Scooting along

Nate Farber and Berk Zak

Photo by Mason Masis

While searching for a place to buy or rent a scooter in Chico last year, Berk Zak (pictured on left)and Nate Farber realized it was near impossible to do so without a motorcycle license. Frustrated, they decided to take matters into their own hands. They opened Zak Scooters, a moped rental company located in a gravel lot at the corner of Nord Avenue and West First Street. They said the California DMV has very specific scooter rental laws, but after navigating the requirements, they officially opened up shop on Jan. 20 with a brand-new fleet of 12 SSR Lazer 5s: two-pedal, 1 horsepower, gas-fueled mopeds that have a speed capacity of 30 mph. And they’re cheap to rent: just $8 an hour. Zak and Farber are Bay Area natives who went to high school together and later graduated from Chico State as construction management and music majors, respectively, in 2014. They are hoping to get involved in the Chico business community and work with the city to expand Zak Scooters. Their hours change every week, so visit to check the schedule.

Why open a moped-rental company in Chico?

Farber: We both have been to multiple scooter rental companies all over the world. But, basically, this is a pretty original concept because, in California, it’s pretty hard to get into this business. In Chico … there is just a scooter problem—you can’t get them.

How has the city reacted?

Zak: Chico was really helpful with us. If we needed permits or had questions, we just walked into City Hall and asked questions and they were like, “Here are the answers you need, here’s who you call if we can’t help you.” Very straightforward.

What about customers?

Farber: I think most people love it. They love it! When they get back they say, “Best eight bucks I’ve spent all year in Chico.” People usually come in a little skeptical, but they end up falling in love and coming back.

Has anyone crashed?

Farber: We had one person total a scooter. It was his fault in the accident, so his liability was a new scooter to us and what we do is take care of the other party. It was a car and he [the driver] was like, “There’s barely any damage, I’m good. I was gonna replace that light anyways later today. I’m out.”

What about tickets?

Zak: We like to tell people, before you go on that road, just think: Am I able to drive my car on this road? If the answer is no, then don’t touch it.

Farber: They have probably had about 10 tickets in the last couple months from kids doing that.