Clayton Farrar, a retired State Farm insurance agent from South Portland, always wanted a motorcycle but thought they were too dangerous.

Then in 2006, he saw a scooter he wanted.

“Why not?” Farrar said. “I’m not getting any younger.”

Farrar has since owned four scooters and suffered two accidents on them, including one that resulted in a broken leg. But he still tries to ride his scooter every day in the summer and especially enjoys riding along the winding roads of Route 77 to check out local attractions like Two Lights State Park.

Farrar, 82, is among a number of scooter owners in Maine building a community around their love of scooters. Their enthusiasm will culminate Saturday, when 200 scooter lovers from as far away as Nova Scotia and Tennessee meet up in Maine for the second annual Ski’s Shrimp Run scooter rally.

“As people get used to seeing the scooters, they get more interested,” said Darrell Clark, who has owned Cumberland County Scooters and Cycles on Warren Avenue for 18 months and bought his first scooter in the mid-1980s. “(The stigma) is definitely loosening up.”

Cumberland County Scooters and Cycles bills itself as the only scooter-specific retail and repair shop in Portland. Burnt orange, sea-foam green and cherry red scooters line the pavement outside the shop, welcoming curious passers-by to stop and gawk or beep their horns.

“That’s probably a scooter owner,” said Clark as the driver of a car beeped the horn as it passed the shop. “All day long, people go by and blow their horns.”

Clark believes scooters make people happy.

“If someone gets off a scooter and isn’t smiling, there is probably something wrong with them,” said Clark.

“As soon as gas prices spike I see more scooters,” said Jessica Sherlock, a rally organizer and employee at Tri Sports Inc., which sells Vespa scooters in Topsham. “Plus, they are attractive, and for some models no special license is required.”

Sherlock has co-organized the rally for two years with Keith Biedrzycki, also of Topsham. The rally is named after Biedrzycki’s father, who is nicknamed “Ski.”

The rally is open to all, regardless of scooter make or model. It will start at the Sea Dog Brewing Company parking lot in Topsham and finish in Richmond as part of the Richmond Days celebration.

Sherlock said the 18-mile rally will travel at a speed of 30 mph, have multiple police escorts and a truck following behind in case of breakdowns.

“There’s only a few scooter rallies a summer. It’s not like motorcycle rallies, where there’s one every week,” Sherlock said. “Plus, Maine is gorgeous in the summer.”


According to the Motorcycle Industry Council, people buy scooters because they save money, get better gas mileage than cars and are fun to ride.

Lee Durlach, managing director of communications at the Motorcycle Industry Council, said the state of Maine represents about 1 percent of all new U.S. scooter sales.

New scooter sales in the U.S. peaked in 2008 – with 228,000 sales representing 20.7 percent of the overall motorcycle market – but have steadily declined since the recession. In 2013, there were an estimated 65,000 new scooter sales.

It’s not clear how many scooters there are in Maine; many of them are either bought used or are vintage ones that purchasers restore.

Since May 1, Clark said work has been nonstop at the store on Warren Avenue, with service appointments booked up to three weeks in advance. Most of the time, Clark said customers are OK with the wait and have come to understand that scooters need preventative maintenance.

“It’s still a toy for a lot of people,” Clark said. “But there’s about a dozen people that I know of that use a scooter for their primary transportation.”

Scooter prices start at around $999 for less expensive models such as Baotian and Lifan, and go to $2,100 and higher for Vespas, Suzukis, Buddys and Stellas.

The prices and state regulations increase with engine size. In Maine, scooters with a 50cc engine or less do not require drivers to have a special license, but those with engines more than 50cc require a motorcycle license.


Nationwide, scooter ownership skews young, with people born after 1980 owning about 38 percent of scooters. Baby boomers, or those born between 1946 and 1964, follow close behind, owning 30 percent of scooters.

Jane Pulsifer, a 48-year-old Saco resident and mother of two, said she had a little Honda scooter when she was a teenager and recently decided to invest in one again.

“At that point I was 47 and had two kids in college,” Pulsifer said about purchasing a 400cc Vespa. “Now is my time to go out and play.”

Pulsifer currently has a motorcycle permit and plans to take the test to be licensed in early August.

Martha Flint, a 51-year-old mother of two from Rockport, also recently purchased in a burnt-orange Honda scooter that she uses to commute to work in the summer.

“I always wanted a scooter; it looked like loads of fun,” Flint said. “Plus I have a scooter buddy that makes it more fun.”

Flint said that she rides about 40 to 50 miles each weekend on her scooter and plans to take a trip to Topsham this weekend to ride in Ski’s Shrimp Rally.

Clark said the scooter riders who visit his shop span generations and occupations, with customers ranging from 16-year-olds to the 82-year-old Farrar.

“We have doctors and lawyers and psychologists that come in here,” Clark said. “There’s no one kind of scooter owner.”