Steven Reycraft lost his driver’s license, but still needed to get around. Bus? Too slow. Hitchhiking? Not dependable and potentially dangerous. Bicycles? Requires a level of physical fitness most people lack.
What to do, what to do? Reycraft found a solution – not without some drawbacks – but it beats most of the alternatives, and it makes him some money to boot.
“I’ve been riding the Kinetic (motorbike) since about 1992,” Reycraft said. “I needed alternative transportation and my purchase confirmed my research.”
The small-motorized Kinetic TFR has an engine of just 49 cubic centimeters. That means two things: it is very low-powered; but it does not require a license plate to operate. Insurance requirements are also minimal. Because it does not have an electric motor, its range is not limited to a battery charge, or the length of its charging cord. The Kinetic gets about 120 miles per gallon of gas.
“I’ve ridden it everywhere,” said Reycraft. “It’s a blast to ride and you’ll never have trouble finding a place to park.”
Only slightly larger than a regular bicycle, it fits in a regular bicycle rack. And weighing just 104 pounds, one could presumably pedal it home if the engine failed.
The scooter has pedals, and although it is not the easiest ride to propel with leg-power, it is possible in the event of engine failure. It has fully supported front and real wheels, so road bumps are smoother than a bicycle.
The base cost is about $900, and Reycraft has all kinds of ways to lower the price. But first, a bit of history.
The Kinetic was first built in 1970 as a cheap way for India’s burgeoning population to “get around.” The concept proved successful and untold thousands of the little whizzers exist in India and other poor countries. They are passed from family to family, and can apparently be maintained by anyone with a modicum of wrench savvy, Reycraft said.
But if you’re not a wrench twister, not to worry. Reycraft said he will perform needed repairs, which apparently are few. “I’ve put 3,000 miles on the one I’m riding now, and all I’ve had to replace is some seat fabric,” he said.
The little engine puts out 2.5 horsepower, which is not a lot of power. In fact, getting the scooter in motion can involve a variety of humorous-looking machinations. Reycraft, for example, drapes a not-too-svelte frame over the bike and performs a sort of duck-walk until he picks up speed. Others jog alongside, and then hop on. Some simply pedal away, and when the speed is sufficient, twist the throttle and take off. It’s possible to ride away from a stop, but acceleration is slow and it takes some time to get the bike to cruising speed. The top speed is listed at 30 mph, but varies based upon terrain, payload weight, and uphill or downhill paths.
Students find they are great transportation, short-distance commuters love them as well, and many motor home owners use them as transportation around their campsites.
Like the concept, but don’t want to spend a grand right now? Pay Reycraft $650 and pay the balance off in a couple installments.
“My goal is to get a bunch of these minibikes out there,” Reycraft said. “If I can encourage people to buy them, word will get around.”
If you’d like a scooter with more style, and you don’t mind spending more money, consider the more upscale Milano. It looks similar to Italy’s stylish Vespa, but costs considerably less. The scooter still has the 49 cc engine, thus avoiding licensure, but employs an automatic two-speed transmission, allowing it to get up to speed more quickly. It also has electric start.
Lori Gentzel has no car, and uses her Milano for her primary transportation. “It has just enough power, and it takes me everywhere I want to go,” Gentzel said. “I ride it to work and all around town.”
Reycraft plans to set up a rental/sales business between Old Colorado City and Manitou Springs, and rent them to tourists. He’ll use buybacks and trade-ins to stock his fleet.