Posts tagged: Moped

Let’s Get Mo’Tarded in Here

By , June 2, 2010

Look what I bought! If you click the picture, it will get bigger. If you still cannot tell exactly what that is, well, it is a moped. That is sort of like a scooter, but not quite. Imagine a motorcycle and a bicycle mating, and the resulting offspring would be a moped. I can zoom around on it as I would a scooter, but if I am out of gas, or in stealth mode, I can pedal it like a bike. Unlike a motorcycle or scooter, I can park it on a sidewalk with a U-lock, just as I would a bicycle; and I don’t need a special driver’s license to operate it.

Why did I buy it? Well, I have talked for years of buying a scooter, but never got around to it, but recently my friend Candice bought a moped and that reignited my desire to own such a contraption. She explained the neat benefits of a moped over a scooter, as well as the intriguing culture that exists around the things, and I was sold. Now we both have mopeds! Even better, we have started a moped gang, the Mo’Tards. Candice is the president, and I am Vice President. We’re doing our best to recruit members. Our friend Holly said she might buy one, so maybe she’ll be in the gang, too.

I had an interesting time of things the night I bought the moped. First, while sitting next to my new bike on the sidewalk in front of a mini-mart, I had a funny exchange with an old man:

Salty Old Man: Nice old moped, kid.
Me: Thanks!
Man: How long ya’ had it?
Me: Oh, about four hours.

Later, I had my first adventure!

I bought the moped in San Jose from two really cool guys who rebuild them. They were helpful and generous, and gave me some free tools and parts. Coincidentally, one of them had JUST sold a 1957 Chrysler Windsor, a super-rare car that happens to be what I drive, and he gave me some spare body parts he had for the car. Anyway, kind and helpful though they were, they underestimated something important– I asked how far I could expect to get on a tank of gas, and was told I could go 60-70 miles. As Oakland is only 47 miles from San Jose, I was confident I could make it home on the then-full tank.

I did zoom about San Jose a tiny bit– I met my friend Jessica for food and drinks, then later rode her home on the back of it– but I definitely did not go more than 5 or 6 miles before embarking for home. As mopeds are not freeway-legal, I was zooming along the backroads to get home. Just as I hit E. 14th St., still more than 10 miles from home, I ran out of gas! At midnight, at the far end of the most crime-ridden and dangerous part of Oakland!

While they run on regular gasoline, one cannot add just gas to a moped’s tank. One must add two-stroke racing oil in proportion to the gas– mine needs 3.2 ounces of oil per gallon of gas. No gas station sells that oil, so I was forced to shift to pedal mode and bike the last stretch. Mind you, a moped has only one gear, so it was arduous pedaling, and the thing weighs, ummm, I don’t know how much it weighs, but it is very heavy.

For the next two hours, between midnight and 2:00 am, I slowly pedaled my way home from E. 14th St. & 159th Ave. I was cat-called by at least half a dozen “Ladies of the Night,” and explained what a moped is to someone at nearly every red light. Boy howdy, by the time I made it back to the Port of Oakland I was plumb tuckered out. The end.

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