In the 1980s, Honda decided to sell motor scooters in the United States. I remember the commercials, a series of funky, fresh ads that featured popular music, slickly edited scenes of exciting urban environments, and snappy lines that drove your urge to purchase via memorable phrases like, “Don’t settle for walking.” The fact that I recall these commercials 40 years later shows they had some impact I suppose, but I’m not sure if they led to the spike in sales that Honda hoped. Perhaps it’s because I am from the countryside, I don’t know, but with the exception of my time in places where tourists can rent scooters without motorcycle licenses, I can’t recall ever seeing one on an American street when I was a young man.
That changed a few years ago. Maybe it’s the price of gas and insurance, maybe it’s the fact that today’s young people have diminished expectations, or maybe it’s because as an older man I now live closer than ever to the urban scenes depicted in those aged advertisements, but I am finally seeing scooters here. I can’t say I see swarms of them at every stoplight like I do when I am in Japan, but I do see them and, as someone who has spent a lot of time on two wheels and who lives a mile or two away from my commuter train, that got me thinking. Continue Reading →