How to Learn to Drive a Scooterby Tom Lutzenberger
If you’ve learned how to ride a bicycle, then learning how to ride a scooter is not much different in theory. A scooter is just bigger, faster and a bit more dangerous since you’re driving in traffic with it rather than on the side of the road.
Get an updated and recent driver’s guide from your local DMV and pay particular attention to rules for motorcycles.
Obtain a motorcycle license through your local DMV office (this license is in addition to your regular driver’s license). Failure to do so could expose you to a ticket if pulled over.
Purchase or borrow an up-to-date helmet for motorcycle riding. Make sure the helmet has a DOT 2005 or better logo on the back. Use a full-face helmet if possible to save your face if you fall. Consider wearing a leather or armored jacket when riding to lessen potential bodily damage.
Consider paying for a motorcycle driving course if it is available in your state. While a scooter is usually far less powerful, the lessons taught are invaluable for two-wheel driving. Find information regarding these classes which are usually offered by your state highway patrol on a regular basis. If passed successfully, some state programs allow you to waive your motorcycle riding test when applying for a motorcycle license.
Determine if your scooter is a “twist and go” automatic where you just pull the throttle and it changes gears for you or if yours is a manual shift transmission. Find the manual transmission shifter, if it applies, either in the left handle or as a foot lever. Familiarize yourself with your scooter manual to understand the theory of how the vehicle works. Sit on the scooter and get comfortable with where everything is and how it feels. Try your turn signals and brake pedal while the scooter is off so you know where they are; you won’t be able to look down much when driving.
When actually starting to ride, first ride the scooter turned off slowly down a sloped driveway to practice stopping. Remember to lean on your left leg and foot when it stops so you don’t fall over. Do this a couple of times, practicing with the hand brake on the right handle and your foot brake. Then roll to the side of the road, start the scooter and try slowly driving it in a straight line. Don’t go too slow or you will fall over. Get used to your center of balance, make a slow turn and ride it back to your starting point. If using a twist and go, all you need to control is your speed and the brakes. Keep practicing at higher speeds. When comfortable, go out further in the neighborhood, practicing stops and traveling.
Practice a manual transmission by first roll-riding it with the engine off. Practice engaging the clutch with the left lever and first gear and then shifting to neutral. Then practice by turning on the scooter, standing at a stop and geared in neutral. Engage the clutch but do not let go. Shift it to first while still holding the handle. Pull the throttle slowly on the right handle and, as it adds gas, start to let go of the clutch. You will feel the scooter move forward. Practice this a few times SLOWLY. Engaging a clutch too fast will throw the scooter forward and you will fall off the back while it wheelies forward and crashes. Practice engaging first gear and driving around slowly. When at a standstill or stop, put the scooter back in neutral and let go of the clutch.
Engage higher gears (second through fourth) when you are comfortable moving and stopping in first gear. Practice shifting your gears up and down to control speed. You will learn to listen to the engine to know when to shift. Practice frequently and it will become second nature within a week or two.
- Frequently practicing riding will improve your response time and driving skills, so ride as often as possible.
- You can drive a scooter on the highway in most jurisdictions if the engine size is more than 180 cc's and can travel safely at the posted highway speed. However, it should only be done when truly necessary and when your driving is at expert level at high speeds.
Items you will need
- A scooter
- A copy of your local state driving rules
- A helmet
- A motorcycle license
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