How to ride a scooter

+54 votes
asked Jun 7 in Cars & Transportation by EarthaHaro21 (260 points)
edited Jun 30 by Kris

I’m going to be backpacking through Europe next year with a couple of close mates and they’re all really excited about the idea of hiring scooters and riding them across Italy. I think this sounds awesome, but I’ve got no idea how to ride a scooter. These other guys have ridden them before in Bali and Vietnam, but I’ve never ridden a scooter (or any kind of motor bike) and don’t want to embarrass myself trying to keep up with them. I also don’t want to crash and ruin the holiday (by either injuring myself or ending up broke because I have to pay for scooter repairs). I guess I’m asking:

  1. How to ride a scooter?
  2. Any safety tips?

7 Answers

+26 votes
answered Jul 2 by CoreyWilliam (380 points)
edited Jul 16

I’d try and get some practice in before the trip if I was you. I was looking at the same thing recently and came across this exact topic on the Frequently Asked Questions page of the Tuscany Scooter Rental website. Their response? “If you have not ridden one, then you should do so before you come to Italy because we are not a driving school and we don’t provide any lesson on riding, but only instructions on how to operate the Vespa.” So whilst they won’t stop you from hiring one without any previous experience, they highly recommend it as a safety precaution.

+9 votes
answered Jul 20 by DessieFinckh (580 points)
edited Aug 4
Whatever you do…leave your excess testosterone at home!! About 20 years ago I set off on a trip through Europe with a bunch of mates. We hired scooters (as you do) and decided we looked very suave on our bikes. So suave in fact, that we somehow managed to convince ourselves we could ride through the hills with passengers. We managed to convince a trio of attractive young Italian ladies to join us and we set off for a picnic. Hoping to show off our manly prowess, we decided to display our scooter skills (let’s face it; almost non-existent at this point). Fortunately we were still in the rolling hills of Tuscany and not the sheer cliff drop offs of Tuscany, because I accelerated too fast around a corner, ran off the road, crashed through a washing line (tearing most of the washing with me), continued on through some kind of itchy vine (I later broke out in an almost head to toe rash) and finally came to a rest in a very angry farmers front yard. Oh, and the picnic basket fell off and smashed. Needless to say, the picnic was over and the very unimpressed girls caught a lift back into town with the farmer.
+6 votes
answered Jul 25 by Tanja85T3132 (270 points)
edited Aug 14

When learning how to ride a scooter I cannot stress enough the importance of being vigilant at all times. I know you’re picturing yourself cruising through the Tuscan hills with not a care in the world, but the reality is you need to be constantly aware, particularly of blind spots (both your own, but perhaps more importantly, others). The Motorcycle Safety Foundation has a strategy they refer to as SEE:

  • Search for potential dangers
  • Evaluate possible hazards (cars stopping, turning, opening doors, etc.)
  • Execute the proper response to avoid danger and ensure your safety

They also emphasize the importance of learning to brake safely. You want to apply both the rear and front brakes at the same time, squeezing firmly, but never slamming them on (which will cause the tires to lock up and skid).

+5 votes
answered Jun 12 by PatrickTowns (260 points)
edited Jun 21

You will get better with practice, but certainly you shouldn’t be scared off hiring a scooter just because you don’t have any experience with one. Important things to remember include:

  • Some scooters will have a kickstand that you can kick up with your left foot (after climbing on of course). Others, however, may have what is known as a centre stand. If this is the case, you just keep one foot on the ground and roll yourself forward to lift the stand (may help if you ask what sort of stand it has when you’re finalizing the hire).
  • When turning the scooter on (most operate with a combination of key and starter button), make sure you haven’t got the throttle cranked on (if you’re gripping tightly to the right handle bar, chances are you are cranking the throttle).
  • Start slowly tilting your right hand back towards your chest – this is how you make a scooter go. Go slow at first! Whilst you’re still getting comfortable it is perfectly acceptable to leave one foot dangling (in case you have trouble keeping the bike upright)
  • Stopping is very important. Don’t take off riding until you of confident of how to operate the brakes! Generally you just squeeze both brakes gently, whilst (and this is important) putting a foot off to the side so you don’t just topple over when you come to a complete stop.

When you turn your scooter off, don’t forget to put the stand back down before you let go!

+3 votes
answered Jul 7 by LarueFairtho (230 points)
edited Aug 7
At the end of the day, riding a scooter is very similar to riding any kind of bike. The same principles of balance apply – whilst you’re moving forward, you can stay upright on two wheels. Once you stop, you will tilt over to the side. So long as you are prepared for this and drive cautiously at first, you shouldn’t have any problems.
+1 vote
answered Jun 12 by Missy (530 points)
edited Jul 2
Here’s a suggestion – if you don’t know how to ride a scooter, then don’t ride one! It’s idiots like you that make driving overseas dangerous!
+1 vote
answered Jun 19 by Oliva (710 points)
edited Jun 24
I think you can safely drive a scooter overseas, so long as you are sensible, obey the road rules and have comprehensive insurance (read the fine print!). My cousin went travelling through Europe last year and hired a scooter – the hire place gave a fairly thorough tutorial on how to use it, let her do practice laps around the parking lot until she was comfortable using it and then suggested she avoid driving in busy cities until she’d had a bit more practice.
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