How to Not Die on a Revel Scooter

Moto expert Tim Harney has 10 tips to help New Yorkers safely operate the city’s shiny new toy

Keep calm and Revel on.

For those unfamiliar, Revel is the moped equivalent to Citibike. It only takes about 10 minutes to sign up and start riding, and as a Class B vehicle — one that can’t exceed 30 MPH — they don’t require a proper motorcycle license to rent. If you’ve got an active driver’s license, you’re approved.

Now available in Brooklyn, Queens and most recently, Washington, DC, Revel is a massive plus for urban commuting, sustainable mobility and personal convenience. But it’s bad news for the inexperienced rider. In fact, the first time I saw a Revel, I exclaimed, “Hey, there’s one of those Revels!” and then immediately watched its rider slam directly into a parked car. 

While Revel offers complimentary lessons in Gowanus six times each day for new riders, I’ve yet to meet a single Revel subscriber who has bothered to take one. (After a bit of inspection, however, the lessons do come with a hefty waitlist — so someone must be taking advantage of the 20-minute training sessions.)

As a moto enthusiast who grew up on the back of my parents’ Harleys and has taken her fair share of spills, I cannot impress this enough: green riders need to exercise extreme caution and commit some safety rules to memory before hitting the road.

To help, I tapped my friend Tim Harney to offer some friendly — and invaluable — advice. Harney, of Tim Harney Motorcycles, is a seasoned track rat who knows about the treachery that navigating this fair city’s streets a la moto involves. Below, his 10 tips on how not to kill yourself on a Revel.


1. Take a safety course

“Safety courses will teach you the rules of the road. You’re riding a Revel, after all, so we’re assuming you don’t have a ton of extra loot to spare for traffic tickets. Moreover, safety courses will teach you the appropriate way to act in unpredictable situations.”

2. Check the weather before heading out

“NYC roads are most slippery after a rain. But rain, ice, snow, fog and sleet are all hazards. Check the weather. Consider choosing another day to ride.”

3. Wear the right gear 

“It doesn’t matter that you’re moving at a glacial pace. A leather jacket, gloves and eye protection are essential. And pants. For f*ck’s sake, no shorts.”

4. Get your own helmet

“Revel provides helmets for their renters, but they suck. Helmets need chin guards. Honestly, if you fly over the handlebars, what part of your body do you think is hitting the concrete first? Trust me when I tell you that you don’t want jaw surgery. You don’t want to suck your dinner through a straw for two months.”

5. Watch for road hazards

“Potholes, sand, rock, gravel, wet leaves, drunk people wandering off the curb. Watch out.” 


6. Inspect your Revel before each ride

“Check your headlights, tail lights, turn signals, tire pressure, horn and brakes are all in working order.” 

7. Obey traffic rules

“Don’t be a cowboy. It’s not worth it. Be defensive.” 

8. Stay at a safe distance

“This means being aware of the space in front of you as well as behind you as much as one can in this mania. Tailgating isn’t safe. Leave enough distance to safely stop should the driver in front of you slam on their brakes. And if someone is coming too close up on your tail, give ‘em the signal to back off. The finger usually works. If not, push comes to shove and you go down, it’s under those tires you go.”

9. Be seen

“Black looks cool. It’s also nighttime camouflage.” 

10. Ride invisible

“The fact of the matter is that a majority of drivers aren’t looking for you. They don’t see you. Always ride like literally no driver sees you — especially semi-trucks. Stay sharp and keep the shiny side up.” 

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