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Motor Scooters

Monday, 10 March 2008

Sporty and economical transportation for the urban dweller, scooters are common on European streets and becoming more popular in North America. We find out more about this handy mode of personal transportation.

   BUYING TIPS

The Basics

  • Scooters are easier to ride than motorcycles because they’re automatic transmission rather than manual with a clutch. Just turn the key and go.

  • For a typical scooter that goes up to 50km/h (30mph), under 50 cc is perfect for city streets and you only need a regular driver’s license. For more powerful scooters that can go on faster routes like highways (up to about 85 km/h/50mph or more), you’ll likely need a motorcycle license.

  • If you want good speed, look for continuously variable transmission, or CVT. Single speed transmissions won’t go much more than 50km/h (30 mph).

  • For power, go for a two-stroke engine, which burns both gas and oil.

  • A more environmentally-friendly choice is a four-stroke engine, which only burns gas. But four-stroke engines can overheat if driven for long periods or at high speeds, so take into account how you’ll use it.

  • Most scooters come with drum brakes. Disc brakes perform better, but are also more expensive.

  • On wheels, pricier aluminum rims last longer than steel rims.

  • Bigger tires mean a smoother ride, while smaller wheels provide better acceleration and control.

  • If you’re going to be using it for shopping, be sure to check out the storage capacity.

  • Test the kickstand to make sure you can operate it. Some can be difficult and cumbersome to use.

Other Considerations

  • Manufacturers are trying to perfect an electric alternative, but they tend not to be as powerful as gas-powered scooters. However, if you’re looking for something to get you around local city streets, electric power may be enough, so don't rule them out.

  • Most other features not discussed above are more about colour and style. Keep in mind that the cooler it looks with all those extra chrome accents, the more it adds to the cost.

   TEST CRITERIA

We zipped around on these scooters, testing acceleration, handling and braking:

  • Honda Jazz (four-stroke, drum brakes): $2,549
  • Yamaha BWS (two-stroke, disc brakes): $2,699
  • Derbi Red Bullet (two-stroke, disc brakes): $3,499

Driving Test

  • The Honda was definitely the cutest, but didn’t accelerate as well as the others. If you’re looking for something more leisurely, it may do the trick.

  • The Yamaha BWS had lots of pep, smooth power, easy handling and all round good looks.

   OUR TOP PICK

Compared to the others, the Yamaha BWS was an irresistible choice for its smooth ride, easy handling, and perfect amount of pep.

 

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