Recently I’ve been doing a lot of recreational riding. I’ve had Aphrodite, my Vespa GTS, since February and this week hit 2,000 miles. It seems like just yesterday that I was sitting victoriously atop Queen Anne Hill, smugly cherishing my 200th mile on the third day of ownership.
Last week I was revisiting old journals from my cross-country drive in 2004 when I moved from Boston to Seattle. A few weeks before I left for the 3,049 mile trip by Nissan Altima, I wrote, “I picked the wrong time to move – gas is TWO #&%ING DOLLARS a gallon!” I giggled to myself for a few hours after reading that. A laughable complaint, in the face of this week’s $4.50.
I didn’t fall in love with scooters because they’re cheap to gas up. Economy had nothing to do with it; I simply lusted after two-wheeled vehicles. But recently, their slender fuel requirements have become further ammunition in my quest to convert everyone I know into a scooterist.
Aphrodite requires premium gasoline, according to the owner’s manual. The girl’s got expensive taste. But with a two-gallon gas tank and a two-mile commute, I never really thought about fuel prices. I entertain myself by saying, “Oh, I’m all set – I already got gas this month.” Until recently, it was cheaper to fill up than get a latte at Starbucks.
In fact, I probably wouldn’t be thinking about gas now except that it’s become the only acceptable topic of conversation in Seattle – replacing even Bush, the Monorail and rain as required elevator banter. But everyone on the street keeps asking me, so I thought I’d do an experiment and find out exactly what kind of gas mileage I get.
Vespa claims the GTS gets 65 – 70 MPG. The spec sheet includes the disclaimer: “Based on tests conducted under lab conditions. Mileage will vary depending on vehicle condition, weather conditions, rider weight, and personal riding style.”
How does one safely ride a scooter in a laboratory?
Regardless, I’m wagering a bet that number is highly optimistic. I often ride 2-up, and neither myself nor my passengers are petite. If I weigh 165, and my passenger weighs 225, add in our gear, and the resulting 400 pounds is going to challenge Vespa’s 70 MPG figure – I assure you.
I also ride hard most of the time, which I’m sure wastes gas. I accelerate fast, and ride fast. Sometimes I take I5 at 70 miles per hour, which might be better or worse for gas mileage. I guess we’ll find out!
I’ve decided to carefully track my detailed gas consumption for the next few fill-ups. Each time I fill up, I’ll record the mileage, cost of gas, amount put in, and anything else relevant. This way I will have an honest answer for the people who keep asking me.
- Mileage at fill-up: 2027
- Cost per gallon: $4.879
- Gallons added: 1.684
- Total cost: $8.22
I can confidently say that’s the most money I’ve ever paid to fill up a scooter. I usually pay with a fiver and some change. But there you have it.
Feel free to let me know your own findings if you track your gas mileage. I’m curious about the efficiency of different models, engine sizes, two-stroke vs. four, etc.
Let the games begin!