Author Topic: Concerns Downgrading from Car to Scooter  (Read 9641 times)

bpobst

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Concerns Downgrading from Car to Scooter
« on: September 02, 2013, 09:56:19 AM »
Background: 24, married a little over a year. "Saving" $2k a month by paying off debt over the minimums, trying to get debt free ASAP.

I bought a car when fresh on the job in 2011 and at that time I had a 45 minute commute to work. Recently moved this past March and I work maybe 1.5 miles from the townhouse we rent. About half the way is sidewalk and about half is road with no shoulder. My car would not start last Thursday morning and I was too lazy to jump it at the time. I had my wife drive me to work and then I walked home. This got me wondering if we need two cars.

The car is a 2010 Nissan Sentra SE-R Spec-V. KBB has it valued between $12,500 and $14,500 for a trade in. I owe about $8,800. If I sold it I could use the cash for a scooter and safety gear. Then we would be saving an extra $500 a month from no car payment or insurance. I would obviously need to look into scooter insurance but surely it is cheaper than $70 a month.

My main concern is theft. We have no garage and are the #2 or #5, depending on how you count, townhouse in a row of six connected units. I imagine a ~300lb scooter to be gobbled up pretty quickly if I park it in my driveway. I could ride it around back every day but I am worried about what that will do to the grass. I would have to walk it through an alley type path that is behind all of our units' fences. I have never seen anyone back there before so I guess it is community property. In our fenced in area we have a storage shed so I could put it in there and lock it, plus the fence gate is locked. Do you think it would be acceptable for me to wheel a scooter in this little path behind all of our units?

Then at work, my office has no window and I am in the back of a warehouse so I could not keep an eye on it. With a good enough tire lock I do not see this as being a big issue, there is even another person who works in the warehouse who rides a scooter. It just makes me nervous to leave something that expensive and that light out for anyone to grab.

Winter is just around the corner as well. Though I figure with the right gear and my short commute the cold would not be a big issue.

Are my concerns about theft justified or should I just stop worrying and do it? Also, I realize that many will suggest a bicycle but I do no think that is for me. Thanks!

katheh

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Re: Concerns Downgrading from Car to Scooter
« Reply #1 on: September 02, 2013, 10:03:20 AM »
Maybe ask the other person at your warehouse how they secure their scooter?

Can you park it in the warehouse during the work day?

Also, instead of immediately buying a scooter, can you have your spouse continue to drive you in the morning and you walk home? Or you walk both ways? Unless you live somewhere with truly awful winter weather (like Alaska), a good pair of ski pants, good coat, and galoshes for bad weather will get you through, plus it's a great workout.

I have to commute to work (17 miles one way) but I do not use the car for anything else. I bike or walk to the store, the Redbox, etc. When I worked close to home when my kids were small I walked to work (about a mile) in all weather. This is in the Chicago suburbs so all sorts of weather.

Maybe sell the car and see how it goes before immediately committing to the purchase of a scooter? Also look into electric bike motors, much cheaper than an actual scooter and a bike is much easier to secure/put away somewhere safe.

Good luck!

Paul der Krake

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Re: Concerns Downgrading from Car to Scooter
« Reply #2 on: September 02, 2013, 10:41:08 AM »
In Europe where scooters are a lot more popular, wise owners attach them to something attached to the ground like a lamp post or street sign, just like you would attach a bike. Preventing the wheel from turning isn't enough: I can get two of my mates, lift your 300 lbs scooter off the ground, place it in a parked minivan and drive off in under 30 seconds. After which I will have all the time in the world to defeat the lock.

Spudd

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Re: Concerns Downgrading from Car to Scooter
« Reply #3 on: September 02, 2013, 04:37:14 PM »
1.5 miles is not far. It would take you half an hour, max, to walk. Or 10 minutes to bicycle. Why would you want a scooter (or a car) in this situation? I work 2 miles from my house and I ride my bike daily (even in winter).

olivia

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Re: Concerns Downgrading from Car to Scooter
« Reply #4 on: September 02, 2013, 05:10:10 PM »
1.5 miles is not far. It would take you half an hour, max, to walk. Or 10 minutes to bicycle. Why would you want a scooter (or a car) in this situation? I work 2 miles from my house and I ride my bike daily (even in winter).

Ditto, I would walk or bike. I don't think you need a scooter at all. I had one for a couple of years but a bike and/or your feet are much easier to deal with IMO.

dragoncar

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Re: Concerns Downgrading from Car to Scooter
« Reply #5 on: September 03, 2013, 03:08:39 AM »
In Europe where scooters are a lot more popular, wise owners attach them to something attached to the ground like a lamp post or street sign, just like you would attach a bike. Preventing the wheel from turning isn't enough: I can get two of my mates, lift your 300 lbs scooter off the ground, place it in a parked minivan and drive off in under 30 seconds. After which I will have all the time in the world to defeat the lock.

I don't advocate doing anything illegal.  But it's not that expensive or conspicuous to install an anchor in the concrete at a location of your choosing.  That could really deter theft and I doubt anyone will care or notice.

hybrid

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Re: Concerns Downgrading from Car to Scooter
« Reply #6 on: September 03, 2013, 04:37:20 AM »
1.5 miles is a pleasant walk and a short bike ride most days, but since you are on these threads and have doubtless been exposed to these options I am going to assume there is some reason, perhaps physical, why that would not work for you.  These are my thoughts.

Say you buy the scooter.  Say it does not work out as well as planned. Well, nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?  Sell the scooter for not a whole lot less than what you bought it for, especially if you can locate a good used scooter and avoid walking off the new scooter lot with an instantly depreciated vehicle.  Lesson learned, right?

Say you ultimately get a second car again.  For a whopping 600 mile commute year over the course of a year a cheap beater should be a better option than what you are doing now.  So any way you go, you already know what to do with the Nissan....

And while you are looking for that second car you may or may not buy again, try the carpooling with the significant other route.  Can you get a lift home with a coworker?  I don't know your specifics but it sure sounds like one car may be enough.

I guess where I am going is here.  You have started thinking outside of the box and good for you, now explore more of those possibilities outside of the box. 

jrhampt

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Re: Concerns Downgrading from Car to Scooter
« Reply #7 on: September 03, 2013, 06:38:34 AM »
Say you buy the scooter.  Say it does not work out as well as planned. Well, nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?  Sell the scooter for not a whole lot less than what you bought it for, especially if you can locate a good used scooter and avoid walking off the new scooter lot with an instantly depreciated vehicle.  Lesson learned, right?

Seconded.  I bought a used scooter and realized it didn't work for me.  I sold it for what I bought it for a few months later.

StarryC

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Re: Concerns Downgrading from Car to Scooter
« Reply #8 on: September 03, 2013, 11:01:25 AM »
What is the crime rate in your neighborhood?  Are people's cars being broken into on a weekly or monthly basis?  I live in an apartment building 1 block from a major roadway and some bars, and I'm pretty sure my neighbor is a drug dealer.  There are 2 scooters parked outside all summer long (on and off) and they were never stolen. And, there are two bikes locked to a pole outside my window that appear to never be moved and also have never been stolen.Right now you leave your car out.  It would take someone who wanted to maybe 10 minutes to steal it, right?  Anec-data of course.  Sure, people can steal things.  But most people don't. 

I would say buy a cover and cover it at night in your driveway, or put the right type of anchor in your driveway to lock it to a fixed object. 

livetogive

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Re: Concerns Downgrading from Car to Scooter
« Reply #9 on: September 03, 2013, 11:37:25 AM »
8 years experience riding a motorcycle(s) in various urban and rural environments:

A wheel lock is close to worthless.  The most popular way to steel scooters and motorcycles is to lift them up and put them in back of a truck or van.  I haven't bothered with a wheel in years.  An alternative is VERY LARGE chain around the wheels and frame connected to a streetlight or cemented anchor, but even this isn't incredibly effective.  Your best bet is your shed.  out of sight = out of mind.  Also theft insurance only on my Triumph is pretty cheap with a large deductable.  YMMV.

I used to commute every day on my motorcycle (all seasons) until I found MMM.  May I suggest a few things?

1. Try a bike.  The switch was an adjustment at first (feeling like a badass to feeling kinda dorky) but for a short commute it's just as fast to ride a bike, probalby even faster, and it's way cheaper.

2. If you want motorized transportation, I'd reccomend an old japanese standard (naked) motorcycle over a scooter.  You can pick one up for the same price, and the small amount you lose in gas mileage you more than make up for in safety / the ability to keep up with traffic at all speeds.  Plus you have bigger wheels (helps in handling), better tires, much better brakes and safer cargo options.  I've seen scooters wipe out for literally no reason - their fundamental design isn't amazing.  Old motorcycles are also VERY cheap to insure as long as they don't have plastic fairings.  Think ~$10-$15 /mo.

3.  If you choose a MC or Scooter, it's very mustachian to spend $$$ on safety gear.  I'd much rather postpone FIRE for a month or two in exchange for not having a foot ripped off in an accident because i wore tennis shoes instead of MC Boots.  Ditto on skin grafts for my legs or palms.

I've taught many to ride so please PM me with questions.

livetogive

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Re: Concerns Downgrading from Car to Scooter
« Reply #10 on: September 03, 2013, 11:39:07 AM »
one last thing:  the theft risk of a 1992 honda 750 twin is like zero

theSchmett

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Re: Concerns Downgrading from Car to Scooter
« Reply #11 on: September 04, 2013, 08:46:35 AM »
I'll second (or third or fourth) a bike in this situation, as long as its safe enough to ride at  bike speeds vs. scooter speeds and you are healthy enough to handle the exercise.

What are your other transportation needs though? Is everything you need walking distance, or is zipcar or great transit available?

There are also electric assist bikes out there, they are spendy but probably much less than a 4 stroke scooter.

bpobst

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Re: Concerns Downgrading from Car to Scooter
« Reply #12 on: September 04, 2013, 04:08:00 PM »
There are no shoulders on the road and I do not feel comfortable riding my bike on a road like that. I realize that is the better option financially but it is just not for me. I do plan on walking at least half the time. I am more comfortable walking because I can easily walk off road in ditches or whatever to avoid reckless drivers. Either way going from over $500 a month (payment plus insurance) to less than $50 will be huge.

I do not really have any other transportation needs, the grocery store is less than a mile away and we can use my wife's car for anything further.

There are plenty of anchor type objects where I work so there will be no issue locking it up there. I will probably go the route of taking the scooter around back and locking it in our shed every day I use it. At least until/if I notice it causing damage to the area back there.

Definitely going to go with a scooter and not a motorcycle though. In VA if I go above 50cc or 35mph then I have to register and get a license and what not, definitely not something I want to hassle with. I will also be setting aside money for adequate safety gear. I have no worry of how cool or not I look as long as I get from point A to point B in one piece.

theSchmett

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Re: Concerns Downgrading from Car to Scooter
« Reply #13 on: September 04, 2013, 05:48:39 PM »
Sounds like you've covered all the angles.  Keep the board informed! I'm particularly curious about the scooter experience, I think scooter sharing at train stations where I live would be brilliant.

agent_black

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Re: Concerns Downgrading from Car to Scooter
« Reply #14 on: September 04, 2013, 10:05:13 PM »

There are also electric assist bikes out there, they are spendy but probably much less than a 4 stroke scooter.

I disagree.  A used 4 stroke will cost about the same as a good ebike and will go fast enough to keep up with traffic.  Any Honda or Yamaha will do fine.  Year doesn't matter, they always seem to have extremely low miles.   I used to have a scooter before my motorcycle and gas is almost a non issue.  $5 a week in gas on a 150cc and my commute was 3 times as long as yours.

The advantage to the ebike is that you do not need to register or insure it.  Some of these can get up to 30mph, but don't tell the cops that.

theSchmett

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Re: Concerns Downgrading from Car to Scooter
« Reply #15 on: September 05, 2013, 04:59:01 AM »
agent_black thanks for the info.  I didn't realize how inexpensive these could be.

ms.frugal

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Re: Concerns Downgrading from Car to Scooter
« Reply #16 on: September 08, 2013, 06:35:21 AM »
Don't buy a scooter!
In 2008, I decided when the gas price hit $4.00/gallon, I would buy a scooter and I did purchase a barely used scooter.  I rode it that summer and when I took it in for the first service, I discovered that it costs more than my car for routine maintenance.  I thought "It's time for me to do my own maintenance, etc." However, when a part breaks on the scooter, the part is very expensive to replace.  I have friends who bought different types of scooters and they have experienced the same thing.  Parts do break even if you are a gentle rider!
I bought an Aprillia scooter, which are nice scooters (like Vespa) not a cheaply made scooter that is consider "disposable".
During the same summer, I bought a bicycle.  I ride it a lot now and my scooter sits in the garage.  I ride it to work (about 6 miles each way) every day.  Ironically, I enjoy riding the bike a lot more than the scooter.  I stay warmer riding the bike in the winter and I am freezing on the scooter when it is 55 degrees outside.  I was surprised by this discovery.
Bottom line; if you want to save money, get a bicycle.  If you are determined to buy a scooter, I have one I will sell you.  :-)

agent_black

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Re: Concerns Downgrading from Car to Scooter
« Reply #17 on: September 08, 2013, 07:37:47 PM »
If he doesn't feel safe on it, he wont ride the bike without shoulders on the road, so basically a bike will sit in the garage.  I'm sorry you had a bad experience MS. Frugal.  I had a good experience with my cheapy Chinese scooter.  Maintenance on that thing was practically non existent.  No oil filter and .96 qts of oil.  Good ones have a filter though.   Someone mentioned motorcycles.  That's what I'm doing now the scooter couldn't handle the freeway to my new job.  It's still better than a car fuel, insurance and fun wise.

I kept the scooter though as there are no payments on it and I'm teaching my girlfriend to ride it, also serves as an emergency backup vehicle.

ohio4life

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Re: Concerns Downgrading from Car to Scooter
« Reply #18 on: September 09, 2013, 10:32:13 AM »
I live about as far as you from my work in a mostly urban area and commute using all of the methods mentioned in this thread. The scooter option is my favorite when I have to go somewhere immediately after work that is not on my normal commute path. Parking downtown is so expensive, so I never drive my truck downtown. My city offers a two wheel motorized parking sticker ($50), but the available parking areas are a bit far from my office, which mostly defeats the scooter advantage in my case.  If I get a ride to work then I'll walk home most days despite how cold or rainy it is. Biking is by far the cheapest and easiest method. My scooter wouldn't start last week (battery?) and I ended up just riding my bike the last 5 business days. I've almost convinced myself to sell the scoot (already sold the motorcycle earlier this year because of this blog). However, its been a bit cooler here and I don't have to worry about the sweating issue, which is why I prefer the scooter most summer days. I also used my bike for all weekend transportation needs this last weekend and found it to be a great way to get in my exercise during an otherwise busy weekend. Biking really is a great solution for me. This blog has convinced me to sell my truck and I think the scooter will be a good second vehicle for our household when I need it (girlfriend has a Prius). However, I may end up selling the scoot too.

This probably seems contrary to everything I just said, but I say buy the scoot if you really think you won't buy another car. You'll have it for other uses besides work commuting and selling a scooter for close to what you paid shouldn't be too hard if you end up not linking it or end up getting another car.

ohio4life

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Re: Concerns Downgrading from Car to Scooter
« Reply #19 on: April 08, 2014, 07:02:17 AM »
I realize this is an old thread, but maybe folks come upon these old discussions from searches.

I sold my truck last week and now only have a scooter and bikes. The truck was driven less than 3,000 miles from May 2013 until now, so it wasn't worth keeping. However, I almost had to rent a car already for a trip I had planned before its sale, but I offered $60 bucks to a friend and just delayed my trip a few hours. I would have spent $100 on a rental and the liability for dents and dings is never fun to think about when your trip is to a city.

I may actually use the scooter this week, but my guess I will ride it less than a day a week. I already paid the insurance ($200), registration ($50) and put a new battery in it ($80). The scooter also needs a full service and I'm inclined to take it in to get it done right. I'll be in to the scooter another $500 already this year. That's a lot of money for even a few rides a week. Since we have a local bus system and Car2Go, I think that I should probably sell the scooter. I'll get back most of the insurance money and will probably spend somewhere around $30 bucks a month on Car2Go and the bus without it.