Most big scooters will take you way on the naughty side of 160km/h and the better ones have suspension and handling to match.
Most big scooters will take you way on the naughty side of 160km/h and the better ones have suspension and handling to match.
The box under the seat is big enough to take a rucksack and a camera bag while you're riding and two helmets, jackets and gloves while you're not.
The box under the seat is big enough to take a rucksack and a camera bag while you're riding and two helmets, jackets and gloves while you're not.

Sometimes you have to think inside the box. Recently I attended a book launch; it was a book about motorcycles by a motorcycling friend of mine and, to me, the conclusion was inescapable.

But when I asked She Who Must be Obeyed, "Which bikes are we going on?" (always two bikes - neither of us is comfortable riding pillion behind the other), she said "No way! - we're going in my car."

Her logic was inescapable; if we went on bikes we'd spend the whole evening festooned with heavy, bulky clothing, trying to juggle helmets, teacups and plates of food or, if helmets were deposited somewhere (hopefully) safe, watching them like hawks to guard against scratches or thievery.

And, on top of that, I'd have to juggle notebook, camera, lenses and camera bag.

So we went in the box and, on the way, she pointed out that the same applied to our rare movie outings - you have to sit with your gear on your lap all evening and standing up to let a latecomer get by is a mission - and even rarer formal evenings (riding a 900cc sports bike in an evening gown is chilly at best and indecent exposure at worst).

Which got me to thinking inside a different box. Scooters have come a long way since the Vespas and Lambrettas of the late 1940s. These days there are scooters with 800cc parallel-twin engines, tiptronic transmissions and antilock braking.

Some are luxuriously comfortable - the Suzuki 650 Burgman and Honda FJS600 Silver Wing are obvious examples - and some are indecently sporty; Yamaha's attitudinous 500cc T-Max springs to mind. Most big scooters will take you way on the naughty side of 160km/h and the better ones have suspension and handling to match.

But what they all have in common is a storage space - a box! - under the seat. In better examples it's big enough to take a rucksack and a camera bag while you're riding and two helmets, jackets and gloves while you're not.

Some years ago I did a road trip on a borrowed Suzuki 400 Burgman and didn't bother to pack - in the accepted sense of the word - at all. I just threw everything I thought I'd need in the hole under the saddle of what was then the biggest scooter on the market and left it there until I got home.

Whenever I needed something I propped up the seat on its built-in gas strut and dug it out, which was no problem even at night as the box had its own little courtesy light.

Maybe, if lugging our gear everywhere wasn't such a hassle, Herself could be persuaded to use the bikes around town more often, and not just for weekend hooliganising.

Maybe four bikes between the two of us aren't enough. Maybe, just maybe I can make a strong case that we need a scooter as well.