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The short answer to the first question; none. The long answer is different, but in the terms of the law, a scooter is a motorcycle, just the same way a cruiser is a motorcycle, a sports bike is a motorcycle, etc.

Motorcycles-scooters

Both are known as Powered Two Wheelers (PTW), in other words, two wheels and an engine. There are some differences though;

  • Most scooters are automatic: Scooters are automatic, there is no gearbox. But then, there are some motorcycles nowadays that have no gearbox either.
  • Scooters normally have no foot brake: Since there is no gearbox, the left handle is the rear brake.
  • Scooters have a step-through frame: the gas tank is under the rider and the rider’s feet don’t need to go over the bike when getting on, much like a female bicycle.
  • Scooters often have a cargo platform: the space between the rider and the handlebars is open and can be used to store stuff, like shopping bags. Often there is even a hook to secure the bag in-between the legs of the rider.
  • Scooters often have smaller wheels: Wheels are usually smaller because speeds are lower, and need to maneuver in the city, the “normal” habitat where you will find scooters.
  • Scooters often have small displacement engines: traditionally scooters have smaller engines, typically 125 to 200 cc, but nowadays you’ll find then with even 650 cc.

For the rest, they are like any normal motorcycle, they behave the same way, use counter steering, and usually have a place for a pillion.

So in essence, there is no real difference between both types; they are motorcycles in all terms of the word. In most states, you need the same license to ride one, and the same protection.

Bad Blood

So why the bad blood. You will often hear motorcycle riders say that scooters are not like normal motorcycles, that the riders are less, etc. Scooters are looked down on.

Mods-vs-Rockers-Poster

Personally, I think it’s because of old movies, particularly British ones that highlighted the Mods against the Rockers; scooter riders against motorcycle riders. That set the tone, and has carried on ever since. In riding skills, you can ride either vehicle without any adaptation, you face the same dangers and you get the same emotional feeling when riding either. Both are fun and dangerous.

Some motorcycles are far faster than scooters – particularly sports bikes, but most normal motorcycles are as fast as their equivalent scooter.

Do you wave at scooters when you ride a motorcycle, and vice versa? I do.

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Unless you’ve been hiding in a cave somewhere in the mountains, you will know that there is a group of extremists fighting in the Middle East that is extremely violent and blood thirsty – ISIS (aka Da’esh). Beheading many of their occidental hostages seems to be the main headline grabbing theme for these radical muslim groups.

In Syria the Kurds have been living under oppression for centuries, and now to make their lives even more miserable the ISIS is striking at this group as well. So they are being attacked by the Syrian government, the Turkish and now the terrorist group.

Many impressionable youngsters have gone to that part of the Middle East to join up with the terror group. It’s been in all the newspapers and TV news stations. Youngsters from all over the world have been motivated by some misguided muslim clergy and have gone to help decapitate prisoners.

But on the other side, several members of the Dutch 1%-er biker gang “No Surrender” went to Syria to help the Kurds in their struggle against the ISIS. They were shortly followed by gang members from the German Median Empire motorcycle gang.

Dutch "No Surrender" member Ron in Syria

Dutch “No Surrender” member Ron in Syria

Both gangs are violent in their own right, often in turf wars with neighboring gangs. So they know all about shooting and violence, except now they are joining the fight for the good guys. The German gang even started a funding page to try to fund the Kurds’ war, looking at raising €1 million. Unfortunately their effort how fell very short from their target.

The Dutch Minister of Justice and prosecutors had announced that since the Dutch biker gang was fighting against terrorists and not with them, they were entitled to do so legally (The Dutch are fighting alongside the USA against ISIS). They would not be prosecuted when they returned, in sharp contrast will all the people who went to fight for ISIS.

But after the initial publicity died down, the reactions turned. The Kurds in Syria are saying “please don’t come”. Maybe they are afraid what will happen afterwards. Or are the Kurds afraid that an extremely violent group of people will make things even tougher for them?

Dutch "No Surrender" member Ron in Syria

Dutch “No Surrender” member Ron in Syria

The Kurds aren’t set up to host foreign fighters. No translators, no housing, no weapons and no strategy, while the ISIS are not only welcoming foreigners, they have all the tools to do so.

But whatever the real situation, it shows that biker gangs can take the side of the good guys in the fight against terror. They may have a lot of negative publicity when things go wrong, a little publicity when they do the right thing (like toy runs), this move has given them some positive publicity.

You can see a video interview with one of the Dutch bikers in Syria:

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When Is Much, Too Much?

After the plethora of new motorcycle announcements at the German Intermot and the Italian Eicma motorcycle exhibitions, you have got to ask yourself “why”.

It’s not the amount of new motorcycles that is making me ask this deep thought-provoking question, but what is happening at the top-end of the super sportsbikes; the search for more and more power.

Ducati 1299 Panigale S

Ducati 1299 Panigale S

If you consider that many sportscars have around 200 hp, a motorcycle weighs 2 or 3 times less. So the performance these bikes have nowadays is impressive, that’s for sure, but they are also incredibly high. Maybe too high.

Apart from some German motorways, there are no places on earth where you can use the power these bikes have, legally that is. So unless you spend most of your time on tracks, you would not be using the power these bikes generate. But you will have paid for it.

So the question remains, why? Why would manufacturers start a race to who has the most power. And it’s exactly what it has become; a marketing race for the manufacturers so that they can say their motorcycle is the most powerful one; bragging rights.

Some countries have limited the amount of power a motorcycle is allowed to have. France for example, power is limited to 100 hp. Granted, it’s a stupid law, since as we know, hp is nice but torque is far more important. Obviously a higher horsepower equates in general to a higher torque, but still….

If you had all the money in the world and your name is Jay Leno, would you still buy a motorcycle that has 200+ hp? Knowing that you can’t really use it (legally). Would you?

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Schuberth is one of the top quality helmet manufacturers at this moment. Their helmets are high quality, innovative and you can find them not only in the motorcycle world, but also in car racing (just look at the Formula One races) and even in the fire fighter communities around the world.

They are also very expensive and in case you were wondering, yes, they are German. And like with most German things, they are well built, and made to last.

Schuberth has different motorcycle helmet lines, all beginning with a letter indicating the type of helmet (S for sports, SR for racing, C for flip-up/modular, J for jet/open face, etc). Schuberth are also known for their female helmet models. For example, their latest flip-up helmet, the C3Pro also exists in a C3Pro Women version.

Schuberth M1

Schuberth M1

At the German motorcycle exhibition Intermot, Schuberth showed their latest model range, the M range. M stands for Metropolitan, therefore it’s a jet/open face type helmet.

As we know by now, jet helmets are more prone to being dangerous (compared to integral/full face helmets). But Schuberth would not be Schuberth if they did not try to minimize any dangers. Therefore the M1 helmet is designed in such a way that it’s safer than a conventional jet helmet. You can see from the photo above that the cheek area offers better protection than conventional jet helmets. More of the face is covered, but the mouth & nose part remains uncovered.

Schuberth-M1-2

The M1 comes in seven different colors, and the quick release visor comes in five different colors. The built-in sun visor, also available in five different colors, can be used without the normal visor, hence the quick release mechanism for the main visor.

Schuberth-M1-3

The helmet is equipped with a very good ventilation system, with a rear extractor vent that can be closed. But the M1 is also pre-equipped for the integrated wireless communications package from Schuberth called the SRC-System. In fact, the wireless communication device comes from the American Cardo systems. The inside of the helmet has a built-in antenna that will greatly enhance communication quality and range.

In the following photo you can clearly see the SRC installed in the back of the helmet.

Schuberth-M1-4

As jet helmets go, the Schuberth is beautiful, and safer than most. Top notch, but expensive. No prices have been released so far, but expect it to be in the $300 to $400 range.

Schuberth M1 with sun visor only

Schuberth M1 with sun visor only

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Electric motorcycles and scooters, as the type name implies, run on electricity. Obviously, the two wheelers don’t have a very long extension lead plugged into a socket, but instead they run on batteries.

But normal 12V motorcycle batteries as we know them will not supply enough power to propel the bike any further than a mile or two. No, to be able to ride a reasonable distance on an electrically powered two wheeler, you need more batteries, and these batteries need to have a higher energy.

Take for example one of the top American electric motorcycle manufacturers, Brammo. This is what a Brammo will look like if you cut it open:

Brammo-Batteries-1

Those blue things are the batteries. They are Lithium-Ion batteries, and they are not 12V but 103 Volt (with a max voltage of 117.6V). They supply a total capacity of 9.31 kWh, with a peak of 10.2 kWh.

Brammo-Batteries-2

It’s the battery pack capacity that counts for electric motorcycles. The higher the number, the more power it has.

But to recharge so many batteries requires special equipment. Depending on where you plug your bike in (known as Level 1, 2 or even 3 charging) you can fully charge your bike in 3.5 hours or 8 hours (in the case of level 1, your household electrical socket).

But all those batteries make the bike heavy. If you look closely at the photos, you’ll see that the engine is the smallest part, in sharp contrast with its ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) cousins. The biggest volume is taken up by the batteries. In total, the Brammo Empulse weighs 460 lbs (some 213 kilos).

But despite the heavy weight, the Brammo can still deliver an incredible 90 Nm of peak torque, more than most sportsmotorcycles.

Even electric scooters use similar large amounts of batteries. Take for example the BMW C-Evolution:

BMW-C-Evolution-Batteries

Apart from the 12 cells (which by the way come from the electric car from BMW, the i3), there is one “normal” 12V battery located in the front housing which takes care of the normal electrical functions (dashboard, horn, etc).

The engine’s batteries, like the Brammo, are Lithium-Ion and supply 8 kWh. Recharging these batteries using a standard domestic 12A socket takes 4 hours (if it’s a 16A socket, it’ll take 3 hours).

The 12 cells supply 60 Ah and 133V, and the whole scooter weighs 265 kilos. But despite that weight, you get a torque of 72 Nm which is available all the time.

So as you can see, batteries take up the biggest amount of space on an electric bike. By far! Over the next few years, even decade, the batteries will start becoming smaller, lighter and packing more punch, allowing for longer rides. But until then, you will need to content yourself with riding 60 to 100 miles before requiring a charge. Far enough for a daily commute, not far enough for a weekend ride of the Tail of the Dragon at Deals Gap.

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Airoh ST 701

Airoh ST 701

Airoh presented at the Intermot motorcycle exhibition in Germany, their latest helmet the ST 701. The ST 701 is an integral, full face, helmet with some interesting features.

Airoh-ST-701

First of all, in the chin is an air vent that can be opened. So far, nothing new. But in this case, the air vent can be opened at 2 different levels; totally open, allowing for air to circulate throughout the helmet, and half open, that makes the air circulate only into the visor through special vents. This way you can blow away any fog during those cold days when you don’t want too much cold air on your head.

Airoh-ST-701

The same applies to the rear air vent, that has several positions for the air extraction.

Airoh-ST-701

The ST 701 has the Airoh quick & safe release system in case of an accident. If you have crashed, paramedics need to take care removing a helmet since the removable movements can cause permanent damage to your neck. Remember that a helmet should be fitted tight. So you can imagine removing a helmet from someone’s head can be a struggle.

The quick release system involves pulling the red tab, that releases the cheek padding. With the cheek padding gone, you can simply pull out the helmet since there is no more pressure to the head or neck.

Airoh-ST-701

Several color exist already for this helmet. However, the helmet is brand new and has not received DOT homologation, and has only just passed CE certification.

Airoh are working on bring it to the North American market.

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Stolen-Motorcycle-Just-Chain-leftBarring accidents, there is nothing worse than having your motorcycle stolen. Arriving at your bike hoping to ride away and finding an empty space is a very emotional moment – a moment of despair.

Professional thieves will take your bike no matter what, you can slow them down and more important, prevent it from being stolen by amateurs.

First, let’s look at this video to see how quickly a professional will steal your bike:

You see how quick that went? The bike had two locks…

Now let’s see what you can do about Sunday-thieves or opportunists.

  1. Garage: Get a covered garage. It’s more complicated to steal from a garage than from the street. You can even buy bike shelters that you can put in your garden if you don’t have a garage.
  2. Ignition Lock: The easy one. Make sure your ignition is in the “Lock” position. It’ll not do much, but it slows thieves down.
  3. Chains/Locks: Use big and heavy chains, or approved and very strong locks. You can see from the video that a professional will cut through chains/locks like you would cut through butter with a knife. But a big chain anchored to a heavy object will prevent thieves from grabbing your bike and placing it in a truck.Placing a chain from your rear wheel to a fixed position is the best you can do. Front wheels are more easily removed.
  4. Alarm: An alarm is a good thing, especially if it’s very loud. Once someone moves your bike, the alarm goes off. No thief wants to be seen next to a very loud siren. You can get really fancy alarms that will send you a text message once your bike is being stolen, allowing you the time to contact the police to file your report.
  5. Tracking: A tracking device hidden in the bike will not prevent it from being stolen, but might make its recovery faster and easier.
  6. Cover: Cover your bike. Often professional thieves look for motorcycles “on demand”, meaning they will have been asked to steal a specific brand. Covering your bike will make it more difficult to spot.

So there you are. Remember, you can’t prevent a season and professional thief from stealing your bike, but you can make it more difficult. And another good thing to do, get a good insurance.

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