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High gas prices and environmental concerns are helping scooter sales soar in Shelby County. And with fuel prices unlikely to decrease in the near future, local vendors are expecting these two-wheeled petrol sippers to become increasingly common on local roadways.
Steve Stuver, general manager of Auto Pointe of Shelbyville, said in the six weeks their dealership has been selling scooters, they have had a hard time keeping models in stock.
"Almost as soon as we get them assembled, we sell them," he said.
Stuver said most customers are interested in purchasing a scooter for their day-to-day commute around the community. Most folks start shopping for a scooter because they want an inexpensive and environmentally friendly way to get around, he said.
And with models that can get 100 miles per gallon starting at $1,300, Stuver said the cost of purchasing a scooter is often cheaper than taking a gas guzzler to work.
Shelby Riner, owner of Derby City Cycle, said the demand for scooters is overwhelming.
"They can't just make them fast enough," he said. "Right now we're on a waiting list."
Along with saving money at the pump, the scooters also streamline local commuting, Riner said.
"I can get right on, punch a button, zip downtown and find a parking spot with ease," he said. "It's great."
Riner said because of the recent interest in scooters, customers now have many choices when buying a scooter. Like automobiles and trucks, scooters range in features, quality and price.
Some of the more fuel stingy models now on the market can get up to 120 MPG and can reach 35 MPH. Other models, which have considerably larger engines and get less MPG, can reach speeds of over 100 MPH and can be driven on the interstate.
By state law, the scooters with large engines require proper licensing. Any model that has less than a 50 CC engine does not require a motorcycle endorsement or license to operate. Anything above that requires a motorcycle license and registration.
With the advances in scooters' design and increased gas prices, the public perception of scooter is changing.
J.D. Riddle, a local scooter owner, said people are shocked when they learn that he has got his Italian made 500 CC scooter up to 109 MPH on the interstate.
Riddle said his scooter is a blast to ride and also helps decrease his dependency on oil companies.
"I'm a rebel without a cause - saying 'in your face' to the gas companies," he said.
Recently, Riddle and a group of over 100 other area scooter riders rode from Louisville to Indianapolis on their scooters. Upon arriving at their destination, the group was allowed to take a lap around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
On the 260 mile trip, Riddle used only a little over four gallons of gas.
Riddle, who is a member of the Louisville Scooter Club, said he hopes to establish a scooter club in the community as more scooters are purchased locally.