A lot of people are now considering scooters as their main transportation. With a lot of different models and brands, how do you know which one best fits your needs?
Because of fuel price uncertainty and the current economic situation, a lot of people are switching to scooters for commuting to work, running errands and other transportation needs; this article will cover only 50cc scooters as they are the most popular, due to the fact that in most states there is no need for a license endorsement, registration or insurance. So if you are thinking about buying one of these machines here are some answers to the most popular questions.
How do scooters work?
Most scooters have a 50cc four stroke single cylinder engine with a CVT (continuously variating transmission), this means that there is no need to shift gears, the speed variations are achieved through a drive belt which spins between two pulleys. Chinese scooters have a 139QMA or 139QMB 50cc motor based on the GY6 Honda design. Most manufactures offer only four stroke machines due to emmision concerns; a two stroke motor is more efficient because every other stroke is a power stroke, but is also "dirtier" because it actually burns the oil in the combustion chamber. In states where 50cc scooters are exempt, it makes no difference whether they are two or four stroke.
Which brands should I consider?
Honda offers the Metropolitan and Metropolitan II, both 50cc four stroke scooters, the latter "restricted" from the factory and considerably slower; also, the Rucks, a "naked" scooter with mostly the same drivetrain as the Metros.
Yamaha has the Vino Classic and the C3, both 50cc four stroke, and the Zuma, a two stroke in the same naked style as the Ruckus.
Vespa has the LX50 and S50, both four stroke.
Chinese scooters come in a lot of different brands and model names, but almost all of them with the same 139QMA or 139QMB motor; also, most model names have 50QT in the middle of their name, eg JL50QT-4 from Jinlun; the first two letters indicate the manufacturer, the digit after the dash indicates the model number.
How about parts?
You will pay more for a Honda, Yamaha or Vespa, but this price difference will be well worth it when it comes to needing parts or having your scooter serviced, as parts are readily available and motorcycle shops can usually perform repairs quickly.
With Chinese scooters, finding parts can be a little difficult; even though most are based on the same platform, transmission and carburetor parts are not always interchangeable or available, and some shops can't even find the parts for them. It is very important that you buy your Chinese scooter from an established dealer who will be able to get parts for you from the manufacturer/importer, otherwise you will be stuck with a useless machine.
How about reliability?
All scooters need a service sooner or later, the difference is how easy it is to find parts for them.
There are brands other than the ones mentioned here, this is by no means a complete list of manufacturers; you will have to do your own research on brands and models offered, but this will give you a good starting point.
Hondas, Yamahas and Vespas are more expensive but if you can afford one buy it; it is always better to own a product that is backed by a strong company.
You will pay a little less for a Chinese product, but you may run into problems later.