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Should I Consider Buying a Motor Scooter to Save Money?

Should I Consider Buying a Motor Scooter to Save Money?

I have been thinking about doing this myself: purchasing a motor scooter to save on gasoline. It`s an idea that seems to be taking hold with other commuters, too. My situation is conducive to having one. I live within about six blocks of my job, in a mostly residential neighborhood. It`s a nice situation.

But, I have to take into consideration that my current vehicle costs are relatively low. So, why should I get rid of my 200,000 mile car for a motor scooter?  Just to save money? The way I look at it is that as long as gasoline stays above $3.00 per gallon, I am thinking that this is the way to go.

I can drive it to my part-time job, too, which is much farther away from my home, so I`ll be saving there too. But I found out that there are other considerations to owning a gas-saving motor scooter. Here they are:

Hidden costs. Yes, the price is incredibly affordable (compared to a car). For about $1,000 in my area, I can buy a 50cc scooter, that will travel at about 35 mph, and gets about 100 mpg. Not bad. But, I forgot about, or didn`t know about these items:

Helmet. You don`t just need one, in some states they are mandatory. But, even if not, you had better have one. Head injuries are the leading cause of death in motor cycle crashes.

Licensing. Some states require a just an operator`s license, but not a motorcycle license. Some are based on the maximum speed of the scooter. Check with your local Motor Vehicle office to see what requirements are there.

Maintenance and upkeep. You will have to not only add gasoline, but oil changes, too. And, tune-ups will be required the longer you keep the scooter. Who will perform these and what might they cost?

Outfits. You better keep a water-proof jacket in a storage bin on the scooter. No telling when you might encounter a down-pour during your commute.

Storage. If you live in a state with seasonal weather changes, you will need to store the scooter during the winter months. Not only is it extremely cold to ride in the winter, but snow and rain can be dangerous as well.

If the situation is right, a scooter might make a lot of sense for you. Just make sure you have all of your questions answered before you take the plunge. Happy motoring!


  • R6
    R65gal 17th of Apr, 2010

    Scooters are fun, they're efficient transportation, & they ease traffic congestion by taking up less space. They're also easier on the roads since they're lighter. I started out on a 125cc scooter, & have moved to larger displacement motorcycles. Now I spend most of the time when the roads have no salt getting around on 2 wheels & loving every minute. Over the winter I'm usually driving a car, but occasionally get my hands on our sidecar, which is a completely different sort of fun.

    The 2 main drawbacks of riding are being exposed to rain (which is easily taken care of by a rain suit), & car drivers being obliviots - they usually don't mean to try to kill you, it just works out that way because you're not in a steel cage. That can be partially remedied by taking rider safety training, wearing bright colors, and always having your head in the game - pay attention, think ahead, & expect people to do stupid things so you're ready to counter them.

    "a 50cc scooter, that will travel at about 35 mph, and gets about 100 mpg."

    Unless you're a small adolescent, an engine that small is underpowered. Don't go below 125cc, but for your first motorcycle don't go above about 300. My 125cc averagaed around 85mpg over 10 years & it could go 55 easily.
    A tiny engine might do OK on level ground, but in real life there are hills. Traffic, too, will sometimes try to bite you & you need a bit of power in reserve in order to get out of someone's way.

    Helmet - decent basic models are available for $200 or less. Make sure your helmet is rated by the DOT &/or Snell. Full-face helmets protect better than open-face. Pricier models will be more comfortable, but not necessarily protect better. (Mine cost $550, but is so comfortable I wear it year-round. I even did 19 hours in one day with no discomfort... at least not due to the helmet.) Try on different brands, as their forms are different. Some are more oval, others more round. If it fits your head, it will be comfortable & you're going to wear it.

    Licensing - compared to the cost of your car license, adding this is minimal. Many states waive the practical test if you've taken safety training. Insurance agencies frequently give a discount, too.

    Maintenance - much can be performed by the owner.

    Outfits - a rain suit is fairly cheap, & will extend your available riding days. Don't make your first time a downpour, but don't be afraid to stretch your limits either. The first 15 minutes or so are the most dangerous, before the rain rinses oil off the streets. As it gets chillier in the fall, add layers, ending with one that's windproof. Scooters provide better protection for the legs than motorcycles.

    Storage is usally fairly easy if you have a garage. Scooters & smaller motorcycles fit into fairly small areas.

    Since motorcycles cost less than cars, they're usually cheaper to insure.

    The one thing you didn't list that is very important is safety training. A scooter or motorcycle is a completely different animal from a car. It's not just a pedal bike with a motor, either. People who take training are less likely to be in a crash. This can be fairly cheap through the local community college; the course I took was under $200. What I learned was priceless.


  • Ma
    markah_1999 3rd of Dec, 2010

    good advice above. Motocycles are a way to save a lot of money on gas. If you can handle the ride, you can save enough money over 4 years to pay for the motorcycle. I get 40 MPG on my Honda ST1300. It's a big bike with tons of storage space. I can put $200.00 worth of groceries in it. I get 15 MPG in my pickup truck. I put 12K miles per year on my bike minimum (usually 15-16K) commuting back and forth to work. For 12K miles, thats $900/year in gas for the bike and $2400/year for the truck at $3/gallon. $1500/year for 4 years is $6K (probably enough to buy a bike like mine somewhere used)

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