Despite petrol prices soaring to as much as $1.66.9 a litre, the scooter market continues to be in a slump, down 13.5% in the first six months of the year from 5483 to 4760.
It almost defies reason since scooters are such a miserly transport solution.
However, there could be a number of factors at play here: the Chinese, LAMS and names.
First the Chinese.
A few years ago when petrol prices soared and the GFC hit, people turned to scooters for cheap transport and the market boomed.
Unfortunately, a lot of backyard importers brought in cheap Chinese scooters and flooded the market with brands no one had heard of, nor since. The inferior models fell apart, had no warranties and customers were stranded with no warranty or back-up.
You get what you pay for, I suppose, but the level of product was simply a disgrace to the industry.
Fortunately, those brands have since left the market and we are left with the good quality scooter product.
Unfortunately the consumer has been burned and it will be difficult to get them back on scooters anytime soon.
The second problem for the scooter market is that all states have since introduced the Learner-Approved Motorcycle Scheme which means there are a lot more models competing for the learner and P plater.
We don’t have much of a scooter culture in Australia, so when young learners look for a beginner vehicle they are more likely to pick from the handsome range of LAMS models rather than opt for a scooter.
The third factor against scooters are the names the companies give them.
Would you rather ride a Yamaha Bee Wee or a Ducati 659 Monster?
The latest scooter is a Yamaha 125cc D’elight. It’s probably a great scooter, but that name is just a bit too twee.
Yamaha has 30 scooter models, but we only get six in Australia and it is unlikely we will be getting this one.
But Yamaha isn’t the only company with strange names for scooters (they also have a Jog and a Vity).
Here are some of the strangest scooter names in our market: Nifty, Besbi, Today, Alien, Like, Espresso, Ego, Jolie and Taku.
There are also some exciting names, such as Mojito, Sprint, Jetmax, Outlaw, Lightning Bolt, Wasp and Flash. Mind you, calling small capacity scooters – some as low as 49cc – names like Flash and Lightning Bolt only serves to make a mockery of the machines.
I’ve got a soft spot for scooters and I’m really looking forward to testing Aprilia’s SRV 850, the biggest capacity scooter on the market. It’s also the first with ABS and traction control.
I’ll be taking it on a 1200km two-day tour next week to see if it measures up as a real touring bike alternative.