Long time motorcycle rider here. Although I have never ridden a Ruckus, I have ridden many scooters and bikes from 125cc up to 1300cc.
The Ruckus really has a coolness, as does this guy's trip. Scooters are small, light, and easily stored.
Here is the problem with bikes and their smaller cousins; people driving vehicles do not see you. Oh, their eyes see you but often their brains don't see you. So it takes a lot of hard work, practice and experience to remain un-injured/alive.
Why does Honda (and others) make 49cc scooters? Because many states do not require a driver license, motorcycle training, and children are allowed to ride them. Manufacturers can get similar mileage with a larger displacement, more power, but those transportation units require a driver's license and anyone under 16 cannot ride them on the street.
So lets look at the pros and cons, starting with the cons:
- Tiny and not as visible as a larger bike
- Poor acceleration (might need this in an emergency situation)
- Cannot go over 40 mph
- Going up hills everything gets worse
- Drum brakes... not safe IMO
- On most streets you cannot keep up with traffic, so you have to ride to the right where you become less visible
- Tiny tires are subject to potholes and other obstacles
- Suspension sucks
- Looks cool
- Easy to store or even throw into the back of another vehicle
- Good gas mileage ~ 80+ mpg
I would suggest that most would be better served with a "real" motorcycle of 250cc or above. Many of these can get over 70 mpg. Plenty of acceleration, more visible profile, can carry more weight, can travel at high speeds, better suspension, and most important to me better brakes. There are some bikes in the 500cc-750cc range that can get up to 70 mph.
When my son was in college, he was thinking about getting a scooter. He called his uncle (my younger brother Gary) who has owned a motorcycle accessory manufacturing company for over 30 years and lives bikes (Rifle Fairing Company at www.rifle.com). Gary told him to skip the scooter and get something bigger, along with a AMA approved riding course. Then my son called me and got the same answer. He was really surprised that we would encourage a motorcycle over a scooter.
Now lets talk long trips. The longest trip I ever made on a bike was in 1979 when I traveled cross country from Calif to NY. 10,000 miles and 3 months. For me, the daily mileage sweet-spot was 330-350 miles per day. I had some days over 500, but they were very tiring. Keep in mind that I had a 750cc bike, great suspension, could travel easily at 70+ mph, had a large fairing/windshield, manual cruise control (try holding a throttle open for 10 straight hours), floorboards, highway pegs, a special touring seat, and even a stereo/tape player.
Calif to Alaska...
Well the Alcan Hwy would be the only reasonable route. Bad roads at times, gravel, mud, trucks, infrequent gas stations, etc. The Alcan eats up motorcycle tires. I do not know one person who has made it without at least one flat. The road is tough on riders with all the frost heaves and I could not imagine it on a scooter.
Want to see good mileage? Here is the slipstream bike my brother's company built in the 1980's. It is a Yamaha 175cc bike. In 1983 it won the Craig Vetter Fuel Economy Run with 372 mpg (that is three hundred 72 miles per gallon). The fuel consumed was carefully measured at the end of the race. The course ran on HYW 1 from Carmel through Big Sur and then back. Distance of 90 miles and the course had to be completed in 90 minutes or less. The bike is now on display at the Smithsonian.