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Scooters vs Motorcycles

Updated on September 23, 2009
My Yamaha Vino 125
My Yamaha Vino 125

A scooter:"Are you serious"??

When most people think of scooters, they think of the Razor kids toys that resemble a skateboard with handlebars with or without a seat.  They even make them electric and can reach 10-15mph.  The name "scooter" has been used to describe too many things and is misleading.  Motorcycle, on the other hand means just that, a motorcycle.

The scooters I'm referring to are the two wheeled gas powered variant of the traditional motorcycle.  Having more in common than not.  In fact in the state of Ohio where I live a scooter is legally registered as a motorcycle.  All of the same requirements apply, testing, license, insurance, plates etc.  In all of my paperwork from the registration, title etc there is no mention of a "scooter".

The biggest difference is the obvious one, which is you step through to sit instead of climbing over.  I see this as an advantage because as you age or develop stiffness then hiking that leg over a bike won't be as easy as it once was?  The second difference is that most of the modern day scooters are all automatics so there is no clutch or shifting required.  This again I see as a plus.  If you are mainly using it around town where you are constantly stopping and starting, you will be in a constant state of shifting.  Minor differences include less power, although some "maxi scooters" are 650cc and can reach over 100mph, smaller wheels, large front fender & shield and general size.

Here is what I see as advantages between the two.  Scooters, besides all of the aforementioned differences can achieve very high gas mileage.  The smaller ones can get 100mpg + and even the larger ones will hover in the mid 50's, this is depending on how you ride and how much you weigh etc.  Storage is another good example.  Most have a space under the seat for a helmet etc and the larger ones have 2-3 separate compartments for smaller items. You can also strap something to the floorboard if you needed to.  Having smaller wheels means you can weave and avoid trouble easier, the downfall is that you don't absorb bumps in the road as well as a larger motorcycle so you must be extra cautious. 

Here are the motorcycle advantages.  The biggest one I think is the ability to travel long distances for vacations etc.  Although some of the maxi scooters can do this as well, I just don't think scooters are designed for long highway trips.  The motorcycles larger wheels, more weight and being more visible to drivers make it safer in these situations.  Carrying passengers is another plus.  Usually there is more room and because of the size and power difference you can ride more comfortably.

In closing I don't see what the large criticism and condemning of scooters is?  Like motorcycles you get to experience the full open air experience and you risk the same dangers of crashing. You must wear protective gear on both, although I've seen riders of both in shorts, tank tops and no helmets.  A lot of people consider scooters as toys so they don't take the machine seriously and don't worry about protecting themselves.  Some states don't require any special testing or licensing for scooters under 50cc.  These bikes will still reach 35 mph which is more than enough to seriously injure yourself in a fall.  The bottom line is its all about what you like and what serves your needs so whatever you ride be safe and have fun. I'll list below some of the more popular scooters by Japanese companies because dealers are abundant and parts are easier to come by.

smaller- speeds around 35-40mph- Honda's Metropolitan, Ruckus, Elite 80, Yamaha's Vino, Zuma

mid size- speeds around 50-55mph- Yamaha's Vino & Zuma 125's

maxi size- speeds over 100mph- Yamaha's Majesty 400, Morpheus, TMax, Suzuki's Burgman 400 &650 & Honda's Silverwing

Other reliable scooter brands but not as easily obtained include Plaggio, Genuine & Kymco


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      LarryRickenbacker 7 years ago

      Well said. I've been a scooter owner off and on since '07, when I wanted to save gas and add some spice to commuting and errands. Now I've got a Honda Sh150i and after only a week, it's a ball!