With the recent rise of gas, more and more people are running out to buy a scooter. Since I was one of them, I did as much research as I could and wanted to share what I found with anyone interested in purchasing one of their own. So here it is, the good, the bad, and the ugly about scooters.
Scooters get better mileage, that’s a fact. Some can get as high as 100 mpg. The larger models can still average at 50 mpg or better. Because of their small stature, they cost less to produce and ship than a traditional automobile. You can get a better fuel economy, maybe 2 to 4 times better, thus releasing less green house gases.
They are definitely cheaper than a car or SUV. You can buy a Kymco Agility 125cc for $1,999 (shown below). Or search Craigslist and Ebay for a used one. We found ours for $1,150. Scooter sales are on the rise, nearly 24 percent for the first quarter of 2008. You might start noticing more and more on the streets, but this could cause a price increase soon. Watch out for the many Chinese scooters on the market right now, usually around $1500 in price. I haven’t read any good reviews on these, no one wants to work on them and parts aren’t readily available. Apparently the mentality here is use it, break it, buy new one. Please do your own research.
You can find scooters that meet your aestetic preferences. Some look like newer race bikes, while others offer a white-walled, more vintage appearance like the Buddy International “Series Italia” (shown below). Of course, some guys will just never get over the fact that it is a scooter. With their popularity growing as fast as the gas prices you might get over that obstacle, or not. It’s a matter of personal preference.
If you do a lot of freeway commuting, then you’ll need to get something larger than a 250cc motor. (Check with your local state laws for more information in your area.) Some of the 150cc scooters have pretty high top speeds, but they usually are not freeway legal. Some states require you to pass a special safety course.
Also, there can be many hidden fees like tax, tags, title, registration, delivery, etc. The MSRP is just the beginning, make sure you know the final cost when comparing scooters and prices.
The main problem for the planet is that scooters, and motorcycles, can pollute 90 times as much as SUVs. They are far less regulated, so their exhaust is more heavily polluted than that of a car. This is especially true of the two-stroke engine models who burn a mixture of gas and oil. The amount of smog-forming pollutants is astronomical. So if you are a die hard environmentalist, you might not want to get a scooter.
Just a heads up on the horizon…
Electric scooters are out there. At $11,000 the Vectrix Electric Scooter (shown below) is an investment, but won’t use gas. It has a max speed of 62 mph and can accelerate from 0-50 mph in 6.8 seconds. You can expect a range of 68 miles going 25 mph, or an estimated 5 hours simulated urban driving.
If you don’t need to go that fast, the Zapino (shown below) has a top speed of 30 mph and allows you 30 miles between charges. It’s more affordable at $3,495. Another option are the EVT’s starting at $2,499, with a top speed of 45 mph.
Hybrid scooters are coming. Italian scooter manufacturer Piaggio (who also makes Vespa) has announced a couple of hybrid scooters. These will be larger freeway-legal models that are supposed to get 150 mpg.
So the question remains, are they good for the planet or not? This is a hard question to answer, it’s not black and white. It looks like, for now, that everyone will have to make up their own mind. It’s obviously not as safe as a car or SUV, but you will save on gas. Maybe we’ll just have to flip a coin until the electric scooters become more affordable.