I am getting a scooter...
About six months ago I came to the conclusion that driving was getting in the way of my enjoying the city so I started looking into alternatives. The SF neighborhoods I enjoy visiting such as Chestnut, Hayes, Castro, Mission, and North Beach have parking problems. During busy periods one can waste more than a half hour looking for parking.
I decided to focus my search on scooters with 4-stroke engines and about 150 cc. I am open to both used and new scooters.
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My first scooter shopping outing was a visit to Cars Dawydiak an authorized Vespa dealer on Franklin Street. There I got a chance to see the Vespa ET4 first hand and sit on it to get a feel for the machine. The ET4 is a nice design and comes in 4 colors. The lady at the store was helpful. She is an ET4 owner and gave me some credible information on the performance of the scooters on San Francisco’s hills. Later, she promptly responded to my emails about licensing, registration, insurance, and the DMV test. However because the ET4 is at the top-end of the price range for its class I decided that I needed to visit some other dealers to learn more about other scooter brands before I made up my mind.
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Yesterday I went to look at a used Yamaha Riva 200 in Potrero Hill. The Riva seemed to be in great shape but has not been ridden for about 6 years (the owner could not find the ignition key so I was not able to verify the condition of the engine.) All the articles I had been able to find online seemed to indicate that the Riva is a reliable scooter but I felt that I needed an experts opinion so I headed down the hill to SF Moto on 8th Street and South Francisco Scooter Center on 10th Street in SOMA. Both scooter store’s staff were very helpful. SF Moto sells mostly Vespas while San Francisco Scooter Center sells Bajajs. The scooter store guys told me that the usual problems with scooters that have been left idle for long periods include:
- rusty fuel tanks
- rusty carburetors
- brittle fuel lines
- dead batteries
To compound the problem Yamaha stopped manufacturing the Riva several years ago so spare parts have to be salvaged from other Rivas. Both stores felt the Riva was serviceable and gave me rough estimates for the work.
So in addition to the Riva I now have 2 additional options to consider:
- The Bajaj is an indian-made scooter. The Bajaj looks very sturdy. It comes in at 253 lbs which is 17 lbs heavier than the Vespa. It is built like a tank (it’s panels are made of steel.) It has a manual transmission and comes with a spare wheel (apparently both front and rear wheels are identical and can be easily replaced by the rider.) ~$2700 MSRP for the the 2005 model.
- The Vespa ET4 is a desirable little machine that due to great design and marketing now defines the genre and hence commands a premium price. ~$4,000 MSRP for the 2005 model.
Tomorrow I plan to visit Mission Motorcycles in Daly City. They are an authorized Yamaha and Honda dealer. I am hoping they can round out the information I have so far received on the serviceability of the Riva and perhaps suggest some other options. Stay tuned...
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The Yamaha dealer in Daly City discouraged me from assuming the risk of buying a used Riva and instead showed me 2 new Yamaha models...
... more later