The most popular topic in all of scootering is choosing the scooter that is right for you. In Michigan, it's a question of your tolerance for three or four-season scooting as well. Choosing to scoot is mostly a personal and emotional choice of course, but it's also a logical choice. Here are some thoughts on choosing the scooter that is right for you:
When you are considering a new scooter, ask yourself the following questions. How are you going to use the scooter? What speeds are necessary for your to achieve to get good use out of the scooter.
50cc - Often restricted to around 30 MPH - a specialist in running around town (no motorcycle license required in Michigan)
100 - 125cc - Often called the "sweet spot" of scooting, a scooter with this displacement will be able to attain speeds over 50 MPH, so everything around town and on major roads between them (in Michigan, anything over 50cc requires a motorcycle endorsement)
150 - 200cc - More power, faster speeds, in most cases freeway capable
200 - 300cc - Even more power for comfortable touring on long commutes
Over 300cc - Getting in the maxi-scoot zone, so touring and long-distance commuting is comfortable
Over 500cc - Firmly in the maxi-scoot category, cross-continental travel is a possibility
So you have an idea of how you might use your scooter, now let's assess your experience level. Are you experienced? If you have no experience on a powered two wheeler, don't despair. You've got to start somewhere and an inexpensive 50cc scooter will allow you to transition your bicycle skills to a two-wheeler of a totall different kind. It might be worthwhile to look around for a slightly used but in running shape entry-level scooter. Get some safety gear (full-face helmet, sturdy, over-the-ankle boots, riding gloves and a thick jacket and you will be ready to learn.
So you have an idea of what kind of scooter you are ready for and you have a plan to gauge your level of experience, and now you need to make the choice from all the scooters out there. The nostalgia factor can help guide you down a direction in choosing a scooter. If you are a fan of Roman Holiday or Quadrophenia, you might be looking for a manual shifting scooter. "Shifties" are available used in vintage Vespa or Lambretta form, and new in the Genuine Stella. Shifting scoots (the gears must be manually selected via a clutch and rotating gearshift on the left hand grip), are fantastic nostalgia machines, and are a really blast to ride. Being in control of which gear is engaged leads to real involvement in the riding experience. Using the rear brake (located on the right floorboard) can take some getting used to, but also adds to the experience. If you are mechanically inclined, a vintage ride might be the ticket. There are several online forums that specialize in the specific models so help in getting and keeping your vintage scoot in fine shape is just a few clicks away. The same for the new(er) Stella. Stella has made the transition from the classic two-stroke motors of original Vespa and Lambretta fame and now offers a quiet, reliable four-stroke motor similar to the one in your car. It offers this will still preserving the vintage shifty riding experience and classic Vespa looks. Some people want a more modern-looking scooter and that's fine, but if scooting means shifting to you, then vintage or Stella is the way to go. Most other scooters are simplicity itself, the "Twisties" offer twist-and-go automatic transmissions that apply power with a twist of the right wrist. Brakes are both located on the handlebars and offer modern levels of stopping power. One of the most popular scooters in the twisty category is the Genuine Scooter Company's Buddy (in 50 or 170 cc versions).
Making the final choice:
Take your time and learn about what is on offer in your local area. Craigslist or a local scooter club are great places to learn what people ride and how they ride them around where you live. Up here in Michigan, many people put there scoots away in the winter (others, well, ride when we can), but that's a personal choice. Start slow, learn your limits and then, well, let 'em rip, safely of course.
What's next: Why your next sports car should be a scooter