Occasionally I find myself poring over the scooter classifieds for some ungodly reason; perhaps I like to torture myself. I enjoy trying on different personalities as I imagine acquiring each lustworthy scooter. My outdoorsy, rugged Pacific Northwest alter-ego on a Big Ruckus loaded with gear for a weekend getaway. Or the meticulously restored, pink and white 1962 Vespa Super that I ride to my ladies’ luncheon at an outdoor cafe. Or the venom yellow rat bike Rally perfect for drag racing in my black Corazzo hoodie.
I enjoy accessorizing.
Both of my Cupcakes are toying with the idea of getting their very own two wheels. As fabulous as it is to ride pillion on Aphrodite, sooner or later, everyone gets bit by the scooter bug. I indulge my vicarious thrills by shopping for them.
One of my friends wants a bone-colored Genuine Buddy scooter, one of which was parked in my driveway last night when she came home, leading her to believe I’d finally won the lottery. It was unfortunate to disappoint her, but I’d be snagging that pearly pink Super from craigslist long before shopping at Valley Scooters for her belated birthday present.
If you’re in the market for a Genuine Stella scooter, there are a plethora of them in the classifieds, on craigslist, and in the online scooter forums. Usually they have about 500 miles on them, which is just long enough for people to realize they actually want an automatic, four-stroke twist-and-go that starts every time.
At some point I will add two additional Stellas to my fleet: an Atomic Fireball Stella, and a pink Stella with a sidecar for my imaginary border collie so we can ride to Frisbee tournaments.
[Pink Stella pics taken by me at Amerivespa Rally in Seattle, 2008.]
Update: I did finally get my Atomic Fireball. Read our fairytale love store here: Atomic Fireball Stella #107 Comes Home
I love Stellas (clearly), but I don’t think they make good first scooters. And ironically, new ones are especially problematic. Let someone else work out the kinks for you! In fact, I’ve got a pristine Stella, certified kink-free, I’ll sell you for $11,000. Cause that’s how much it’s cost me over the past two years.
Buying used – or “experienced” – scooters definitely has its benefits. You can save a big chunk of change. You’ll just want to avoid sellers attempting to recoup their bad decision (or soothe an angry spouse) by listing a two-year-old bike for the MSRP they paid. They’ll act like it’s a deal because they’re throwing in crash bars and a topcase. Keep looking.
But tossing in that topcase is another reason you can save big bucks when buying a used scooter if shop around for a good deal. Accessories have been purchased and installed for you. Chrome is expensive and requires several hours you may or may not want to spend lying on the ground with a wrench. And topcases can be pricey, especially if you’re shallow and vain like me and insist on having a matching trunk with a backrest for your midnight blue Vespa.
Just for giggles, let’s see the “new vs. used” comparison on a Stella.
New 2008 Stella:
$500 Average tax, title and dealer set-up fees
$400 Chrome kit
$130 Mid-size windshield
$170 Givi topcase
That’s assuming you install the chrome kit, windshield, and topcase yourself – which you totally can. (Unless you buy it from Ducati Seattle and they don’t give you the right hardware so you have to pay them to do it, after shelling out your firstborn child for a scooter that needs to be rebuilt after 700 miles. But that’s a whole other entry for another time.)
$4,700 new Stella with accessories
$2,600 average used 2005 Stella with accessories
Hey – that’s almost enough to buy two! A pink one for your ladies’ luncheon and a flat-black one for weekend drag racing. Or you can take the extra money you saved, upgrade your exhaust pipe to a Sito plus, subscribe to AAA, and bank the rest to cover any unforeseen issues that crop up (and crop up they will).
If you’re comfortable tinkering with your own scooter, or you know someone who can show you (join a club!), a used scooter can be a good choice. If you’re not ready to get out the wrenches just yet, the extra money for a new bike under factory warranty might be a better choice for you.
What’s funny (but not ha-ha funny) is that I was so sick of my Stella being totally unreliable that I decided to buy a brand new Vespa scooter with an extended warranty so I wouldn’t have any problems. So, as Murphy would have it, that brand new Vespa spent its first month in the shop, beginning on day three of ownership. Meanwhile, the Stella was suddenly repaired and ran like a dream. The Vespa was under warranty, so I was not charged for any of the repairs – or the repeated towing. But I did have to cover my own Valium prescription.
It’s really a matter of comfort level. Go with your gut. Now that I have a reliable workhorse with roadside assistance, I am comfortable taking the carburetor out of my Stella and rejetting it myself over the weekend. Because I know I can still get to work on Monday.
Which reminds me… I’ve got some serious projects to get underway and a Scooterworks order to unpack. I’ll have a full report on Monday. Have a great weekend and keep the rubber side down!