Around Gainesville, scooter-riding is about as common as the presence of orange and blue.
But some owners have “tricked out” their rides, bringing character to the scooting population and turning heads in the process.
Bodybuilder Jimmie Jennings started with a basic Honda Ruckus scooter.
He took it apart, stretched it out, painted it and “pimped” it out with a stereo system, an engine three times more powerful than the one it came with and special tires built for performance.
Jennings asked, “When you saw the picture, did your jaw drop?” It was certainly a new breed of scooter.
Jennings’ friend and fellow bodybuilder, Kyle Gold, also has a revamped Ruckus. When he got pulled over a few years ago, the officer was not sure what it was.
“They went flipping through their book trying to give him a ticket,” Jennings said. “They couldn’t find anything on it, but the one thing they got was that he had to have a mirror on it, and he didn’t have a mirror on it.”
Gold started building his Ruckus before other groups picked up on it.
He had some trouble with it at first, because at the time, the parts he was able to get were ineffective.
“I would have parts fail, and I’d have to try something else,” he said.
Nowadays, with increased popularity in big cities like Las Vegas and Orlando where “Ruckus Rallies” occur, proper parts are more easily available.
Jennings decided to work on his scooter because he really liked what Gold was doing. Gold laughed and said, “He got to reap a lot of the rewards because mine was pretty screwed up for a while, and then he pretty much knew ‘this is not the way to do it.'”
Now the two go riding together. They took their scooters to Bike Week and rode right along with the Harley Davidson motorcycles.
Even on the streets of Gainesville on a typical game day, Gold and Jennings get a lot of attention and interest in their scooters.
“People will want to buy mine right off me right then,” said Jennings.
Many traditional scooters go about 35-45 mph.
“That’s nothing,” Jennings said. “I got a $250 ticket for going 58-59, and I could easily do 70.”
While Gold and Jennings consider “scooter tricking” a hobby, Willie D. Manning wants to make it a profession.
Manning already built his first scooter. It is a Ruckus that features a metal alligator built all around the frame. The scooter will be featured in the University of Florida Homecoming Parade this year. Manning said he hopes it will draw attention to the new scooter-constructing business he is starting up, called “Dreams at Works.”
“I have a lot of ideas, and this is just one of them,” said Manning. “I can build all different types.”
Manning grew up learning how to build and construct, so he loves his work. He said this is like a kid’s dream.
Manning built the alligator around the scooter entirely by hand.
To his future customers, he said “‘Use your imagination, and ‘I can do it.'”
Editor’s Note: Information regarding the increase of scooter registrations was removed because the number could not be confirmed.