125cc Scooters for Cheap Commuting
For people trying to cut the costs of commuting to work or university, a scooter or moped can make a great and economical choice. In another hub I talk about some of the reasons why I think 50cc mopeds are great for beginners. In this hub I talk a bit about some of the reasons people may have for going for a slightly bigger bike as well as some of the issues involved in choosing a 125cc scooter.
The advantages of a 125cc Scooter
As mentioned before, many people who are new to biking should consider simply going for a 50cc scooter or moped. The main advantage there is that they are getting something relatively cheap and that doesn't take much learning to ride. In essence if you can ride a bicycle there is really no reason why you shouldn't be able to hop on a twist-and-go moped and zoom off. The other great advantage of those little bikes is that in many cases you don't need to take any special exams to ride them. In Britain all you have to do is some CBT training, which takes about a day, and you are good to go. In comparison, to ride a bigger bike you not only have to do your CBT course (it stands for compulsory basic training, and anyone who wants to ride any sort of motorbike has to do it) but you also then have to take another set of tests. These include a theory test, a module 1 motorcycle test and a module 2 road test. So there is a lot more work involved in being allowed to ride a bike such as a 125cc, or anything bigger for that matter.
There are, on the other hand, some real advantages to moving up. A 50cc is really small and quite underpowered for many circumstances. In some situations where the traffic is moving quickly then a 50 that is dawdling along will slow the rest of the traffic down. It can also create a danger in that cars may try to push past on narrow roads. So many people argue that bigger bikes with a bit more power are a lot safer. The extra power that 125cc scooters provide is also really useful when it comes to joining moving traffic when turning out of an intersection. In those situations you want to be able to accelerate quickly enough that you are not forcing an oncoming car to have to slow down. The reason is because if the driver of that car is a bit dozy then you could become one of his hood ornaments.
Extra power is also really useful if you want to carry a passenger riding pillion. The additional weight of a second person really slows a little moped right down. Now a 125cc bike doesn't have huge amounts of excess power, but it does have enough to carry a passenger and also get up to speed. in the past I've driven quite a bit on the motorway on a 125 at 60 or 70 miles per hour. The engine works quite hard to stay there and it is at the edge of the bikes limit, but I have been able to keep up with traffic such as big trucks moving in the slow lane. I usually tuck in behind them (not too close) so cars are passing anyhow and they will always see a big truck even if they don't see a smallish bike,
Running Costs of a 125cc bike
The other really great advantage of a 125cc bike is that it is cheap to buy and cheap to run. I have a 125 cc Vespa and although mine was not the cheapest Vespa available, it is beautiful and a joy to ride. I bought mine new but you can get them cheaply if you buy a used scooter. And if you don't want to go for an Italian scooter then you can probably find a Japanse or French one for a bit less money. The cheapest scooters of all are Chinese, but until they have a good reputation and spare parts are easily available I would steer clear of them for a while.
The other great reason to look for a 125 scooter is that these are probably the most popular class of small bikes about so loads of riding schools have them. They are also the most common scooters advertised for sale second hand. Because there is an active market for them you can usually get a good deal on a used one. Often there are some with really low mileage that have been bought by people who then never used them much. Even getting one new is not too pricey.
They are also reallly simple to maintain and service so your repair costs will be quite low. That gives some comfort if you are buying one used. Even if it has some mechanical problems, it shouldn't cost too much to sort them out. They are also incredibly fuel efficient. Although their engines are bigger than those of smaller 50cc mopeds, they are almost always 4 stroke these days, so they run quite a bit cleaner and also give good fuel economy. Insurance costs are also way lower on these than they would be on a bigger bike.
Considerations When Buying a 125cc Scooter
There are a couple of things to think about when buying one. The first is whether you want to go for an automatic (a twist-and-go) or a manual bike. Twist and go's are really easy to ride and are great for beginners as you can concentrate on your riding and not on your gear changes. That said, kids often steal them because they are so easy to ride. They usually just take them for a joy ride, pretty much trash them in the process and then leave them somewhere. So be sure to get a good solid lock to go along with your bike (even if it is a geared one).
Geared bikes often cost a bit less, especially when bought second hand because they are a bit less popular. If you take your riders test on a geared bike then you are good to go to graduate onto bigger bikes, most of which have gears. On the other hand if you only learn to ride an automatic then you will be limited to those on your license.
There are a huge number of motor scooters out there from reputable manufactures including Vespa, Honda and Yamaha. Which you go for may well depend on how much you want to spend and also what you think looks better. The riding qualities won't be all that different, though a Vespa scooters will be a bit slow to get moving because they weigh quite a bit. On the other hand their all-metal bodies are pretty solid. There are often also large numbres of used Vespa Scooters for sale because they seem to last forever.
Whichever sort of 125cc motor scooter you choose, be sure to ride it safely. Happy commuting!