How Much Does it Cost to Own a Motor Scooter (Moped)?
A number of years ago, I sold one of our two cars. My wife and I were both riding the bus to and from work, and rarely both needed a vehicle on the same day. So we got rid of a car. It’s saved me over $300/month. As fate played out, not long after my wife lost her job and when she started working again, she had a 60+ mile daily commute. Needless to say, she needed a car Monday through Friday. Meanwhile, I was still busing and biking to work.
I’m happy to take the bus to and from work on a daily basis. The problem lies in that without a vehicle during the week, I have no way to get myself around to doctors appointments or anywhere else that the bus or my self-powered bike won’t take me. As a result, I need some way to get around town. I don’t want to spend the cash required to get a new vehicle when I will rarely use it, so one legit option that I’m considering is a motor scooter (aka a “moped”).
Motor Scooters are Still Cool, Right?
Wait. Were they ever cool? Ah, who cares. I’m married, and stopped caring about cool a few years ago. I’ve started to price these bad boys out, and it looks like you can get a relatively new used motor scooter for around $1,000 on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace, fairly easily. Even if you were to get a cheap car that you paid about $200 a month for, for 5 years, you’re looking at a payoff of about 5 months for a motor scooter, in comparison.
What Costs are Involved with a Moped?
I’m sure insurance laws vary by state, but here in Michigan, you don’t need insurance to operate a motor scooter. Of course, if you get in an accident, there probably won’t be much left of you to pay for any damage or lawsuits. Additionally, scooter registration is cheap. Just $5 per year (versus $120 for a motor vehicle) in Michigan. Your state may vary.
How About Scooter Gas Mileage (Fuel Efficiency)?
Depends on the scooter’s engine size. But a 50cc engine will get you about 100 miles per gallon – about 4 times the average fuel efficiency of a gas-powered motor vehicle (see my list of the most efficient vehicles or cheapest electric vehicles, if fuel efficiency is your thing).
Total Cost Savings of a Moped Versus a Car?
Let’s say you could buy a used car for $12,000 and get a 0% 3-year loan or get a $1,000 scooter instead and pay cash. These are patchwork assumptions at best, but it should give you a rough estimate on monthly cost savings:
- Car: $80/mo.
- Scooter: $0
- Car: $80/mo.
- Scooter: $20/mo.
- Car: $333/mo. for three years
- Scooter: $1,000 up front = 3 months of car payments, or one-twelve the price of the car.
After 3 months of ownership, you’d be paying $493/month to operate the car, and $20/month to operate the scooter. Add in maintenance costs, car washes, and more, and you can see that I’m being very generous on the cost of owning the car.
Any Downsides to Owning a Scooter?
Other than the safety risks, I can’t really think of any. If you don’t like the scooter and decide it’s not for you, you can probably sell it for about what you bought it for. Are there any downsides beyond the obvious prideful shame of being seen on a scooter?
At the very least, a motor scooter can be great as a secondary household means for transportation, when paired with a vehicle.
- Have you owned a scooter? What are you experiences?
- What is the recommended maintenance on a scooter?
- Any scooter buying advice?
I’ve had the same thoughts, but two things still bug me:
1) No way to carry much stuff — I can’t imagine going to do a week’s food shopping with a scooter.
2) You’re exposed to the elements, and it rains quite a bit in Seattle
So I’m still hoofing it around, rain jacked and grocery bags under my arms. But if someone has suggestions, I’d be glad to hear them.
Seattle has one of the best bus systems around.. I used to love having a bus pass and essentially owning them all. 0 maintenance and you get a chauffeur.
I know on a bicycle those things have had no impact on
My ability to ride a bike year round. Groceries for the week in two rear saddle bags on a rack or large front Wald basket (the bags are waterproof, do rain is not an issue, and like any proper PNW guy.. I have rain pants and rain jacket). Weather and groceries are no big deal on a bicycle (I walked and took thr bus only during heavy and rare snow), can’t imagine it being much of one on a scooter either?
Carrying groceries? I find it a piece of cake on my bicycle. I have a family of three, and I can carry $75 worth of Trader Joes on my rear rack. Just buy two saddle bags. One of my bikes has a largish Wald basket, I can carry $35 of groceries easy on that too. If I can easily do this on a bicycle, I imagine it would not be hard on something like a scooter or motor cycle?
Rain should have almost no impact at all. I fenders on my bicycles. I live in PDX where it rains often as well. Wear some rain pants over normal clothes, peal them off when I arrive at work or home, have a normal rain jacket or breathable bicycle one if I chose. Nope.. no issues with either. Maybe heavy snow in some areas (plenty ride bikes and I assume motor cycles in snow in many places) but rain? It is just “rain”.
I believe you can buy a cargo trailer for mopeds.
I hope so, I’m heavily entertaining the thought of a moped
I’m from Michigan, so I can say the weather would be a big deal with a scooter. Not just being cold and precipitation, but ice on the roads would be killer with a scooter, I would imagine.
One thing you might consider is a car rental when you absolutely need it. I did this for my first 6 months in Houston, when I didn’t have a car.
It costs about $30-40/day, so if you can keep it to 1 or 2 days per month, then you are really saving some money. This requires being able to plan your trips very well, and schedule a lot of things on the day that you need the car.
Some of the agencies will come and pick you up at your house, and take you to the agency.
Living in Texas, weather is typically pretty nice. Some things to be aware of about buying on the internet, you may not get support/warranty or anyway to register or title yr vehicle. I work for a licensed scooter dealership in San Antonio and I actually had a gentleman who came in earlier today. He had purchased a scooter from someone in Georgia and didn’t receive an MCO (Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin) with out wich he could not title the vehicle. Untitled vehicles cant be registered and cant get license plates or inspection stickers. Also purchasing from the internet leaves you with out a warranty, service or support. It’s hard to find a mechanic to work on these and difficult to get parts. ALWAYS purchase from a licensed dealer. If you go to a scooter shop with a scooter purchased from the internet they may actually charge you more to fix it. You might get a good deal from the craigslist, but in the long run you’ll get burned. I sell scooters that range in price from $799 to $2850 (50, 150 and 260cc).
I would like to buy a scooter in Texas. How do I contact you?
Thanks for your comments — it’s definitely fuel for thought, as I find reliance on bus schedules a bit confining and walking everywhere a bit slow.
As for cup holders — nice design thought! However, I have to admit I’m likely the only person in Seattle that does not drink coffee. And, wouldn’t a full-face helmet get in the way? ;)
I bought a 50cc scooter last spring and I love it. It is true that you probably can’t do a week’s shopping with it. You really can’t do a Costco run with it. But you can put a carrier on the back and you can fill a backpack, and that will get you through a couple of days. Or at least through dinner, I guess it depends on the size of your household.
Here in BC (Canada) we do pay insurance, but it’s about $30/month, and you do not have to license the scooter for the months you don’t ride it if you don’t want to.
I do not ride in the snow and ice, that would be stupid. So take that into account. It’s more than just being cold. The scooter is not meant for icy roads or snow.
Maintenance is pretty straightforward. You need to make sure you have oil in it (This is a 2-stroke engine. I don’t know about Vespas and other 4-stroke engines.) Every time you get ready to ride you should have a look to see that all the bolts are where they belong and things are connected. Takes 2 minutes.
And if you put it away in the winter you need to get a trickle charger. I got mine for under CDN $50. When you start up again in the spring, you should either do maintenance yourself or take it to a shop. Maintenance is a complete oil change, check brake fluid, clean/replace air filter, check all lines and cables, tire pressure, etc. Replace what seems sensible, and repair or clean the rest. Develop a good relationship with the service people!
I put 2000km (1272mi) on the scooter last year, and parts cost me about $12. Half an hour labo(u)r brought the bill to just under $50.
Get a high-octane gas with no ethanol. I can fill the tank with Chevron/Techron and get change for a five. I haven’t seen anything like 100mi/gal, but then I’d have to do all the metric conversions and stuff. I am pretty sure it’s more like 75mi/gal once I do the conversions, but that’s still better than our van. By lots.
Buy — and wear — a good helmet, whether your state laws require one or not. Wear eye protection, and since you’re in Michigan where it’s cold some of the time, get a flip up face cover for your helmet. Wear at least a work-type denim jacket, and go for leather (not cowhide, but leather) if you can afford it. For g-d sake, always wear shoes.
Hope that helps; enjoy your scooter!
Thanks for posting this. I live in Vancouver and I’m considering to get a 50cc scooter so this really helped me get an idea for the all the cost and maintenence.
To Cate…I’m in a 2 car family, one is still being paid for till september of 2015, the other one is a 2005 focus with around 181,000 miles on it and it’s giving me engine problems… so I use it only for short trips, work home market type of thing… I read your post and apparently a scooter has no big costs, i’m not an expert, but I thought about replacing the focus for a scooter, cause i’m afraid that the cost of fixing whatever is wrong with the car is a bit high for what we can afford…. thoughts?
You said a half hour of labor was 38 dolars which means you believe your time is worth about 76 dolars an hour. I find it hard to believe someone making 150k a year would be driving a scooter. :D
Thanks for posting this Cate! Wow you could have written your own article. This was very helpful to read as someone that has never owned or used a scooter before. Thanks again.
To Boyan in Seattle:
We find that storage is often a concern for new scooter owners. And actually, storage is one of the advantages a scooter has over most motorcycles. To start, on modern scooters, there is usually a fair amount of storage under the seat. On average, enough to fit a soccer ball. That would typically accommodate 1-2 bags of groceries. Then, there are a ton of options for exterior storage – – everything from a milk crate (old school, if not a bit tacky) to wire mesh open baskets, to weatherproof lockable top cases, to saddle bags. These options offer anywhere from an additional 25-50 liters of storage, or 1-3 more soccer balls. That’s 1-6 more bags of groceries. Lastly, let’s not forget the bag hook on most scooters, located either on the inside of the legshield or just below the front of the seat. That’s good for one more bag of groceries. In total, that’s 2-9 bags of groceries that a scooter could carry. Depending on your lifestyle, that may or may not be a lot of groceries. But let’s face it, your going to have such a good time riding your scoot that two small trips to the supermarket each week will be far more enjoyable and convenient than the one big trip you probably make now.
Now as far as the rain…mmm, a bit more tricky. While there are options for rain gear including suits and skirts (yes, skirts – – they are actually very cool), it really comes down to attitude. As one friend and fellow rider likes to put it, “It’s just water.” I can tell you that in areas of the country (and world) where scootering is more of a necessity than a convenience, you find people riding in all sorts of weather. In the U.S. it’s often considered somewhat of a badge of honor to rider year-round.
Lastly, since your in Seattle, I will mention that there are even drink holders available for your scoot. So, you won’t have to sacrifice that cup of java for which your town is so famous.
I’m also in Seattle, and I scoot year round. I use a skirt, which I found at scooterskirts.com, and invested in a hi vis motorcycle jacket with armor. I never had this much fun in a car!
You don’t want to drive it in the rain, and also can’t have anything to drink like water and coffee while on one. Also it probably isn’t the most comfortable. It definitely would be cheaper for commuting if you can, but you still would have to have a car anyways and have insurance, so not sure if you really are saving in the long run.
I have two removable cup holders. I do pay for full coverage insurance but it is $100 a year. I have figured that at the current rate of savings from driving my truck for the commute, it will take me about 4.5 years to pay for the scooter. I have already saved $800 in gas in 10 months not counting the $8 per month insurance. I enjoy the commute too!
I would be curious to know if someone has calculated if financial gain from scooter outweigh the safety risk?
I also am very interested to buy a scooter. But what is stopping me right now is the safety risk. The probability of broken bones in an accident while riding a scooter is higher compared to a car.
I keep recalling an accident 3 years ago. I was waiting for the stoplight to go green (in my car), and this drunk hit my car from behind at 40mph. My car was a wreck but I was ok. The financial consequence from that accident was that my insurance premium increased.
Had I been in a scooter in the same situation (hit while waiting for stoplight at 40mph), I would probably have permanent injury.
That’s the biggest risk with scooters. My hub got broadsided in a new subaru by a car load of teenagers who ran a stop sign full blast. He’d have been dead on the scooter. He was driving on a side street too to avoid the main drag.
BTW, I commute to work by bicycle for 2 years now. It saved me from having to purchase a 2nd car, but the distance which I can go is very limited. I used to ride on the road together with cars. But now I mainly ride on the sidewalk after twice almost got hit buy a car.
I’m still considering buying a motorcycle or scooter, but I am concerned about the safety risk (see my first post.)
Update to all this, As of October 1st, Maryland now requires a(valid drivers license, even if you don’t own car) , insurance, registration,title and license sticker,proper helmet, and protective eye-ware,-unless your scooter has a windscreen . Be prepared for some bureaucracy if you don’t have a receipt for that old moped you bought from the family down the street ten years ago.No receipt no title;no title no insurance; no insurance no registration;and round and round.Doable if you bought your moped or scooter recently but that Kewl 1978 Motoguzzi you bought off CraigsList for$300 Probably isn’t going to move. The new laws were enacted as a response to our friends the Hipsters, who rode their Mopeds and Scooters on the Streets and sidewalks of DC and the Virginia and Maryland Suburbs. Unable to keep up with traffic especially aggressive cab drivers the Hipsters started taking over the sidewalks and when an entire Hipster Kickball team decides to ride over to the saloon to quaff whatever they would take to the sidewalks and knock down pedestrians. The bad thing about being knocked down by a Hipster on a Scooter is they don’t have anything but $90,000 in student loan debt,meaning somebody had to pay the medical bills, so Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia, passed laws making it very difficult to own a moped or scooter and use it for any practical purpose,like commuting to work. Maryland has conveniently posted a video on YouTube explaining the new laws, unfortunately it was originally intended for law enforcement and spends some time on what circumstances justify a legal stop and citation and fine. Watch it, somewhat ominous, I’m sure other States will copy Maryland’s lead.
Its actually far safer to ride in the street than sidewalk statistically. No one can see you in a car as you cross a street. Also, sidewalks are for walking, not bikes. However, in some less normal circumstances like thorough fares you might be better off cautiously riding in the sidewalk than minimal shoulder. In general, usually being in the street right where cars can see you with a helmet in and proper lighting, you should be safer. Sometimes taking the Kane is much safer if the shoulder is not enough.
Have you considered simply riding a bicycle for trips under say 10 miles each way, and the bus to locations better served by bus, then.. If needed… Go buy a beater car under $2000? I mean, there’s early 90’s Tercels, Corollas, Geo Prisms.. People sell ones in perfectly decent running condition. Make sure ti have a thorough mechanical check. When you need tires, get some off brand Kelly or the like for $20 a piece at America Tire, every 25-35k miles. I had an 87 Chevy Sprint for over 22 years. It was a total $2000 in service and repair over that time. I bought it for $2150 in 1993. It had 116k miles. I sold in in 2012 with 186k. I probably would have needed to buy more than one scooter in that time. It took me to L.A. From the bay area and back several times. Trips to SF and Santa Cruz often.
Get a cheap used Japanese econo car for under 2k, repair as needed, drive as little as possible.
I only finally sold it because we also had two cars and I put 300 miles per year on it the last 5 years. It got silly keeping it when my work was so bike able and the bus and train coukd serve 95% of my needs.
If the distances you have to travel are quite small have you considered an electrically assisted bike? I cycled 21 miles to work for a while and was seriously considering getting one. Rules in the UK limit their speed to 15mph (not sure what the law is in the US). For storage/shopping you can have a cycle trailer.
You get cheap travel and you save on gym membership :)
It costs me less than $4 to fill up and it lasts me 1-2 weeks!!!It’s $25/month to insure in BC, Canada, costs less than $3,000 and I get tons of fun conversations wherever I go!
You’re neglecting the safety aspect of driving an impact resistant car versus a very much squishable moped/scooter. I’m currently traveling overseas right now and have noticed that while in crowded Asian cities it makes a lot of sense to drive a scooter, in a fast driving society as the U.S., it’s often a death wish. Just my two cents!
I ride mine to work and school daily. I ride even in the winter (excluding ice and snow) with little to no trouble. The fact is other drivers NEVER see you. You have to be much more alert on a bike than in a car. If you are careful and learn to do more than hit the brakes to avoid accidents, like knowing when its better to gas it to get out of the way than to hit the brakes and stop, you will be ok. Also I have no fear of jumping a curve to get away from a inattitive driver in a car or truck. Its always more of a risk to ride than drive, but if you are willing to be extra aware and learn how to get out of the way, you will be ok.
It is true that there is more potential for injury but I have also noticed the way that drivers seem to give me a wide margin when driving around town. I live in FL in an urban area. When using the main highway going through town (3-4 lanes per direction) I usually get noticed pretty easily. I will say that the ONLY concern I have had is cars changing lanes near me. It is important to stay away from the rear side of cars in adjacent lanes. That and really watch those intersection turning vehicles.
@ Raymond – I am? “Any Downsides to Owning a Scooter? Other than the safety risks”. There are obviously safety risks involved anytime you are on something that isn’t surrounded by a steel frame. That shouldn’t be overlooked.
I guess the gist of the post was in regards to the economics of moped riding…I suppose the economics almost always make sense (mopeds are more gas efficient etc)…but it’s the safety factor for me
My car recently got totaled and I have been waiting to get the check. In the mean time I had no way of getting around so I bought a scooter. It is a 150cc engine and can get up to 80mph. Because in the state of NC it is technically a motorcycle I needed to register and insure it. Still it is fun and cheap!
On average I spend $2 a week in gas.
It goes the speed limit so I can ride on main roads.
Insurance was $108 for a whole year!
It is fun to ride, especially on sunny days.
It has a “dashboard”, a trunk and a hub so it fits more stuff than I thought.
People think I look cool (it’s a Vespa).
It is not fun in the rain, (but I have a poncho).
You can’t carry too many things.
People hate them in my town and try to run me over.
You need to buy a helmet, among other things.
To sum up, I thoroughly enjoy riding on my little scooter. It is economical and environmentally friendly. I would suggest anyone thinking about it to go ahead and do it. I hope this helps.
How much was registration and cost to get a plate?
I had a scooter in college. It was great! But unfortunately I live in Los Angeles, and I would never drive one around here. There are too many distracted drivers.
Now that I ride a scooter I am more in tune with the driving task. I notice most car drivers are completely oblivious to driving- using their cell phones, reading email, putting on makeup, eating. I never realized how they treat it like sitting on a couch or something. I agree but I will say that I notice all of this at stop lights looking around.
You are probably right, but I just like the car more than a scooter :)
I own a SunL 150cc Cozumel (identical to numerous Wildfire, Rocketa,iScoot and other bikes all made by Shanghai Shenke) and it has been and is a great bike! The built-in FM/MP3 player sucks as it has no antenna, but the MP3 player system is nice. Some key points:
– Get a bike that will handle you and your weight! Don’t just settle for any 49cc scooter…you’ll wish you had a bigger engine so just spend the extra now! At a minimum, a 150cc! (If you are going for a 250cc, get the CF MOTO or Q-LINK clones of the old reliable Honda Helix- these have GREAT onboard storage, and nice factory tailbox, nice stereo system, a single cylinder 250cc air-cooled engine (PROVEN Honda technology) and they handle the highway like a champ! And they always look cool! WELL WORTH THE INVESTMENT!)
– Gas mileage: Averages me between 70 to 75 mpg; it perfers Premium gas, but not a big deal. Oil changes I can do myself, and I’m running a 100% synthetic that runs great!
– Storage: Not too bad under the seat, I can keep a leather jacket under there or some groceries that don’t get affected by the engine heat, or any water from the road that goes up thru the numerous gaps and holes. The factory rear trunk isn’t too bad- just make sure that it is latched! I’m seriously considering swapping it for a Rubbermaid ActionPacker; drill holes thru the bottom so you can bolt it to the tail rack, reinforce the base with a couple of metal pieces or a thin board; it will allow you to carry more groceries.
Another option I’ve used on my old Honda Rebel 250 was a milk crate that I secured to the rear seat; I could carry my Navy seabag in it as well as groceries, secured the double-bagged stuff with bungie cords.
– Safety: WEAR A HELMET! Get a good one that fits! I have 2, a full-face for winter and a KBC shorty for hot weather. Also, get a reflective vest at your local construction supply place- Don’t get the one at Walmart! GET THE HI-VIZ YELLOW with the silver reflective stropes, ad well as a solid fabric that has pockets inside and out. Trust me, it’s worth the search! This vest is perfect for night or bad-weather riding, and you can put things in the pockets that will stay in the pockets!
– Ride like you have a brain!: Don’t do stupid crap. You will lose.
– Plan your route and know alternatives!: Sometimes I can take the highway (if the wind isn’t too bad, and distance too long) other times I’ll take the “long way” with more time to enjoy the ride and get there without any hassles enroute.
I have a 2005 Honda Metropoliton 1 and I love it.
I have a 2005 Honda Metropoliton 1 scooter and I love it. I have a chevy caprice, for long trips and safety, but since gas has been so high, I bought this scooter. I drive the scooter most of the time; For grosery shopping, running errands etc. Quite a few people drive scooters here in Owensboro Ky. We have 54,000 people. My scooter gets 80 to 100 MPG, it is very dependable, and I can put a gallon of milk under the seat, including a few tv dinners. I also have a Honda luggage compartment on the back, which will hold at least 20 tv dinners. In addition, I have a basket on the bolted on the sheath right in front of where my knees (plenty of room for my knees) go and it will hold a few tv dinners, little candy boxes etc. With all these groseries, you can’t tell too much that there is that much weight on the scooter, because it is so well balanced. Why would you be ashamed, scooters are smart & COOL. I am 35 yrs old and People of all ages smile at me when I drive it. They think it’s cute. Mine is a bright green and white and it looks like a big toy. I am single and woman love it. The only bad thing is people don’t watch what they are doing. They don’t care about the scooter driver or pedestrians, and they will practically run you over. You have to watch to see if they are watching you. I take the side streets and pull over and let them pass. They are constantly on Cell phones. I always wear a helmet. Mine goes 36 MPH. Pretty fast. Got it on ebay for 850.00 with only 800 miles on it. It is like new. A guy here in town told me he has 10,000 miles on his and he is still driving it!!! You must get a name brand, like Honda or you will have more problems and expense!!! Isn’t it too cold to drive in Michigan except in summer. I think it’s too cold to drive in Ky except in the summer. Good luck and have Fun!!!
you may want to check http://www.buyrealgas.com to find a no ethanol station near you.
Motor Scooters are Still Cool
Owning a scooter is cool, but it can’t help you when you have a lot of things to bring especially when you just had your grocery. and when it’s raining season, you can’t use it at all.
In my own opinion, I guess you should have a car and a scooter.
What is a sensible distance to drive to work? Would 35 miles be to far? Would it be exhausting or difficult? Thanks
The distance can make a difference. I drive six miles one way on roads that vary from 30-45mph speed limits and it is great. On a 35 mile commute I would probably get a bigger scooter for a few reasons, weight (ride) and also speed in case of highway travels. Interstate driving has a different feel to it on a two wheeler than other roads. Scooters are, for the most part, not interstate vehicles; however, the larger ones with 250cc or bigger can travel at the speed needed and be heavy enough not to feel like you will be blown off the road by a passing truck or gust of wind. I saw a really great chart on cc and performance to usage. Pick a scooter by cruising speed not top end. Here is some info. I gleaned:
150cc cruises at 45mph tops out around sixties.
200cc cruises at 50mph tops out around seventy.
250cc cruises at 55mph tops out around eighties.
Consider the roads you commute on and the speeds needed to keep up with traffic without having to run at top end. If the scoot is running wide open to keep up, it is too small for the road being traveled.
i have a Kymco Agility 50cc as my soul means of transportation. i live in the city and during rush hour im envied by everyone watching my fly by as they are stuck in traffic. yes, scooters can be unsafe with the wrong rider, but someone whos cautious and has half a brain on their shoulders can learn to read the traffic and know when some a-hole on his cell phone is not paying attention and about to run you over. on the same route under normal traffic conditions i can get from point a to b faster than any car. this is only true for city driving, rural areas a 50cc just wouldnt cut the mustard …
being in florida, i deal with many rainy days a year, so i always pack my rain suit. the best kind is the pants with the bib and suspenders, as a puddle will form in your lap as you ride. covers for you shoes are great, that and a decent helmet and rain is not an issue
as far as storage and carrying groceries or what have you… you would be surprised how these things can carry if you just put you mind to it…. the trunk on my scoot is massive for a 50cc… and which is not so common but a great idea, the kymco agility 50 has a passenger seat that flips up to form a back rest, which doubles the carrying capacity on the rear rack. i have several options for the rear rack, sometimes i use a milk crate for loose items and groceries, i have a backpack style carry-on luggage bag with wheels and extendable handle that acutally looks like its made for the bike as it is aerodynamic and matches the contour of the bike. but most of the time, i just have a cargo net that stays strapped to the rack all times, which is great for the unexpected situations… im also i touring cyclist so i have a set of panniers ( or saddle bags) for the layman, the i strap to each other and the fit perfectly between my legs and carry a ton of stuff… i outfitted a couple of foot pegs to the outside of the foot board to gain a few more inches of space, and is alot more comfortable on those long rides….
ive gone camping before on my scooter, and carried my the nessecities quite comfortably, (tent, sleeping bag, lightweight camp stove, pot and pan, propane, all my food minus beverages which i picked up on the way, three days of cloths, rain gear, toiletries, folding chair, shovel(i was primative camping) binoculars, extra pair of shoes, first aid kit, basic tools for scooter, im sure im leaving a few things out, but i think you get the picture… i kept heavy items down low and barely noticed the extra weight.
i had a picture of my scoot fully loaded, cant seem to locate it now but if i find it ill post it later.
also im a carpenter, and i manage to carry a tool belt and decent size tool box of all my basic hand and power tools everyday for work…
as far as distance riding, ive gone up to 200 miles in one day… although frequent breaks to stretch my legs and back were a necessity. after so long your a$$ will go numb.
but in the 200 miles, only filled up once before i left and once half way… i brought a small emergency can of gas incase a station couldnt be located
anyways, i love my scoot, i could go on for days…. but ill just leave it at that… i wont get into how i managed to move 90% of my belongings to my new house on my scoot, or how many people ive seen on a scooter during the time i spent in the philippines (5)
or how i moved a downed oak tree from my back yard to the curb with my scoot and some rope, or its capability to ride a motocross track, haha… dont ask… anyways, i think ive made my point
Love it! Great post. I see you are in FL and the post is a few years old but I will post a question anyway, How do you avoid traffic? Are you driving through it- between lanes or on the side? I state this only because it is against state law. I WOULD LOVE to do it but it is a ticket able offense as they teach in the motorcycle school. You may not know this because of it being a 50cc and not having to attend the school to obtain a 50cc+ license but it is not allowed just as lane splitting is not (driving beside cars or lanes) with/without traffic.
I’m thinking about buying a 2008 Shanghai Shenke 49 cc scooter from a family in my town. It has 14 miles on it… practically never used and they are selling it for $900. I just graduated college, looking to live in a community where I can bike, walk or scoot practically everywhere I go. $900 sounds like a pretty great deal for a practically new form of motorized transportation, but I’m a bit apprehensive to invest in such a cheap scooter. I can’t find a whole lot on the internet about Shanghai Shenke scooters… any thoughts?
IT’S GANNA GET COLD. I lived in michigan, and i know how the winters are; even in the southern part of the state. I’m sure someone else has said this by now, but i just wanna make sure it’s said – you WILL freeze your toosh off. Doesnt matter how many layers you wear, or how many times you get to stop at a stop light and take a break from the wind, during the winters you are ganna get soooooo cold.
I live in las vegas now, and other than needing a water bottle for the hot summers, riding around in 30-20 degree weather during the winter is horrid. There are days when i finally get to work and i can hardly feel my fingers.
. . . but hey, other than that, i love my moped. It’s easy to weave through busy traffic ( if nessicary ) and no one really bothers you so long as you stay way far right as much as possible. That and i only paid about $650 for mine, and I’ve had it for almost 2 years now. The starter goes out during the winter sometimes, so you get good at kickstarting it. And the gas guage usually breaks pretty early on in most models, so just make sure you’re watching your milage so you can fill it up about every 100 miles.
Good luck with it!
As a Londoner i rode a 2 wheeled scoot or dirtbike thru rain, sleet and ice every day of the year. In Los Angeles i do the same thing, except it rarely rains. Angelenos are poor drivers to begin with but when it comes to watching out for motorcyclists…. it gets kinda hairy at times…. but overall, i’m loving riding again, i have far more cash in my pocket ….and i love cutting lanes to get thru traffic.Very little frustration.
p.s Angelenos must have more money than sense. It costs me $6 to fill up compared to $40 + for the average car.
Madison, stay away from chinese built scooters…. they’ll rattle themselves loose .
I had a scooter in college and I loved it. However, I had to ride on the least busy streets so that I wouldn’t be run over. A guy purposefully ran me off the road one time, yeesh! Also mentioned are safety and carrying capacity. I’d also like to add that if your life situation changes and you have a child, a scooter is useless. Also, the reason I’m not still riding mine is that it got stolen. So, if you can add it to your car insurance and choose comprehensive, do it! Scooters have a very high theft rate.
Since I have been driving (car) I have been run off the road three times by other drivers over the years. You have to be careful whatever you drive. Scooters are not different in that aspect EXCEPT there is little around your body so it is critical to be SEEN. Stay away from blind areas and watch intersections and turn-in lanes. Most accidents in my area occur by someone turning in front of the motorcycle, the cyclist traveling too fast or DUI motorcyclists. If you keep your speed down, don’t drink then drive, that leaves the turn-ins and lane changers to watch for.
I also live in Michigan. I could never pass the road test for a car, so I went for my moped license instead. My parents were kind enough to shell out $800 and purchase me a 50cc scooter soon after. I loved it, but there are some disadvantages. For one thing, Other drivers (and cops) seem to be unaware of moped laws and the rights of the driver. When driving down certain roads, the cars behind me would keep honking and swurving behind me. Even though I was riding to the right side of the road, and waving them to pass me, they failed to realize that they have the right to do so. When they did pass me, they would yell out their windows at me, usually saying something along the lines of, “Stay off the road with that thing!” or, “Use the sidewalk!” (which, by the way, is very illegal)
I was once pulled over by a cop, and asked to provide proof of insurance. After telling him that This was a moped, and thus did’Nt require insurance, he wrote me a ticket anyway, stating that all motor vehicles require insurance. I had to fight it in court, to which the judge was also unaware of mopeds not requiring insurance. I had to show him a copy of the MCL (Michigan Compiled Law) about mopeds. I proved my case and had it dismissed, but not before the Judge said, “I personally don’t believe in these rules set by the state. In my opinion, mopeds should require insurance just like every other vehicle. I also don’t feel they should be allowed on roads at all, but the law is the law.”
There are many here in Michigan who feel the same way as that judge. They will tell me, “I don’t care what the law says. If you’re in front of me with that thing, I’m running you off the road.”
I lost my moped after I let my brother drive it. He crashed it.
But I plan on getting another one ASAP. I love driving them, despite the ignorance of some of these drivers.
Try out renting a Nissan LEAF all electric car from Enterprise Rental.
Many of the Seattle and Oregon branches have them but they are not one the normal online order or 800 order system.
Just talk directly to the local branch and give them 24 hours notice. We got the car for $36/day and because our insurance oompany covers rental CDW etc we paid only the taxes on top of the day rate.
The sweet thing is no gas and the electricity is mostly free at charging stations around Seattle. Just be sure to get a ChargePoint and Blink RFID card (free) so you can activate the power at the charging stations. Unfortunately Enterprise does not yet have these cards in stock so you need to get them before you rent to avoid a long phone call to unlock the charge station each time you need to top up the charge.
We did 110 miles and 8 meetings in one day with two top up charges of about 1 hours each and 110 volts at home to top up for the next day while we slept. Sweet ride the telematics and navigation is the best I have used.
I the stuff you say is based on logic but consider the following:
Basic services to motorcycles and scooters cost way more than cars. For my Toyota i pay pay 50. For my scooter i pay 250. A simple service is a 4th of the price you bought it for.
Now consider the life of a scooter. a good LONG life for a scooter is 30,000 miles. A good life for a car is 200,000. you would own about 7 scooters to reach the life of one car.
You are right, it is cheaper for a scooter, but realize that the margin isn’t as large as you think.
scooter and moped are much better than car, you have shared really nice article and such a wonderful comparison but scooter are not suitable for hills area.
I’ve been driving a 50cc for a few months. It’s awesome only having to pay $3 a week for gas and no insurance, but there are some downsides I wish I had known about beforehand. There is the weather. In the winter, even with three layers of thick coats it feels like 10 degrees below the actual temperature. Then, I didn’t think the rain would be a real problem but if you wear glasses or anything over your eyes, obviously vision becomes a problem in the rain.
Soooo the biggest downside to riding a moped is that there are a great number of cold and rainy days when you’d just be out of luck. Mine is starting to have engine trouble after just 600 miles, despite having taking great care of it. But otherwise, scooters are an excellent alternative to cars and pretty darn fun to ride too, if you dont mind the limitations.
I have ridden a scooter for the past 10 months. I really enjoy it. My situation is a bit different as I do have another vehicle, a Ford F-150 that I can drive when the weather is bad but I can tell you that I have saved around $800 by driving the scooter to work and for errands the past 3300 miles @90 mpg average versus 14mpg with the truck in city driving. I bought a new Honda PCX150 that will go 65mph but it is perfect around town. I have been to the grocery. One advantage scooters have over motorcycles is the storage. I also have a stowage bag that helps. My state requires the motorcycle license over 50cc. I will say that it was a great course and most people need more than 50cc to commute. I bought a 50 cc. model first to try and skirt the license issue but realized quickly that I would get run over. You can do just about anything with the scooter for errands. Rainy weather is the only real drawback.
scooter/motorcycle rider of 40+ years now, do not buy a cheap scooter, buy a honda, yamaha or even a vespa or kymco, all good reliable scooters, just maintain them and typically 0 issues. do not buy a scooter to save gas and not use it! bear in mind the payback for a high end scooter is years not months because you still have license,insurance and maintainence costs no matter what and/or a payment if you finance it to buy it… think of it as an investment or sorts, a good scoot will easily top 20,000 miles with normal upkeep (yes a honda metro or vino will go at least that far). i have a yamaha morphous for out of town and a metro for in-town and love them both, i did not buy them to have them pay for themselves, but to save some gas and enjoy the ride at the same time… insurance is $75 annually in ND where i live and i get a solid 6 months of riding in town annually, tags cost me $25 per scoot so you already have $100 to save to break even, get the picture? buy it and keep it up and enjoy it for years to come, the FUN factor out-weighs the negatives, as far as safety, good drivers don’t get in accidents PERIOD! BE AWARE and ride as if your life depends on it, as it does! be safe and enjoy life, i sure do! as far as things to do, battery maintainer, stabil for the gas and full tank near the end of season, and toss the old gas in the car every spring, and do start them at least once a month for 15 minutes when the off season comes until riding begins again, no headaches no worries!
I have been scootering now for nearly two years. It is my primary vehicle. I have an F-150 truck that is my other vehicle that I have to have to pull an Airstream. My scooter saves me about $1100 in gas every year compared to driving the truck. It is an expense. I pay $100/yr for full coverage insurance and I have outfitted it well. I have a stebel naut horn (very loud) and other goodies. I can go grocery shopping- 8 bags or so and do many things other than get lumber, etc :)
One reason I own it is for the sheer fun of it. It is great for quick runs and buzzing around town. My model can do nearly 80mph so it keeps up with traffic. I first purchased a new Honda PCX150. Love it but I wanted something to travel on any road in my town. I ended up with a Vespa 250GT and it just works. Both of them are great choices. The Honda does about 63mph and is most comfortable in the 45-50mph speed. I agree that you should really consider something of decent quality.
I am a 17 yr old looking for a cheap way to get to and from school but I don’t have my license and will not be required to get one in NC state if operating a scooter that is not able to exceed 30mph. It will also not need to be insured since its not considered a motorcycle. This to me is great news because its even cheaper right now than attaing a license, purchasing a car, and getting it registered and insured and whatever else. Plus the fact that they are good on gas means it is even cheaper to own. Like $10 a month? Heck yeah! I’m not concerned with weather here in central NC or having enough space to put things, I’ll always practically have a book bag on anyway. And who cares if they’re not cool? I’m doing this on my own instead of using my parents for a new car. I may not roll up in a new BMW but I can say I did it myself. My only problem is that 30 mph seems too slow, would it be obvious to ride one with a bigger engine and be able to avoid insuring it? Like would that be a big deal? I want to live inexpensively but I would prefer one that offers more than the minimum size engine.
I’ve read only some of the comments, so some things may have been mentioned that I will mention. First, I’m in favor of the scooter idea. I’ve been considering it too. I work in landscaping for now, so I’m stuck driving automobiles. I will be able to simplify my employment after I built a little house mortgage free. Then, I’ll simplify my transportation.
I’ve been driving vehicles in the $1,800 to $4000 range, paying cash for them, and having only a couple of repairs. If someone has just a little bit above average knowledge of automobiles, an economy car can be purchased for way under $12k.
For the scooter, don’t forget tires and maintenance as well. Supposedly, nice motorcycles can cost as much as an economy car to keep on the road due to pricey tires and tuning. The scooter will be much cheaper, but don’t overlook the frequent purchases of good tires and a mechanics visit every year or two.
I’d invest in an awesome helmet and jacket/pants for crashes as well. I see way too many people riding with lots of bare skin around Austin. Sure, the women look amazing riding a scooter in a skirt, but they sure are taking risks, in my opinion.
I’ve had a scooter ever since I moved to the city and can’t imagine living without it!
-Easy to park and usually free!
-I spend probably no more than $120 per year on gas.
-It’s easy to carry things if you have a top box, and a bag clip on the front of the scooter, I’ve carried home loads from costco!
-Insurance is really minimal- under $100 per year
-Helmet hair, if your hairstyle is not carefully prepared to slide inside your helmet
-Rain- a few sprinkles never hurt anyone, but heavy rain is not the time to be on a scooter, and it is multiplied as you drive forward, you catch much more rain than standing on the street.
-Railroad tracks, metal plates and other metals on the road become VERY slippery when wet, most scooters have no ABS/Traction control
-Cold- if you live in a cool/cold climate, just imagine driving your car without a windshield, major wind chill factor- good leather jacket and scarf and protective gloves.
-A windscreen of useful size will do wonders to keep most wind and rain off of you, even if you think it looks nerdy, you’ll be glad you did, and can take it off during warmer months.
All in all, if you play your cards right, a scooter is your ideal urban/suburban transport, about 90-95% of the time. Otherwise, take a cab or drive a car.
My daughter has been saving up to be able to take her car with her to college this fall, but recently she told me that she’s interested in using her money to get a motor scooter instead. I had no idea that this kind of transportation device uses about 5 times less fuel than the average vehicle! It seems to me like a convenient and environmentally friendly way to drive yourself around. I’ll be sure to take this into consideration.
Scooters are good, but something else you have to consider is the area you live in. Believe me, it helps to know whether there are people in the area that steal bikes. It’s a precaution as it can be costly to replace a scooter or repair it(if it’s a name brand scooter like a Honda, it can cost you more to replace a original part if out of warranty). As most scooters don’t have rear brake disks, a disk lock on a front and a heavy chain on the back and frame can deter most thieves. I learned from experience living in Upstate SC after losing my Honda Elite. Enjoy the ride but please be aware of your environment. You won’t regret taking that extra step.
You seem to be using the terms “scooter” and “,moped” interchangeably. Every state has different legal definitions for these terms. I did own a Moped several years ago and found them slow and worthless for carrying anything meaningful. It broke down constantly and had a flat tire at least once a week. The DMV people kept trying to tell me I owned a “motorsickle” because what I was ridding had 2 wheels and an engine. Save yourself a lot of grief. Buy a real motorcycle 150 to 174 cc.