You'd think choosing a scooter for something like the MBSR would be a simple thing.
But what to ride isn't the first thing you have to ask yourself - the first thing you need to ask is what kind of rider will I be?
Are you going full out to win? Then you'll need a 50cc, and you'll need to carefully consider which one.
Are you entering for fun, but want a small chance of winning, but don't want to outright hurt yourself with a marathon ride? You might be best to select a 125-150cc model.
Is your rear end made of glass, and you cannot be without an attached Cappuccino maker on your scoot? Then Maxi might be your preferred class. (That's part of the reason I'm taking a Maxi, but I'm also doing a sidecar with a passenger so a 50cc would.... definitely not work.)
Here's a breakdown of the Pros and Cons of each class of scooter:
The 50cc scooter is what the Mad Bastard Scooter Rally was created for - and really what it is all about. Points are awarded partly on the engine size, so 50cc is what you will need if you want a serious shot at coming out as the winner of the rally.
But it isn't as simple as just running out and grabbing anything 50cc or under. Not all small engine scooters are created equal.
A couple of years ago, there was an entry on a 40 year old scooter pretty much dragged straight out of a barn and put into the rally. It topped out (as I recall) at something like 40kph - if there wasn't a headwind. Or hill. Or too much pressure from sunlight. Or people looking at it.
The rider (again, as I recall) spent something like 22 hours before realizing it was mathematically impossible for him to finish. I have huge respect for that rider, especially given the rough conditions (rain all morning, cold) and how physically tough it is to power on through when your machine isn't powering much of anything at all.
But while I'm sure they got extra mad points... they didn't finish.
So first thing you need to look for in your 50cc is - how fast is it? You'll want it to go at least 60kph on the flat. Minimum. I used a Tomos Targa moped several years back which topped off at 65kph under best conditions - though it couldn't climb a hill if my life depended on it and it almost did. It took me 21 hours to get back to home back... and no bonus loop.
You'll need to balance age of the scooter (Older is more points) with power - things like the Kymco Super 9 liquid cooled 2 stroke scooter will go higher speeds, but will not get you as many points as something older. You can't go wrong with something like the Yamaha BWS 50 either - if its stock, you can pretty much pin the throttle and drive until the gas runs out. There are also things like the Honda Cubs if you want to go vintage - they can be quite reliable if in good condition and also can get you the scooter age points.
Mopeds - if your butt is up to the challenge, go for it - but know that you might be peddling a bit to get it up hills and might be out there a very long time indeed.
This is the sweet spot for having a chance to maybe win - and yet having something that you can hit 80kph on and maybe come close to doing the speed limit on the rural roads. My first MBSR was on a 150cc Kymco Bet and Win - a real tank of a scooter. It was something like 12-13 hours for us to finish (no bonus loop) and with a top speed of 90kph for the most part I wasn't holding up traffic.
They quite often have a good price point in the used market as well - they aren't as crazy cheap as a 50cc (which loses half its value every 30 seconds of riding) but they are available at a relative bargain price, and anything less than 15 years old and not jumped in a dukes-of-hazzard style - should be reliable and easy to drive. You probably won't win on this as the 50cc's really do have (rightfully so) a huge advantage, but you will have a shot if you do everything right.
Maxi scooters have a theoretical change of winning the MBSR. For example, if all of the smaller engine CC machines run off a cliff in lemming-like fashion, you might win. If a meteorite strikes the middle of the rally and sweeps away all the lighter machines, maybe you'll end up number 1 on the podium.
But I wouldn't hold my breath. (And I recommend you don't either. Breathing really is a wonderful thing.)
But the maxi scooters tend to have power to spare - making it easier to get to the rally. You can hop on a 400 series highway and not end up immediately as a SUV hood ornament. (It will take several minutes for that to happen with a Maxi.) You can bring your heated gear, coffee maker, bread maker and probably enough luggage for several weeks.
This is what you want if you're crazy, but not THAT crazy. You might talk to yourself, but you rarely argue with yourself in public. And almost never about setting fire to things, like the 50cc riders. (We won't mention the moped riders and what they mumble as they walk along in their dazed, crazed fashion.)
Plus if you are crazy enough, you can add a sidecar to your Maxi. Then you can bring along a passenger to slap you awake occasionally - or just to hand you a fresh Cappuccino.
As I said, there are many factors to weigh when choosing your ride - and it all comes down to how you want to ride the MBSR.
Just out to experience the event and have a pleasant days ride? A Maxi might be your best bet.
Looking to get a little madder, but you still have some social skills and sense of reality? Get something in the 125-150cc range.
Does your imaginary friend have an imaginary friend? You need a 50cc. And help.
Factor in age of the scooter - more points versus less reliability. Factor in practicalities as getting the scooter to the rally... will it take you several days of riding with a 50cc just to arrive, increasing the chances of you falling asleep and being eaten by a badger along the way? Do you want to buy a used, cheap, ugly machine and really go to town on the decoration?
Choose the way you want to MBSR - there is no wrong way to do it, and you'll have a great time any option you pick.
Unless you pick a moped. And then have to have it surgically removed. Because it's hard to live that down when you go to see your doctor.
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