Monday, December 24, 2012

Three-wheel Jockey

Scooters are a nimble way to thread through traffic, if that's your thing, but three-wheeled scooters can't shoot the narrower gaps. With two rear wheels, these customized scooters need twice the room to move between lines of cars and buses.

The riders of these capacious chariots aren't using training wheels out of fear of losing their balance; they're overcoming a physical challenge of some kind. You'll often see crutches slotted into a space on one side of the scooter.You can see how the frame on this one has been strengthened underneath the footrest and engine. These three-wheelers don't have much improvement to the suspension, so you won't see them leaning into corners. Take a corner too sharply, and the inside rear wheel is going to be spinning in the air.The guy on this one is riding the trusty Jockey 125. You won't find such three wheelers on the Kymco site, however. These are custom models all the way.

There's a lot to be said about the naming of scooters in Taiwan. All scooters have English names, and many of these have catchy, meaningless slogans that accompany them. I'm sure Taipei Scooter Style will get around the further discussion of this aspect of scooter culture eventually, but for now, just consider the Jockey. How odd that a machine that has become a workhorse vehicle should be known by a name that refers to one who rides a horse rather than the horse itself. In the US, automakers produced the equine vehicles Mustang (famous) and Pinto (infamous), but in Taiwan it's the equestrian not the equus who is referenced in the name of a vehicle. In his orange, gray, and white silks, the rider of this three-wheeler resembles a jockey, although he seems a bit stiff in the saddle.  He lacks the high black boots, but wouldn't you rather see his awesome socks?

Strangely, he's got his raincoat (rain gear will also appear in a future post) draped over the handlebars, a style you don't see very often. Most scooter riders keep them in the compartment under the seat. Finally, check out how he and the other riders are well ahead of the white line. In years past, the cops used to cite scooter riders for that, but enforcing that law has taken a very low priority.