Sector: LPG

LPG-powered scooters - can it get any cheaper?

Despite the rapid development of science and technology in recent years, one can easily get the impression that we’ve seen it all before. Electric cars, vehicles powered by air and water – these aren’t 21st century inventions. These ideas were conceived and forgotten a long time ago, and now they’re coming back. LPG-powered scooters are also in this group. This seems like a good time for them.

Those who have to Italy and are at least a little into autogas, probably noticed that some of their scooters – and there’s plenty of them in that country – have gas systems installed. Almost everything is powered by gas on the Apennine Peninsula, so apparently it pays off. But is this the place where the LPG-powered scooter was born? Probably not…

According to archival info from Modern Mechanix magazine, as early as in 1955 in the sunny Florida, a clever driver adapted his two-wheeled vehicle for a cheaper and more eco friendly (though it’s something almost no one thought about back then) fuel. It was a bit easier, as 50 years ago safety standards were, to put it mildly, rather lenient. Thanks to this, his LPG tank was actually a simple cylinder mounted on the front of the bike.

Ralph Carlton's LPG-powered scooter© Modern MechanixRalph Carlton's LPG-powered scooter. Riding a two-wheeler with an LPG cylinder strapped to the steering column must have been something of an adventure

Ralph Carlton, for that was the name of this amateur builder from Wauchala, made a few minor modifications to the engine and he could enjoy lower (though probably they were never too high in the first place) costs of maintaining a scooter. He must have been a huge LPG fan and an avid do-it-yourselfer, because in the country where for the next 50 years the phrase “to save fuel” was considered a contradiction, he was without a doubt looked upon as a madman.

Fortunately, times have changed, and although there are still some people skeptical about LPG, this type of fuel gains new supporters around the world. In Shanghai, for example, due to excessive air pollution, one-track vehicles powered by petrol were banned and replaced by their gas-powered counterparts. They’re also more eco-friendly due to having four-stroke engines and not – as it was before – smoking two-stroke ones that burned oil along with fuel. And because the Chinese usually manufacture more than they need, their scooters also reach Europe. Maybe they lack in beauty, but run almost for free.

These small bikes weigh about 100 kg, can take “aboard” about 1.5 times as much and consume less than 4 l per 100 km, which gives us a cost of driving for 100 km (it’s also their average driving range) of about 10 PLN (2,50 EUR). Even public transport stands no chance, not even with a season ticket. Especially that you can reach almost every place on a scooter and there will always be a small space to park it. Fickle weather may be a problem, but those more steadfast are not bothered by rain and use such vehicles all year long.


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Robert Markowski
source: Modern Mechanix, 2012-2018 All rights reserved. By using this site you acknowledge that you accept its Terms and Conditions