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PHOTO BY WES NAMAN

PROFILE

Scooterville USA Requiring less money and gas than automobiles, scooters might be the ideal transportation to get back to school BY CHARLIE CRAGO

A

s the price of gasoline continues to hamper the average citizen’s ability to efficiently maintain transport throughout the urban sprawl, two-stroke enthusiasts have taken root in Albuquerque over the past half decade or so. Given the fact that current legislation in many states does not require licensing or registration to pilot a two-wheeler under 50cc, it’s not hard to understand the strictly monetary advantages of driving a scooter, especially when you’re a starving college kid. However, as this new breed of tight denim-clad devotees will attest to, efficiency isn’t the final word in the world of scooting. Fashion is also as relevant, or nearly as relevant as cutting costs on average mpg, with many 100cc scooters boasting nearly 100 miles to the gallon. For Dandee Fleming, poster child for the scooter community in Albuquerque, driving a scooter is as simple as enjoying the little things in life. As Fleming was quick to point out, his passion for scooters, which he shares with many others across the country, is one deep-seeded in wonderful childhood

PROFILE

Where to Scoot?

memories. “Originally I was interested in scooters because, as a kid, I drove two-stroke motorcycles,” Fleming told Local iQ in a recent interview. “There’s something about the sounds and smells (of a two-stroke) that reminds me of being a kid.” The scooter has become its own symbol of independence, with drivers sensing unspoken bonds as they pass through intersections. Still, even within this subculture there are divisions. Drivers of vintage scooters often scoff at the flashy bikes their modern counterparts operate. Several scooter shops have sprung up in Albuquerque over the last decade, such as Blue Smoke Garage and Downtown Scooter, offering would be riders every flavor under the two-wheel rainbow.

The following is a list of scooter shops in the Albuquerque area, many of which will provide everything one needs to get geared up, running and scooting along. Accessory Pit 8509 CONSTITUTION NE, 505.292.2700

accessorypitusa.com Blue Smoke Garage 1700 CENTRAL SE, 505.730.7004

bluesmokegarage.com Bobby J’s Yamaha Inc. 4724 MENAUL NE, 505.884.3013

bobbyjsyamaha.com Downtown Scooter

Finicky followers To the untrained eye, all scooters may appear to be the same. On the contrary, the subtle differences are not lost on the true scooter enthusiast. It is something that is tantamount to the Ford vs. Chevrolet debate; while proponents on both sides of the

argument use essentially the same product, they are fiercely loyal to the brand with which they most associate. It seems likely that both sides of the argument possess relevance, as the older, two-stroke models (which use less gas) produce more climatedamaging emissions, the newer, more environmentally friendly four-stroke models are less gas-efficient. At the end of the day it probably comes down to nothing more than individual preference.

The safety debate Though as socially responsible adults, or something vaguely resembling an adult, it is not possible to ignore the financial implications of owning a scooter. The question that must be raised is whether the financial benefits outweigh the risks to life and health brought on by driving scooter. It is no secret that human beings do not always act as rational beings. Many of us know that smoking is detrimental to our health, though we continue to smoke. The obvious fact that driving a scooter on Albuquerque roadways that are packed with giant pickups and possibly drunk drivers is a big risk, though many riders continue to operate scooters. If we lived in a world where everyone was forced to drive scooters with engines no larger than 250cc, it would be far safer to operate a two-wheeler. But this is not the case, and to compound matters, because current legislation does not require registration or licensing for scooters with engines that are 50 ccs and below. This means many of those driving scooters may be operating under the false zimpression that because these vehicles are less-powerful than their larger four-wheeled counterparts, they are somehow safer. This, unfortunately,

is not true.

123 7TH NW, 505.242.3364

downtownscooternm.

com Interestingly, while scooter Kryptic Pro Scooters 6101 SIGNAL NE, sales increased 505.256.8858 nearly 17 krypticproscooters.com percent in Lobo Scooter 2011, statistics 2318 CENTRAL SE, taken from 505.804.7713 loboscooter.com the National Highway Moto-Authority Traffic Safety 3702 EUBANK NE, 505.503.7613 Administration moto-authority.com show that Scoot Albuquerque scooter 1220 S. RENAISSANCE NE, fatalities 505.999.2550 increased scootabq.com by almost —Compiled by Mallory McCampbell 50 percent in 2011. The lesson here is that while scooters may be more affordable, and easier to operate in terms of legal liabilities, driving in crowded cities is always dangerous.

Though this should not cause one to instantly dismiss the advantages of owning a scooter; as wars continue to rage in the name of democracy soaked in oil, it makes perfect sense to want to own a vehicle that uses less resources than the traditional American monstrosity, as illustrated by Fleming. “I thought it would be a great thing to have a single person vehicle as gas prices were getting up near $4 when I got it,” Fleming stated. “It was a little of everything, gas prices were expensive, but also the scooter brought back childhood memories. They have a little more character than sport bikes.”

As the economic recession continues to strain our checkbooks, many people, such as (from left to right) James Landry, Sean Campbell and Nick Buchheit of Blue Smoke Garage, are foregoing gas guzzling four-wheeled vehicles for the cheaper, more efficient and more fashionable scooter.

18 LOCAL iQ

| ALBUQUERQUE’S INTELLIGENT ALTERNATIVE | AUGUST 9 - 22, 2012

The Back to School Fashion Issue  
The Back to School Fashion Issue  

Three different levels of school, many new looks for the back to school set. Plus: Scooters are huge in Albuquerque. Local iQ profiles the s...

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