter since May

I've had my scooter since May of '06. I ride it around Evans/Martinez all the time. 80 mpg, 60 mph, and it's FUN!

JFJ
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JFJ 06/09/08 - 06:46 am
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I have a old Vespa scooter

I have a old Vespa scooter that we brought back from Italy. It won't be long before I clean it up and bring it out then there will be two in the Evans/Martinez area :D

tnjsw
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tnjsw 06/09/08 - 07:18 am
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What goes around comes

What goes around comes around. Growing up in Augusta in the Fifties we all had scooters before we got drivers permits. Cushman Eagle was the thing. Stll make those in Concord NC by order only.

GuyIncognito
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GuyIncognito 06/09/08 - 09:02 am
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Does anyone know if you need

Does anyone know if you need a motorcycle endorsement on your driver's license to drive a scooter in Georgia?

2B or NOT 2B
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2B or NOT 2B 06/09/08 - 09:12 am
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that 60mpg won't do much for

that 60mpg won't do much for you when you bust your A** on those things, especially if you are a first time rider.

beetee8ch
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beetee8ch 06/09/08 - 09:19 am
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Consumers would benefit

Consumers would benefit economically and ecology while circumventing the hardships caused by ever-increasing gas prices if our elected officials would update what is considered to be "road worthy." If scooters and motorized bicycles that require no special driver's license are allowed on all roads except interstates, why not safer, more weather-friendly, more obvious to other drivers golf carts that can reach an acceptable speed of 45mph. Let's get the ball rolling with our Senators, Congressmen and Governor to do something for us......the poor, little people that fatten the pockets of board members, stockholders and lobbyists of the greedy oil companies.

MyOpinion2
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MyOpinion2 06/09/08 - 09:27 am
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Find out why we have to buy

Find out why we have to buy these go to this website and find out the real truth as to why the oil prices are so high...then email it to everyone you know. Let the truth get out!
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3340274697167011147

AugustaHeph homeowner
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AugustaHeph homeowner 06/09/08 - 09:56 am
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One thing about Scooters,

One thing about Scooters, they have been around a long time. My son drove a Moped to work, we lived in Hephzibah and he worked at T's,1983-84. Just be sure to not leave your helmet in your locker or at work period. You will get stopped.
On the other hand, about Governors, Congressmen and of course our wonderful Commissioners-look at Sunday's paper and see how much gas they are using. No one pays for my gas to go to work. WHAT MAKES THEM BETTER THAN ME TO PAY FOR THEIR OWN GAS. Every time someone talks about Gas usage or parking for that matter, it makes me sick and They can walk in the Marble Palace like me and you. This is such a sore subject for me. I am a person that has to work under stressful situations to earn pennies on the dollar, and who cares-Not the Commissioners-I assure you. The Mayor has the right IDEA and they are making his parking space at the door again, he is down-to-earth like me, let all of them walk in, no farther than I walk to get to my office.
Please let the Governor or whoever get rid of the Coliseum Clowns and have someone Professionally handle the situation or just blow up the building, since we do not have all types of entertainment come in.

JFJ
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JFJ 06/09/08 - 10:36 am
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GuyIncognito, it depends on

GuyIncognito, it depends on the size of the engine, 50cc and under you don't need the endorsement.

If I didn't have to commute from Evans/Martinez to Ft. Gordon I'd use the scooter for that...not worth risking my life for as much as I'd love to save a few bucks.

ramblinwreckgt
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ramblinwreckgt 06/09/08 - 11:54 am
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I'd like to expand upon JFJ's

I'd like to expand upon JFJ's comments: GA has the following criteria if you do not want to have to tag the scoot or get an M endorsement on the license:

1. Under 50cc displacement
2. Automatic transmission
3. Speed restricted to 30 MPH

I had picked up a Yamaha C3 (49cc scoot) and loved everything about it *except* its uphill capability. I was VERY conscious of the queue of cars forming up behind me as I trudged uphill at 20-ish MPH. I decided to get rid of it and pick up a Suzuki Burgman 400 scooter. It has a 400cc motor, so you must tag it and get a motorcycle endorsement. However, it is still an automatic and can carry a passenger without a problem. It can easily cruise at 80+ MPH, with a top speed of around 110 MPH. With a light throttle hand (meaning that you don't fly off the line), you can reasonably expect to get mileage in the mid-60 MPG range. Its under seat storage is cavernous (two full-face helmets plus extra gear) and you can easily take a trip to the grocery store to pick up goods for a few days.

Fuel costs dropped from $60/wk in my car to $12/wk on the scoot. The savings grow with each increase in gas prices. I love my scooter.

youbetcha
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youbetcha 06/09/08 - 09:27 pm
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This too shall pass!

This too shall pass!

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