How to Choose the Right Scooter for Your Needs

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How to Choose the Right Scooter for Your Needs

Those who have ever been stuck in a traffic jam and seen a scooter weaving its way through the cars can appreciate the appeal of this small mode of transit. Since the post-WWII introduction of the now-iconic Vespa and Lambretta, scooters have epitomised a classy, carefree way of getting around town. Less expensive to buy and own than a car, and with other distinct advantages, the scooter has as much appeal as ever.

Choosing the right scooter is a matter for careful consideration. In the initial stages, buyers need to conduct research about particular models that interest them. Considering how they expect to use the scooter is an important step, as it can influence the engine size they need. They should also decide on a price range, which can help narrow the field of choices. Finally, safety matters: they should buy from a reliable seller and check that the scooter is of high quality and in good condition, if used. Following these steps helps buyers find a scooter that will be a joy to ride.

The Advantages of a Scooter

As fuel prices rise and awareness turns to the environmental toll of the daily commute, scooters seem increasingly appealing. When it comes to zipping around town, they offer drivers distinct advantages over cars.

Economical

On-road costs for scooters are lower than for cars, but the advantage does not end there. Maintenance, tax, and insurance costs are much less expensive than for cars, making them less expensive to own. What's more, scooters get better fuel mileage, usually between 70 and 150 miles per gallon, so owners spend less on petrol. Scooters are also relatively low-maintenance, requiring a basic annual service and replacement of the drive belt and roller every 6,500 miles or more.

More Environmentally-Friendly

Better fuel economy makes the scooter a more environmentally-friendly ride than a car. Moreover, four-stroke scooters run on unleaded petrol and have low carbon-dioxide emissions. That said, not all scooters are low-emission: two-stroke scooters burn a combination of petrol and oil, which makes them actually quite polluting. Buyers should look for four-stroke scooters to keep the air cleaner and pay less on emissions tax. There are even some electric scooters on the market, like the Peugeot e-Vivacity.

Convenient

Commuting by scooter can in fact be less stressful than by car, not to mention more fun. Whilst city traffic can be extremely congested, particularly during peak hours, scooter drivers can slip through the gridlock. In addition, scooter owners enjoy free parking in most locations. These benefits can take away much of the frustration of city driving, and save time and fuel as well.

Scooters vs. Motorcycles

People considering a scooter may wonder whether a motorcycle would better fit their needs. Although scooters and motorcycles are both two-wheeled vehicles, there are distinct differences between them. Before making their decision, consumers should weigh some of the more salient characteristics of scooters and bikes, as outlined in the following chart.

Vehicle

Size

Type of Rides

Licence

Target Driver

Scooter

Engine size from 50cc to 650cc or larger

Depends on scooter size, but generally suited to shorter commutes at lower speeds; larger scooters suited for longer trips

Compulsory basic training (CBT) certificate; licence requirements vary depending on driver, scooter, and car licence; in some cases, no CBT needed for 50cc

More appropriate for drivers with less experience; all scooters automatic have transmission

Motorcycle

Larger than scooters both in engine size and dimension

Long recreational rides; longer commutes; higher speeds

Special motorcycle licence required; licence type depends on bike's power capacity

More experienced drivers; size restrictions on those with less than two years of experience

Buyers should do their best to objectively weigh their needs before deciding between a scooter and a motorcycle. Although the desire for one vehicle or another may be partly emotional, making a decision based on careful consideration is the best way to get the right type of vehicle.

Selecting the Right Size Scooter

For maximum safety and enjoyment, scooters should be appropriately sized to capably and comfortably perform the kind of trips the driver expects to make. This includes engine size, as well as dimensions.

Engine Size

Scooters come with a wide range of engine sizes. Deciding which one is right depends upon how fast and how far one plans to ride, as well as whether the terrain is hilly, and whether one plans to carry a second passenger. Scooters are often classed according to their engine size, expressed in cubic centimeters (cc). The following chart outlines the characteristics and recommendations for these different engine sizes.

Engine Size

Characteristics and Recommendations

49cc (usually designated as "50")

Top speed around 40mph; good for short commutes on flat terrain; not recommended for hilly areas or carrying another passenger

80-170cc

Usually have top speed around 50mph; engines of 125cc or more are stronger on hills and able to handle another passenger; good alternative to city car

200-300cc

More power, size, and weight; for long distances and/or those who frequently carry a passenger

Maxi-Scooters

Engines closer to motorcycles in strength; sleek, powerful scooters

Deciding on an engine size bears careful consideration. While a 49cc engine may at first seem the ideal solution, some buyers may actually need a more powerful engine if they plan to drive on hills or carry another passenger. On the other hand, larger engines consume more fuel, so it is not advisable to buy a larger scooter than one needs. If a buyer has a question about what engine size is right for them, they should consult a scooter specialist for professional advice.

Dimensions

Feeling comfortable on a scooter is of utmost importance. The handlebars and controls should be within comfortable reach, and the rider should be able to place their feet flat on the ground. Scooters vary in sizes; buyers should check the seat height in advance and test-ride the scooter if possible before purchasing.

Scooter Manufacturers

There are many scooter manufacturers on the market, and buyers are faced with the task of sorting through stylish, more expensive models and low-quality, cheap ones. In general, buyers should beware of new scooters sold over the Internet at very low prices: these are often poorly manufactured. An unreliable scooter is more likely to break down, and may even prove a danger to its driver and others on the road. Therefore, it is advisable to opt for a scooter produced by an established manufacturer with a good reputation. These include Peugeot, Honda, Suzuki, Yamaha, Kymco, Sym, Sachs, and the Piaggio Group, which includes Aprilia, Vespa, Gilera, and Derbi.

Training and Licences for Scooter Owners

Most scooter riders in the UK must pass a compulsory basic training (CBT) before they can ride on the road. There are a few exceptions, depending on whether the rider possesses another type of licence, when the licence was issued, and the size of the scooter engine they wish to drive. For full, up-to-date details, check government regulations online.

CBT must be done through an approved training body. It involves an eye exam, on-site training and riding, as well as on-road training and riding. Once the attendee has demonstrated competence, they receive their certificate.

Buying a Used Scooter

There is a thriving used-scooter market in the UK. Buying a used scooter can amount to significant savings, provided that it has been well looked-after. Inspecting a used scooter prior to purchase is advisable. Buyers should look for a scooter that has received regular maintenance and been used frequently. Ideally, it should not have been in any collisions, and the tyres and other parts should be in good condition.

Scooter Accessories

When riding a scooter on public roads, all are required to wear a helmet. In addition, a jacket is recommended for warmth, since it can get surprisingly chilly with the wind blowing. Gloves are also a good idea for comfort and protection.

While scooters come with a steering lock, and some with electric immobilisers, it is also a good idea to purchase a quality lock and chain for additional security.

Where to Buy a Scooter

New scooters can be purchased from authorised dealers that specialise in motorcycles and scooters, usually from certain select manufacturers. Experienced professionals can offer guidance about selecting the right scooter, and choosing one in person also allows consumers to test out a different models to find one that is comfortable. An additional advantage is that such places usually offer continued customer service and support. There are also dealers who sell used scooters; again, there is some level of advising involved, as well as the opportunity to look at models in person. Buying a used scooter from a private seller can be a good way to get the best price; however, the buyer should be familiar with the particular scooter model and be prepared to inspect it themselves or have a professional do so.

There is an extensive array of choices on the Internet; however, purchasing a scooter online should be approached with prudence and a good amount of research on the buyer's part. The Motorcycle Industry Association (MCI) recommends assessing a company's credentials by reading reviews, researching press articles about it, etc. Product research is also essential: read expert and owner reviews of the exact models under consideration, and beware of look-alike models with unknown manufacturers. The MCI approves certain manufacturers that meet their high standards of quality.

How to Buy a Scooter on eBay

When shopping for a scooter online, you'll find a wide selection of new and used scooters from a vast array of manufacturers. Private sellers and dealerships alike post listings, and eBay's tools let you research seller credentials and compare different models to find the best scooter for your budget and needs. Start from the eBay homepage by typing keywords into the search bar; for example, you can enter "4 stroke scooter" or "Yamaha scooter". To then refine your search results, you can select things like price range, manufacturer, capacity, model year, and more.

When you find a scooter you're interested in, be sure to read the full listing attentively. Check its condition, look at the pictures posted, and read through the specifications. If you have questions for the seller, you can contact them through eBay. See whether the seller can deliver the scooter, or it needs to be picked up. Finally, check the seller's feedback score and comments from past buyers to make sure they are reliable and knowledgeable.

Conclusion

Scooters are a stylish, fun, and economical alternative to cars, and are particularly practical for daily commutes. High fuel economy, low emissions, free parking, and the ability to slip past traffic jams are just some of the advantages of owning a scooter.

When choosing a scooter, there are several considerations to keep in mind. First, one should decide whether a scooter is in fact more appropriate for one's needs than a larger, more powerful motorcycle. In general, motorcycles are better suited to those interested in long recreational rides; the licence process is usually more involved for these faster, more robust vehicles. To find the right size scooter is yet another matter: the range runs from small, 49cc engines to larger models that approach a motorcycle in capacity and strength.

When buying a scooter, consumers should opt for a well-established manufacturer and purchase from a reliable source, whether an authorised dealer or trustworthy private seller. Researching the individual model, company, and condition of the vehicle are all important final steps to getting the right scooter for your needs.

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