Since we’ll be moving soon, and I’ll be closer to work and able to traverse somewhat safer neighborhoods to get there, I’m thinking of getting a motor scooter. The gas mileage of some of these guys is nuts — 60+ MPG — and they’re safe, cool, and just downright fun. I realized that Durham is laid out such that one can get around to the major districts — ATC, Ninth Street, Downtown, New Hope Commons, Der Ãœbertarget — on surface streets, most of which have 35-45 MPH speed limits. If it worked out I’d sell my car, and that alone would cut down on my expenses just in insurance and taxes, not to mention fuel. There are a whole lot of options to choose from, though, and that’s where the trouble begins.
I’ve been weighing the choices between two classes of scooter: 50cc and 150cc (along with one or two 125cc models). The smaller ones don’t require any licensing or anything, and so I wouldn’t even have to get my motorcycle endorsement. Anything bigger than that does require a motorcycle license, tags, and insurance (though I’d probably have insurance in either case). The smaller ones also tend to be less expensive, of course. The drawbacks to the 50cc scooters is that most of them don’t go any faster than about 40 MPH. That wouldn’t help me on 45 MPH roads, and even then I’d still like to have a little extra room for emergency power in case I need it.
I decided that this is another instance where a round-up sorta thing might be useful, so I’m compiling a list of the models I’ve been eyeballing. I’ll end it with a table comparing some of their salient specs.
Little putterers that would get me around, but can’t even think about carrying two people. My concern with these is their lack of power, but the price is right and they seem like they’d make great ways to start scooting. I also like that I wouldn’t need to get any additional endorsements on my license, as dealing with the NC DMV is never fun.
Honda Metropolitan — MSRP $1899
The Metro appears to be the current benchmark in inexpensive, small scooters. It’s cute, affordable, and from what I’ve read it’s quite well made; Honda’s certainly no stranger to making quality vehicles. There’s also a Honda/Yamaha dealership right near where I’ll be living, which would be mighty convenient.
Yamaha Vino Classic — MSRP $1899
I love the retro styling on this, and Yamaha also makes great motorcycles, so it’d stand to reason that the quality of their scooters would be similar. The Honda/Yamaha dealership is also a swing in this model’s favor, and the other two Yamaha models listed below.
Yamaha C3 — MSRP $1999
A new Yamaha model, what the C3 lacks in looks it makes up for in utility — that big box upon which you sit is a trunk with a nine-gallon capacity. The larger wheels also lend it greater stability, and I’ve heard that because it’s a fuel-injected engine it’s a big peppier than a 50cc scooter usually is. It’s a face only a mother could love, though, and that combined with the small engine are what I don’t like about it.
Kymco Agility 50 4T — MSRP $1599
I’ve seen a few people speak very highly of the Kymco scooters, but I’m wary of a Taiwanese brand that I’ve never heard of. Still, I’d be willing to give it a test ride just to see how well it performed. I also wish I could find a side-on photo of this scooter as the 3/4-angle shot looks weird with the other photos on this page.
Piaggio Fly 50 — MSRP $1799
While the Piaggio/Vespa dealer is over in Raleigh, Piaggio’s quality and style might make it worth my while to head over that way and take a test ride on one of these.
Genuine Buddy 50 — $1899
The nearest Genuine dealer is in Greensboro, about an hour from here, but their scooters are so damned compelling that I might drive out there and take a look. The Buddy is cute, has great reviews, and is imported by a company whose style I like. Also, the guys over at Scooter Nerds answered a question I had via email promptly and courteously, and I’d like to try to do them the return favor of giving them a chance to sell me a scooter.
125cc & 150cc Models
Larger and better able to carry two people — at least, the 150cc models are — they would give me more options in terms of which roads I could safely use, and at what speeds. I would, however, have to jump through the DMVs hoops in order to get my motorcycle endorsement, which may require my getting new glasses. Admittedly, I could probably use new glasses, but that’d be an additional cost.
Yamaha Vino 125 — MSRP $2549
The bigger brother of the Vino Classic, I’m not sure if 125cc would be large enough to carry two people effectively, but it’d be worth looking into.
Genuine Buddy 125 — MSRP $2599
Identical in looks to its smaller brethren, the greater power in the larger Buddy would probably make me happier. Honestly, this is the one to which I’m most attracted, with its biggest drawback being that I’d have to go to Greensboro to get it.
So, What Now?
Here’s my plan. Some parts of this might get done before we move, but the majority of it will take place after we’re in the new apartment.
- Get my motorcycle learner’s permit.
- Test drive as many scooters as possible.
- Get the one that I like, putting a little bit of money down on it but financing the majority, and start using it as my daily driver.
- Work on taking the MSF Basic Rider Course training class, and getting my full motorcycle endorsement. Even if I don’t need it for the scooter I buy, it’d be nice to have and the course is a damn good idea anyway.
- Once I’m comfortable using the scooter as a daily driver, sell my car — probably to CarMax — and use the proceeds to pay into the scooter loan.
This is something I really want to do. I think it’s a good idea, and others have expressed similar sentiments. What do you think?