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What You NEED to Know Before Buying Your First Scooter

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Scooters can really light a person up! Riding around on 2 wheels can be quite addictive. You’ve probably heard how awesome they are in regards to being so nimble, fuel efficient and getting the BEST parking spot. 

However, getting the right scooter is the tricky part, and of course, just like other things in life, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows!

There are quite a number of things to consider when purchasing a scooter or moped to make sure it does what you want it to.

Although, the idea of getting a scooter is a smart one, there a quite a number of things that you need to know before buying your first scooter. Let’s dive into the advantages and disadvantages of a scooter and also explain what you need to know and look out for when getting a new scooter.

ADVANTAGES OF A SCOOTER

Scooters get great gas mileage

You may be immediately attracted to riding a scooter for the gas mileage alone! I know that was a key feature for me.

Generally, scooters have great mileage and can travel a large number of miles on very little gas compared to a car. No wonder scooter sales increase when gas prices rise! Did you know you can get over 90 miles per gallon (mph) on a 125-150cc scooter?

A general rule of thumb is that the bigger the motor, the less fuel efficient the scooter will be. The opposite is true, too. The smaller the motor, the more miles per gallon you can expect. 

Scooters are quite easy to ride and handle

The position in which you ride your scooter is more like a sitting position hence, it is easy to ride, easy to handle, and they are also very comfortable.

This is especially true if you’re considering a motorcycle where many have more forward-leaning positions.

Scooters are by far one of the easiest motorcycles to ride as their lightweight enables free movement and makes it easy to navigate and manipulate your way around traffic, too.

Do you ride a bike? It’s a very similar feel where a road bike is more of the forward leaning position, and a beach cruiser is more relaxed with an upright position.

Space saving, easy-to-park

It’s so much easier to find a space to park a scooter than it is to find a spot for a car. You’ll see scooters (and motorcycles in general) parking where they may not be allowed (diagonal striped areas of a parking lot).

That said, you’ll see them parked all over. Just don’t block pedestrian areas! Use common sense here.

Money Savings Galore

Scooters are so much cheaper than a car. A new 50 cubic centimeter (cc) scooter will cost around $2k. A cheap car is going to run you over $10k new.

Plus, their lower value means they are also cheaper to insure. Check out this article to see how much I save compared to my compact sedan!

Also, gas. My car averages 35 mpg. My scooter average 85 mpg. It’s a beautiful thing.

DISADVANTAGES OF A SCOOTER

There is always another side to a story, and there are certainly disadvantages to riding scooters, as well.

Legal Considerations

State laws categorize scooters under motorcycle laws. There are some exceptions, but a motorcycle license is generally required. Those at the 50cc mark have some gray area here, but anything beyond 50cc will require an endorsement on your drivers license to legally operate a scooter.

This means that some fees will be paid before you will be able to ride your scooter on the road. You know the state will find a way to grab some money!

After I obtained the endorsement in Texas, I pay extra at my license renewal for that endorsement on top of the annual registration fees that are very similar in cost to my full-size sedan.

Oh, and don’t park your scooter on a sidewalk! Or get a ticket. Your call!

Riding on the Highway

Not all scooters can be ridden on a highway. Generally, a scooter at the 300cc engine size or larger will likely do fine on a highway, but those small wheels of a Vespa GTS do not sound fun on a highway. The others in this engine size range tend to be maxi-scooters and designed for the high speeds all around.

Notice I said ‘not all’. There are some that will argue that as long as you can reach the speed limit, then it’s fine. Check out this article for more specifically on riding your scooter on a highway.

Also, don’t forget that your moped isn’t designed to go the maximum speed for a long period of time. It is designed for hitting that speed but not maintaining it.

Let’s say you’re comfortable with reaching speeds that will keep you from getting squished, don’t forget the brakes and tire sizes. Maxi scooters tend to have upgraded (think ABS) brakes, and larger tires.

Larger tires can handle the bumps of the road, random debris, and provide more stability for the higher speeds, as well.

What Should You Look for in a Scooter?

Getting a scooter is not all about aesthetics, there are some things that need to be put into consideration and look out for when getting a scooter. Do not get me wrong, aesthetics is also one of the things to look out for. I mean who does not want to ride a beauty? But beauty is not the most important thing. In this part of the article, we will discuss in details the things you should know before getting a scooter

Engine size and type

Engine size is discussed in cubic centimeters (cc). They ranges from 50cc to over 500cc. The engine size is literally where you should start when shopping for a scooter.

After all, the size determines how effective your scooter will be for you – how fast can your scooter go?

A scooter with an engine of 50cc can’t really be described as one designed for speed. This is because they have a speed range of 30-40 mph which is about 56-64 Km/h. Restricted ones are in the 30 miles per hour range, but you can have an unrestricted modded one to get you going faster.

A 150cc engine scooter will however function more powerfully than a scooter with an engine of 50cc. The highest speed of a 150cc engine scooter is about 65 mph for the maximum speed area.

Overtime, the maximum scooter size has been in the 500-600 cc range, which should get you a top speed in the 90-100 mph hour range.

In general, a 50cc motor scooter is best used within the city. The engine can travel about 100 miles using a gallon of fuel.

A 150cc and 250 scooters will consume more fuel when compared to a scooter with 50cc. Also, another thing to look out for when getting a scooter is the engine stroke.

2 stroke vs 4 stroke

You can’t talk engines without acknowledging 2 & 4 strokes. A 2 stroke scooter is a bit more effective as it would complete all 5 functions (intake, compression, ignition, combustion, and exhaust) in 2 strokes of the piston while a 4 stroke engine will do that in 4 strokes of the piston. This means that a 2 stroke engine can rev up to higher speeds than a 4 stroke engine when accelerating. It’s got more oomph when you use that throttle from the light if that makes sense.

You will likely find 2 strokes only in the 50cc sized range.

Safety features

All scooters are regarded to be less safe when compared to trucks or cars. However, the lower the speed of a scooter the safer it is regarded, and the higher the speed, the less safe. IN GENERAL.

Riding a scooter is as dangerous as riding a motorcycle because, well, a scooter is a subset of motorcycles! Read here if you want to learn more about which is safer – a scooter or motorcycle.

Simply put, motorcycles, and therefore scooters, do not have as many safety features put in like you’d find in cars or trucks.

Read here to learn more about how safe scooters are as the bulk of safety measures all come back to YOU (the rider).

The more you are covered with proper gear, the more likely you’ll be to minimize injuries in case of an accident. At a minimum think – motorcycle helmet. Don’t forget about a jacket, pants, covered ankles, gloves, eye protection. Anything left exposed is a risk point.

Read here to see how much the average motorcycle helmet costs.

Comfort

The position in which you ride your scooter is more like a sitting position hence, it is easy to ride. Nope. A scooter is not as comfortable as a car, but there are, of course, different comfort levels to scooters.

I have found that the 50-150cc scooters are all pretty similar, but you’ll find better suspensions on like a Vespa in this range.

Moving into the 300cc range and higher tends to be the scooters with the best ride. Suspension. Seat. They start getting ‘luxury’ in this range.

Regardless, scooters are generally driven in an upright position similar to what you’d experience on a beach cruiser style bike, so the position does make them comfortable, generally.

Storage

Compared to a motorcycle, a scooter has more storage space. Make and model matters here, but you will find more storage in a larger scooter. You’ll want to check out the storage before buying. Both of the 150cc scooters in our house will not fit a full-face helmet in the underseat storage boxes.

However, those 300cc+ maxi scooters can fit up to 2 full-face helmets in their underseat storage. Have you seen one in person, though? These motor scooters are huge in comparison to their 50cc cousins.

You can add a front and rear rack and either a rollbag or top box for additional storage on the scooter. Also, if I know I’m going to get extra (like grocery shopping), I’ll add my backpack, as well, to make it all work.

After all, it’s not like I have a full-size trunk similar to car!!

Additional fees

When getting a scooter, it is important to note that you will not only be paying for the scooter but you will also be paying for license and registration fees, maintenance, repairs, insurance fees, fuel, and the all-important safety gear.

The cost of the bike and safety gear is considered a one-time cost . Once paid for you do not need to pay for them much, but read here to know when to replace your motorcycle helmet.

However, insurance, scooter’s license, gas, and maintenance fall under the ongoing cost category as you will need to continually pay for these things similar to other forms of transportation.

Conclusion

I have a more in depth scooter buying guide here if you need more information about engine sizes and safety features here.

When shopping for a scooter, you’ll be much more satisfied if you can sit on and test drive the scooter, but you may be expected to have your full motorcycle license or endorsement before a dealer will let you ride.

I see frequently how folks are pushed into buying without riding, and I don’t know about you, but I’ve never bought a car without having test drove it! Insist on a solid test drive!

I have been surprised how some scooters just speak to me while others don’t, and I couldn’t tell that until I could get it out on the road for a few minutes!

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