If you’re one of the growing number of scooter riding commuters then you should give yourself a pat on the back because you’re largely responsible for propping up the struggling UK bike market.
The only significant two-wheeled growth area at the moment is in the scooter segment. Overall scooter sales were up by 11.7% last year (compared to 2010) and the figures for 2012 are even more encouraging. Hopefully the British public have finally woken up to the fact that a modern scooter will save them money and just as importantly time, plus it’ll open up a whole new world of freedom. That’s where a scooter like the Peugeot Tweet RS fits in, it’s a fairly basic but good looking 125, costing just £1999 on the road, or £1799 with the promotion if you’re quick (it ends on 31st August). The purchase price is just the start of your savings though; we’re talking cheap insurance and 80mpg on average, so to see how the figures stack up we took it out to Oxford, which is the 13th most congested city in Europe according to a Tom Tom survey.
Being a rural lad and working from home I don’t often have to worry about congestion (which may seem strange for somebody running a website called 2commute!). On the odd occasion that I do venture out into the big bad world it still makes me wonder why regular car driving commuters would prefer to sit feeling agitated and frustrated in stationary traffic as they waste precious chunks of their life eventually getting to a job that they probably hate. Why don’t more of them switch to two wheels? After all it only takes a simple one-day CBT course (you don’t even need that if you’re only planning to ride a moped and you passed your car test before Feb 2001) and you could be on the road. If you’re reading this and haven’t yet taken the plunge what are you waiting for?
For most folks an early Monday morning journey isn’t something you look forward to but if you’re wearing the right clobber and you’re doing the trip on two wheels it’s much more appealing. It’s freezing cold, windy and I’ve got a 270-mile day ahead of me. Not to worry because I’ve wrapped up warm in the latest biking gear and have my excellent heated Oxford vest plugged into the battery on the Sym Maxsym 400 I’m using for the trip down to Oxfordshire. The 120-mile journey down to Witney to pick up the Peugeot Tweet RS 125 will take two hours and 19 minutes according to the sat nav. It’s rush hour and if I was doing the journey by car I’d allow an extra hour or more, by maxi scooter I know the journey (even with a fuel stop and probably some filtering thrown into the equation) will be quicker than the sat navs prediction. As expected slow moving/stationary traffic litters the M1, M42, M6 and M40 along the route but I reach Witney 12 minutes before the Tom Tom’s schedule. The only time I had to put a foot to the floor along the way was in the fuel station. It may have been a mostly motorway route but I still enjoyed the ride and arrived toasty warm, early and above all else – stress free. Despite riding quite quickly the Sym still returned 51.58mpg on the journey, which isn’t bad at all.
Just time for a quick cuppa with my Peugeot Satelis riding companion and Oxford tour guide, Dan whilst we connect the excellent Interphone intercoms then it’s time for me to get on the Tweet RS 125 for the 10-mile journey into Oxford. Imagine this is your daily commute, a 20 mile round trip on a mixture of rural and urban roads with plenty of stop/start traffic and you’re doing it in a 40mpg car. You’ll do the journey twice to a gallon of fuel, or four times on the Tweet in much less time and you could park for free when you get there, that’s half the fuel which is a huge saving over a year. We took the scenic route on the way there which included a local toll bridge, free to scooters but car drivers have to pay for the privilege. After seeing a few sights along the way, complete with a running commentary via the Bluetooth headset, we easily negotiated our way into the busy city and quickly found a free place to park in the heart of historic Oxford. A quick latte break to warm up, a few photos as we dodged the students and we were on the road again, heading back towards the sleepy village of Witney for a very civilised gastro pub lunch. Until you experience the benefits of two wheels for yourself you’ll find it hard to understand just how much easier life can be. Just the everyday minor inconveniences, like a set of road works or a minor accident can ruin your time keeping in a car, whilst a scooter can safely get to the front of the queue and be first away from the lights, perfect. Scooters are the only sensible way to commute, fact.
The Tweet RS is a very nimble little scooter; you can perform feet up U-turns in the smallest of spaces in complete control. You can also filter through the tightest of gaps and although the engine is a simple air-cooled four stroke lump it’s quite nippy and accelerates very well. In fact it was capable of keeping up with the 500cc Satelis away from the lights and will do around 63mph at the top end, probably more like 65 if you get your head down a bit. The Tweet is perfect for the daily commute, thanks to it’s 16” wheels which iron out the troublesome bumps that can affect the stability of a smaller wheeled scooter. It’s also got powerful disc brakes at both ends, complete with wavy discs. This RS version is Peugeots special edition Tweet so it comes with the usual Peugeot RS detailing, like red stitching on the seat, polished edges to the black alloys and of course the ‘RS’ stickers, it costs just £50 more than the base model. The Tweet also has a smart looking digital dash complete with funky blue backlighting, fuel gauge and trip function, for storage the Tweet has a small glovebox and some space under the seat (admittedly not large enough for a full face helmet but you’ll get an open face in there), the scooter has a rear luggage rack too, again quite small but you can attach a top box if you need extra lockable space. All in all it’s great value for money and cheaper than buying a second car.