Sunday, March 31, 2013

Eye on Scooters in the US Northwest

Taipei Scooter was in the US Northwest last month, and scooters were in evidence, not in the numbers one sees in Taipei, nor with same styles or panache, but it was pleasing to see people out and about on their two-wheel micro stallions. In downtown Seattle, I spotted these examples.

I shouted at this guy on the blue Vino from the car I was riding in. He gave me the thumbs up when he learned of Taipei Scooter Style. I dig his high visibility jacket, but an open face helmet in Seattle in the springtime is too hardcore for this subtropical rider.

I'd only seen these three-wheeled scooters in ads before spotting this one. Here are a few examples on the Net.

Here's another Vino, and props for that skull and crossbones on the engine cover.

Came upon a two-wheel parking area near Pike Place Market. There were as many scooters as full-size motorcycles, but none of the scooters were covered, having been left by their owners to face the cold day on their own. Tally so far, three Vinos.

Here's a white Piaggio, with a duct tape mod covering the battery compartment. Ingenuity abounds!

This Express has to be one of the least attractive scooters I saw on the entire trip. It looks like it was designed by the same team that created the Thing for Volkswagen.

Heading up 1st Avenue, I spotted this scooter shop at the corner of Bay Street. I went inside to get a taste of the scooters on offer. These are their rentals.

That's not a saleswoman, nor a prospective customer. That's Taipei Scooter Style's daughter, and she doesn't seem too impressed with the rides available. Having seen what's on offer in Taipei, she has her own idea of what's cool.

The retro style plays better in Seattle than Taipei. I dig those fat white walls.

I noticed they have a small-displacement motorcycle in the window, too. Scooter shops cannot afford to be exclusionary.

Exposed brick walls? Check. Chrome spoked wheels? Oh, yeah. Plastic bolt-on fairing? All day. Yamaha BWs? Now we're talking. Of all the styles on the showroom floor, only the BWs comes close to Taipei Scooter Style.

My ramblings about the Puget Sound took me to Vashon Island, just a ferry ride away from West Seattle. It costs $20 to take a car onto the island (return journeys are free), and motorcycles $7.35, compared to $5 for a passenger (or $6 for a passenger with a bicycle). This was my first trip to Vashon, but it struck me as the (more relaxed) Marin County of the Seattle Area, with many trees, artists, retirees, and coffee shops. The Hardware Store is a must for an affordable, delicious meal.

I spotted this Honda Passport on a mossy road near a wetland reserve not far from the Hardware Store. I appreciate the use of a plastic crate as a rear storage container.

Sure, there's a bit of rust on the body, but that is more than made up for by the sticker advertising KEXP, Seattle's public radio station, and the Coastal Conservation Association.

No trip to Vashon is complete without a trip to the Vashon Island Coffee Roasters, which is supposedly the place where Seattle's Best Coffee got its start. It's a friendly place with a range of coffees and teas (none from Taiwan!), healthy snacks, cool gifts, ice cream in the summer, dreadlocked families, retirees in golf shirts, and scooter riders.

And yes, there is reserved parking for plug-in vehicles.

The farthest afield that Taipei Scooter Style ventured on this Northwest Journey was the remote burg of Heppner, Oregon, the capital of Morrow County. Heppner is home to just 1,400 people, and at least one scooter, but it's for sale. The roads around Heppner are smooth (and sometimes gravel), and will carry a willing rider across the rolling sage-covered hills of this corner of the state.

In the background you can see several tractors, but those aren't the type used on fields anymore. That's an agricultural equipment museum.