Motorcycles, scooters become trendy way to commute

Mark Schneider
Mark Schneider
"Choppa Joe" Brooks
"Choppa Joe" Brooks

By Leland Kim - bio | email

MAPUNAPUNA (KHNL) - Record gas prices have forced many to drastically change driving habits. While prices at the pump here in Hawaii have come down a bit, they're still about 33% higher than last year. That means more people in Hawaii are giving up their gas guzzlers, and opting for fewer wheels.

The "vroom" of a motorcycle engine is the sound of money in your pocket. Besides looking cool, motorcycles get 40 to 60 miles per gallon, which means more bang for your commuting buck.

"Choppa Joe" Brooks was born to ride.

"I live Harley Davidson. I ride Harley Davidson," said Brooks, who commutes to town from Waianae. "Every morning I come to work on this V-Rod."

He's been riding since he was twelve, and says there's nothing like it in the world.

These days, more and more people are following Brooks' lead, and turning to two-wheeled transportation. Last month, sales at Cycle City in Honolulu jumped 40%.

"Everybody in the past that have bought SUVs, large vehicles, are looking for something less expensive to commute to work," said Mark Schneider, a sales manager at the dealership.

High gas prices equal strong motorcycle sales.

But even more popular are these Vespas. They get anywhere from 60 to 100 miles per gallon and if you can believe this, sales jumped a whopping 170% from a year ago."

This is the only Vespa dealership on the island, and these trendy scooters are speeding off the floor.

"We've actually run out of some inventory on it," said Schneider. "I mean we didn't anticipate it, sales being this good."

Whether you're looking for something that goes 40 miles an hour or 140, riders encourage car drivers to give two wheels a try.

"It feels so great when the wind blowing through your face," said Brooks. "Sometimes when the rain come down, I just get that lovely feeling."

A different way to commute, and a fun way to save money.

Nationally, motorcycle sales are up only 0.5%, but scooter sales are up 66%. So it's a growing trend that may have some longevity.