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Scooter makes him question his masculinity Add to ...

My husband and I have been talking all summer about buying a scooter. Since we're trying to save money, and most of our riding is going to be in the city, it seems to make sense. Due to his ego, our mutual decision to get a scooter has now morphed into a 650 Honda Shadow, which in my mind seems to completely defeat the original purpose of getting a scooter. So much for mutual decisions. Please tell me I'm right to insist on sticking with our original plan.

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If you're going for a masculing look, we suggest avoiding these Vespas, as displayed at the Piaggio Museum during Vespa's 60th anniversary celebrations in Pontedera, near Pisa, northern Italy.

Not to make any Freudian assumptions, but perhaps your man has his reasons for wanting a motorbike instead of a scooter.

Seriously though, ask your husband where this motorcycle versus scooter thing came from. Is he listening to his pals instead of you? If he is, there may be an issue at hand. If he values his drinking buddies more than his wife, you might want to ask yourself why. Just because your husband's friends are telling him he'll need to hide behind a full-face helmet if he's going to ride around on a scooter doesn't mean he has to listen. Has he ever been to Paris, or Rome? It would be tough to question the masculinity of the plethora of men riding scooters in Europe.

There are advantages to owning a scooter. For starters, they're reasonably inexpensive to purchase. Parking is easy to find, and it's usually free - sometimes you'll even wind up at a bicycle rack. If you're under 50 cc, insurance is next to nothing. I'm sure you also know that you'll save a bundle on fuel. How does somewhere around four bucks sound for a full tank of premium gasoline?

In cities where the cost of living is high, people want cheap transportation. Scooters are increasingly popular in cities like Vancouver, which has limited parking space available in the downtown core. A motorcycle, however, is a more versatile choice. Its power and speed make it more practical if you decide to travel outside the city, but it also gets decent gas mileage in town. On the other hand, do you already own another vehicle for weekend trips? And unless you live in southern California, what do you plan to do in the winter?

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Environmentally speaking, a scooter is obviously a wise choice. How many gas-guzzling cars with a single occupant do you see during rush hour? You could try and convince your husband to really go green, and purchase an electric scooter. Safety wise, riding any two-wheeled machine while contending with the rest of the traffic on the road has increased risks. If you want to straddle a motor and propel yourself on two wheels over asphalt at high speed, taking a safety course first will help save your life.

One of my friends purchased a scooter just over a month ago. His car is an Audi A4. He knows how to shoot a moose, and he's chopped at least a dozen cords of wood. He can kick a field goal, and score from the blue line. He has nothing to prove - but if he hadn't seen the wide use (and social acceptance) of scooters in Europe, he probably wouldn't own one. He's logged a thousand kilometres so far, and travelled to places in the city he wouldn't normally go with a car. He's only felt inadequate once: when he was stopped at a red light, surrounded by a dozen Harley-Davidson riders during an annual motorcycle Show'n'Shine. Understandable.

Believe it or not, there is a hierarchy in the world of scooters. If you want a certain cachet, an Italian model is the way to go. The Vespa snobs are the scooter equivalent of Harley owners. A Lambretta is the equivalent of owning a classic Indian motorcycle, and so on. But a Honda or Yamaha Vino would suit you just fine.

Back to my advice to you. You and your husband sat down and agreed on something, and now he's changing the game plan. Since a deal's a deal, and fair is fair, tell him if he wants a powerful motorcycle instead of a scooter, you're going to trade his pride and joy SUV for a Smart car.

If your husband sees the light and you get your way, would you please do the rest of us on the road a favour? Resist the temptation to beep your toy horn every time you pass another scooter.

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