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Gas-saving scooters put to the test

May 14, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Scooters are an inexpensive, fuel-efficient way to get around town. Sales are more than ten times higher than a decade ago.ABC7 teamed up with Consumer Reports to test six different models to show you which ones give you what you need and keep you safe.

Rosemary LaColla says her scooter is a great way to get around her area. She likes to use it to run errands close by or just to get out and about.

"I don't like to take it out on big highways because people can overlook it, but I like to take it into town, pick up a couple of things and just for joy rides," said LaColla.

Besides being fun, scooters are great on gas. In its tests, Consumer Reports found they deliver 55 to 70 miles per gallon around town. Consumer Reports' Jon Linkov says one down side to scooters is they don't go as fast.

"They can only go about 50 miles per hour," said Linkov. "That means that they're not allowed on many highways and it could be difficult to keep up with traffic."

Even on the streets it's pretty intimidating riding alongside faster, larger vehicles. Safety is an important consideration. Road imperfections and varying surface conditions that you don't notice in a car can be hazardous on a scooter.

"Even the smallest car gives you some level of protection, while on a two-wheel scooter you're completely exposed," said Linkov.

Even so, fluctuating fuel prices and a tough economy have sent sales of scooters through the roof. Consumer Reports tested three entry-level scooters with 50cc engines and three others with 125cc to 150cc engines. The prices range from $1,000 to $4,400.

When all the tests were done, the $3,300 Vespa LX 150 and the Kymco People 150 scooter for $2,800 were best in their class. Each has a smooth engine and rides comfortably.

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