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Scooter buyer's guide


by Amyot Bachand ,

Scooters are popular because they are easy to use. You don't need to swing a leg over it to climb on, your feet can rest on the ground when you're stationary and, most important of all, there are no clutch and no transmission to worry about.

A scooter almost drives itself.

Furthermore, you can go virtually anywhere with it in town, since it's easy to park and cheap on gas. The cowl protects you from wind and rain, so whether you are wearing a pair of jeans, a fancy jacket or even a skirt, you can ride a scooter and look proper when you arrive.

For such a small vehicle, you get lots of small compartments so even shopping is on the can-do list.

Scooter buyer’s guide

Modern-day technology
Forget all about the blue-smoking, 2-stroke engines of old Vespas and Lambrettas. Today's machines have come a long way since; nowadays, you get fuel injection, a muffler and even disc brakes standard with pretty much any scooter.

Street king
50cc scooters reign supreme in town. No need to take a riding course for those small-engined machines, although we do recommend one. Fortunately, dealers can tell you all about the basics, so any first-timer can leave in confidence. They only reach 50 to 60 km/h, but are perfect if you only intend to use them within the city's limits, and cheap. They go for between $2,300 and $4,000.

To that same mix, you can add the more versatile Yamaha BW’s and Honda Ruckus models, which are fitted with bigger tires. Without compromising city usage, they will work wonders in the woods.

This category also includes 80cc and 125cc scooters, although they require a motorcycle license; on the other hand, their bigger engines provide better response and higher top speeds (between 70 and 100 km/h). And with these, you can ride in the service lanes, if you fancy it.

2012 Yamaha BW's front 3/4 view
2012 Yamaha BW's (Photo: Yamaha)

Parkway king
The great thing about a scooter is that you only need about 150cc to comfortably run 110 km/h. That's why the 150cc to 300cc scooters are perfect for a parkway escape. They can keep up with cars on the highway, but are still just as manoeuvrable around town.

Good looking and well built, they hover in the price range of $4,000 to $,7000.

2010 Vespa GTV300 left side view
2010 Vespa GTV300 (Photo: Matthieu Lambert)

Highway king
Practically invented by Suzuki with the inception of the Burgman 400, the highway scooters shuffle the conventions and make you forget the image of a slow, winding moped very quickly. With displacement of up to 650cc, you will have no problem at all riding 120 km/h on the highway – no wind buffeting whatsoever.

No problem taking a friend with you either, since even while carrying the extra weight of a passenger, you'll be able to pass cars with ease.

In fact, they are so popular that dealers have witnessed many bikers making the switch because of the extra comfort these highway kings offer. Only thing is, they are the most expensive of the bunch at $8,000. Prices can go up to $12,000.

2011 Suzuki Burgman 400 ABS front 3/4 view
2011 Suzuki Burgman 400 ABS (Photo: Sébastien D'Amour)