The Basic Facts You Need Before Your Purchase
(This article was originally published at Yahoo! Voices on 5/21/2009)
Scooter purchases have risen over the past few years. They are a fun and economical form of transportation. With so many brands and models to choose from, how do you make a decision? After owning, riding, and maintaining a scooter for the past eight years, I’ve come to know the pro’s and con’s of scooters and their purchase. Here are some tips that will help you save time and money from the start.
Purchasing a scooter is similar to buying a car in many ways. A scooter is a vehicle and has similar features and maintenance. The purchase price should be only one consideration in making your final decision. In general, new good quality scooter prices start around $2200.00 and can go up to $10,000. Used scooters can be purchased for significantly less.
What engine size?
The most basic decision is to decide where you are going to ride the scooter. This will determine your engine size requirement. For simple commuting on 35 mph city streets, a 49cc size engine should be sufficient. If you need to reach highway speeds of 55 mph or greater, you should consider purchasing a scooter with an engine size of 150 cc or larger. If you have hilly terrain or need 75 mph highway speeds, you may want to purchase a 250 cc engine. If you do decide to get a larger size engine, this will most likely require you to obtain a motorcycle endorsement and insurance.
Automatic or manual?
Are you comfortable driving an automatic or a manual transmission? Like cars, scooters can come in both types. Most new scooters on the market today are automatic transmission scooters. Automatics tend to require less maintenance and the cables don’t break as often as on manual transmission scooters. 2-stroke scooters also require one to add two-stroke engine oil to the oil tank few few fill ups. If you are not mechanically inclined, I recommend going the automatic transmission route.
New or used?
Should you buy new or used? Like a car, new scooters come with a warranty. The warranty is only as good as the dealership. Check out the dealer just as you would a car dealer. How long have they been in business? How long is the warranty? Do they service the scooter? Can they get parts for the scooter? A new scooter can quickly become useless scrap metal if service is not available. While there are many reputable dealers, the current popularity of scooters has flooded the market with disreputable ones.
Used scooters can be budget friendly and reliable transportation. It is possible to find low mileage modern scooters on eBay and Craigslist. Before purchasing one however, try to get it checked out by a scooter mechanic. It would also be advisable to obtain information about the model you are interested in from online forums. Most popular and reliable scooters have online enthusiast forums with members eager to help out newbie’s.
One type of used scooter is of special concern. These are restorations of vintage Vespa’s performed in Vietnam. These scooters are extremely dangerous. They are pieced together very hap-hazardously and have been known to fall apart at speed. There are signs that give away these scooters. Descriptions of the telltale signs can be found by performing a Google search with the term: viet bodge. Online Vespa forums can also be of help.
Buy a quality brand of scooter
With scooters, quality counts! Brand name is an extremely important consideration in your purchase. Some well-known reliable brands are Vespa, Piaggio, Yamaha, Honda, Genuine, Kymco, Sym, Lambretta, Aprilia, Derbi, Malaguti, and Suzuki. Generally, reliable brands are Italian, Japanese, and Taiwanese. Avoid scooters made in mainland China. These scooters are less expensive but they are made with questionable quality metal and prone to mechanical breakdown. Parts and service are nearly impossible to obtain for these even with a warranty. Most scooter shops will not service them.
Take a test drive
Before purchasing a scooter, give it a test drive. Any reputable dealer should give you this option. These are some items to consider during your demo. Is it too heavy for you to control? Do your feet easily reach the asphalt? Do you like the seat shape? Does it easily reach your speed requirements? Do you like the color?
Scooters do require maintenance. Some scooters are more service friendly than others and labor costs can add up. Find out what the service schedule is for the scooter you are interested in and how much it costs. If you mechanically inclined, and even if you aren’t, you may be able to perform some of the service yourself.
Scooter prices at a dealer are generally non-negotiable. Dealers have very little markup and must pay for shipping and setup. Most dealers make their profit in servicing scooters. Where you can negotiate with the dealer is with the warranty terms, scooter options, riding gear, and possibly the cost of a Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) course.
There are additional costs associated with scooter ownership. Your scoot may require insurance, registration, and ownership taxes. Riding gear can include a helmet, goggles, gloves, and a jacket. Other items to consider are: a cable lock that can be attached to something solid, a battery tender, and a windscreen.
There are many things to consider when purchasing a scooter. These tips should help you be more informed before walking into scooter ownership. Scooters can be a fun economical form of transport and a way to make new friends. I bought one eight years ago and I’m still wearing a grin every time I ride it.
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