Scooter vs. Motorcycle: Choosing the Best Option for Where You Ride

Scooter vs. Motorcycle: Choosing the Best Option for Where You Ride

5 Tips for Riding Your Motorcycle in the Rain Vous lisez Scooter vs. Motorcycle: Choosing the Best Option for Where You Ride 5 minutes Suivant Motorcycle Safety Courses: The Benefits and What to Expect

1. What kind of speed and power do you need?

Engine size is one of the most obvious differences between scooters and motorcycles. A typical scooter has an engine size between 50cc and 250cc, while most motorcycles sold in the U.S. are 250cc and up. Thus, as you might expect, scooters have significantly lower top speeds and much less engine power. 

That makes scooters ideally suited for low-speed environments that don’t require too much acceleration. If all of your riding is around town on surface streets with speed limits of around 50 mph or under, a scooter could be just what you need. If you do any highway riding at all, though, a scooter probably won’t be able to keep up and may not be legal. 

2. How much fuel efficiency do you need?

Motorcycles and scooters are both highly fuel-efficient. The average U.S. motorcycle gets around 35 to 40 miles per gallon, which is already as good as or better than most high-mpg compact cars. 

However, if maximum fuel efficiency is what you’re looking for, scooters boast truly eye-popping gas mileage, often well over 100 miles per gallon. Thus, those who need to prioritize mileage and economy over power will usually be better off choosing a scooter. 

3. What kind of road conditions do you expect on your rides?

Think about the roads where you’ll be doing most of your travel. Motorcycles have bigger tires and a longer wheelbase, which makes them more stable going over bumps. Potholes aren’t fun on anything with two wheels, but a motorcycle’s tires and suspension can usually handle them better than a scooter can. 

However, if tight corners and low speeds are primary concerns in your riding environment, a scooter may be a better choice. Motorcycles, especially larger ones, aren’t as well suited for the low-speed cornering that scooters excel at. 

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Motorcycles riding down the road

4. How much do you want to spend?

A decent scooter will definitely cost you less than a decent motorcycle. You can easily purchase a brand new mid-sized scooter for $1,000 to $2,000, and smaller or used ones are available for substantially less. 

A used motorcycle in good condition, on the other hand, will usually cost around $2,000 at minimum, and most will cost more. On top of that, motorcycles generally have higher maintenance costs than scooters (or cars, for that matter), not even counting the aftermarket modifications that many riders make to their motorcycles. 

5. Do you want something that’s easier to learn?

Most scooters are designed to be extremely simple to operate. They have automatic transmissions, so you don’t have to worry about shifting gears, and their controls are generally much more basic than a motorcycle’s. Do note, however, that it’s still important to learn the basics of riding safely on a scooter, including defensive riding and traffic management. 

Learning to ride a motorcycle is a much more serious undertaking. Most people will need a few weeks of consistent practice just to master the basics, and becoming a genuinely skilled rider takes years. You’ll need to master things like shifting gears, high speed cornering, highway riding and much more. If you’re serious about committing to the motorcycle route, taking a Motorcycle Safety Foundation Basic RiderCourse is a great way to start. 

6. How much are you able to spend on riding gear?

First off, you need a helmet whether you’re riding a motorcycle or a scooter. However, scooter helmets tend to be less expensive than motorcycle helmets because they’re designed for lower speeds, and that trend holds true with most scooter and motorcycle gear. 

If you’re going for a motorcycle, think about the extra gear you’ll need. A helmet, riding jacket, boots and gloves are the minimum recommended motorcycle protective gear, and many riders also find that a helmet intercom and set of motorcycle helmet speakers make life a lot easier (and more fun). 

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motorcycles and scooters parked in a row

Source: photo-lime/Shutterstock

Whatever you’re riding, a motorcycle Bluetooth headset from Cardo Systems with JBL Bluetooth motorcycle helmet speakers will help give you a safer, more fun and more connected experience on the road. We also offer more resources for two-wheeled commuters of all persuasions. Find out why commuting by motorcycle is the best on our Cardo blog, or learn about the difference between scooters and mopeds.