The Honda Ruckus: A Scooter for , um, Real Men?

I saw one of these for the first time, parked in front of the library last week. Honda has been making these since 2002, selling them in Canada as the Zoomer and in the U.S. as the Ruckus.

When I bought a used Elite 80 for $650 in 1997 to go to grad school at FSU, I could count the scooters I saw around town on one hand. And it was still the case when I sold my Elite and bought my dream machine, a Vespa ET4 150 in 2002.

Times have surely changed. With inflation and the rise of gas prices, scooters have become popular, and many new models are available. But they have all tended to either borrow from the Italian look of the old Vespas and Lambrettas, as the Honda Metropolitan and the Velocifero do, or to look like modern sport bikes, or, (to me), like some of the more extreme athletic shoes.

The Ruckus, with its fat tires, its open, tubular frame, and its dual headlights, appears to have an off-road lineage. It makes me think of an all-terrain-vehicle or a Hummer. I imagined people bogging with them, and indeed, a little searching on the Ruckus turned up videos of Ruckus bogging. It is reported to get 100 mpg.

As with the Netbooks, I seem to have picked up on a viral product just as it begins to become contagious. Many fan sites and posts about it seem to have gone up over the summer. One writer likens the market for the Ruckus to that for the Honda Civic in the '90's, young guys without a lot of cash and with a taste for extensive customization. And the Ruckus is very affordable. At $2,149 for the 2009 model, it is cheaper than a Vespa by an order of magnitude.

I guess I was amused by the idea of a "bad" scooter. A scooter for rebels. A scooter with "attitude". Don't rebellious bad boys ride motorcycles, leather-jacketed Rockers sneering at art-school Mods on their girly scooters? But I don't suppose all that means a thing to young Americans in 2008. After all, Quadrophenia was released 35 years ago, (gulp!). To them, Harleys are for bandanna-headed grandpas who buy their machines complete with "biker" outfits in an expensive boutique. It's a brave new world...

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