At the International Motorcycle Show in Long Beach this past weekend, I spoke with Yamaha’s Tim Olsen about their Zuma 50 and Zuma 125, both excellent scooters for new riders and young urban commuters. The 50 gets a mind-boggling 132 mpg, and must be loads of fun to ride. I only say this because I haven’t ridden one yet, but I know of at least one very talented racer whose preferred mode of commuting 60 miles to work is on his Zuma 50.

He’s hopped his up a little, in the longstanding tradition of young Europeans looking to get the most out of the small displacement vehicles they’re limited to. This guy lapped me about a million times in the 24 hour endurance race we competed in, on 50cc bikes designed for children. So I figure if it’s fun enough for Jason Perez, it must be fun. The 2012’s are 4-stroke, making them cleaner than the previous models which were 2-strokes.

When I asked Tim if Yamaha was looking to enter the EV market, he explained that he feels it’s going to happen, but not until they’re able to introduce the vehicles at a price people expect. Once again, there’s that perception that sticker price is the only price. People are so accustomed to paying a lot for fuel and maintenance, they forget that these costs are drastically lower with electric vehicles.

I’m hoping to get some seat time on the 2012 R1, the newer version of the gas guzzling rocketship I ride when I’m not on my bicycle. Why that may interest you is that the 2012 features a chip-controlled intake manifold which restricts the air/fuel mixture as you roll on the throttle. On previous models, the fuel injectors released too much gas, particularly with an agressive roll-on. The 2012 upgrade is designed to limit the amount of fuel to exactly what’s needed, reducing the amount of unburnt fuel. I want to do a proper road test to compare it to the average MPG I get from my 2009 R1. Which I’m embarrassed to admit here. It’s less than most of the cars we feature, which is why I ride my bicycle as much as possible.

Although I’ve been saving for an electric motorcycle for some time, I may have to give in to the siren song of the Yamaha Moegi (mentioned here) if they actually produce it. It’ll get great mileage, although I won’t be able to carry as many groceries as with a scooter. There’s a rumor it may even make a live appearance at the New York International Motorcycle Show