That's Yzma, my 18-year-old 50cc Yamaha scooter. She has served me well over the past two and a half years. However, the old girl has been breaking down more and more, and I'm beginning to resent putting more money into a dying machine, no matter how faithful she's been.
My first hope was to be able to go green and buy an electric scooter. Today I test drove the E-Moving brand that you see on the right.
The pros? Besides the environmental impact, it's super quiet. In fact, I believe it shuts off when you're stopped, or at least it sounds like it. The battery is easily removable from under the seat, making it simple to take to my 10th floor apartment for recharging. It also has a cool, automated kick stand—no more manhandling to squeeze your bike into a parking spot.
The cons? The top speed I could muster up on flat land was 47k/h in 'speed' mode and 35k/h in 'energy saving' mode. There's a highway overpass that I must travel on my way to and from work; E-Moving wasn't moving much when struggled to climb it at 30k/h.
The commercial on this page—first tab on the left hand side—shows two people riding up a pretty good grade. After testing this scooter myself, I'm sure Industrial Light and Magic had a hand in making that commercial.
If my commute were downhill both ways, and if I didn't live in Taiwan—where vehicle power is essential to avoid getting creamed by taxis, blue trucks, and the ever-present clueless drivers—I would consider buying one. That's not the case, so I took a look at gas powered bikes.
I discovered that for the exact same price as the electric model, I could get a brand new 125cc. I'm sorry, but as eco-friendly as I long to be, safety concerns overrule my inner liberal hippie.
So, here's the model that I'm considering, the Sym 高手 ("Master") XPro125.
The gas mileage it gets is 59 km/l (138 mpg).
It has more than enough power for my needs, especially considering that I’ve been making do with an old 50cc engine for so long.
As far as environmental impact, it's dead center on Sym’s Clean Power Scale.
Sunday I'm going to go back with a Taiwanese friend to verify the answers I think I got from the salesperson (Oh Chinese language, why do you taunt me so?). If I can manage to get financing, then I just may be the owner of a new scooter soon.
---UPDATE MARCH 27, 2012---
I bought the above model! I decided to go with the silver color.