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#325 Stepping Through, Stepping Up – Scooters

From mere fringe conveyance to hot new trend, scooters have arrived.

Give Honda credit for a seemingly unwavering mission (compulsion?) to make scooters cool. But to agree with that statement you must be of the opinion that scooters aren’t already cool. We won’t revisit this but there are a few of you readers who really don’t like scooters and have told us so with more than a few choice words. On the other hand, there are many CB readers who own and enjoy scooters.

The scooter tide is continuing to rise and if one was to follow Honda’s train of thought you could be excused for believing step-throughs may eventually rule the road here in Canada as they almost do—by dint of sheer numbers—in other parts of the world. There are those who already find scooters exceedingly cool as opposed to merely an inexpensive mode of transportation, and are as lifestyle oriented as many a motorcyclist.

The custom scooter scene that has (to my eyes) suddenly appeared here in Victoria has struck me. It seems to be mostly composed of Ruckuses with extended swingarms, extremely fat rear tires and performance kits. It is a pretty cool look for paring the elements of locomotion down to the most basic of fundamentals. The riders are as interesting as their machines. If there is a stereotype of the scooter rider, these guys don’t match it. With beanie helmets and sunglasses, they would look just as at home on an old Shovelhead or Triumph bobber.

Beyond this group there is also an annual scooter rally that brings the small displacement crew from far and wide to Vancouver Island. Who knows whether they all ride their scooters here but some undoubtedly do. There are at least a couple of active scooter clubs complete with logos and regular events.
But getting back to Honda, the company has been blurring the lines of scooterdom for quite some time. There was the DN-01. With an automatic transmission and a maxi-scooter type seating position, nobody really believed it was a cruiser. The unusually swoopy DN-01 didn’t find a mass following and went away, but the idea didn’t die and now Honda has the NM4 which—including advantgarde styling—is all that the DN-01 was minus a few thousand on the price tag. And Honda still has a line of four “scooter” models that range in style from the modern Forza to the elemental Ruckus.

But the company still has something up its sleeve, which was teased as a concept last year and now looks set to soon hit the streets. Perhaps it will be a game changer. Rolling with the market trends, what Honda has in store is an ADV-styled scooter. A jacked up, aggressively shod (though not quite knobby tired), hit the dirt road, “long way around” scooter. This is another attempt by Honda to make scooters appeal to more than just the scooter enthusiast.
But there must also be a business reason because it would seem there is a greater margin on higher priced models even if the barebones Ruckus has long since paid off its development costs. Will a gravel road capable scooter be the next big thing? Maybe if the price is right and it looks good. But whatever the outcome, scooters are here to stay and rightfully so.

Scooter enthusiasts have long existed proudly one the fringes and now their rides are going mainstream. Today, between just Suzuki, Yamaha, and Honda there are 13 models to choose from (more depending on your definition of a scooter). Two of BMW’s better selling models are their maxi-scooters. At this rate cool is in danger of becoming commonplace.


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