by Stephen Heller

Scooters slowing down in 2006
While 2005 is turning out to be a year of unprecedented scooter sales, there are some big changes looming for many bikes in the 50cc and under class. Most consumers won’t really notice the changes from outside appearance, but their lungs may feel better. The EPA is changing its emission guidelines for the first time in over 20 years to include motorcycles and scooters under 50cc. Previously overlooked, the under 50cc class is to be added to the class which now includes bikes under 170cc. The standard is 1g/km of hydrocarbons and 12 g/km for carbon monoxide.

Many of the larger manufacturers have made changes to comply with these regulations by introducing cleaner 4-stroke models instead of the more polluting 2-strokes. Honda’s line-up for a number of years has not included an under 50cc 2-stroke scooter, so there will be little change for them. Yamaha on the other hand has 2 under 50cc 2-strokes, the Zuma and the Vino. For 2006 the Zuma will be gone and the Vino has been updated to a 4-stroke power plant.

The new regulation doesn’t necessarily mean an end to 2-stokes in the US, but it certainly does deal them a vicious blow. Smaller manufacturers which are classified as: those with a worldwide workforce of fewer than 500 employees and unit sales under 3000. This includes, namely, Genuine Scooter Company maker of the Stella. Genuine and others have an exemption until 2008, when they will need to comply with these new regulations. So the Stella will stay as is for a few more years.

Other manufacturers have developed ways to make their 2-strokes clean enough to pass the emissions testing process. Getting a cleaner 2-stroke motor has been accomplished with a fuel injection, as has been done to some of the Aprilla scooters. Another way is through a catalytic converter in the exhaust.

What does all these regulations mean for people buying under 50cc scooters in 2006? Well, they will all be moving a little bit slower. TGB is the only manufacturer at the moment that has cleared the EPA guidelines with their 2-stroke scooters. Reportedly with the catalytic converter in the exhaust, the top speed of the 2006 TGBs will be 38mph. This is down from the top speed of 42 for the 2005 models.

The Kymco Vitality 2-stroke was introduced in 2005, already meeting the EPA standards and I can say that it is the slowest of all the Kymco 50cc scooters with the exception of the 4-stroke Filly.

For more information than you can handle about the regulations going into effect in January go to: www.epa.gov/otaq/roadbike.htm

Scooterists and Hurricane Katrina
Immediately after the, Hurricane scooterists from around the country mobilized and offered to help in any way they could offering places to stay, jobs, and even scooters to ride. www.scooterrelief.org has been set up as a way to coordinate the effort in helping fellow scooterists. People can donate money and read about what is going on in New Orleans and the rest of the affected areas.

Scooter clubs from around the country have been busy organizing rides and concerts to help raise money for everyone involved. Including rides and shows in New York and San Francisco.

Down N Dirty, the annual rally hosted by the New Orleans Chapter of the Jedi Knight Scooter Club, as of the press deadline is still planning on having their rally over Halloween weekend. The 5th edition of the rally’s new name is Hell & High Water. At least some people can keep their sense of humor during all of the destruction. The rally won’t be the typical ride and party. Plans are for it to be a working weekend.

If you would like to donate money that would go directly to affected scooterists go to scooterrelief.org

Comments and emails are welcomed. random.scootering@hotmail.com

M.M.M.

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