In my last post, I relayed my focus on a scooter to solve my short distance transportation needs, essentially the daily trips to and from the METRA station, the grocery store, the coffee shop, etc. I should start by defining what I mean by “scooter”. I’m referring to a 2-wheeled open motor vehicle where the driver sits with legs together and feet on a floorboard, including one or two comfortable seats, storage underneath the seat, and the ability to have a locking top case with additional storage space for a helmet, groceries or other stuff. I’m not talking about the other kind of scooter that from my perspective is basically a skateboard with a stick handle mounted on it. I rode that stuff as a kid, but I’m not going to ride one of these for my daily commute to the train station. I’d look goofy, people are getting hurt or worse on them every day, and frankly, I wouldn’t trust myself on one of those.
My research found that 2-wheel motor vehicles are classified differently in each state. In Illinois, like many states, there are three classes. While the language on the DMV site is a little confusing, the classes are broken down based on how powerful the engine is (essentially how fast the vehicle can go). The lowest class (Moped) is limited to a 50cc engine (for gas vehicles) and can go approximately 25-30 mph. What is really cool about the Moped class is that all you need to ride it is an Illinois Driver’s license. Since they are limited in speed, there is no need for special training or license certification. The next class is called “L” and is for a 51-149 cc engine. Class L scooters can go up to approximately 40-45 mph. The final class is class “M”, essentially any motorcycle engine above 150 cc. Only class M motorcycles are allowed on highways (55 mph and above). To get a class L or M license in Illinois, you must pass a written and driving test that covers material specific to scooters & motorcycles.
When I examined my needs and desires, I quickly ruled out class M motorcycles. While the idea of long road trips to Sturgis, SD might be appealing to some, I was laser focused on solving my short distance transportation problem. Besides, I would need more hair to fit in at Sturgis, and motorcycles of that class did not fit my budget either. Plus, they are larger, harder to maneuver, and cost more to insure and maintain. It was a non-starter for me.
In my next post, I’ll cover the scooter training class that I chose to take, and more about the process of narrowing my choices.