Pros: Great gas mileage, fun to ride
Cons: After a year either battery or starter needs replacing
Scooters have risen in popularity due to insane gas prices the last few years. It’s easy to see why: they’re highly fuel-efficient and require very little maintenance. Plus, they’re a blast to ride, perfect for running errands, commuting to and from work, and just plain joy riding. I’ve been riding a Genuine Roughhouse 50 (2010 model) for a year now, and after nearly 700 miles, I have to say that I’m very pleased with my purchase.
These scooters are actually manufactured by Taiwan-based PGO (founded in 1964) and distributed in the United States by the Genuine Scooter Company under the Genuine moniker.
The Roughhouse 50 is a 50cc scooter, no gears. It’s got about as much power as that old mini-bike you used to ride as a kid. That being said, I’ve regularly gotten mine up to 50 MPH, and it’s able to beat most cars off the light. Roughhouse’s average somewhere between 50-70 miles per gallon (I average about 50, but I ride faster than the speed limit and Colorado Springs is a very hilly city, both of which contribute to gas usage.) Even with high gas prices, I can nearly fill it up for $2.00 a shot.
This sporty little bugger also features dual-sport knobby tires, meaning that you can take it on dirt roads if need be. It has an under-seat storage for errands to the grocery store (it’ll fit, for instance, two four-roll packages of toilet paper with little room for more, or a half-gallon of vodka and a couple 24oz sodas,) and has an optional rack (mine came equipped with this.) You can also purchase and install a top case for more storage.
The Roughhouse 50 features a 50cc, 2-stroke, air-cooled engine. Thus, you must use only 2-stroke oil in it (easily added to the reservoir in front of the seat.) My dealer recommends checking the oil level every couple of tanks of gas or so, so it is one of the maintenance things you must remain diligent about. The dipstick is conveniently located in the back of the bike, so this is a simple check. The engine is a single-cylinder with reed valves. It requires only regular unleaded gas. The break in period for the engine is 500 miles, during which it’s recommended that you not ride it wide open and throttle back on a regular basis as you ride.
Suspension-wise, the Roughhouse has a telescopic front fork and a mono rear shock. The suspension is a little stiff—despite its presence, I still feel each and every bump and hole that I ride over, so I wish that it was a bit cushier. Tire sizes are 120/90-10 in the front and 130/90-10 in the back. Basically, the tires are fat enough to give a rider confidence as she leans into curves and corners; so far, I’ve never had any problems with grip. The front brake is a disc brake while the rear brake is a drum. One thing you should be aware of is that the brake handles are opposite of those on a bicycle: in this case, your left brake handle is your rear brake. If, like me, you’ve spent years as a cyclist, this can take some getting used to.
This scooter has both an electric starter and a kick starter for emergencies. Both methods require the same method of starting: you have to engage the rear brake and crank the throttle a bit as you start it (actually, either brake handle will work, but I’ve found it easier to use the rear brake when starting.) This raises the only problem I’ve had with this thing since I purchased it: the electric starter (or the battery) is already dead. This happened right after a particularly nasty bout of rain our area experienced a couple months ago. Whether this caused the starter (or battery) to go out, or if it just died, I have no idea. But the kick start still works just fine, so that’s what I use until I get around to replacing it.
The scooter also has a front wheel lock for when not in use. Simply turn the key past “off” when you turn it off, and as you do so, move the handlebars to the left, and the front wheel will lock in place. The Roughhouse also comes with a Stebel “Bad Boy” intimidator horn (loud as hell,) so you can make your presence known in heavy traffic if need be. In terms of lights, they come with standard high-beam and low-beam and fire up as soon as you start the scooter.
The turn signal is easily accessed with your left thumb and turns on with a simple push to the left or right (and an easy push of the button to turn the signal off.) I’ve noticed that the signals sound kind of loud when you’re sitting at an intersection, it seems as though everyone walking nearby can hear it.
There are also two handy kickstands. One is two-sided and you pull the scooter up onto it, the other is a handy one-piece that leans the scooter to the left, similar to a motorcycle. However, if you’re going to use the kick start, you’ll need to use the two-sided pull up, as it interferes with the kick start when not engaged.
You’ll be happy to know that it easily rides two people in case you ever have the need to transport a passenger.
Genuine offers a 2-year, unlimited mileage warranty on these (parts such as brake pads, cables, tires, bulbs, and belts are not covered, and the battery is covered for just one month after purchase,) which includes two years free roadside assistance, similar to AAA. If you’re out for a ride and you break down, just call the number on the card they send you and someone will come out and assist your mechanical issues. MSRP is $1,999, not counting dealer markups and preparation charges. I paid $2500 for mine. Considering the fact that I’m able to fill up for two bucks and only have to fill up every month or so, this thing will pay for itself in no time.
Laws vary from state to state, but here in Colorado, here’s how it works for a 50cc scooter: although it’s classified as a “motorized bicycle,” you do have to have a valid driver’s license in order to operate it. You also have to carry at least liability insurance. However, the scooter does not require license plates. Once you show proof of insurance to your dealer, they provide you with a sticker, good for three years. Be sure, however, to check out the requirements for your city and state before purchasing.
Once you immerse yourself into it, scooter culture, like motorcycle culture, is quite fun. We smile a lot, we wave at each other, and have actual conversations at stoplights. We have rallies and group rides. Basically, we’re out there having a good time while riding. Whether you are looking for fun, or for a secondary (or even primary) mode of transportation, a scooter could be a good option. If you’re in the market for a 50cc scooter, be sure to check out the Roughhouse 50 as you do your research. I have a blast on mine, and I’m glad I bought it. You could be, too.