With fuel prices reaching all-time highs, it’s no wonder that many people are thinking outside the square when purchasing their next vehicle. For some, it’s the hybrid and electric vehicles (EV) that can help to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, while for others it seems the allure of the feeling of wind in their hair and the thrum of a small, economic engine are just too good to resist.
Scooters have been a common fixture on roads across Europe and Asia for many years, and they’re experiencing a fast uptake here in Australia, with a 14% increase in sales in 2019 alone.
Smaller and requiring less fuel than other vehicles, scooters make good financial sense, something that’s certainly endeared them to many Australians. In comparison to a car, scooters are not only far cheaper to run, they’re also far cheaper to buy, with a new model costing around $5,000 and secondhand scooters readily available for a grand or two, depending on the make and engine size.
There are, however, more benefits to opting for a scooter over a car than the lower price tag alone — finding a parking space is easier and cheaper (and often free), and the overall maintenance costs, including insurance and registration, are usually significantly lower than other vehicles too.
If you’re in the market for a scooter to get about on, here are 5 things to consider before buying.
1. The right engine
Scooters are available as either electric or petrol-powered models, with engines available in a variety of sizes and measured by their capacity. As with other vehicles, the size of the engine determines the scooter’s acceleration and speed limit, with small electric units usually maxing out at around 50km/h and larger petrol engines enabling riders to reach speeds of up to 100km/h.
2. Safety gear
As you’re exposed to the elements on a scooter, if you’re planning on taking to the road on two wheels on a regular basis, investing in good safety gear is a must. You’ll need a good quality helmet (a legal requirement) that fits well and enclosed footwear that won’t slip off, and it’s also a wise move to cover up (long pants and long sleeves).
3. A valid licence
A general Car Licence will usually allow you to operate a scooter with a small engine in Queensland, however, never take anyone’s word for it and always be sure to check. To ride higher-powered scooters, you will need to obtain a Motorcycle Licence. Read more about QLD licensing here.
4. Carrying passengers
It’s important to note that if you hold a Car Licence, you aren’t allowed to carry a passenger on your scooter. Riding with a pillion passenger is legal for only riders who hold a current Motorcycle Licence.
5. Maintenance costs
Just like cars, scooters need to be properly maintained if they’re to continue to run smoothly and safely. The cost of scooter maintenance can vary significantly between makes and it can actually be around the same cost of servicing a car, especially for higher-priced European models like Vespa.
While insurance and registration are cheaper than a car and you can definitely save some money there, it’s still worth investigating servicing and maintenance before you commit to buying a scooter.