A scooter (also referred to as a motor scooter to avoid confusion with kick scooter) is a type of motorcycle with step-through frame and a platform for the rider's feet. Elements of scooter design have been present in some of the earliest motorcycles, and motorcycles identifiable as scooters have been made from 1914 or earlier. Scooter development continued in Europe and the United States between the World Wars.
The global popularity of scooters dates from the post-World War II introductions of the Vespa and the Lambretta. These scooters were intended to provide economical personal transportation (engines from 50 to 250 cc or 3.1 to 15.3 cu in). The original layout is still widely used in this application. Maxi-scooters, with engines from 250 to 850 cc (15 to 52 cu in) have been developed for Western markets.
Scooters are popular for personal transport, partly due to being more affordable, easy to operate and convenient to park and store. Licensing requirements for scooters are easier and cheaper than for cars in most parts of the world, and insurance is usually cheaper.
Scooter-like traits began to develop in motorcycle designs around the 1900s. In 1894, Hildebrand & Wolfmüller produced the first motorcycle that was available for purchase. Their motorcycle had a step-through frame, with its fuel tank mounted on the down tube, its parallel two-cylinder engine mounted low on the frame, and its cylinders mounted in line with the frame. It was water-cooled and had a radiator built into the top of the rear fender. It became the first mass-produced and provided two-wheel vehicle, and among the first powered mainly by its engine rather than foot pedals. Maximum speed was 40 km / h (25 mph). The rear wheel was driven directly by rods from the pistons in a manner similar to the drive wheels of steam locomotives. Only a few hundred such bikes were built, and the high price and technical difficult made the venture a financial failure for both Wolfmüller and his financial backer, Hildebrand.
In France, the Auto-Fauteuil was introduced in 1902. This was basically a step-through motorcycle with an armchair instead of a traditional saddle. Production continued until 1922.
A United States Department of Transportation defines a scooter as a motorcycle that has a platform for the operator's feet or has integrated footrests, and has a step-through architecture.
The classic scooter design features a step-through frame and a flat floorboard for the rider's feet. This design is possible because most scooter engines and drive systems are attached to the rear axle or under the seat. is mounted on the frame, most modern scooters allow the engine to swing with the rear wheel, while most vintage scooters and some newer retro models have an axle-mounted engine. Modern scooters starting from late-1980s generally use a continuously variable transmission (CVT ), while older ones use a manual transmission with the gearshift and clutch control built into the left handlebar.
Scooters usually feature bodywork, including a front leg shield and body that conceals all or most of the mechanicals. There is often some integral storage space, either under the seat, built into the front leg shield, or both. Scooters have varying engine displacements and configurations ranging from 50 cc single-cylinder to 850 cc twin-cylinder models.
Traditionally, scooter wheels are smaller than conventional motorcycle wheels and are made of pressed steel or cast aluminum alloy, bolt on easily, and often are interchangeable between front and rear. Some scooters carry a spare wheel. Many recent scooters use conventional front forks with the front axle fastened at both ends.
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