June 4th, 2008


Trend Setter

I've been considering doubling my commute time. The reason for this, would be to lower my weekly fuel cost to approximately $5 ($20 monthly) by attaining 70 miles per gallon.

Yes, that Tiburon is rated at 27mpg, but those who've ridden with me know it gets nothing even close to that, and why. I scream down the highway at 80+ and hug closely all the twists and turns which are thrown at me. Having a clutch paired with a V6 and a low-slung car is great fun. And at $45 weekly gas consumption, I've been thinking on getting something a little less...thirsty.

I'm not an environmentalist. The only time I embrace something which is 'green' is when its also advantageous in other ways, be it less expensive, money-saving in the long term, or something I can put in my mouth. My wife and her HOV-buddies had a conversation several weeks ago about getting a scooter to drive into Dallas on to save gas. glodowg was convinced it was the future of commuting. Everyone had a big laugh. I did too.

Until I started thinking about it.

I no longer commute 150-miles round trip. I live half a mile off the highway, and work is half a mile off the highway eight miles away. There is a frontage road which runs parallel the entire stretch of road, save for a quarter-mile section which dumps you on to, then off of, the highway. How cool would that be?

My mind was made up when work took a group of parking spaces next to the door and turned them into motorcycle parking.

I started researching highway-capable mopeds, and this is my story.

Yamaha makes one that gets 123mpg, but it doesn't go over 30mph. Honda's largest model is $8500. That's only four-hundred dollars less than I paid for my used CAR! Also, every manufacturer has their own version of the Italian Vespa - the original classic scooter - none of which suited my needs perfectly. Then I discovered the Chinese market! For less than $2k, you too can get a 150cc highway-fairing two-seat moped which will propel you 60mph at 70mpg. Its a win/win. In Texas, you must license and register any motor vehicle over 49 cubic centimeters displacement, which runs $33 annually. Tax and title will cost me $170, still keeping me under two-thousand dollars.

The more I looked into these Chinese products, the deeper I looked into maintenance and trouble. I finally settled on one recurring factor: NOT $8500! There's a showroom in Plano, a block from Fry's Electronics. Today was the day I was going to pick up my wife, who works one block South of Fry's. I drove straight to the dealership after work and met the owner. The moped was much larger than I imagined - and I could even haul drax0r to work with it. They keep a 150cc scooter outside for test drives and they couldn't wait to get me on it to dispel my fears about power. As I circled the parking lot, I realized that this would be perfect as my new daily commuter.

My wife rode one too. She liked the Vintage - the Chinese version of the Vespa. She imagines us loading up our kids on the back and exploring the back-roads of Texas around our little town here North of Dallas.

drax0r thinks people are going to laugh at me. And while that's entirely possible, I'll be paying off this little baby with the nearly $200 I save in gas each month.

But knowing my luck, pretty soon everyone will be driving them.

Yeah, that's me, the Trend Setter.

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