Back to Basics – Starting Your Scooter

Woman with scooter It has struck me that, in this blog, I often talk about more advanced techniques for safe scooter riding, but haven’t provided much discussion about some of the most basic things – like actually starting your scooter and taking it off its stand. I’m going to devote a little time to that now.

Now, before I begin, I’d like to say that there really are no hard-and-fast rules about starting your scooter, and taking it off of the stand. If the way you currently do it works for you, then there is likely no reason for you to change it.

I will, however, outline the method that works the best for me, and others that I have seen in my experience.

The thing that we, as scooter riders, have to contend with is that most modern scooters with CVT transmission (i.e. “automatic” scooters), have no real clutch. Therefore, when the engine is running, the rear wheel will want to be turning. It’s that spinning rear wheel that we have to contend with and, therefore, is our greatest concern regarding safety.

Personally, I don’t like to have that rear wheel spinning while the scooter is on the stand. It is a bit of a “loose canon”. I have seen scooters shimmy their way across a garage floor like this, and I have seen some quite amusing unintentional launches when that spinning wheel makes contact with the ground.

For this reason, I always recommend starting the scooter once it is off of the stand, and you are sitting astride it.

But first, lets address actually getting the thing off of the stand. Of course, I’m talking about centre or main stands here. Some scooters are equipped with side-stands which, obviously, are much easier to deal with – as long as you remember to put it up before  you ride off!

Some scooters can put up quite a fight when trying to coax them off of the stand, so here is a basic method that should work for most people.

  1. Sit astride the scooter – on the saddle if you can reach the floor with both feet. If you can’t reach the floor with both feet, stand in front of the saddle in the “step-through” part of the scooter, with the front of the saddle touching your, umm, rear-end.
Both hands on the handlebars.
  1. Hold the rear brake (left lever).
  2. Now, shift your weight back if you are sitting on the saddle, or apply pressure to the front of the saddle with your body if you are not. Pull back on the handlebars, and rock the scooter back. Try to get the rear wheel to touching the ground.
  3. Once you have got the scooter as far back as possible, push forward with your hands, and your feet, and use the forward momentum to push the scooter off of the stand. If it doesn’t work, rock back again, and try once more.

The reason I say to hold only the rear brake is that if the front brake is applied, then it may stop you at the crucial moment as the front wheel touches the ground. This may also interfere with the correct action of the stand retracting to its folded position.

Now we have the scooter off the stand, with you sitting on the saddle.

Most modern scooters have an electrical interrupt which will stop the machine starting unless one of the brakes are applied.

From this point, I would again apply the rear brake (to act directly on the wheel which will want to turn, and also to leave your right hand free to operate the starter), reach down and switch on the ignition with your right hand, and start ’em up!

You’re ready of the off! Time for the scan to see what traffic and hazards you have to deal with, mirror check, consider a signal – and that all-important shoulder check.

Thank you to my more seasoned riders for bearing with me with this back-to-basics post. I’ll be back to the regular subjects with the next post.

If you have a different method that works for you, feel free to to let us know in the comments!

Until next time, Scoot Safely!

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