I know you oppos have been really clamoring for an update on everyone’s favorite project… wait not that. The opposite of that. Well anyway, an update you shall get! The other night I took my motorized bike and two electric scooter things to dinner and it mostly went well!
The Twoty Scooty didn’t join as it was (A) out of gas and (B) George didn’t want to take it. Mostly that second one. As there were three of us and only two motorized bikes, one of us was going to have at take a dreaded “annoying electric scooter thing”.
George really likes them recognizes their utility and convenience, so him and Taylor rode scooters and I puttered along behind. This brings us to an excellent comparison of the two modes of transport! Too bad I didn’t take any pictures…
We started the journey on foot. Well, the scooter people were on foot, I was on the bike. This introduced the first problem: while a bike can go pedestrian speed on level ground, going downhill you’re either going to have to burn the brakes, get off and walk it, or wait at the bottom of the hill. The Tooty likes to coast and quickly picks up speed on any sort of incline. Small wonder as it is sitting on new bearings and weighs almost 100 pounds before it gets loaded down with human meat.
Four blocks later we reached a literal pile of fully charged Lime scooters. Apparently scooter tipping is a thing now. Regardless, without too much fuss George and Taylor got their electric steeds puttering and we were quickly in traffic.
This brought us to our second problem: rider confidence. Taylor has about the same experience and confidence as I do on these things. Which is to say none. So while George zipped off at full throttle into evening traffic and I followed, Taylor rather more timidly entered the fray and was quickly left behind. The low speed approach, which I should say I don’t judge him for… those things are death traps, continued throughout the trip.
This brings me to the third problem: the motorized bike is so much faster than the electric scooter things. In concept, the difference between 20 MPH and 15 MPH doesn’t sound that large. In practice, the electric scooters only go 15 MPH under idea circumstances. The motorized bike goes 20+ pretty much whenever. As a result I was coasting/ engine braking/ actually braking a lot to keep from pulling away from my scootering friends. For a good portion of the ride I cut the bike’s engine and just pedaled along with them, keeping up just fine.
Having ridden both, I vastly prefer the bike. It is faster, more stable, easier for traffic to see, and generally easier to maneuver.
Which brings us to the third
problem cool part? In this mixed group, scooter and motorized bike, I felt like the chaperone… but in like a good way. My bike is bigger, heavier, and has better lights compared to the scooters. The effect of this is I felt obligated, as much as possible, to stay in the back of the pack to increase our visibility to cars. On the way back when the Bird scooter George picked up had its headlight die, I used my headlamp to illuminate him and light his path.
Basically it was kind of cool that, for once, I’ve found something that is worse than the motorized bike!
Now, it wasn’t all sunshine and roses on the Tooty side. George has, correctly, said he likes the electric scooters because after you turn them off, they’re no longer your problem. If their stolen, damaged, thrown into a lake, set on fire, or still there… you don’t care. Not your problem. Meanwhile I have a pretty bike with lots of bits strapped to it that I need to lock up and worry about. To offset this, my bike chain is ‘uge. Like… the chain is made out of hardened steel, is about a foot and a half long, and weighs about five pounds. The lock is similarly over-sized and hardened. Still, this meant that if I came out from dinner and someone had taken the bike, drained, the gas, or otherwise vandalized it well… I guess I would be taking one of the stupid electric scooter things home.
Also, the while the motorized bike performed well, there was always that nagging concern it was about to break. True, if the engine somehow shit the bed it was still a bike, but if the bike had a problem things would get weird quickly. Or, again, more likely you’d just end up on a scooter.
Then, of course, there is storage, maintenance, gas, buy in, etc, etc. But I already own the bike so that isn’t really a consideration. For me the motorized bike is a toy to tinker work, same as any other project vehicle, so the rental scooters don’t really fill that void in any meaningful way.
However, the electric scooters are cool because it enabled three of us to take powered, non-vehicle transport to dinner even though we only have access to two motorized bikes. The electric scooters enabled me to take out my toy and have others play too. While I initially decried the electric scooters as destroying the case for having built the bike, it turns out they might actually be expanding the use case!
So…. Uhh… what is the conclusion here?
I don’t think there is one?
The motorized bike is an attractive, heavy, unsafe, impractical but fun way to go a short-to-medium distance two-ways.
The electric scooters are a polarizing, heavy, unsafe, terrifying but fun way to go a short distance one-way.
In general, if we’re going out to a place and were likely to change venues frequently, the weather is going to turn, we’re going to pick up stragglers, or we’re going to be leaving at last call, I’ll probably opt for the scooter things.
If were going out for a defined period (food, a drink with friends, visit a park, etc) then I’m going to opt for the bike.
So basically I acknowledge they’re really annoying, but I’m glad they exist.