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Mopeds, Scooters and Motorcycles: Which one should I get?
James B · June 05, 2017
Are you thinking of buying or leasing a moped or scooter? The first step in this is to make sure you actually legally can ride a moped or scooter. In order to ride either you will of course need a CBT (Compulsory Basic Training) Licence. If you’re 16, then the simple answer is you can only ride a 50cc moped, restricted to 28 Mph. For anyone with a CBT that is 17 or over, you have the choice, so which one is best...
For anyone lucky enough to pass your full driving licence before February 1st 2001, you also have additional consideration in this decision. You don't need to take a CBT as technically you can already ride a 50cc moped without L plates and carry a passenger. However, if you wanted to ride a 125cc you’d need to take your CBT training and then be required to display L-Plates and be unable to take passengers. So if you fall into this category it really depends on how badly you want a 125cc and whether you plan to take pillion passengers or care about L plates. Either way, we’d highly recommend taking your CBT training so you have had some proper tuition before taking to the roads!
Anyhow, we aren't here to talk about the UK motorcycle laws, you can read our guide to that here. So, back to the topic, what bike should you buy? A 50cc moped or a 125cc scooter or motorbike? Let’s start with the 50cc..
50cc - Mopeds
Piaggio zip 50cc scooter
Fun fact - The terms moped and scooter are interchanged a lot, but only a bike with a 50cc sized engine or less is technically a Moped. The term Moped comes from the description of an engine-powered bicycle and hence it must be ‘low powered and low speed’ (below 28 Mph). If it has an engine size above 50cc it is classed as a scooter.
So some of the positives of a 50cc moped; Price: You pay less when you get less. 50cc mopeds are typically cheaper to buy, although not as much as you would hope. If you compare a brand new Vespa Primavera which comes in both engine sizes, the 50cc model is £3,199 whilst the 125cc version is £800 more expensive. Granted, neither are cheap, but you get the point...
Honestly, in terms of other positives for 50cc mopeds, that’s pretty much all I could offer unless you fall into the category of people with pre-2001 driving licences as mentioned. The upside of going for a 125cc has so many reasons, so let’s explore why...
Unless you are under 17, going for a 125cc really is worth considering;
Economy; would you believe it, most 125’s are more efficient with a better mile per gallon usage of fuel than their smaller two-stroke brothers. Simply, larger 4 stroke motorcycle engines are more efficient and also better for the environment.
Speed; You don’t have to be a boy racer to appreciate the speed, especially in urban environments, having a bit more power on the throttle is useful for getting out of sticky situations in traffic. Also, ask anyone who has ridden up a slight inclination on a 50cc moped and they will tell you you’re better of walking.
Passengers: If you plan to take your A1 licence for example like I did, taking passengers on a 125cc scooter or motorbike is just about doable. You’ll be slower, but you won’t ground to a halt..
Style: The wide-ranging styles of 125cc motorbikes and scooter you can get today is crazy. Anything from bikes that look like a Harley Davidson, to whizzy Honda CBR replicas of the MotoGP bikes. Checkout out our list of some of your current favourite bikes you can ride on a CBT licence.
So in summary, if you have a CBT licence and you can afford to go for a 125cc scooter or motorbike, do. You’ll be glad you have the option for more power and it will make your commute or trips around town that little bit easier. If you’re planning on working your way up to a full bike licence, being able to ride a geared 125cc for a year or so is the perfect apprenticeship.