I've put just under 300 miles on my new Hooligan in the past two weeks, commuting back and forth to work daily and using it to run a bunch of errands, so here are some notes from the perspective of a novice scooter operator.
It's a comfortable ride. When I test drove a few models down at Vespa Portland, I went down Water Ave. to OMSI. It's a route I know from a daily bike commute, and I'm unhappily familiar with the sorry state of the pavement. A Piaggio I test-drove did okay with some buckled and cracked pavement compared to a bicycle, but the Hooligan's dual rear shocks, heavy frame, and fat 12" wheels smoothed things out considerably. That's been my observation on all sorts of bad streets: Something that would rattle my teeth on a bike becomes a muffled thud under the wheels of the Hooligan.
The seat height is just right for me. I can easily put both feet down at a stop, but it's so light that I don't mind putting just one foot down. There's plenty of room to scoot back and forth on the seat, and I can even rest my feet far forward on the back of the cowling.
The mirrors are a little tightly spaced, so I have to pull my arms in a bit to get a full field of view behind me. I think extension bars are in order.
The instruments are simple: There's a large analog tach (which is an odd thing to do for an automatic transmission, but I guess it's useful to gauge how hard it's going even if it doesn't indicate redline), a smaller digital speedometer, and an odometer with two trip positions.
It has plenty of underseat storage, but I've used up most of it with a few tools, my cargo net, and some wet weather gear. I added a rack to mount a topcase that's big enough to hold my XXL full-face helmet when I'm parked, and that's also plenty to haul a few days of groceries.
I'm still being nice to it through its break-in period, but at 300 miles I've ridden it in all the scenarios I imagined I'd use it for. I just try to avoid full throttle:
I read one wildly irresponsible review that suggested it'd be a good "freeway" scooter, but at a top manufacturer's speed of 61 and a very light 278 pounds dry, that sounds bananas. At 55-60 miles per hour, it feels stable but I can feel the wind moving me around. I ordered a windscreen to help with both the upcoming rainy season and the wind, but I can't imagine taking it out on 205 or i84: I'd have to run it flat out the entire time, and wind shear from passing trucks would be intense.
On surface streets, it's fast enough. I can get away from traffic at stop lights, there's plenty in reserve to pass and maneuver at 35 miles per hour, and on busy McLaughlin I can keep up without worrying too much about fast-merging traffic. On the very steepest hills it accelerates more slowly, but can still get up to the speed limit just as fast or faster than surrounding cars.
It feels very maneuverable to me. With plenty of throttle in reserve, it took me just a day or two to get comfortable switching lanes in busy morning traffic, even with just a length or two of clearance in the lane I was entering. The front-and-rear disc brakes have allowed me to come to some fast stops to avoid (jaywalking) pedestrians darting out from behind parked vehicles, and I've comfortably swerved around a few cars that nosed too far out into my lane. I'm not great at curves or cornering, but I can tell I'm growing into it, and there seems to be plenty there.
This is my first scooter, and it's been an interesting couple of weeks.
I was really intimidated the day I took it home. Anything above 25 felt "fast," I was dealing with 5 p.m. traffic, and I wasn't comfortable finding all the controls by touch. I just reminded myself to give the cars in front of me a lot of room, and I took it easy. When corners and curves spooked me, I remembered not to brake, but to ease off.
I've found habits of thought I cultivated as a bicyclist very helpful:
That first rule has definitely helped once or twice, and possibly helped a few other times, because I suspect using it enabled me to side-step potential problems that never got to grow into real ones.
The training I got from Team Oregon has also been incredibly useful. They set a high standard for safety, and I'm still remembering to practice what I learned in their course.
I look forward to getting on it each day, but it's with an interesting dual awareness: There's the part of me that can't wait to hop on and take off because it's really fun, and I find myself thinking up reasons to take it out. And there's the part of me that feels a little bit of resistance, because the price of fun is eternal vigilance.
I looked at the Hooligan as a compromise purchase when I bought it. I knew I wanted to be able to do some highway motorcycling at some point, but I also knew with the good riding season coming to an end soon that I wouldn't feel safe being out on the highway this year.
The motorcycles I was considering as appropriate for a beginner seemed marginal for longer trips and faster roads, and they aren't as practical as a scooter for the bulk of the riding I'm doing right now: Back and forth to the store and work on busy surface streets.
So, I'm happy with the decision to wait until spring to buy a motorcycle: I think I'll be a lot more confident on two wheels, I'll have the scooter for things like hauling dog food and donuts, and I'll feel more confident buying a bike with adequate power for a trip up over the coast range or out to the desert.
The last thing I need to complete this winter's riding puzzle is my suit, which is ordered and on its way. I've got rain pants and a Frog Tog jacket to go over my armored riding jacket, but being able to shrug a full, armored, waterproof suit on over my street clothes when I'm commuting in the rain is going to be nice. It seemed like overkill for a scooter, then I thought about those 55-60 mph runs down McLaughlin and realized the pavement won't discriminate based on the kind of vehicle I might wipe out on. I'll be glad to have it for highway rides next year, too!