The golden mean

Scooters are flooding our streets. Even bicycle companies have taken up the production and trade of small unicycles.

The golden mean

The first scooters were very simple and cheap. With time, the designs became more sophisticated – both stylistically and technically. Today, these are modern vehicles equipped with automatic transmissions and fuel injection. Thanks to this, Poles are beginning to appreciate the advantages of these small motorcycles.

Scooter boom

The number of scooters in Poland has grown exponentially. Last year more than 20 thousand were sold, while in 2000 – only 3 thousand. Why this change? Among other things, this is the effect of falling prices – the competition is fierce, because scooters are imported to us en masse from China, Taiwan and Korea.

Arkus&Romet Group sells, apart from bicycles, scooters manufactured by Romet Motors in cooperation with SMC from Taiwan. The cheapest model – Router XS 50 costs less than 4 thousand zlotys. Their competitor, the Kross company, also a bicycle tycoon, offers the Vapor model for less than PLN 3,500. And in Poland you can still buy vehicles of such brands as Lifan, Daelim, Kymco, Motobi, Keeway, Malaguti, TGB, SYM, whose prices oscillate around 3-4 thousand zlotys.

In the motherland

Scooters were born in Italy – a poor country, affected by war and immersed in economic crisis. Enrico Piaggio owned an aircraft factory, Ferdinand Innocenti an ammunition factory. When the war ended, both were left with almost no means of livelihood. The first two scooters were created almost simultaneously and today it is difficult to decide who was the first. The fact is that they are linked by the engineer Corradino D’Ascanio – the originator of the scooter modeled on a small British motorcycle. D’Ascanio first worked for Innocenti, then moved to Piaggio.

Piaggio plants presented their scooter called Vespa (in Polish “osa”) in 1946. A year later, Innocenti’s company showed the Lambretta (the name probably comes from the name of the Lambro river, which was near the factory at the time). The first designs were reminiscent of small motorcycles, and the diagonal – the most characteristic feature of scooters – was born somewhat by accident as a result of the construction of a self-supporting (frameless) body of pressed sheet metal. This and the gradual introduction of metal sheets to cover those parts of the vehicle that could get dirty determined the appearance and design of the scooter for the next 50 years. Even in Poland, scooters were produced – the Warsaw Motorcycle Factory in Minska Street was building, nomen omen, wasps. Thanks to them, the 1960s will always be associated with colorful scooters on the streets.

Utility scooter

The increased affluence of European countries and the importation of cheaper motorcycles from Japan than those manufactured in Germany or Italy caused the extinction of scooters. People started buying cars, and those who wanted to ride unicycles started buying faster and more perfect motorcycles. The scooter was no competition for them. In the seventies Vespa, Lambretta and other brands disappeared from the market. Paradoxically, scooters made a comeback thanks to those who had wiped them out – the Japanese. Because it was Honda and Yamaha that decided to reintroduce these vehicles to the market. In the 1990s, the Piaggio company was reborn, which today produces scooters under the Vespa, Piaggio and Gilera brands. The Japanese launched a new generation of scooters, the so-called megascooters, which are large vehicles with engines with a capacity of up to 650 cubic centimeters designed for tourism.

Today, a scooter is no longer the only means of transport in the family, but primarily a utility vehicle. The return of fashion for scooters has manifested itself in cities. Nowadays scooters are a normal sight on crowded streets squeezing between cars standing in traffic jams. Small, colorful vehicles are easy to operate, burn little gasoline. Plastics are used in their production and they are equipped with automatic gearboxes for ease of use. But so far they have not created around them the magic that surrounded them in the 60s.

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