Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

St. Petersburg catches scooter buzz

Jean Cherubin rides a scooter near the Pier in St. Petersburg. Fuel efficiency is a draw, but so’s the fun factor, says one shop owner.

JOHN PENDYGRAFT | Times file (2006)

Jean Cherubin rides a scooter near the Pier in St. Petersburg. Fuel efficiency is a draw, but so’s the fun factor, says one shop owner.


Eddie Dreyer can see the Exxon gas station sign through his shop's window.

It reads $3.59 per gallon for regular unleaded.

While the skyrocketing price of gas causes agony for most area residents, each uptick in the price per gallon bodes well for his business.

Dreyer sells motorized scooters at Retro Unlimited, the shop he owns with his father on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street N in St. Petersburg.

As fuel prices rise, so do his sales.

"Gas prices are definitely driving sales," he said. "We are not doing a single bit of advertising, and we still stay busy."

Scooters with a small 50cc engine average 80 to 100 miles per gallon, and more powerful 150cc engine models get 60 to 80 miles per gallon. The cost of filling the 1- to 2-gallon tank comes in under $10.

Prices range from $1,000 to upwards of $5,000.

Fuel economy may drive customers to the showroom, but Dreyer said the fun factor really sells people.

"The scooter culture is really catching on in St. Petersburg," he said. "There always has been kind of an underground thing, but now there are a lot more people getting into it."

The sale of accessories like helmets, courier bags and clothing has also increased in the past several months, Dreyer said.

Local sales reflect a national trend.

Daniel Pak, co-owner of Flyscooters, a scooter manufacturer based in Emeryville, Calif., said sales have increased about 275 percent over last year.

"Every time there is a significant increase in fuel prices, we start getting calls from our dealers asking for more inventory," he said. "We're one of the few industries happy about gas prices going up."

Pak said the U.S. scooter market is just beginning to take off because of the pressure of fuel costs, but other countries, particularly in Asia, already have scads of scooter users.

"So many other countries realize scooters are a viable means of transportation. People here in the U.S. are realizing what other countries have known for a long time," he said. "It's also a lot of fun."

Determining the actual number of scooters registered in Pinellas County proves difficult because the state classifies them as motorcycles. There were 18,961 motorcycles registered in the county between July 2006 and January 2007, and 19,903 in the same period of 2007-2008, a 5 percent increase, according to Florida Department of Transportation figures.

Ryan Johns, 24, of St. Petersburg bought a scooter six months ago, when he wrecked his truck. He couldn't afford a replacement. He recently bought another truck, but he said he still primarily rides the scooter.

"I don't even want to drive the truck because of the gas," he said.

"People pull up next to me all the time and ask if I want to sell it," Johns said. "I tell them, 'No way. I love this thing.' "

Michael Maharrey can be reached at (727) 893-8779 or

St. Petersburg catches scooter buzz 05/03/08 [Last modified: Monday, May 5, 2008 1:23pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays morning after:Matt Andriese trying to put good finish on injury-marred season


    RHP Matt Andriese can't make up for the 2 1/2 months he missed due to a hip injury this season after getting off to a solid 5-1, 3.54 start.

    But he can use his last few outings to remind the Rays, and himself, of how good he can be.
    He did it the hard way Thursday, allowing three runs as four of the …

  2. Trigaux: Tampa Bay household income tops $50,000 but still makes us look poor

    Personal Finance

    The good news is Tampa Bay's median household income finally crawled above $50,000 last year. The bad news is that figure — officially $51,115 by new U.S. Census Bureau data — still puts the Tampa Bay region as the poorest of the nation's 25 largest metro areas.

    Tampa Bay still has the lowest median household income among the 25 most populous metro areas, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.
  3. Florida education news: Makeup days, accountability, charter schools and more


    MAKEUP DAYS: The Pasco County school district alters the daily schedule of 11 schools to make up teaching time missed because of Hurricane Irma, avoiding the …

    With students back in school after Hurricane Irma, schools across Florida begin scheduling makeup days for missed classroom time.
  4. How visiting a scenic Cuban resort can help save green sea turtles


    The Florida Aquarium has been collaborating with Cuba's National Aquarium since 2015 to help save coral dying throughout Caribbean waters.

    The beaches of Cuba's Cayo Largo are home to a large population of green sea turtle nests. The Florida Aquarium will lead eco-tours of Cayo Largo next year that will help protect the turtles and fund research.  [Avalon Outdoor]
  5. Photo of the Day for September 22, 2017 - Willets taking flight

    Human Interest

    Today's Photo of the Day comes from Dan Cleary of Madeira Beach, FL.