Honda Ruckus: I want one.

I can't figure out exactly why, but for some reason I really want to buy a Honda Ruckus - a small liquid cooled four stroke 49cc scooter. If I worked within 3-5 miles from work, I'd probably go out and buy one tomorrow.

It gets 85+ mpg and has a 1.3 gallon tank for a range of ~100 miles. It's motor puts down 4.9 peak horsepower and 3.31 ft/lbs of torque. It weighs 181 lbs. Top speed of 43 mph. Redline of 8850 rpm.

The Ruckus is no speed demon. Weight to power is 36.93 lbs/hp not including the weight of the driver - which compares poorly to every modern car including the brick-like first generation Scion xB which weighed 2395 lbs with 103 hp for a weight to power ratio of 23.25 - about the worst I've seen. My Subaru Impreza Wagon has dramatically more power - at only 17.75 lbs per horsepower. And it's not exactly fast.

Add the weight of a 200lb driver, and it gets even worse.

Ruckus: (181 + 200) / 4.9 = 77.76 lbs / hp.
Scion xB: (2395 + 200) / 103 = 25.19 lbs / hp
Subaru Impreza: (3071 + 200) / 173 = 18.91 lbs / hp

To be fair, I don't know if the Ruckus hp numbers are measured at the crank or at the wheels. The numbers I'm using for the xB and the Impreza are measured at the crank (the Impreza would look much less impresive after drive train loss due to AWD).

On the other hand, the Ruckus is pretty cheap to own and operate. With tax/license/etc, I believe they can be had for about $2500. Full insurance runs somewhere around $120-200 a year. If you figure it'll last 5 years, and you ride it on average 10 miles a day:

Gas: 3,650 miles / 85 mpg = 42.94 gallons x $3.10 gallon = $133.12
Insurance: $200
Depreciation: $2500 / 5 = $500
Maintenance: $100
Registration/other: $50

Total yearly cost: $983.12
Per mile cost: $0.269

Cheap! If you ride more miles, make it last longer, or get insurance cheaper, I'd imagine you could get it down below $0.20 a mile.

Downsides: Any motorized cycle is dangerous. Even with only 5 hp, you can still get run over by a truck or thrown at 40mph. A face full of pavement can really ruin your day. And it's not exactly quick - if you max out at 43mph, you can probably really only average 30mph. So you better have some extra time to commute. And they are terrible in the rain. And finally, you have to have a M2 motorcycle license in California.

But for some reason I still want one. It looks like a lot of fun.