A friendly scooter rider who lives on the east coast told me over the weekend the Vespa scooter business is picking up where he lives. He works for the dealership part-time and belongs to a group of motor scooter enthusiasts who plan weekend rides and get together for coffee and fellowship. He said people are expressing interest in two wheels because the cost of putting gas in their four-wheel vehicles is getting high, and where he lives gas is supposed to be cheap compared to California.
A Terre Haute motor scooter salesman made the same observation not long ago.
But, with two-wheel rides come additional responsibilities that may cause drivers to hesitate before they decide to make their second vehicle a two-wheel Honda or Harley or Yamaha or Vespa.
One of those responsibilities is insurance and another is a driver's license.
If you decide to go the motorcycle or scooter route, be sure your insurance agent is familiar with motorcycle coverage. A policy you think protects you against medical bills in the case of an accident may only protect a passenger or pedestrian who is injured; you may face paying your own medical bills, as a State Farm Insurance claims adjuster told The Brazil Times not many months ago.
Don't plan on riding your motorcycle or scooter without going to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles and passing a separate written test and then, later, passing a riding test. In Indiana, you must have a motorcycle endorsement to ride any motorcycle except a moped or scooter with an engine smaller than 50 CC and less than 5 horsepower, Brazil Police Chief Mark Loudermilk said at a recent City Council meeting when asked about all-terrain vehicles and motor scooters.
The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehcles has a printed study guide available to help perspective riders prepare for their motorcycle endorsement test.
A better route to go may be to sign up for a motorcycle course at Indiana State University or another school. ABATE of Indiana is very much involved in promoting rider safety and education. A check of the group's Web site will offer other materials and instruction to help you become a safer rider.
The riding portion of the test is offered at dfferent times and locations throughout the year.
One such opportunity came Saturday in the parking lot of Willy Jaks on South 6th Street in Terre Haute.
Despite fog that didn't burn off until after 7 a.m. and a forecast of rain about 40 would-be bikers showed up to take the riding portion of their test. They had each passed the written portion at least 30 days earlier before they were allowed to pay $5 to be examined on their motorcycle handling skills.
Nearly everyone showed up with Harley Davidsons of various sizes. There was a 1970s vintage Honda 200 on hand as well. The owner said he picked it up for $75 in a yard sale. And, there was one person riding a small motor scooter as well.
Most riders passed the test on the first try. One man did everything perfectly but dropped his bike at the end of the course. He went to the end of the line for a second try.
The test involved making a tight turn and stopping with the front wheel in a box painted on the asphalt, maneuvering a slalom through cones at very low speed, emergency braking and swerving, as if to avoid an item on the ground without using brakes.
While driving a big motorcycle won't save anyone a lot of gas money, the number of cycles on the road indicate it is a popular hobby. If you want to save gas, aim for a smaller bike. Many classes use 250cc motorcycles when teaching new riders how to ride safely.
Driving a motorcycle is a hobby Gov. Mitch Daniels enjoys. In addition to his recreational vehicle, RV1, he also rides MC1, the security designation for his motorcycle.
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