Here's my new ride, as of today: the Buddy 170i Scooter!
Manufactured by Genuine Motors, based in the States, the Buddy combines European styling with modern scooter technology and convenience. The Buddy 170i has a very peppy 170cc engine, great gas mileage at about 90 MPG, with a top speed of 60+ MPH. More than enough for San Francisco street driving, and even legal to drive on the freeway.
After a good bit of research and consulting with friends, I decided that the Buddy was probably the right vehicle for me. Vintage Vespas are the platonic ideal of the perfect ride for scooter fanatics. But these are typically very expensive, and best suited for those who are mechanically inclined (i.e. not me). Yamaha and Honda both make their own "Italian style" scooters in the $2K range. But the Buddy had some strong word-of-mouth recommendations and seemed like a good compromise between a Vespa and an import knock-off.
Yesterday I visited the San Francisco Scooter Centre with my friend Jim to check out their bikes and hopefully test ride a Buddy. Laura and Diego were very helpful and knowledgeable about their scooters, and let Jim and I test ride a Buddy in the back alley. We both liked how the bike handled -- zippy, solid, maneuverable. I was sold.
Today I went back to the shop and picked up a Buddy 170i, their newest line of Buddy's, replacing their 150cc model. Those extra cc's mean that I can legally head over the bridge to Oakland or beyond if I wished. Not that you would really want to on such a tiny bike. But I could. You know, in case of a zombie attack or something.
And I love the color, British Racing Green with a racing stripe on the front.
My first ride of my Buddy was incredibly fun. The controls felt very intuitive and ergonomic, and she handled very solidly the bumpy streets of SF. Starting around 5pm, I did a short loop of the city starting in the Mission, heading toward Soma, shooting over to the Embarcadero, stopping at the Ferry Building for a Blue Bottle coffee and the In-N-Out at Fisherman's Wharf for a burger and fries. By the time I was ready to head home, it was dark out. The hilly ride between the Marina and the Inner Sunset was a bit challenging, but I got home without incident.
It's going to be tough not spending the entire day tomorrow riding around on my new scooter!