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To some, the Woodward Dream Cruise is a heavenly celebration of America's love affair with the automobile. Just driving down Woodward these last few days has made people feel like the cars they're driving are a little bit cooler, the music they're cranking is a little bit better and the style they're sporting is a little more kickin'. For others, however, the Cruise and the gasoline consumption inherent therein is a wanton abuse of natural resources and a gluttonous disrespect for the atmosphere.

Could it be that Dream Cruising and Green Living are mutually-exclusive? Read on after the jump to find out.

Possibly not. Tucked away among the rumbling muscle cars, beastly choppers and boat-like sedans that overwhelmed 9-mile Road in Ferndale on Saturday, Jeff Buttrell happily answered questions from passers-by who were eyeing the Vespa scooters sitting beneath the awning of his company's trailer. The European-designed modes of transport looked out of place surrounded by an environment oozing with so much Americana -- like stuffy French artists drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes in a crowd of beer-guzzling NASCAR fans. But the point is that the Vespas were there, and people were interested.

With rising gas prices, Buttrell, who owns Detroit Eurocycles in Eastpointe, Mich., says that his business is certainly increasing. While some might think it strange to be hawking gas-sipping scooters to muscle-car enthusiasts, Buttrell might not be too far off the mark.

"These guys with their muscle cars obviously aren't in it for the gas mileage," Buttrell remarked, "but I have had several cruisers come in here and say it would be nice not to have to drive around at 12 and 13 miles per gallon."

While it might be unlikely that your muscle car enthusiast will give up his '69 Fastback for a Vespa scooter, there are certainly folks out there choosing the Vespa over other modes of transportation.

The fact that scooters get 60-80 miles per gallon has not gone unnoticed -- scooter sales have doubled since 2000 and are up 19.7 percent over last year, according to the Motorcycle Industry Council.

Gas prices can't take all the credit for Detroit Eurocycles' increasing sales, however.

"Some of it is just due to the fact that scooters are growing in popularity," said Buttrell. "It's a lifestyle thing."

In fact, one of Buttrell's customers will participate in the Cannonball Run, a 3,293 mile endurance race for scooter riders. The race begins in Pacific City, Oregon on September 10 and ends in Orange, New Jersey nine days later. The primary route runs along highway 20/26, the original Oregon Trail, and has become something of a holy journey for scooter owners.

As their popularity has grown, scooters have also become more rider-friendly. Whereas in their early days most scooters had manual transmissions, now Buttrell's Vespas have continuously-variable transmissions (CVTs) much like the ones coming out as options on vehicles such as the Dodge Caliber and various Nissans. Electric starters have also made their way into the technological innovations offered by modern scooters, doing away with the traditional kick starter and improving ease of operation.

The 50 cc Vespa LX 50 Buttrell has on sale can be registered as a moped, which does not require a motorcycle license or insurance, and it can be picked up for a pocketbook-friendly $3,299.

The other Vespas sitting on 9-mile were also fairly cost-effective, with the next model up from the LX 50, the LX 150, coming in at $4,199. The model line tops out with the GTS 250 IE, which sports a 250 cc motor, 12-inch wheels, a top speed of 75 mph, and a price tag of $5,799. Vespa also offers up a retro-style scooter, the PX 150, a cult-status favorite that has been reintroduced after a 20-year break. The classic scooter offers up traditional four-speed manual transmission and goes for $4,199. Buttrell says that the LX series represents his best-selling line -- no doubt due to their cost-effective pricing and fuel-sipping nature.

No lifestyle choice would be complete without accessories. Buttrell's Vespa accessory offerings include retro-style helmets, custom seats, aluminum handles and chrome kits. Vespa also has a full line of apparel, including riding jackets and pants to complete the look.

In addition to the Vespas Buttrell brought to the Cruise, Detroit Eurocycles sells a number of other scooters, off-road bikes and motorcylces, including brands such as Piaggio, Aprilia, Moto Guzzi, KTM and Bajaj, as well as a number of pre-owned offerings.

Muscle cars? Not exactly, but certainly Dream Cruise-worthy.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 8 Years Ago
      Wow, DriftPunch relax, this isn't a competition. I never said it was too hard or I didn't have the "lowest common denominator skills".
      • 8 Years Ago
      I agree with DriftPunch. Glacia00, you should get the license. I just did it a couple of days ago and I'm already thinking I'll make the $60 of combined fees for the test and license back in gas in a month.

      If you rode in Europe for 3 years you are probably exactly the kind of rider we need on the roads over here.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Not an attack on you, just a comment on how easy the test is... It should not be feared. It's not the final exam after a roadracing training course.

      • 8 Years Ago
      in illinois you can use the scooter to obtain your motorcycle license- kinda scary as i can drive a scooter, but not sure about a mototrcycle- other than i can legally be on one
      • 8 Years Ago
      It's funny but my gf and I were just looking at scooters last night. I lived in Europe for 3 years and it was the best transportation I've ever had. Unfortunately where I live now you need a motorcycle license to drive one so that will probably put an end to our thoughts of getting one. Of course driving is so testosterone driven in the US they just never catch on here.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Regarding Detroit Eurocycles - I have yet to have a positive experience with them. In fact, last time I was in there I received 3 completely different quotes (each higher than the last) on a Piaggio scooter in their showroom.

      This has lead me to wonder if it may be worth putting my professional career on hold and striking a deal with Genuine Scooters out of Chicago where I'd start the Detroit Scooter Company.

      You could order scooters in any color from me, as long as its black.:)
      • 8 Years Ago
      So, why not get the license. I've had mine for years, and it was very easy to get. If you don't have the lowest common denominator skills needed to get the license, you shouldn't be riding a scooter anyhow!
      • 8 Years Ago
      Driftpunch is right though, the larger displacement scooters and small displacement motorcycles (like the Ninja 250) can be better choices if any high speed (40+ mph) traffic is going to be involved. At those speeds, many small displacement scooters don't have enough power to get out of their own way. At least with a little more power you can keep up with traffic properly.

      Oh and just because you're riding a scooter does not mean you can skimp on safety gear. Wear a helmet and proper jackets/pants. Most deadly motorcycle accidents happen well within a scooter's performance envelope and aren't the motorcyclist's fault.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Scooters are great for Cali weather: No afternoon thunderstorms, no winter(Socal) However they are not a viable alternative to cars in other areas.

      As a recreational motorcycle rider, my personal opinion is that small scooters are very dangerous as they can't keep up with traffic. This makes them exposed to a constant flow of passing cars and additionally, forces them to hug the right which makes them harder for traffic pulling out to see. Is this their fault? No, but it's the street enviromnent. IMO, a small bike (like a NightHawk 250) or a high displacement step through is far superior for only a little more money and a little less mileage...
      • 8 Years Ago
      I have a 2004 Honda Reflex 250cc "maxiscooter". I have just started riding it on the freeway regularly in order to cut my work commute time, but I still mostly ride on surface streets. It's a great scooter, has enough power to keep up with most traffic, and gets 63-70mpg.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I commute in N Carolina almost year around on a motorcycle that "only" gets about 45 MPG. My quick calculations tell me that I saved almost $2,000 in gas. Subtract the helmet, jacket, insurance and loan payments, and I still clear over $1,000 savings.

      Ride safe.
      • 8 Years Ago
      As #1, rodan has pointed out, it's wanton, not wonton! But, as I said about the Chrysler "Fowerpower" blog, "This site is more fun for its non-existent editing than it is for its intended content!"
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